At least that's what a person would figure if they read, listen or watch the news. The papers and airwaves are filled with politicians, in both parties, huffing and puffing and promising Americans they are going to find out who's behind high gas prices and make them stop doing whatever it is they are doing.
Just who those perps might be depends on the politician who is organizing the posse. Right wingers blame environmentalists for blocking drilling in Alaska and offshore. Left wingers blame the oil companies. And both sides flail at OPEC and shadowy "speculators" on Wall Street.
And we buy it -- or at least we buy whichever straw-men that fit our own political bias and get us, personally, off the hook.
What a pack of whiners we are. (And if any of what follows applies to you, and you're offended, good.)
Relief? You demand relief, do you? Well:
- How about hubby? You know the type, Mr. Macho who lives in well-paved suburbia, but who just had buy a giant 4-wheel drive pick-em-up truck, even thought the biggest thing he carries every week is a 25-bag of dog food. Does Mr. Macho "deserve" relief? I don't think so. They not only have to have a giant engine, but weigh these behemoths down even more with flood lights and chrome. Then they have drive a hundred miles just to find some rutted dirt road where they can get the essential ingredient -- macho-mud -- on their truck. What these guys deserve is just what they're getting right now... a vehicle that sucks $4.50 gas even when parked.
(Note: And there's a special parking place in hell for those who not only bought a giant 4-wheel drive SUV, but figured it had to be a Cadillac Escalade -- the perfect blend of style and stupidity.)
And what about all those baby boomers who just had to buy a 4000-square foot home now that the kids are gone. Do they "deserve" lower heating and cooling bills? After all, keeping that hot tub piping hot 24 by 365 can really run up the old utility bill.
Then there's those of us with the shopping skills of 8-year olds. We seem unable to separate product from packaging. We fall for all the shopping aisle glitz of purely cosmetic plastic (oil-based) product packages. Was it the New Math that somehow put the notion into our heads that a fancy 24-oz plastic package that actually only contains 16-ounces of product actually contains more than that? Do such Pavlovian shoppers really "deserve" lower supermarket prices -- our a dope slap to the back of the head?
Do those who turn their noses up at locally grown/produced products, in favor of the same stuff that had to be shipped, flown and driven from halfway round the earth, "deserve" lower prices?
But hey, it's not our fault that all of a sudden oil has jumped from $21 a barrel eight years ago to $135 a barrel today, and rising. And it also apparently has nothing to do with whatever it was Dick Cheney and those oil executives (he still refuses to identify) decided back in 2001.
It's not us. It's those damn "speculators." They're terrible people-- capitalists, I hear. They're the kind of folks who study and track market-based trends with exotic names like "supply" and "demand." Then they put their money where their mouths are, betting prices will rise or fall in the future. These days their computer models scream two facts: that we Americans will stubbornly cling to our wasteful ways, and that, this time around, 2 billion folks in China and India are doing their very best emulate our bad example.