That’s what big oil corporations have reaped during an economic period that has left millions of Americans bankrupt, underemployed and without health coverage. Since 2001, big oil companies have exploited every angle from war to tropical storms in an effort to charge increasingly high prices for fuel.
The American people share part of the blame. Our refusal to practice conservation and demand better fuel economy resulted in a dangerous dependence on oil, but much of the blame for rising fuel costs falls on the Bush administration and key members of the Republican party who are in the back pocket of big oil and other corporations.
Bush has used the high fuel prices to create a nationwide hysteria over foreign oil. Legislation has been proposed and passed that has drastically reduced environmental protection regulations and big oil has its sights set on our national parks, forests and wildlife refuges as potential oil fields.
In spite of all of the spin, the fact is big oil is taking advantage of cronyism to pad its pockets while it can. The technology that can but big oil out of business can no longer be restrained and the future brings the promise of fuel cells, renewable combustion fuel sources and dramatically increased fuel economy. Concern over emissions, dwindling oil reserves and global participation in the quest for better energy technology is chipping away at the economic foundation companies like Exxon, Marathon, and BP have built over the past 100 years.
The Bush administration has not been very aggressive in promoting conservation initiatives. Sure, they’ve paid some lip service to certain talking points that sound good, but nothing has been done to mandate improved fuel economy. Nothing has been done to prepare this country to make a transition from fossil fuel dependence to agricultural alternatives. The truth is, the Bush administration has effectively made us even more dependent on oil.
The results have been detrimental. American automotive giants, Ford and Chevy are in the process of cutting tens of thousands of jobs amidst massive revenue shortfalls, while Honda has seen impressive growth. Why? Fuel economy. While Chevy and Ford were racing to build a bigger pickup, Honda kept it’s eye on improved fuel economy. When the gas prices went up, buyers walked away from monstrous trucks and purchased smaller cars.
It’s no secret that the global reserves of oil are finite. One of the reasons there is so much unrest in the Middle East is because oil fields are becoming less productive. The combination of religious fundamentalism and illiteracy are major components of the chronic instability, but there is a sense of urgency among the people in power that compels leaders to fortify their positions in the coming years. Religion is simply a means of obfuscation. Oil will begin to run out and the only bargaining chip that anybody in the Middle East will have is power. That explains the desire for weapons of mass destruction
Since taking office Bush has demonstrated considerable favoritism toward industrial interests, particularly big oil. His refusal to impose a windfall tax on the massive profits reaped by oil companies demonstrates his painfully obvious bias. While it is easy to make the argument that it defies the spirit of capitalism to impose such a tax on a profitable business, the nature of the oil industry is a special case. The future of this country depends on solvent energy supplies. Oil companies have conspired with each other to set prices, with the government to maintain energy dependence on oil and with other businesses to ensure an unhealthy addiction to oil. The government isn’t suspending capitalism, big oil has long abandoned the spirit of a free market.
It is up to our elected leaders to balance the needs of the present with those of future generations. By failing to take a proactive stance on oil, Bush has allowed our country to reach the precipice of systemic economic collapse. Because we are not aggressively implementing renewable energy alternatives, our immediate and long term future is in jeopardy. Bush is to blame.