A Facebook friend just alerted me to the fact that the price of gasoline at the pump has dropped to $1.77.9 a gallon in Michigan. I know it’s true, because she included a photo. It’s not that low here in California, but out here in the land of back-breaking prices for almost everything, gas prices anywhere below $3 a gallon feel like Christmas. And New Years. Combined. Like Pavlov’s dogs, we now slobber our way to the nearest gas station, happy to turn over our hard-earned dollars for a few drops of the precious liquid that runs our lives.
Remember when bread used to cost less than a dollar a loaf? Remember when a trip to the market didn’t mean spending a minimum of $50 just for essentials while the Republicans cut food stamps for the poor?
Too bad we can’t drink oil. The world is floating on it. The detritus of another age. A prehistoric ocean of death.
Fortunately, there are still a few honest people around like Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who went on the air over the weekend, reminding us that we are now the top oil producing nation in the world. Yes friends, the good old USA is now Numero Uno, beating out everybody including the Saudis and their close friends and allies the big multi-national oil corporations. Of course big oil is an oil producer in the U.S., which makes it all the more convenient for you, if you’re a CEO who wants to confuse the issue for greater profitability. When we are them and they are us, who is doing what to whom and for what purpose?
But the U.S. (or a mix of U.S. companies with multi-nationals) producing more oil than any other nation on earth? How can that be? Weren’t we told there was an oil shortage that would end in disaster, culminating in a world without oil unless we all turned down the heat and froze in the dark? We were promised that the world, not just the U.S., the world mind you, was running out of oil. Running out! And wasn’t that waaaaay back in the 70’s?
It was, in fact, back in 1977, when President Jimmy Carter called the nation’s “oil crisis” the “moral equivalent of war.” I’m not sure if that was true or not. I do think Carter believed it. And maybe it was true, at that time. General Motors thought is was real. Why else would anybody make a car like the Vega?
My, how things have changed. Top oil producer. Radically falling prices for gas and oil while OPEC nations refuse to cut back on production with speculation they are trying to cut into the profits of the frackers here in the U.S., to drive at least some of them out of business.
The Saudi Oil Minister came right out and said it, pleading with the world’s oil companies to fix prices, so they can all remain in fat city forever at the expense of us peons with no power at all – other than our refusal to drive gas guzzlers while pressuring our elected representatives to do their jobs and re-regulate the oil and gas industry while forcing a shift to clean and less expensive energy sources like wind and solar.
All of this has to be good news for the environmentally conscious among us, since all that oil flowing out of the U.S. has to make the Keystone XL pipeline thoroughly irrelevant with regard to the nation’s no longer urgent need to produce more oil.
It should also lead to plummeting prices for food, since the cost of oil and gas is key factor in growing, transporting and then selling food to American consumers. All the way down the line, from putting seeds in the ground to getting produce and other products on the shelves, oil is key in any cost-benefit analysis. The same could be said for the cost of getting on an airliner – if the market is being driven by free trade and not something else.
If all the mergers that have taken place haven’t created national and global monopolies that can raise or lower prices at will regardless of what Ayn Rand might have written in her fairy tale perfection through greed books – if that’s where we’re at, then this should all work out for the best. If not, if mergers and multi-national corporate globalization are determining the outcome, then it’s an illusion meant to control, contain and preserve the wealth and power of the relative few at the top.
Bye, bye democratic process. Bye, bye freedom. Bye, bye American dream. Hello “Rollerball.”
Personally, I look for prices to remain high, with no radical drop in food costs or other consumer goods, while the cost of gas and oil creeps slowly back up to near-record profits. At the same time, the temporarily lower price at the pump will act as a placebo, making everybody feel better. It will put more money in our pockets, helping the economy bounce back, convincing consumers that the EPA isn’t necessary and global warming is just one more pile of nonsense put together by publicity-hungry scientists, tired of being ignored by the majority, most of whom can’t understand any of this stuff anyway. Listen. You can almost hear what they’re saying; “Look at the big cold-snap that just rolled in! The frogs went into hibernation early! And these idiots are still trying to tell us the planet is heating up? They must think we’re all a bunch of boobs!”
Yes, they do.
And so the multi-national corporations and their too-big-to-fail buddies on Wall Street will score another big win for the relative few by fooling the many one more time.
Welcome to the new reality, suckers. Enjoy the lower gas prices while you can. If Ms. Rand and her minions of greed have their way, we are headed for a future where only the uber-rich will be able to afford private transportation, healthy food, breathable air and drinkable water.