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Wish made by some politicians for $5 a gallon gas may come true

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POSTED April 26, 2011 12:26 a.m.
Dizziness followed by a nauseous feeling is the risk you take these days if you pump gas and watch the dial spin around.

The last fill-up cost me $45.32 for less than 11 gallons.

Another customer walking by commented I was lucky to be driving a hybrid as if I was immune from runaway gas prices. I told him yes and no. While I may indeed fill up only every two to three weeks due to the in-town mileage I get I paid a lot more upfront for the hybrid than I did a gas version of the Escape. And while I may find myself a bit ahead of the gas game over the past 63 months of owning a hybrid, I cannot escape the impact of high gas prices.

Since everything I consume is trucked, I am getting dinged with higher prices. It also takes fuel to grow crops, power railroads that move products great distances, and to run many power plants that provide electricity to retailers, and an endless list of economic producers in the service and manufacturing sectors.

There is no way any politician in Washington - whether it is Obama, previous presidents on either side of the aisle, Congressmen or even bureaucrats that often fetch salaries in excess of $100,000 - feel the pain as compared to rank-and-file Americans.

Most of them have yet to have the Homer Simpson moment of saying “d’oh” when it is pointed out to them it is not simply an issue of Americans being forced to cut back on driving, but is an issue with the critical role gas plays in moving goods and the growing of food and manufacturing hurts everyone, but more so those that can least afford it.

Many - Obama included - have waxed eloquently in the past about the need for gas to hit $5 a gallon even if it is with taxes to change America’s driving habits. They’re about to get their wish of $5 a gallon gas but it is against a backdrop of net earning jumps over last year of 50 percent at Exxon Mobil and 33 percent at other oil giants as projected by the Wall Street Journal.

Of course, $5 a gallon will send food prices soaring, put trucking firms in peril, and make it more difficult for folks who don’t live n New York City, San Francisco, and other places where they can catch a subway to work. It isn’t easy in many parts of the San Joaquin Valley - especially if you’re a farm worker - to get to a job site without driving.

There’s also a disconnection from those who obviously don’t favor $5 a gallon gasoline who are politicians. It’s telling now that the Republicans who are allegedly are getting back to their roots - whatever they may be this political campaign cycle - that the House Speaker is actually dropping hints he’s open to repealing tax breaks for oil firms. Speaker Boehner may want to keep in mind that barrel prices have jumped 20 percent in the last year but Exxon Mobil profits are expected to soar 50 percent. Perhaps he might want to ax the tax credits as an emergency measure and do it now. That would be a real litmus test of the Republicans as well as Democrats that feast off Big Oil campaign contributions.

And while they’re at it, they might want to deep six the ethanol tax credits as well. Even Al Gore - who gave the ethanol movement life - now says it is the wrong thing to do as it isn’t reducing energy consumption overall due to the energy needed to convert corn into ethanol. The federal government tax credit induced a stampede to ethanol production and has created a shortage of corn - a key component of many food product as well as livestock feed - soaring.

Of course, the ethanol tax credit will stand as both parties pander to Midwestern states that have early presidential caucuses so they can win the game of who controls the White House. Such an objective is essential to a de facto political patronage system that puts politicians of the party that captures the presidency in position to get a slew of high profile appointments.

It is also misleading for today’s politicians to take credit for America’s oil production being up over last year since most of the wells that are coming online started the drilling process eight years ago.

It is good old-fashioned government intervention - whether it is in the form of tax credits or blocking new drilling - that is effectively shrinking the Middle Class in America and setting the stage for rapid expansion of the poor.

The pain at the pump today can easily become chronic economic pain for the vast majority of Americans.

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