Gas prices are marching steadily upwards -- past three dollars at my local suburban station, and a couple of dimes more than that in Chicago. Why? Part of the rise is seasonal in nature: Demand increases going into summer to fill up those cars going on family vacations. Also, as summer proceeds into fall, refineries start refining more heating oil from crude and less gasoline. Part of the rise can be attributed to the lack of refineries in America -- government rules and regulations (and the NIMBY [Not In My Backyard] dynamic) have halted the building of American refineries. Our country is more reliant than ever on refineries located in foreign nations. They can turn the faucet on and off at will.
States such as my own Illinois have very arcane rules regarding the blends of gasoline permissible to sell, and that increases cost. Demand for energy is increasing around the world as some signs of economic recovery take hold, especially in booming China.
Years of government obstruction in tapping our offshore and onshore stores of black gold have played a role. A little-mentioned cause is the fact that our Federal Reserve and the Democrat-led government are printing so much cash that our dollar is becoming Weimar Wallpaper -- an increasingly worthless slip of paper that retains value against the Euro only because the EU is farther along, for now, into socialism than we are.
Here is my question.
Why are Democrats silent about the gas rise? After all, aren't oil companies their favorite bogeymen? They like to bully Big Oil every now and then -- especially when gas prices rise. This certainly occurred a great deal when we had a Texan as president and a vice president with leadership links to Helliburton (misspelling intended). But they have always done so when Republicans have any degree of power -- be they Texans or not. Bullying oil companies is a nice tool in the partisan tool belt.
James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal noticed a dynamic at work years ago. When Democrats are in control, homelessness is forgotten as an issue. However, when Republicans lead the government (particularly when Ronald Reagan was president), homelessness becomes the topic of the day. Taranto dubbed this the "homelessness watch."
How about calling this the "Gas Price Rise" watch? Democrats do not want to be on the watch when bad things happen because then the public may blame them. People may point out that Democrat policies -- such as the ones that led to a weak dollar, or that shut off vast areas of America to oil development and refinery-building -- have created the conditions that give rise to oil prices. Democrats and their friends in the liberal media just don't like people pointing out bad things happening when they have the keys to power.
Many liberals live in high-rises in urban areas, so they don't commute long distances to work, or if they do, then they use public transportation. They don't empathize with suburban or rural Americans or care about their troubles. Certainly our president is outright disdainful towards them (suburbs bore me, rural people are bitter and cling to their guns and religion). After all, suburban and rural people are Tea-Partying racists who deserve no respect.
But one more factor may be at work.
Democrats really like it when gas prices rise. They just use it as a bludgeon to whack Republicans when it is politically useful to do so.
After all, people such as New York Times columnist Tom Freidman have long advocated higher taxes on gas to reduce demand and make "renewable energy" less foolish. Haven't we been told for years by the nattering nabobs of the nanny nation that gasoline price rises are good for us? Why are these powers-that-be also trying to shut down the development of shale gas, a clean burning domestic resource that our nation has in vast abundance?
In fact, Democrats do like high gas prices because it allows them to justify the irrational and costly subsidies and tax breaks they give to their friends in the "green movement" and their cronies who benefit from the drip, drip, drip of tax dollars going from the government IVs into their bank accounts. As I have written before, General Electric is a prime beneficiary of this government corporate welfare -- hence MSNBC's and NBC's devotion to Democrats.
Are liberals actually maneuvering to increase gas prices at the pump?
Long-anticipated climate-change legislation is scheduled to be unveiled in the Senate today. The ostensible purpose is to clean the air by cutting carbon emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. If the bill becomes law, though, consumers will get smoked as they are forced to pay more for a fill-up.
Backers of this measure are more beholden to ideology than reality. As scientific data shows the Earth is actually cooling, the only thing heating up is alarmist rhetoric. On Friday, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said the president believes "now more than ever is the time to act," indicating White House complicity in the push for higher gas prices. Attempting to impose new burdens on American families struggling in a buckling economy in hopes of mitigating an unproven climate theory says a lot about the O Force's warped priorities.
The widely reviled cap-and-trade plan would institute a Wall Street-type market for carbon permit exchanges. Cap-and-dividend would prohibit the marketing of carbon permits and instead collect revenues in a government account that would - in theory - be rebated to consumers. (Don't hold your breath waiting for that check.)
Whatever the taxing mechanism is called, the end result would be the same: the imposition of increased costs on all carbon-based energy products, which would be passed on to consumers. Americans would see steeper prices at the gas pump.
Is this the Democrats' dream? To finally be able to take advantage of gas price rises (that they have engineered) in order to force radical changes upon the American way of life? We have seen over the last seventeen months of Democratic rule that they couldn't care less about what Americans as a whole want (see Obamacare). They are determined to waterboard us with a bundle of new laws and regulations that will be shoved down our collective throats -- whether, to borrow a phrase from Barack Obama, "we like it or not."
This is the essence of liberal fascism. Americans are just dumb...we don't know what is good for us. We have deluded Don Quixotes tilting at windmills (and wind energy is disastrously inefficient and costly and has many problems associated with it -- unreliability of wind, transmission lines, medical complaints from neighbors) while the rest of us would rather see oil pumps (that occupy a very small footprint) on the horizon pumping out cheaper crude to fill our tanks. The only pumps the Obama team and their allies in Congress like are the ones pumping our green tax dollars to their pals and donors in the "renewable energy" racket of the Jolly Green Giant with the big carbon footprint: Al Gore. A digression: When I was young, the Burt Lancaster movie The Rainmaker made a powerful impression on me. Lancaster played a con man, Bill Starbuck, who comes into a drought-stricken small town promising to bring forth water from the skies like so much manna. His appeal was almost religious in nature; he promised and preached salvation. But he was just a con man -- a trickster who promised to change the weather for a price. We have a quite the crew of Bill Starbucks bellying up to the government trough. Starbuck was a fake -- and so are they.
Americans suffer, as lefty Thomas Frank reminds us, from false consciousness: We just are too ignorant to know what is good for us, what is pure and high-minded. Hence the need for our masters to take control.
Actually, I think liberals feel that suffering is good for us, that it makes us better people. After all, didn't Barack Obama hector us that we can't drive big cars or keep our thermostats in the comfort zone (while he makes the White House all but a Hawaiian-like sauna, according to David Axelrod, and meanwhile, he takes that big plane on overseas jaunts to help his cronies land the Olympics for Chicago, and flies to Broadway shows for a night on the town with Michelle). They want to punish us for all types of past transgressions against the liberal creed: colonialism, imperialism, materialism, for living in suburbs, for racism.
We have to consider the rest of the planet -- which couldn't care less about Americans -- and Mother Earth, the patron Goddess of all that is good and wonderful. Humanity -- particularly the American variety -- is bad.
We have utopian leaders with very little experience in the real world but plenty of experience in Ivy League classrooms, where high-minded platitudes substitute for empiricism and pragmatism. But they have the keys to the kingdom. For now.
They may try to silence Americans as they stuff policies down our windpipes -- but Americans will not remain silent. Never have, never will.
Liberation is coming -- not in the form of the Trinity of Pelosi, Reid, and Obama, but in the form of a ballot box.
November, here we come.
Ed Lasky is news editor of American Thinker.