We in Washington State like to think we are pretty smart. So do most Americans. Then why is it that most Americans can’t see that the oil companies consider us suckers?
Maybe it’s because most people can’t see the simple relationship between cause and effect. Record gas prices. Record oil company profits. In a free market economy, oil companies are free to charge whatever they want. And that is what they are doing.
What the oil companies are doing is reminiscent of what ENRON did in raising the price of electricity, causing millions of homeowners and businesses to pay more for the same amount of electricity. Was there an energy crisis? Yes and no. The market was manipulated and artificial shortages were created. An illusion of energy shortages was created.
The average consumer had little recourse but to pay higher electricity bills because they were locked into an electrical grid to meet their basic needs. Electricity is basically a monopoly because you can’t go out in most cases and shop for an electric company like you now can for a cell phone company. And any semblance of consumer protection is more a mirage than reality.
As Consortiumnews.org notes
“Bush personally joined the fight against imposing caps on the soaring price of electricity in California at a time when Enron was artificially driving up the price of electricity by manipulating supply. Bush”s resistance to price caps bought Enron extra time to gouge hundreds of millions of dollars from California”s consumers.”
The same thing is happening now regarding gas prices with the Republicans in Congress and Bush. They are supporting the oil industry that has a virtual monopoly on energy. Our economy is run on oil and we are addicted to oil. A transportation system dependent on individual cars and trucks, rather than adequate public transit, dictates a continued use of a commodity controlled by a few companies.
Under Bush and the Republicans, there is no regulation of the oil industry because it is contrary to their free market economy beliefs and against their patrons who put them into office. They say there is no price gouging for gasoline because the oil companies are free to charge as much as they want, as long as consumers are willing to pay. So far consumers have continued to pay. Unfortunately there are no alternatives for most people..
Oil companies have found that Americans are pretty gullible. Bush’s never ending war on “terrorism” is right out of George Orwell’s 1984. Iraq and terrorism get blamed for contributing to higher gas prices.
But many Americans now see that our invasion of Iraq was a mistake. Bush has no plan to end or win the war. He hopes that the continuing war will make those who started it seem legitimate, as terrorist actions continue. Unfortunately the Iraq War has fostered increased recruitment and training for new terrorists. It has not made us any more energy independent or secure.
Would we be in Iraq if not for oil? Would we be in the Middle East if not for oil? Is the tradeoff worth it, oil for increasing terrorist motivation and training.
The bottom line is really about oil and profits, while Bush and Rove insist otherwise. America’s problem is that oilmen in the White House and Congress, who are running our country, have no incentive to find real alternatives to oil, especially when they can rack up record profits. The Iraq War has become an unfortunate consequence of oilmen seeking to keep reaping outrageous profit from an economy dependent on oil.
Bush and his oilmen have no incentive to increase the mileage requirements for cars and trucks. They have no incentives to start a serious switch to energy independence and end our addiction to oil. They have made us the hostages in the process. Why should they care as long as we pay the higher prices?
Unfortunately these same oil companies , in racking up record profits, are taking the nickels and dimes and quarters of America’s low income and minimum wage workers to fuel their profits and growth. They are producing hardship for middle income families in paying bills and providing for heath care and education for their children. And the Iraq War is draining our society of money for basic human needs. The price we are actually paying for a free market economy dependent on oil is horrendous.
And what are the oil companies now doing? They are buying up alternative energy companies and building their own subsidiaries so they can continue their monopoly of America’s energy resources – to continue to reap as many profits as they can from selling energy to America’s citizens.
What American consumer’s need to think about is why they would think that the oil companies who seem to have no problem taking obscene profits now, and not worrying about hurting the lives of average citizens, are going to be any different with any other energy sources they might own in the future.
Americans really need to wake up and rally around ending our addiction to oil and working not just for energy independence from foreign sources , but also energy independence from price gouging energy conglomerates. Americans need to demand much more fuel efficient cars, more decentralized small sources of energy from wind and solar, and increased energy efficiency. These actions will increase America’s security and independence.
This isn’t going to happen as long as oilmen run the White House and Republicans control the House and the Senate. Our only hope is to boot the oil loving Republicans out of office and put Democrats in control. And then we will have to make sure they do the right thing for America.
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