Friday, April 28, 2006

Is It Time Already?

Apparently, yes, I am going to have to say it every three months. Oil companies make money because they are big and sell lots of a product that people buy. And there's nothing inherently wrong with that. (Though, ahem, why do they need subsidies, exactly?)

Let's put it this way, Atrios and Krauthammer seem to be in agreement. Which means either the world is in fact coming to an end (though I haven't seen the winged pigs which make up the second part of that prophecy), or it's all a bit overblown.


While I understand that high gas prices do in fact cause economic pain to people and I'm also generally happy for people to blame George Bush and Republicans for their woes, the media coverage of the gas issue is really getting silly.

If you thought the Dubai port deal marked a record high in Washington cynicism, think again. Nothing can match the spectacle of politicians scrambling for cover during a spike in gasoline prices. And this time the panderfest has gone all the way to the Oval Office. President Bush has joined the braying congressional hordes by ordering the Energy and Justice departments and the Federal Trade Commission to launch an investigation into possible gasoline price fixing.
Ahem, looking at you, Hastert.

Though Yglesias has a decent point here, (yes it's pandering, but it's smart pandering from the Dems with little downside.) I think there is mileage (har) to be had by viewing high gas prices as an both an outcome of our current energy policies (har har) and as necessary incentive to become less dependant on oil for both economic and security reasons.

And Kinsley makes a reasonable argument about taxing 'excess profits,' however you choose to define the term:
some or all of these profits are directly related to a situation that is imposing huge sacrifices -- financial and otherwise -- on others: that is, the Iraq war.

Because of the war, the government is adding hundreds of billions to the burden of debt that all taxpayers, including other businesses, will have to pay off. Because of the war, American soldiers by the hundreds, and Iraqis by the thousands, are paying the ultimate tax of death by government policy. And because of the war, American oil companies are raking in extra billions in profits.
It would certainly go a way to at eliminating at least certain...perceptions about corporate influence over policy, wouldn't it?

A final question, why do we view cheap gasoline and mammoth cars as birthrights, but not universal healthcare?


slickdpdx said...

Bush policies certainly have some role in the increasing prices. (If nothing else, I imagine the military is burning incredible amounts of fuel over what they do in peacetime.) However, there's also this sinister angle that Bush is an oil man (etc) that I haven't seen support for. But, I must admit its an area I don't know a whole lot about.
Has Bush taken any special action to favor the oil companies?

Pooh said...

Well, there was the issue of the closed door meetings with Cheney's energy commission and oil execs, which they then denied ever happened (after which, Uncle Ted Stevens [Pork-AK] refused to put the execs under oath at hearings...) Again, no fire there, but plenty of smoke.

There is plenty of other stuff from GWB's almost scoffing attitude towards conservation (there's a particularly juicy Ari Fleischer quote you can look up), his general pro-corporate stance, the no-bid contracts both here and in the ME, the lack of any coherent energy policy beyond "DRILL MORE," general hostility to environmental measures (opposition to Kyoto and CAFE standards), etc. Not to mention rather cozy relationships with various ME ruling families.

DJ Ninja said...

Jon Tierney made the point in this weekend's NYC: The solution to high oil prices is, um, high oil prices.