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Angry Over Rising Gas Prices? It's Just The Tip Of The Iceberg

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Why is it that America, a nation that has often has been associated with the term exceptional, is so very resistant to change and so hesitant to deal with its most critical problems? America is heading directly into an energy crisis of massive proportions and nothing of any substance is being done to prevent it from happening; absolutely nothing.

That absence of any positive action to deal with this approaching crisis is a major contributing factor in the escalation of prices at the pump. The American people are becoming more and more angry as they watch the price of a gallon of gas climbing once again; the national average of $4.00 gallon for regular is expected to rise to $5.00 during the summer. While this is very disturbing and stressful, and as bad as it seems to be, the worst is yet to come; what we're seeing is but the tip of the iceberg.

The world's supply of oil is trending downward. That's a fact.   No, the world is not going to completely run out of oil for a very long time; that's not the problem. The real problem is that world oil reserves are beginning to tap out, new reserves aren't being discovered, and the world's production capacity is already dangerously close to being overwhelmed by increasing world demand. As this trend continues, future prices will continue to rise. This warning has been issued time and time again by industry experts but no one seems to be listening, especially our tone deaf politicians in Washington.

Talk about the tip of the iceberg; how many Americans, who are angry at paying $4.00 gallon, and who will become much angrier when it rises to $5.00 and far beyond, are aware that the price they're paying represents only a portion of the total amount that comes out of their pocket? To explain: those who are in the business of manufacturing or marketing know that the total cost of a product includes labor, material and (all) elements of overhead. The gasoline we purchase does include labor, material, and overhead incurred from the time petroleum is extracted from the ground to shipments to refineries and then shipments to gas stations, but one element of overhead is missing.

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The price of $4.00 gallon is, whether we realize it or not, a gross misrepresentation. The additional overhead that is not being applied is the massive cost being spent each and every day by the U.S. military that is protecting America's "special interests" around the world, primarily petroleum. Our military is heavily engaged in attempting to control the critical resources of the world; sometimes called "resource wars" and often mistakenly referred to as the War on Terror.

  Think of Iraq and the Middle East, Afghanistan and Central Asia, and Libya as examples. If humans had never discovered oil those wars would never have been conducted.

There are those who totally reject that premise, that this so-called military associated overhead does not exist, that hundreds of billions that are being spent to guarantee a steady stream of imported oil to the U.S., is misguided judgment. Others may say that even if this is the case, that it is the extra price that we have to pay, that it is something that cannot be avoided. And that is where they are all wrong because a large part of this extra overhead could be eliminated if we had a government that would address this critical problem of an impending energy crisis instead of totally evading it.

Right now, fully knowing those facts, the U.S. Congress, which grovels at the feet of the oil industry, refuses to get involved. To solve this problem this government should immediately launch a massive program to develop alternate sources of energy; solar power, in particular, wind turbines, and geothermal power to name a few. We need a program so large and so innovative that it would make the Apollo Program that sent a man to the moon look like an ordinary achievement.

This is not to say that America can in any way immediately reduce its large imports of oil; that cannot and must not be done. America needs to do two things at the same time to solve one problem. Continue to import oil at current rates and implement an aggressive energy program designed to supplement it in the near term and replace it in the long term.   Even if, after 10 to 20 years, we could arrive at a point where we were using 50% of oil and 50% of solar power, together with other new sources of energy, a catastrophe could be avoided.

Without a doubt, solar power has the greatest potential to become America's and the world's primary source of energy. There is nothing to match it. It is there for the taking, it is an infinite source of energy, it simply needs to be captured and stored, and it doesn't need to be forcefully extracted. Sure it would be a very difficult and expensive process, that's the case with the development of any complex product, but it is something that is achievable. It is more than that, it is absolutely critical to the future of this country.

Let's think about what life might be like if America continues on its present course, refusing to take action to prevent this approaching crisis. For starters we can look forward to more military confrontations and actions, possibly full-blown wars, in the Middle East, Central Asia and other regions as nations aggressively compete for a declining oil supply. This will make it impossible to ever reduce our monumental military budgets and our escalating national deficit will trigger a financial crisis like no other.

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The problems that we are experiencing domestically with our national infrastructure, our education system, our lack of jobs, unemployment, and home foreclosures will be greatly magnified. These are problems that we cannot allow to continue to fester as they go unattended. To solve them will take hundreds of billions of dollars that will not be available, and so our nation and this society will pay a very painful price.

One of these days, if nothing is done, almost 250 million vehicles, autos, trucks and buses are going to be running on fumes; and this country and its commerce will be thrown into complete chaos. And if Israel and America launch an unjustified attack on Iran the effect on the world supply and shipment of oil will create a disastrous situation.

America is on a road to nowhere and the people know it. In poll after poll the majority, 70% or more, of Americans say that this country is headed in the wrong direction. The Congress whose approval rating is no more than about 10% knows it; the president knows it as well. And as conditions continue to rapidly deteriorate, nothing is ever done. Where are this country's best and brightest minds when we need them? They are certainly not to be found in Washington D.C.

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Michael Payne is an independent, progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues. He is a featured writer on Opednews and Nation of Change and his articles have appeared on many other websites (more...)

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