Wednesday, May 21, 2008

OIL!

BIG OIL.

So Congress finally decided to put the screws to the oil companies...don't hold your breath on anything coming from it.

For years Democrats pretended to wage war with the corporate executives who run the larger oil companies. The term BIG OIL is one that Big Oil companies hate because it demonizes them when all they are guilty of doing is running a successful business. By throwing them all under the same header, we hold them in the same esteem as BIG TOBACCO .

Big Oil companies maintain that they haven’t misled the consumer. If anything oil companies have brokered their buying power to keep prices at the pump low. Record profits are the product of record consumption.

To some degree that’s true. Nobody really seems overly upset that FAST FOOD has effectively conspired to fatten us up. Ronald McDonald is just as guilty as Joe Camel or the Marlboro Man when it comes to steering children down an unhealthy path but yet we still line up for BOGO Big Macs with little concern for right and wrong.

Then again, fast food franchises are struggling in the current economy. Americans have slowly been opting for healthier food and that’s put iconic chains under the gun to compete. Big oil companies don’t have any competition and they’ve been conspiring to control the market for decades. What’s more, oil companies have been receiving government subsidies. That’s right, in spite of being the only businesses to see consistent growth in what has been a chaotic economy over the past 7 years, nobody has seen fit to pull the free money our federal government has forking over.

Americans are finally feeling the sting of fuel costs and they don’t like it. But what are they going to do? Consumption is finally starting to slow down now that gasoline is at the $4.00 per gallon mark but our society is dependent on internal combustion. Most of the American workforce does not have access to reliable public transportation. Of all the major metropolitan areas in the US only a handful have the infrastructure to get people to work via rail or bus. Uncontained urban sprawl makes it impossible for late-blooming cities to accommodate transit needs.

Americans have to drive our country is built around the car. That’s been an important factor in our development as a country but now, with pollution and fuel consumption becoming problematic our dependence on individual transportation will hurt our ability to compete in the global economy. That’s thanks in large part to Big Oil.

By failing to invest government subsidies into research and development, oil companies have fallen short on the goal of producing an alternative fuel to oil. Now that prices are climbing we’re seeing half-baked ideas such as ethanol being foisted on the market. Ethanol’s been around for such a long time that we shouldn’t have so many problems with efficiency and distribution but the oil companies did just enough to appease certain benchmarks. Once an oil friendly administration assumed control those benchmarks were set aside.

The same thing happened to the Big Three automotive manufacturers. Once Bush assumed control of the White House projects such as electric cars and fuel cells took a back seat. Economy standards were set aside and Americans were buying trucks in record numbers. Now Honda and Toyota have become the automotive juggernauts, Chrysler is owned by foreign interests and Ford is dangerously close to going out of business.

Now that people are upset and questions are being asked, the American consumer is taking the blame. Big Oil is playing the role of victim in this scandal. The reality is that the American people are the victims. Our leaders failed to recognize market trends and corporate leaders gleefully held back the development of fuel efficient technology over the last 10 years. Now that people are warming up to the idea of bio diesel we realize that there aren’t any late model passenger vehicles with diesel available. Now that E-85 seems like a reasonable alternative we learn that all those flex fuel vehicles we’d been hearing about were distributed to states that required them by law, and of course there aren’t any E-85 pumps within a days drive of most consumers.

Americans might be guilty of being na├»ve but that doesn’t mean we weren’t led astray by people who knew better. Big Oil should be held accountable…


…but they won’t.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

People need to live closer to where they work and buy smaller cars. In the long run this will be a good thing. Additionally, our politicians can accept the blame for weakening US currency which also contributes to heightened oil prices (probably 50% of the increase). Stodgy corporations should also be more open to let people work from home.