Why All Americans Are to Blame For High Gas Prices


Don't blame Iran or Saudi Arabia or regulations or environmental activists. We all have only ourselves to blame for higher oil prices. 

From Obama to the Republican presidential candidates to the large oil companies themselves, America has allowed itself to become beholden to industry executives and addicted to oil. Unless the country demands a sincere and lasting commitment to alternative energy and is willing to reign in out-of-control Wall Street speculators, Americans should get used to paying +$5 at the pump. 

In this presidential campaign season, Republican primary candidates and the conservative base love to fault Obama for the rising gas prices, but the truth is we are all to blame.

Obama should take some of the culpability for the high price at the pump, but not for reasons Republicans like to stick it to him on. The Republican attacks that climbing oil prices are due to Obama's unwillingness to open up oil fields or deregulate the industry hold no real merit. Even if administration were to reverse course and allow for the Keystone XL Pipeline to be built (which it shouldn't) the pipeline wouldn't be finished for another several years at the earliest. Additionally, building a new rig, takes a similar length of time, meaning that such new projects would add no additional oil for some time. Even lifting deregulations wouldn't help all that much, given that America is so flush with black gold that we are now exporting it. 

Where Obama should be faulted however, is in his failure to reign in Wall Street oil speculators who are unscrupulously jacking up its price by betting wild sums of money on speculative assertions. The same traders who pushed the housing bubble until it popped and who brought the global economy to its knees are now at it again, hoping to profit off of fears of political instability while average Americans are forced to pay for their gambles in the form of higher prices at stations across the country. What's worse however, is that these traders aren't reacting to market fears, they are driving them creating a false price point for oil far above its actual value. 

If Obama were to crack down on this exploitative practice and seriously take on the Wall Street speculators, gas prices would fall almost immediately. 

But even such a welcome move would do little to fix our unhealthy dependency to oil. Even if Obama were to act, prices will still eventually bounce back and America would be dangerously dependent on regional stability in the extremely volatile Middle East.

Therefore it's time that Republicans (and many Democrats, too) own up to their oil addiction and commit to cleaner and more energy efficient future. 

It is shameful to think that in five years America could build history's most powerful military and that in a decade the U.S. could put a man on the moon but more than 100 years after the first electric car, we celebrate 32 miles to the gallon as if it were an accomplishment.  

Yet that is the sad state of affairs of our current political system. We've fallen so low, that the "big thinker" Newt Gingrich has made denouncing and ridiculing algae, a possible clean, cheap and American energy alternative of the future, as a cornerstone of his campaign while Santorum treats science as if it were some demonic religious cult. 

Imagine if Kennedy had been swayed not to launch the space program because critics charged he was "living in fantasy land."

Should America truly commit to alternative energy like they committed to building our military during WWII or building our interstate roads after or building our space program under Kennedy, we could all be off oil and free of its economic vice within the decade. 

Instead, congressional lawmakers continue to be bought by big oil companies eager to reap windfall profits while Americans suffer under the weight of higher oil prices.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons