“Well, obviously we have a RAPIST in Lincoln Park. He’s climbin’ in your windows, he’s snatchin’ your people up, tryin’ to rape ‘em. So y’all need to hide your kids, hide your wife, and hide your husband cause they’re rapin’ everybody out here.”
The problem is, it’s not just Lincoln Park — the former Huntsville, Ala., housing project where Antoine Dodson used to live — it’s nationwide. Gasoline prices are up more than a dollar a gallon since this time last year and it’s estimated this adds an additional $1,000 annually, providing you have a car and enjoy using it. AAA reports an 18% increase in motorists running out of fuel, concluding that it’s harder to keep the tank filled up these days.
Predictions of $5.00/gallon by Memorial Day barely had a chance to set in before the $6.00/gallon touts became even more credible. Summer months naturally increase demand — people get out of the house, they do things — plus the spring transition to summer blends bogs down refineries. There’s always a rise in April, the national average just usually isn’t $3.90/gallon this prematurely; so soon to be grabbing ankles, thinking what tomorrow may bring.
In early March, I drove to the bank and gas next door was $3.49/gallon. I left the bank five minutes later and that same gas was $3.53/gallon. I vowed never to go to that bank again. Look at those prices and ask yourself which Amy Winehouse body part would you place your tongue against in order to get those numbers today. It’s a seller’s market and unfortunately Amy knows this too.
What could possibly be causing the price increase? The magic bullet theories naturally lead to oil company greed — you can’t dismiss the record profits in the latest quarterly reports — as well as speculators, price gougers and miscellaneous invisible straw men.
Just once, can a president of the United States be clear, candid and specific? “It was Brian, who works at the Chevron in Woodland Hills. We have him in custody. Expect gas prices to return to normal over the next several weeks. God Bless America.”
The media isn’t offering a consistent answer either. When gas prices rose under George W. Bush, it was his fault. Under Barack Obama, it’s said that the president has little to do with it. Fine either way, but pick one and stick with it.
Of course, speculators are betting heavy on crude prices continuing to rise. What’s not to like about that bet? Would you bank on oil prices dropping anytime soon? If no, congratulations, you’re now a commodities advisor. Gas prices have increased 38 days in a row! This is DiMaggio territory. Those who invest in such things will speculate that the price will drop if measures are put in place to drive the price down — and you’ll never hear about them then.
Last week, President Obama formed a commission to find out who and what is responsible for inflicting pain at the pump which now exceeds the level that human beings of the American variety are normally resigned to accept. The pain goes beyond the pump. Higher diesel prices translate into “higher everything that needs to be transported,” otherwise known as “all that stuff you buy.” Ethanol pumping up food prices; fruits and vegetables up 33% over the last 3 months, cotton up 40% in 2011 and coffee at its highest price since 1977; beef prices up 12% since last year and pork up 11%. According to the USDA, expect beef to increase 8% in the next two weeks, pork 7.5%, fats and oils 7%, and fruits and vegetables 4%.
It can’t be: increased hostility in the Middle East; added worldwide demand, especially China and India; the Saudi’s cutting production by 800,000 barrels/day in March specifically to drive the price up; 62% higher crude prices since last May; unrest in Libya restricting European supply, thus tapping into our sources; Iran’s threat to block the Strait of Hormuz, potentially closing off one of the most highly-used crude oil shipping passages in the world; not a single new refinery built in the United States since 1976; environmental regulations and political games which allows oil companies to drill in areas where the oil isn’t, but not in the areas where the oil is; a proposed National Energy Tax specifically designed to be regressive, raising the price so we’ll use less; federal land grabs preventing areas from being explored privately; White House moratoriums in the aftermath of last year’s BP spill which have ground domestic drilling on land and off-shore to a standstill.
No, it’s Phil at the local Exxon trying to milk another 4 cents a gallon or investors playing the market. There’s a good argument that the reaction to the BP disaster is precisely what set speculators in motion to play for the price increases we’re living today. Cause meets effect.
This presidential commission on rising fuel costs will reach the same conclusions as all that preceded it — it’s not Steve from Woodland Hills or Phil at Exxon, it’s a variety of factors and many are beyond our control. But we can plan for that and be prepared for the obvious, which we simply aren’t doing — and the findings will largely be ignored.
The “Jed Clampett Time Travel” theory will tell you what you need to know. You may recall, Jed was a poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed. One day, he was shootin at some food and up through the ground came a bubblin crude.
He moved the family to Californy and thanked us folks every week for kindly droppin in. Why not? They left Bug Tussle with the equivalent of 178 million in today’s dollars. Laughs ensue.
That was 1962, now flash forward 50 years …
While hunting, Jed strikes oil on his worthless swamp land. Assuming he has a permit for the firearm, was hunting in season and there are no issues with Fish and Game, before the oil company can purchase the land and cut Jed a check, the EPA must first examine the property damage caused by the spill. Penniless, Jed can’t possibly afford the legal battle and isn’t allowed to sell the oil to pay the outrageous fines. Attorneys for an oil company interesting in the property agree to represent him in what turns out to be a 15-year court battle. Forced to cap the well until the case is resolved, Jed battles a steady stream of lawsuits from environmental groups, one of which discovers a rare strain of mosquito larva roughly 500 feet from the first proposed derrick site. The property is zoned as a “protected watershed and sensitive wildlife habitat” and the case is dismissed before it reaches the Supreme Court. In personal matters, kept in too close proximity of one another, Jethro repeatedly beds twin sister Jethrine and the inbreeding results are illustrious. Unable to use the land as intended, the oil company bills Jed for a mountain of legal fees he has no ability to pay. He could barely support Granny before ATF raided her rheumatism medicine factory, let alone the steep bond in the upcoming federal probe against her for transporting alcohol across state lines. The town seizes the property using eminent domain, citing its value exceeds the tax revenue it currently receives from Jed. The ASPCA reports Elly May for animal hoarding, she’s jailed and never meets Dash Riprock.
No fancy eating table, no cement pond.
There’s an answer in here somewhere. Times have changed. Hide your kids, hide your wife, and hide your husband.
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