High Gas Prices Have More to Do With You Than the President

pumping gasA recent trip to Costco reminded me of the gas lines from my childhood. The price of gas is a beastly burden on families today. I’m not well versed enough in economics, foreign relations, or commodities and futures trading to speak of the finer points of gas prices, but I do know that no one has a magic switch to make gas $2.50 a gallon.

If this were true, every president would have flipped that switch during his term.

I’m not sure what secret Newt Gingrich has to make gas cheap again.

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I think the President is the obvious fall guy for rising gas prices. In this heated political climate, even if gas prices fell, Obama would not get the credit. His naysayers are more likely to spin more complaints than give credit where it’s due. Such is the toll of sitting in the Oval Office, and the dynamics would be the same regardless of an elephant or a donkey in the room. I’m not saying I am happy to pay over five dollars a gallon for gas. I too would love to see prices drop. But I look at the situation with a lens that gives me a big picture perspective. Raping the earth of her resources is not my right as a human being and feeling entitled to drive my car of choice are not tenets of patriotism. Americans' dependency on oil is abominable and must be examined. We, as consumers, are in part to blame for fuel prices. Our short term wants affect more than our wallets. We are selfishly blind to think we are mere victims.

The truth is, the President does not have the power, ability, or means to control what we pay at the pump. Fuel prices are driven by fluctuating costs of crude oil and the costs associated with refinery and distribution prices, corporate greed profits, and taxes. Most of all, gas prices are fueled by simple supply and demand. The more we drive and the more we feel entitled to drive our big guzzler cars, the more we pay. It’s a paradox. Americans use 20 percent of the world's oil, two-thirds of which is for transportation. Gasp. Consumption drives cost.

There is another layer of foreign relations and political gaming that interplays with oil prices. War is waged around the world for oil. It is liquid money indeed. But in the case of oil, that black gold also represents power, and the tilt of power to one country versus another can lead to perilous global instability. Our love affair with oil can lead to warfare. The dynamics of oil involve much more than fueling our cars, trucks, and boats. I realize that exorbitant gas prices prices are hurting our ability to work, save, travel, and consume.

The President cannot do much to control gas prices. But we can.

 

This post is part of a weekly conversation with our 5 Moms Matter 2012 political bloggers. To see the original question and what the other bloggers have to say, read Who's Responsible for Our High Gas Prices?


Image via futureatlas.com/Flickr

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