Before I tell you how to get cheaper gas, please stand with me and wave goodbye to the middle class. It’s crumbling faster that you can say Anti-Trust. The New America Foundation spells it out statistically:
– Low income jobs now account for 41% of total employment
– Middle income jobs in the United States fell from 52% in 1980 to 42% in 2010
– Last year wages increased 1.7%. Food and energy costs grew by 2.7%
– 17 million US college graduates do jobs with skill levels that don’t require a bachelor’s degree
We can’t hang all the blame on big oil. We screwed up our middle class by ignoring:
– The Citizens United decision that eviscerated campaign spending limits
– Climate change that’s intensified bad weather, resulting in poorer crops and rising food costs
– HMO’s that add an inefficient layer of cost on health care
– Wars we didn’t need and cannot win
– The impact of prices at the pump on discretionary spending
We have a choice: let the middle class melt or do something about these issues, and the issue we ought to tackle fast is big oil’s control over an essential resource. Obviously to continue the oil subsidies is irrational; a costly accommodation to oil lobbyists. But that 4 billion dollar giveaway is a drop in the barrel compared to the potential savings at the pump if we regulated gasoline price increases even if it means nationalizing the oil industry to get it done. Anybody old enough to remember when we took apart Standard Oil for the good of the nation?
We make utilities justify price increases. Isn’t the oil industry as critical to the well-being of the American consumer? Won’t federal controls on pump price increases discourage commodity speculators? Do we really want to keep pump-taxing middle income Americans, and sending their tax money to OPEC and BP? What if some of the oil dollars we export became available for investment in renewable energies? Alternative energies push down gas prices and spur green manufacturing.
Continued inaction means we accept our new economic feudalism. Or, we regulate gas price increases and free the surfs.