There are very few things that can raise the ire of the American public like an increase in the price of a gallon of gas. Oh, we will debate heatedly over the right to choose, spar vociferously over our foreign policy and reach the point of fisticuffs over gun control, but nothing, nothing raises our collective dander like the escalating price of gas.
We are obsessed with it. We will drive miles out of our way for the satisfaction of saving pennies on the dollar. We will cancel the family vacation rather than spend an extra few dollars on fuel. We will base the major purchase of a new car to a large extent on its gas consumption. We will properly inflate our tires, remove excess weight from the trunk and seek more fuel efficient routes to work, all to save a few miles per gallon.
Polls show that many Americans view the quality of American life through the prism of the price at the pump. The lower the price the more satisfied we are with the way we live. And historically the popularity of the sitting President declines as the price of gasoline rises; even though practically he can do nothing about the cost.
The price of gas affects our psyche. It alters our moods. It affects our very way of life. We are addicted to it and yet we do nothing to break our selves free from its power.
As the price at the pump reaches $4.00/gallon we hear more and more discussion about our dependency on oil. The most recent salvo involves the outrage over the $4 billion dollars in subsidies that we give to the big oil companies. The vitriol will grow even louder tomorrow when big oil is expected to announce record breaking quarterly profits.
This weeping and gnashing of teeth is nothing but political noise. It is the same noise that we heard when gasoline reached $3.00/gallon. It is the same noise that we heard when the BP oil spill coated our shores. Nothing has changed.
And nothing will change until we develop a comprehensive alternative energy policy that weans us from oil once and for all. Until then our costly addiction to oil will continue and we will have no one to blame but ourselves.