One thing these days that seems true to me is that people need to have something to blame on politicians.
Look, I understand that, as politicians are often to blame for the horrible discourse in the country and various pains we all feel. Name calling, taxes, gridlock, inaction on issues that need immediate action – there are plenty of reasons for us to get mad at elected officials.
But sometimes we put the blame in the wrong place. Take gas prices.
I remember in 2008 when gas prices soared. Many people went nuts and blamed then-President George W. Bush. I lived in California at the time, and with taxes on fuel being higher there, we were paying near $6 a gallon.
Trust me, I didn’t like it, and it influenced what I did. Weekend trips to Palm Springs were out. Visiting my brother in San Diego would wait.
Sure, state politicians got some heat for higher gas taxes, but those were really pennies on the dollar. And I never blamed Bush – the president didn’t then and still doesn’t control the price of gas.
I blamed oil companies and OPEC. They were responsible for the prices. And as prices rise today, they are still responsible for the high prices of gas.
Look, fuel prices are determined by many factors, including taxes and refining costs and crude oil prices. We know all these things. They are not ever determined by the person in office.
Most people know this, of course. Those that blame this, or any president, are doing so for petty political reasons only. I get that, but it is still distracting us from the real problem.
The U.S. is now producing more oil than ever. We are a net exporter of oil. And no, the Keystone XL Pipeline being cancelled has no effect on current prices. If you think it does, I encourage you do a few Google searches.
As people argue politics, big oil companies are laughing all the way to the bank. The companies had billions in record profits last year as prices rose. This year they will probably rake in even more, while us poor suckers at the pump pay the price.
This is about supply and demand. The demand had been low and the supply high, so you cut production. Now demand is back up and supply is down. So, prices rise – and quickly.
Yes, more production could lower prices, and it will eventually. But for now, we are being squeezed.
That is why we must have energy independence. Sounds familiar, right? I remember all those people driving Hummers in 2008 who traded them in for hybrids. They saw the future. Sadly, once prices fell a lot of people jumped back into giant gas guzzlers and off they went.
Renewable energy is the future. We all know that is true. We need to invest in that future now, so we aren’t constantly being punched by big oil. Yes, you love that huge truck that gets 12 miles per gallon. But an electric vehicle would mean you aren’t going to be spending the college fund you have set up for your kids on fuel when prices spike every few years.
This is not about politics. This is about our country taking charge of its energy future.