I uttered the same “oh, my” that others were muttering as we filled out car’s gas tanks over at the local gas station.
Yes, we have now witnessed a gallon of gas for $4-plus, and I think that it is going to stay around this price for years to come. After all, there are countries in the world which have been paying $4, and more likely $6 and $8, for years, so we should not be too shocked at now being included in the pricy-gas club.
And, since Americans continue their love affair with big cars, unlike Europe which has traditionally had smaller vehicles, we will continue to watch the price of gas go up. Now, I hear that automobile dealers are having a bit of trouble selling SUVs these days, which may herald the arrival of the smaller car and less of a gas-guzzler. However, those SUVs have been pretty popular with families, not to mention that they can do some pretty serious hauling.
There is really very little that government, on any level, even the president, can do to get the price down on gas. Cutting into our national reserves does not work since the amount is negligible.
We have seen proposals from presidential candidates and folks in Springfield to reduce the taxes on gasoline, giving us a tax holiday, if only during the summer months when folks tend to use their cars more.
Neither proposal has gone far as politicians have become quite wedded to laying taxes upon tax on gasoline. In Illinois municipalities share in the spoils, which is how Illinois gets to be the leader in the U.S. of high gas prices. It is one of the few ways we rank at the top of some list rather than at the bottom of most.
Now, I do think that companies producing gasoline are making windfall profits. I understand that it takes a lot for a company to go exploring, find oil, refine it, and so on, so one would want these companies to get some payback on their investment and some profit.
But, the kind of profits being reaped now while the country writhes in an economic downturn and exceedingly high gas prices is just plain gouging.
Oil is a finite substance, and it always was. I mean, at some point, the world will run out of it. We pretty much had our way with oil for many years, disproportionate to our size and population.
But now, all of those overpopulated countries which used to base their economies on the ability to peddle a bicycle are now turning to automobiles. China and India are emerging economies which now claim their due in terms of gasoline. That demand will continue to rise as their economies become ever more like their western counterparts.
It is to the benefit of the oil cartels in the Middle East to control prices, because that is what keeps those countries afloat. Sadly, most of the oil fields of the world are in parts of the world not known for their stability or democracy.
And so, the “oh my goshes” will continue at the pumps. Airline prices will rise (can you believe paying to check a bag?), people will take shorter trips by car, public transportation will become more popular, requiring more tax dollars to run them.
Ethanol will not be the answer, but alternative fuels, solar energy, electricity-whatever works-will be welcome as we find ourselves now with our wings somewhat clipped.