Monday, April 04, 2005

oil,cigarettes and suv's 4/4/05

The current sharp rise in oil and gasoline prices brings to the forefront in my mind at least the question of “whether government is doing enough to protect the consumer and American industry?:”
Our economy is at the mercy of OPEC and oil speculators. When a major investment firm has its chief expert on oil futures announces that the price of oil could go well over 100 dollars the price of oil immediately (within seconds) shot up with ripple effects to our markets. Never mind the tremendous profit potential by his firm with such a rapid price rise, or that the production, supply and reserves of oil at present is adequate for our current needs. .Of course the caveat that oil could also go down is lost in the speculative frenzy.
Should not the SEC and other governmental bodies investigate on what basis this market jarring announcement was made? Should not the Congress initiate tax penalties for the huge windfall profits that the oil companies and the speculators are reaping? What about the oil windfall profits to Saudi Arabia estimated at 38 billion dollars.? Have they increased their aid to poor countries as a result?
Until the present I always agreed that we should not touch our oil reserves except in time of national emergency.However,the dangers to our economy, that this oil crisis is engendering should encourage the President to think out loud if only to frighten the speculators .He should muse about the possibility of tapping our reserves and possibly even doing it on one occasion to show that the threat to do so is real.
How often have we as a country talked about fuel conservation ? yet we observe that the supply of gas-guzzling SUV’s on the road seems to defy our national priorities. Even though we have fuel standard for fleets, my understanding is that these standards apply to the averages of a companies output. The individual car purchaser of an SUV or other gas guzzler is not penalized .
We feel no compunction as a society to tax, tax, and tax cigarettes. We understand that they are health hazards for society, and therefore in lieu of abolishing them we encourage state and federal government to tax them and hope thereby to indirectly reduce their usage.
The same principle should be applies to the SUV and non-commercial vans. As an auto driver I believe they are a danger on the road, and by their size encourage aggressive driving. But, it is for their fuel consumption that society should penalize them for not being considerate citizens. .
Yes I know about large families and car-pooling, but only economic pressure will force the auto makers to build more fuel efficient cars. As a country .even with the Alaska drilling down the pike, we are hostages to OPEC.Until we get our energy house in order we are sitting on a time-bomb.
We must likewise modernize our electric grid as the President has noted. .Ethanol research, alternate fuel research and greater use of coal in newer clean environments must become a top priority Tax incentives should be increased for the development and usage of energy saving modalities
Yes it is important for the President to preach Social Security and Medicare reform, but I believe tax legislation and a solid energy plan that will aim at the short and long- term problems must take priority