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Gas poor

In to the Wind

August 23, 2011
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald
Mike Gilchrist in The Toledo Chronicle

Editor’s Note” Mike continued to be busy this week in his effort to repair damages from rhe July 11 wind storm which struck Tama County. This column lamenting gasoline costs is reprinted from June, 2008.

Before it’s over and done, I’ll probably have to curtail even more of my activities. The decision to become a rural Denison was at least partially predicated on being able to afford gasoline in order to make the necessary trips into town. I would hate to have to make the decision between buying food and buying gasoline, but I fear more and more of our citizens have to make such choices.

Now I’m not generally a conspiracy theorist, but the recent rises (almost daily) in gasoline prices seems excessive. I don’t pretend to know the mechanics behind the record prices, but somebody, somewhere is making a lot more money than they used to, and we are suffering.

If you listen to some people, they will blame ethanol, those subsidies, and the American farmer for the spike in fuel and grocery prices. Still others will blame environmentalists for not allowing refineries to be built in the last many years, or those who would block drilling for oil in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.

It may well be a combination of many factors, including the industrialization of the Indian subcontinent, and of China and that demand on oil resources. One unalienable fact remains; someone is making a lot of money on our misery. It just seems the peaks we have been seeing lately just happen to coincide with several things.

Memorial Day weekend is a typically busy travel weekend for many American families. Trips to grandmas for a family get together will no doubt be very costly this year.

Just when the minimum wage is increased for the American worker, the gas prices began rising, and rising and rising. While the lower paid workers in society enjoyed an initial adjustment in their standard of living, all those gains have been whittled away by the per gallon cost of gasoline. Yes gentle reader, there are some who are making those hard decisions between budget items, and buying gasoline always wins. If they don’t make it to work, they won’t have a paycheck with which to buy gasoline and other necessities.

If the current situation doesn’t scare the heck out of you, it should. These market shenanigans have this country on the brink of collapse. Prices in all sectors are spiraling out of control because of petro costs.

It’s probably a good thing this is an election year. The candidate who comes up with the best plan for getting the oil sector under control will be the victor. The solution will not come from the current lame duck president. Some even say the current round of price increases and the resultant profits being taken from the pockets of Americans is the Bush reward to his oil buddies for 8 years of support.

We can only hope this is all a plan, and the big oil companies plan to invest most of those obscene profits in building the infrastructure needed to drill in Alaska, the Gulf, and build some long needed refineries. American public opinion will now keep the usually vocal environmentalists at bay. We will cry for cheaper oil at any cost. We are now conditioned to accept any solution which will result in cheaper prices at the pump. Whatever happened to the EPA mandate that American cars get progressively better gas mileage?

A quick scan of vehicles on the road in Tama County show a lot of trucks and a lot of sport utility vehicles. My prediction is that a lot of those vehicles will be for sale soon, and whatever company comes to market with an affordable gas sipper will be very successful. The American love affair with the automobile is about to see a dramatic paradigm shift. By-the way, I’ll be in the market too. My 15 mpg Jeep is not the proper vehicle any more to be plying the roads, and I want to be able to eat.

It may well be the solution will come out of one of the aforementioned industrializing nations. The solution might just come out of Shanghai or Bangalore. I heard an interesting statistic a while back. Both China and India have more honor students in their schools than we have total students in American schools. That dear reader should alert you to where the centers of commerce and manufacturing will rise.

The Trilateral Commission and World Without Borders forces, in conjunction with these rapidly industrializing third world countries and NAFTA will force the steady decline of the American standard of living until we too become more third world like, and the economies of all the industrialized nations meld into one. America will lose more of its edge in manufacturing and become more of a service country. Those that have will be served by those who don’t. The economic divide will become more pronounced, and the dwindling middle class will all but disappear.

The bottom line is the energy solution will not come from more government control and penalties on the obscene profit makers, but on innovation. When there is an incentive to develop new technologies to conquer a big problem, Americans have always been quite ingenious. Want to take the helm of the next Microsoft? Solve the cost per mile of basic transportation cost and the world will beat a path to your door. I don’t believe Detroit iron will be the answer either, it will more likely be an offering from Hindustan Motors, or some upstart American innovator. Cars with better mileage result in less demand for oil. Less demand for oil lowers the cost. I hope the solution comes from some group right here in Iowa. And every Iowan knows ethanol from corn is not the right answer.

Readers, feel free to contact me at via email, or write to me at P.O. Box 255, Toledo, IA 52342

Until next time–

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