We’ve all been feeling the pinch at the pump, as gas prices have steadily and rapidly increased in recent years due to higher worldwide demand and a decrease in supply. The drilling moratorium in the Gulf, the U.N.’s decision to no longer purchase from Iran, and developing nations discovering a thirst for industry and oil have translated to $4 a gallon gasoline.
A Gallup poll in March found that 85 percent of the public believes that the president and Congress “should take immediate actions to try to control the rising price of gas.” I am among that 85 percent. I would love for President Obama to green light the Keystone Pipeline, sell off federal lands to oil companies that want to drill, and generally get the heck out of the way of stopping progress and production.
President Obama has a completely different idea about ‘helping’ lower the cost of gas. He wants to spend $52 million to regulate the oil industry and impose harsh penalties on oil speculators. A speculator is someone that invests in a commodity (in this case, oil), holds onto it until the price goes up, and then sells it for a tidy profit.
The president also slammed Republicans for voting against legislation that would end tax breaks to U.S. oil companies. Because, you know, making it more expensive to produce a product always makes it cheaper to buy (insert eye roll here).
Are spectators really to blame for the high cost of fuel? Fred Rozell of the Oil Price Information Service doesn’t necessarily think so. He said,
Oil is a good bet for investors who are looking to reap a solid return on investment. This is especially true in the current economic climate, as a slowly improving economy points to increased consumption and tensions in the Middle East are fueling fears of a supply disruption.
In fact, Rozell notes, many of these oil speculators are 401(k) plans that benefit middle-class consumers. (Emphasis mine)
Maybe Congress could stop ‘speculating’ with taxpayer money on the green energy market before it tries to mess up the oil market even more with extra regulation that will make it even harder to do business. $535 million was thrown away on Solyndra. Solar Trust of America, LLC got $2.1 billion in federal money before declaring bankruptcy. Another $2.4 billion went into the electric car industry, which produces a product that no one really wants.
In other words, maybe Congress should stop fooling around with our money and let the free market work.
Image via Pete Souza/Wikimedia Commons