Jeff Ward: You Can't Blame the President for Record Gas Prices
If you really want to point a finger at the person reponsible please gaze into the nearest mirror.
Gather round boys and girls, it’s story time.
Back in those 1979 days of yore, there were two greedy siblings named Nelson and William. We’ll just call them the Hunt brothers. And when no one was looking, the Hunt Brothers started buying up all the silver in the land.
Why, they bought so much silver that the price of that shiny metal skyrocketed from $11 to $50 an ounce in just four months. Legend has it that the Hunt brothers made $2-$4 billion on that move alone.
But then something not-so-strange happened. That wise and powerful sage we call “The Market” took over and the price of silver plummeted just two months later costing the heavily leveraged, evil Hunt brothers more than $1 billion. Poor Nelson even had to file for bankruptcy.
Let’s fast forward to 2012 when it came time for the people of the land to pick a new leader. And the Pennsylvania preacher and the Massachusetts flip-flopper decried the evil African-American king for pushing pump prices to unforeseen heights.
Why, the crazy Minnesota lady said she’d simply wave her magic wand to make it tumble to under $2 a gallon while the scurrilous Eye of Newt said he’d settle on $2.50.
Now, boys and girls, I want you to tell me which one of those stories is actually the fairytale?
“This notion that a politician can wave a magic wand and impact the 90-million-barrel-a-day oil market is preposterous,” said Paul Bledsoe, strategic adviser to the Bipartisan Policy Center.
C’mon! It took the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression to artificially knock down gasoline prices to their previous levels. And one man is somehow responsible for their recovery?
If you do really believe that, I might finally understand the GOP’s acute case of Obamaphobia because any man powerful enough to single-handedly move the petroleum markets is certainly someone worth fearing.
“Release the strategic reserve!” the peasants cry. We’ve already done that. The President released 30 million barrels of oil to mitigate any gas price hiccups as a result of disruptions in the Libyan supply line.
And if we did cut loose that paltry 36 day supply, it would no longer be strategic nor would it be a reserve.
Then the serfs shouted “Drill baby Drill!” But we’ve done that too. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Obama administration has overseen a 400-percent increase in the number oil domestic oil rigs since Mr. Bush went back to Texas.
Not only that, but domestic gas production is at a 30 years high and for the first time in our 236 year history, we’re actually exporting gasoline. The problem is, the world market is so vast and voracious that the added supply has had no effect on prices.
So then politicians petulantly pander, “We deserve cheap gasoline!” We already have cheap gasoline.
Just take a short hop across the pond where it’s $8 a gallon in Paris and $10 in Istanbul. You’ll pay $7 in Tokyo, $7 in Sao Paulo, and, at 6 bucks in Sydney, it’s a deal.
The only countries that enjoy cheaper gasoline than the U.S. are major petroleum producers like Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela where supply still exceeds demand.
In the most marvelous of all ironies, it’s actually those aforementioned Republican candidates – the ones who called for a war with a nuclear Iran – that did more to drive up gas prices than the president could ever hope to do. It was speculation based on the fear of that conflict that drove gas prices to these record highs.
And those bipartisan sanctions on Iran have consequences too. Whaddya think is gonna happen when you cut off oil exports from a major petroleum producer? Gas prices will go down? Sometimes doing the right thing means having to grin and bear it.
We can’t forget those 2.5 billion Indian and Chinese citizens who are just getting their first taste of prosperity either. All those tech support calls and cheap Chinese Wal Mart trinkets start adding up. When you’re talking 37 percent of the worlds’ population, they’ll be driving gas prices for years to come.
And finally, as Walt Kelley so famously declared, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” We’ve become so oblivious, so delusional, and so whiny that, despite clinging to our SUVs, we somehow believe we’re entitled to low gas prices by the sheer virtue of being us.
Unlike Europe, where a Mini Cooper is considered a luxury vehicle, we, the people who consume 23 percent of the planet’s petroleum, refuse to adjust our driving habits to an inevitable market reality.
Five dollar gasoline? Enjoy that while you can because I’m predicting, by the end of 2014, we’ll be paying $8 because, as the Hunt brothers so painfully discovered, the market always wins.
So even as you cringe while driving by those Randall Road gas stations, please remember that there may be a plethora of reasons to be unhappy with our President, but gas prices ain’t one of them.
The only way Newt, or any Republican, could bring gas prices back down to $2.50 a gallon is to engage in the same kind of market controlling socialist subsidizing nefariousness they love to level at the President.