That Halliburton gold must be heavy.
That Halliburton gold must be heavy.
Gas prices have dropped from a national average of $4.10 on July 16th to $2.78 today. Joe Six-Pack (or the Plumber) is probably pretty happy about that. $2.78 is also just about what a gallon cost last year at this time. What happened in the interim to drive prices up over that four dollar mark? Were the world’s oil reserves running dry without OPEC realizing it? Did everyone in America buy a Hummer and go joyriding? Don’t think so. And what drove the prices back down? Were previously untapped reserves discovered under Jed Camplett’s Bevery Hills Mansion? Was a well drilled under every moose track in Sarah Palin’s Alaskan wilderness? Did John McCain drill offshore wells faster than Wilt Chamberlain tapped stewardesses? Not likely.
However, there are several factors that can explain the astronomically rising prices:
During the Oil and OPEC friendly Bush administration, Oil Companies enjoyed record profits. It’s a wonderful example of cronyism establishing a friendly business environment. As Antonia Juhasz of the Asia Times notes:
What does $133 billion in profits buy an industry? It bought the oil industry at least eight years of a US “oiligarchy”: a government ruled by a small number of oil interests. The oil industry spent more money to get the George W Bush administration into office in 2000 than it has spent on any election before or since. In return it received, for the first time in American history, a president, vice president, and secretary of state who are all former oil company officials.
What this means is that you and I and everyone else in the United States has been–and will continue to be–manipulated. A survey of the past six years finds that in the election years of 2002, 2004, 2006, and now 2008, gas prices have taken a significant dip in the months of October and November.
It’s unlikely that this is coincidence or a result of Americans driving less because they enjoy walking in the crisp fall air. It’s simply government-aided capitalism (Does that sound familiar?) at its finest.
Gas prices rose unitl the citizenry became aggravated to the point (apparently just short of $5 a gallon) where our legislators were forced to actually do their jobs. Bills like the PUMP Act and the Close the Enron Loophole Act were introduced. Gas prices started their slide. Now the American public is quick to forget they were shelling out $4 a gallon this summer and are happy to fork over $2.78 (only 30% more than two years ago!). Let’s hope that the legislation doesn’t disappear along with the peoples’ agitation.
Of course, to maintain the status quo, President W Bush and his oil sidekicks know that it’s best to keep the masses pacified, especially in an election year. The Republicans can’t have Obama ranting and raving about gas prices can they? People might actually be reminded to listen when they go to fill up at the local Quickie Mart.
So, not so mysteriously, gas prices have receded. In the words of Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten: ”Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”
Have no fear, by New Years 2009 the price of a gallon of gas will be closer to $4.00 than our peaceful $2.78. It is supply and demand. The American people have a great supply of money and the oil companies will once again demand it. Common sense tells us that the final month of 2008 may be Big Oil’s last chance before they ride off into the sunset with the Bush gang. Then again, they give money to Senators and Representatives and the Democratic candidate, too.
If you haven’t heard of the Enron Loophole, you’ve at least felt it–in your wallet, while pumping gas or paying your oil bill. Described in its simplest terms, it’s legislation passed in December of 2000 ( Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000) which deregulated electronic trading of energy futures. Why is this important? It’s the speculation and future trading of energy that is driving US gas prices toward $5.00 a gallon. Why is it called the Enron Loophole? Embedded Enron officials (there is no other way to describe them) in the government pushed through the legislation, strengthened it, benefited from it, and now protect it.
To gain a greater understanding of the Loophole, its creation, and the resulting it’s-the-people-who-always-get-screwed fallout, please watch the following video from Keith Olbermann’s Countdown (If you are a conservative and just reading “Olbermann” sends you into a heaving boil, please suck it up and take deep breaths for the duration. The bet here is you’ll be glad you saw it.)
The Hangover has been extremely critical of Republican policies and somewhat critical of the Democrats. But there is plenty of blame to be dished out for both parties in this instance. The seeds of deregulation were planted in the waning days of the Clinton administration. Deregulation was commissioned and intensified in the blatantly corrupt Bush administration. But as the Countdown report reveals, Congress was fully aware of the effect that the Enron Loophole had on gas and oil prices: Big oil and Enron cronies make money; the rest of us get screwed. And for the most part, Congress sits on its collective ass. As The Hangover has asked before: Where’s the outrage?
This scheme has continued and thrived for eight years now. As Olbermann reports, gas prices have more than doubled, as have heating oil costs. It’s interesting (not to mention ‘hideous’) to note that there are Democrats (aren’t they the ones who are supposed to look out for us regular folk?) in both the Senate and House of Representatives. However, it cannot be substantiated that more than a few them (Go Dennis Kucinich!) have integrity, conviction, or backbones.
Although many experts believe an end to this unregulated speculation would drop gas prices to near $2.00 a gallon, Congress has been slow to act. It is only recently that legislators tried to increase regulation and eliminate the loophole that has its heel on our gas-buying throats. There was an amendment placed in the Farm Act (HR 2419) that increased energy commodity trading transparency but did not eliminate the loophole. Companion 2007 “Close the Enron Loophole” bills languish in Senate and House committees. Tom Allen (D) of Maine and Bart Stupak (D) of Michigan will be introducing the PUMP Act (Prevent Unfair Manipulation of Prices) later this month. Olympia Snowe (R) of Maine will be co-sponsoring a companion bill in the Senate.
But why has it taken so long for our elected representatives to act? If eliminating the loophole will instantly ease the energy burden on Americans, legislation doing so should have been pushed through Congress with focus and ferocity. It’s not hyperbole or out-of-the-box thinking to suggest that most Americans would greatly benefit from lower gas and energy costs.
Apparently The Hangover has made another foolish mistake. It’s not “the people” who run our government. It’s the corporate lobbyists and policy foundations who dish out the dollars and wield influence in our nation’s capitol. For the most part, they’re the ones who control legislation, and they’re only looking out for the interests they represent. If you doubt it, look at the receipt from your last fill-up and consider the following:
And one more thing: Former Enron executives hover like buzzards over Washington. They and their ilk talk to your Senators and Congressmen everyday. Do you?
With John Edwards dropping out of the race today, The Hangover’s perfect record is intact. Since turning twenty, I’ve never supported a winning Presidential candidate. Edwards’ aim was true. Corporations and special interests do have a stranglehold on Washington. Jerry Brown won six states in the ’92 Primary Season running on a similar platform (and taking no contributions more than $100), and he was up against living legend Bill Clinton. Edwards delivered his message with passion, and The Hangover hopes that he does the right thing and gets behind the candidate whose beliefs are closest to his own, Barack Obama. Political expediency may dictate otherwise–and that’s when The Hangover’s outrage meter will hit the red-line.
Apparently, the American people are fine with Halliburton, Exxon, GM, Citigroup, Bank of America, etc.., dictating policy for the United States. Pretty soon, we’ll all be working at Burger King or Wal-Mart anyway. But at least the earnings-per-share numbers will look good. Who could ask for more?
The Hangover doesn’t get it. People refuse to vote in their own economic and political self interest. Are they spoon fed by the media? Has sugar rotted their brains as well as their teeth? Are we secretly being hypnotized by subliminal messages during The Simpsons and Desperate Housewives? Is there Kool-Aid being passed around that I’m missing out on?
These questions must be answered. To do so, The Hangover is going underground. For the next seven days I will infilitrate one of this country’s most insidious and underhanded large corporations. I’m not sure that I’ll be able to get word out while undercover. Short of a complete brainwashing, The Hangover will return on February 7th. Patti Hearst has yet to hear the worst of Hangover.