What The President Can Do About The Price Of Gas

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 8.442% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

“When pollsters ask Republicans and Democrats whether the president can do anything about high gas prices, the answers reflect the usual partisan divisions in the country. About two-thirds of Republicans say the president can do something about high gas prices, and about two-thirds of Democrats say he can’t.
“But six years ago, with a Republican president in the White House, the numbers were reversed: Three-fourths of Democrats said President Bush could do something about high gas prices, while the majority of Republicans said gas prices were clearly outside the president’s control.”
I’m an honest Democrat, so I’m gonna tell you the truth: There’s not that much the President can fucking do about gas prices. So stop blaming him whether he’s Democratic or Republican or Libertarian or Green or Martian. Basically, we need this much gas to survive. Other, outside influences determine the cost of that gas, and there isn’t much we can do short-term to drop our collective usage. On a month-to-month basis, about the only thing the President can do is decide whether to open the strategic gas reserves, and even that’s a pretty stupid idea.
However, the President can influence the price of gas long-term by funding initiatives that reduce our reliance on gas. Oh, yes, I know Mr. Obama has taken a lot of heat from conservatives for investing in poor technologies like solar power, but those self-same conservative politicians back the funding of corn ethanol, which basically is like solar power except we spend infinitely more effort extracting the energy from corn farmers.
The truth is that America loves cars, and the only viable long-term strategy to reduce the effective cost of a limited resource that every other country in the world wants is to reduce our reliance on it. Sure, we can drill, baby, drill, but eventually oil’s going to get scarce enough that we’re going to regret having the transportation infrastructure of our entire country dependent on it.
Which is why we need a President who’s going to work towards other options – yes, I know, you conservatives, you have all the negative reactions towards “Let’s build trains” that most people do to kicking a baby, since it’s taking our freedom to drive wherever the fuck we want away from us! But the truth is that the paradigm of “everyone has a big ol’ expensive car” isn’t going to last forever, and we need to be prepared for the day that doesn’t work. Which will involve car regulation to mandate gas efficiency, the supporting of other technologies to at least the subsidy level and tax breaks we give to the oil companies, and – yes – an investment in public transportation that will not initially be profitable.  Just like all of those long-term military projects you never seem to mind funding.
I remember Borders, king of the bookstore world, going, “We’ll just let everyone make their mistakes in online bookselling, and then we’ll rush right in! We can make up that ground overnight!” And right now, conservative America’s going, “We’ll just let everyone else make their mistakes in creating efficient, non-gasoline-powered forms of energy, and then we’ll rush right in when we need to!” That didn’t work out so well for Borders, and it probably won’t work out so well for us. Especially since if gas hits seven bucks a gallon, which eventually it will barring the creation of biofuels, we’ll have a lot of poor people with no way to get to their jobs.
If you want someone who’s going to lower the price of gas long-term, then you gotta find a guy who believes that gas isn’t something America should rely upon. If you want someone who’s going to lower the price of gas next week, well, stop thinking that the President is a superhero who can break the laws of physics.  Whatever  party he belongs to.

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