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It doesn’t take a rocket scientist

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May 1, 2011 by falcon7204

If you’re wondering why (a) gas prices are so high, (b) food prices are climbing, (c) the political discourse in this country sounds like it came from a sewer, and (d) everyone either acts depressed or angry, raise your hand.

So, why are you wondering?

As the title of this post indicates, it’s not hard to figure out what’s going on. Let’s take gas prices first. On January 20, 2009 (the date the current occupant of the White House was “inaugurated”), gas prices (for “reformulated” gasoline, or gasoline that has up to 10% ethanol) stood at a national average of $1.87 a gallon (as seen in this chart – scroll down to the bottom of the page). This was just months after gas prices hit a high of $4.24 a gallon in September, 2008.

Fast forward to today. Gas prices now stand at a national average of $3.879, not far off that 2008 peak. What are the reasons for this? There’s no way we can accurately determine all of the factors that go into gas and oil prices, but I have some theories (none of them scientific, all of them based on observational evidence, and just as valid, no doubt, as your own). First, when gas prices plummeted from their $4.24 high to $1.87 just four months before Obama’s inauguration, President George W. Bush rescinded an executive order that banned drilling off the US coastline. That order had been in place ever since his father was President. Obviously, rescinding the EO by itself had nothing to do with lowering gas prices, but in 2008 oil stood at an average of $91 a barrel. Move to January ’09, and oil was literally a third the cost ($33 a barrel). (Find these facts at http://inflationdata.com/inflation/inflation_Rate/Historical_Oil_Prices_Table.asp). So, what happened? It doesn’t seem likely that the US petroleum industry was able to drill enough in four months to lower the price of oil by 1/3. It’s more likely that oil traders, seeing the possibility that supply could increase, started trading oil futures at a lower price, and thus the per-barrel price dropped. Now, however, the Obama Administration has re-imposed a ban on offshore drilling in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and oil prices have shot back up. The unrest in the Middle East has contributed to the price of oil closing Friday at $113.73 a barrel for West Texas Intermediate. Add to this his statement on the campaign trail (in January of 2008) that under his “cap-and-trade” plan, energy costs would “necessarily skyrocket,” and the fact that a Federal judge has ruled his moratorium on drilling permits illegal (yet he’s doing it anyway), and one can see that the real reason gas prices are high is the current occupant of the White House.

Now, let’s turn to food costs. It takes energy to produce food and energy to transport food. If fuel costs are high, then food producers (farmers, processing plants, grain mills, manufacturers, etc.) pass those costs on to the consumer in order to try and maintain their profit margin. (What, you didn’t think these guys worked for free, didja?) So those higher costs to the producer translate to higher costs for the consumer – except we have no one to whom we can pass on these higher costs. We bear the burden all by ourselves. Again, higher energy costs = higher food costs.

The third (perhaps unconnected, perhaps not) element is the tone of political discourse in this nation. On the one side, we have people clamoring for Obama’s birth certificate, college records, passports, and anything else to prove he’s not eligible to be President. We also have folks attacking his policies, his use of signing statements and Executive Orders, his “czars” (political appointees who do Cabinet-level jobs yet are not vetted or confirmed by the Senate – remember Van Jones?), and his decision to unilaterally declare the Defense of Marriage Act “unconstitutional” and cease enforcement. On the other side, you have people who use the terms “birthers,” “truthers,” derogatory sexual slurs, and use misdirection to steer the debate away from the issues and shape their own narrative. (And oh, yeah, they use the media, too.) When faced with facts, they stick their fingers in their ears and say, “La la la, I can’t hear you.” (And frankly, we have some on the Right who do that, too.)

So that leads to point number four – everyone (or almost everyone) you meet is surly, dour, gloomy, sad, angry, insert-your-adjective here. Nobody I run into appears to be happy, and everyone has a complaint, whether it’s, “Leave Obama alone,” or, “That stupid Kenyan so-and-so, he’s ruining everything.”

And people still wonder why this is?

Folks, do me a favor. Ditch the alphabet networks. Lose the newspaper. Dig for your own facts, and make up your own mind. Take responsibility for your own political and economic education, and don’t rely on the so-called “experts” (most of whom work for the government anyway). As they said in The X-Files, “Trust No One.” Get the facts for yourself, and make up your own mind. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist.

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