Your Gas Pump: A Created Crisis?

An opinion piece by Leane Roffey Line, c. 2008

With oil companies reporting record to new high profits, something really has been nagging me about the recent inflation in gasoline and diesel fuel prices at the pump, current energy crunch notwithstanding. I think I found it this evening reviewing an article by Bartlett & Steele about the old gas crisis back in 1972-73. After reviewing the article, it looks for sure like this current fiasco is right out of the same playbook, and timed right before a national election. The screw-ups back in the 1970s were the stuff of legend. Rereading the article brought it all back in blazing clarity.

Today, we find that Big Oil has never had a better year. With that much money floating about, surely some of it could be passed on to outlets and then from there to consumers. Fuel, most likely, could have been kept at slightly lower levels through the election. I have to conclude that what is really going on here is a case of good, old-fashion scare tactics, timed right before an election in which the Republicans are running possibly the most ridiculous campaign ever witnessed on the national stage.

As if the Paris Hilton/Brittany Spears/Obama slam wasn’t bad enough, and the attempt to make a $25 tire gauge (which can be bought for about a buck) an issue, I was nonplussed this evening to see McCain, and his wife, at Sturgis. (Not because I have a problem with bikers, I don’t — as a young woman I played electric bass in a southern rock band, the Renegades were our color guard down in Florida. I myself drove a Triumph 350 until I crashed it). So John McCain opened for Kid Rock? Where is that at? And HE was asking people if they were tired of paying that much at the pump for gas!?! I found that incredible, in that I’m sure it makes no difference to the McCain what people pay for gas, really. The fact that he asked the question, and then offered his wife as a sacrificial toy for the wet T-shirt contest (saying she would be the only First Lady who was ever the winner of that contest), and was otherwise trying to act like “one of the boys” (which he will never be in spite of his war record, past political history, or current sympathy for the masses), triggered memories of the 1970s, and caused me to go searching for the data which would confirm my suspicion that was all a replay of an old trick to get people to see the GOP as the saviors of the common man…an outfit which that party has never worn well.

Yes, we have an energy crisis, but No, this business of inflated gasoline prices, and the price drive in commodity oil, at this exact point in time, is artificial, just like before. It’s timed to cause panic, and to cause people to look elsewhere while the politicians do an end-run around them. Just like before but with one difference. The difference is this time, we know the truth. Yes, petroleum fuels will run out and perhaps Detroit needs that ten year window to retool…just like last time…when I kissed that Buick hog and a quarter goodbye in favor of a tiny Nissan 1800 cc…but immediate drilling will have practically NO effect on supply. If the price of fuel mystically “goes down”, it will be because preplanned reductions are occurring. The oil companies have the money, and I predict they will restore the fuel price scale just like last time, but at today’s scale: to between three and four bucks a gallon! This is all so repetitive as to make any intelligent citizen just want to go “WHY”, and “WHY ARE THEY DOING IT AGAIN?”

Now, we all know we cannot keep doing what we are doing with petroleum resources, but more immediate drilling isn’t going to solve energy supply problems. McCain’s solution is flawed, it’s the same song and dance we heard before. More drilling, more nuclear. The only ones who win there are big oil, and a succession of contract companies that are involved in the nuclear power industry that would make your head spin. Only this time, the people are perhaps smarter, and a little less trusting than they were back in the 1970s. There are other options. I’m not really keen on some, but anything is better than this continual feeding of major corporations who have only their own interests at heart…and those of their multinational partners. People don’t figure in here at all. Corporations, after all, are amoral (Challenger taught us that) and don’t take responsibility for actions which affect common human beings. No one is to blame from their point of view. Things got bungled royally in the 1970s and its just been more of the same since.

It didn’t do me any good either to realize today, that the Office of Net Assessment (which was a circa 1973 think tank) was not only still in operation, but calling the strategic planning for projects still on the books. I feel like I’m in a Man From Uncle rerun. It wasn’t hard to find Ken Silverstein’s old article The Man from ONA, a 1999 vintage time capsule that still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand straight up. So, from my point of view, nothing has changed since 1969, its just been coated with radioactive paint.

I’m forced to conclude that the GOP is running the campaign it is because it truly believes that deep down in their hearts Americans will not elect a person of color as president, no matter how erudite, intelligent, or savvy he may be. Forget the indisputable DNA evidence that we are all “people of color”, and the fact that most of the world leaders we deal with are “people of color”. Instead they are running a campaign appealing to what they perceive the American public to be, and considering the photo ops they’ve let their candidate take lately, I don’t think they have a very high opinion of the American public, not at all. They are counting on decades of “planned dumbed down trust us we’re the government individuals” to toodle over to the polls on election day and vote the party line. Are they right? Well, I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

I’m glad also that Paris Hilton (who could probably buy John McCain four times over) put out her ad in rebuttal to the crass use of her image without her permission in the campaign ad that ran against Obama. Hats off to her for a hot ad that set the Age 65 to Dead crowd on their pile-laden posteriors. They deserved every bit of that. She knew it, and so does her generation.

Somehow, if Paris ever graced Sturgis with a song and dance routine, I think it would make more sense than Mrs. McCain, given the criteria of hotness exhibited by sucking a banana and waggling tail feathers. Paris, after all, is “at least authentic” whatever she does. She could stand still and still be “hot”, not needing to do either. Paris has class, plain and simple, no matter how silly she’s made to look by publicity hounds. Does Mrs. McCain, in spite of her pilot’s license? Judging by the horrified look on Mrs. McCain’s face, I don’t think she would have been into it, and McCain was really showing his ownership rights by even bringing the subject up. My only comment to that display was YUCK. So that’s how much he values his wife, and how little she seems to care about it? Women as party favors. Men as bad little boys. Oh great. Deja vu, Vuja de.

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