Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Target Practice: Gas Prices

I'm a little out of practice at this political blogging thing, so maybe I should warm up on an easy target. And what's an easier target than the ridiculously high cost of gasoline?

I think the American public is finally getting fed up with the B.S. they've been getting fed about gas prices. But don't expect the polytishuns to stop dishing out the excrement just yet. Here are my replies to a few of the more popular shit sandwich recipes currently being served:

"You can't drill your way out of high gas prices."
Yeah, so? Granted, drilling won't solve all of our problems, but increasing the supply of oil can only help the situation. That's Economics 101, people. The solution to high gas prices is actually a number of solutions. Dismissing anything that's not a one-off magic bullet is almost too stupid for even Congress to believe. Almost.

"Even if we do drill, we won't see any oil for (insert the number of your choice here) years."
Again, so what? Ten years from now (or twenty, or thirty) is going to get here anyway. We might as well have the oil too. Would you tell a high school kid to quit school and get a job now because education won't pay off for years? Of course not. This "instant gratification or nothing" argument isn't something I want to hear from the people in whose hands we've placed the future of the country. Not to mention what a bad message it sends to "the children"®.

"We need to conserve more."
True enough, but this measure alone isn't a cure-all. Here's a newsflash for the conservation crowd: Oil is used for more than fueling our cars. It's used to heat homes, generate electricity, run manufacturing machinery, and as a raw material in the manufacture of many products. So driving less, or trading in our gas-guzzling SUVs for Smart Cars, isn't going to solve the problem.

"We need to focus on alternative energy sources."
No argument there. But it's ironic that many of the people who push this one are also the ones who argue that drilling in ANWR won't produce oil for ten years. Does anyone really believe that science will provide us with a viable alternative to petroleum in less than ten years. Scientific discovery doesn't follow a timetable. Just ask Thomas Edison. Besides, even if they came up with the new technology tomorrow, it would take years for it to supplant the current technology. Think about it. If GM started selling a car that ran on water (or daffodils, or good intentions etc.), do you really think everyone is going to toss their old cars in the trash, and run out and buy a new one tomorrow? And will their finance companies forgive their car loans? Not likely. It would probably take at least ten years before the new technology became predominant. If, and when, that technology is developed.

The solution to the problem of high oil/gasoline prices isn't any single measure, it's a number of measures. And we need to start them, like, yesterday. Especially the ones that will take time, like alternative fuels (new nuclear power plants would be really helpful), building new refineries, and (especially) domestic drilling. Hell, if Bill Clinton hadn't vetoed an attempt to drill in ANWR in 1995, oil would be flowing from there right now. Thanks, Bill. Good work on that "bridge to the 21st Century" thing. And don't worry, your political descendants are carrying on your work. But hopefully not for long.

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