Time for Wind, Solar to Power America
There's good news and bad news about gasoline prices. The good news is that the cost of a gallon of gas has dropped below $1.50 for the first time in four years. The bad news is that OPEC, the international cartel that controls 40 percent of the world's oil supply, can tighten the spigot and send prices skyrocketing anytime it desires.
It already has set a goal of reducing oil supplies by 2 million gallons.
Much to OPEC's displeasure, the elasticity of demand kicked in when prices hit $4 a gallon. Enough Americans -- and those in China and India, too -- rebelled and curbed their appetite for gasoline and oil. In the U.S, some people awakened to the reality of public transportation; others used their cars more efficiently by combining multiple chores in single trips, and others car-pooled to their jobs. And factories in the U.S. and around the world tightened their production belts, reducing demand for the oil that fuels electric generation stations. And some people heating their homes with oil turned down their thermostats.
The red flag went up for OPEC. It can't continually raise prices without inviting an oil market collapse. Surely it must realize that it's counterproductive to push prices higher and higher indiscriminately.
OPEC's price explosions hit the global economy with a double whammy. Not only had the cost of gasoline and home heating oil severely impacted the budgets of America's middle class, but also anything that moves by truck, airplane or cargo ship -- which accounts for practically all consumer goods -- increased in price. It's no wonder that people on tight budgets granted easy mortgages were forced into foreclosure.
Monopoly does more than raise prices. It breeds ever-increasing greed that undermines the capitalist system. If those ministers to OPEC operated in the United States they would be prime candidates for a prison cell. Conspiracy to fix prices is a crime in America and has been since the days of Teddy Roosevelt.
The magic price for gasoline seems to be around $4 a gallon. Anything higher and OPEC may wallow in a glut of its own oil.
It may raise the hackles of Americans in love with their automobiles, but a $2 a gallon tax on gasoline could put the country on the road to energy independence. With the tax or without it, the price of gasoline is likely to level off around $4 a gallon. In the first instance, the extra $2 would go into the U.S. Treasury and in the second it would go into the pockets of the price fixers in OPEC.
Take your choice, America. Some of that $2 tax on gasoline could be designated to reduce payroll taxes, making it easier for those impacted by high gasoline prices.
It's an economic postulate that taxes tend to drive out goods and subsidies promote them. For America to achieve energy independence, that's the key. Say "good riddance" to foreign oil and "welcome" to solar panels and windmills.
Former Vice President Al Gore's obsession with clean air to save the planet has landed an important sponsor, President-elect Barack Obama. He envisions clean air and energy independence as the keystone of his recovery program for America. His goal is to create two and a half million new jobs.
For America to outsource its oil needs is just plain stupid -- sorry, but there's no other way to put it. We might as well outsource the production of nuclear weapons. Today's military machines, as well as an economy, run on oil. America's ability to become the arsenal of democracy in World War II was in part due to the vast reservoirs of oil within its borders.
Unfortunately, there's no shortage of stupidity in America. This country, which proudly and determinedly extinguished the tyranny of the Nazis and Fascists in World War II and ministered to the rebirth of freedom in war-ravaged Europe, has defied scientific evidence in the last eight years and poured record amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. By sticking our head in the sand, we have encouraged developing nations to ignore the threat to the planet.
Fortunately, there's a new incoming administration in Washington that recognizes the problems and is offering solutions.
Here in Vineland we have a problem. City Council and the Municipal Electric Utility seem to be on a mad scramble to build a $60 million fossil fuel generating station that will spew more pollutants into the atmosphere. Unfortunately they have the sanction of a flawed referendum -- no mention was made of price -- and the utility stood the meaning of "independence" on its head. The plant would import more oil or natural gas from other parts of the U.S. or from abroad starting in 2012.
By that time, we might see a carbon tax on our electric bills.
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