May 20, 2008
Blame Congress for High Gas Prices
by Donald G. Mashburn

Motorists gripe about the higher – and going higher – price of gasoline. Members of Congress hear those gripes, but do nothing useful. Liberals in Washington are quick to blame the oil companies, and hold hearings on “windfall profits,” and the reasons for high crude oil and gasoline prices.

Hypocrites! Bovaristic charlatans! Are there no honest members left in Congress?

From the gaseous blathering and false charges about high gasoline prices and oil company profits, one could conclude that the age of honesty in the legislative branch has passed.

The loud cries, hand wringing and finger pointing come from the hypocrites in Congress who continue to play the old political game of shifting the blame from themselves for oil shortages and high gasoline prices. For any objective observer knows that these two-faced, forked-tongue false accusers of the oil industry are, themselves, to blame for the demand-supply imbalance that causes pain at the pump for every motorist.

When a Congress repeatedly blocks drilling on 85 percent of our prospective oil acreage offshore, and continues to ban drilling in a limited part of the barren and desolate region of ANWR, they have no right to whine about oil shortages.

They have continued to pander to special interests by beating the better-gas-mileage and alternative-fuel drums. But only the most gullible would believe that we could meet the energy needs of the world’s most prolific economy by mandating higher fuel efficiency for cars.

And by now it’s clear to even the most obtuse Liberal we can’t ride biofuels to energy independence. And it should be clear to these hypocritical non-thinkers that no single source of energy – be it biomass, tar sands, oil shale, or even coal – can do it. And if gasoline at $4.00 a gallon doesn’t reduce consumption enough to help, it should be apparent that whatever mileage requirements are demanded of automobile manufactures, we can’t “save” our way out the shortfall petroleum.

In a nutshell, simply stated, there’s no “free ride” to energy independence. Still, some politicians and others prattle on about “energy independence.” But the prattlers don’t talk about petroleum consumption topping 21 million barrels per day (BOPD) this year.

Nor do they mention that U.S. oil production, in 2007, averaged only 5.17 million BOPD, including Alaska, while our petroleum consumption ran 20.77 million BOPD, of which motor gasoline was 9.03 million BOPD.

It’s time citizens put some blunt questions to their representatives in Congress. These should start with:

Why has domestic oil production been allowed to decline to only some 5 million barrels per day?

Why has no new refinery come on stream in the U.S. since 1976?

Why are some 85 percent of our coastal waters closed to drilling?

Why has drilling been blocked in the barren, ugliest part of ANWR?

If we cannot get sensible answers – a tall order, considering how wrong-headed Congress has been where energy policy is concerned – we should tell them plainly they are the biggest part of the energy problem and they will not receive our votes for reelection.

We should tell them in plain English that for a properly equipped military, and for a strong economy, a common sense energy policy is probably the top priority of this nation.

Then we should tell them to cut out the bull baloney, let our companies develop our own oil and gas – instead of shipping our weakened dollars to the Middle East and Africa.

Obama Lacks Leadership Credentials

As the race for the Democratic presidential nominee draws nearer to the finish line, the media seem to have forgotten Hillary Clinton’s charge that Barack Obama lacks the experience to head the world’s most powerful nation.

Obama supporters – often quite young – continue to make unsupported claims that he would be a “great leader.” They choose to ignore that Obama’s resume shows he’s only about three years and five months out of the Illinois State Legislature, and has never been in executive charge or command of anything.

He’s served a little over half of his first U.S. Senate term, and has done nothing noteworthy. So how can Obama possibly be a great leader?

It’s scary to think that enough people could agree with Obama supporters – and with Jeremiah Wright’s and Obama’s complaints about all that’s wrong with America – that they could actually consider making Obama chief executive of the world’s most powerful nation, and commander-in-chief of the world’s strongest military.

Capitalism—Not Perfect, But Certainly the Best
By Nathan Tabor

As the United States endures another presidential election, there is widespread anxiety over the state of the economy. The subprime mortgage crisis, and the subsequent collapse of the housing market have cast a pall across even the most optimistic projections. In response, many Americans look to government to alleviate their concerns and usher in a new cycle of economic growth. Though such impulses are understandable, it would be a grave mistake to take any steps which would lead us away from the free market.

The reason to hold fast to free market principles is simple: no other institution can so effectively meet the wants and needs of American citizens.

The roots of our economic system can be found in the basic human drive to create, buy, and sell – interactions, which have taken place since human beings began to form communities. These interactions are entirely voluntary – no government ruled that they should take place; rather, they have occurred spontaneously as human beings seek to satisfy their desires for food, comfort, and entertainment.

For that reason, buying and selling only occurs when both parties stand to benefit from the exchange. The other side of the coin is that neither party is interested in paying more than he or she believes a particular good or service is worth.

In the free market system, price and value are determined by the time, labor and expenses that contribute to the finished product, as well as the total supply of such products on the market, their availability to the customer, and the customer’s need for the product. This incredibly complex latticework of variables is what sets prices, and determines value in such a way that the manufacturers’, the buyers’, and the sellers’ considerations all factor into the equation.

In short, the genius of the free market system is its ability to process and transmit information to billions of people while continuously adapting in response to the actions of its participants.

Government intervention into economic activity, on the other hand, usually results in a form of price control. In contrast to the free market, which sets prices according to the behavior of people, government’s attempt at determining price is always arbitrary, for it cannot grasp the concept of value in a market system. This is why government intervention into the price mechanism usually worsens, rather than alleviates, economic crisis.

In response to the embargo set by OPEC in 1974, the United States interfered with supply and demand by rationing gasoline. There were long lines at gas stations, and citizens could only buy gas on certain days of the week. And yet, in Germany and Japan, there were no gas lines. The reason is that Germany and Japan allowed the market to continue to set gas prices. As supply went down and demand remained constant, prices went up.

The increase in price transmitted valuable information to consumers: gasoline is less readily available than it was a few months ago. The United States attempted to avert the crisis by superseding the market, and paid an economic price for that action.

As the United States attempts to weather the housing crisis and slowing of the economy, it is important to remember that there are no quick fixes; no silver bullets. Government tampering with the machinery of the market tends to come at a steep price. The best course for now is for businesses and consumers alike to exercise caution and prudence in their dealings.

The market forces will balance, as they always do, and hard work and ingenuity will continue to be rewarded in the land of opportunity., is Nathan Tabor’s grassroots political forum; he is also the founder and president of the Faith, Family, Freedom Alliance.

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions expressed by contributors are not necessarily those of Sage Commentary.