The gas prices in this country are out of control. Over the past ten years a corrupt industry has milked every last dollar out of the American people, and they show no signs of stopping. Prices should obviously rise with inflation, but as this graph shows, prices have risen out of control. When adjusted for inflation, prices have remained more or less stable, until about ten years ago, when a bunch of rich men sitting in offices somewhere starting gambling with our lives.
According to inflation and the previous pricing trends, gas prices should be sitting at just under $2/gallon at this time. Why are they double that? Why, when the oil companies continue to rake in record profits (not gross mind you, but net profits) of billions of dollars per quarter, must the average American family suffer so much. Why do prices fluctuate so wildly day to day? The corporate fat cats shifts prices around to make themselves the most money, and all the while the rest of us suffer greatly.
In our modern age, there are a few things that we require. Not want, but require. Electricity is one of them, and heat is another. The government regulates these things, and when they don't we have problems (I'm looking at you, California). We also need food and shelter, and while the government doesn't control these industries outright, if you run out of one of those things, there are places to go to get help. I would add gasoline to this list.
The way our current system is set up, if you don't live in an urban environment, you have to have a car. You need to drive to work, and to the store to get food. If you can't afford gas, you can't afford to live. Let me tell you, when you fill up the tank every couple of days, it makes a huge difference in your budget when gas is $4/gallon instead of $2. The oil companies should be viewed as utilities, the same as electricity and natural gas. The government should work to keep the prices low, or to bail out families whose already tight budgets cannot sustain themselves should gas rise to $5/gallon. For the sake of the middle class, gas prices have to be lower. There is no other option.
We live in a world of finite resources. Oil is one of our most overused non-renewable resources, and it is not going to last forever at this rate. The further lengths we go to to get to whatever oil is left, the more damage we do to the planet and, in the end, ourselves.
When something is scarce, the prices generally reflect that. Bad year for strawberries? You are going to see that clearly in the prices. And yet gasoline prices remain atrociously low. They keep the prices just low enough so that people will keep buying it in mass quantities, and yet not have enough incentive to wean themselves from this oil dependency.
Honestly, gas should be $20/gallon. That would get people thinking about alternative energy. If people could not afford to drive everywhere every time they wanted to get some place, perhaps carpooling would become more commonplace. Perhaps the people would demand better public transportation systems. Maybe planners would be less inclined to sprawl suburbia all over the place, and more inclined to actually build compact and functional living and working areas. But most importantly, maybe people would just use less gas and oil and it would last longer.
We need the oil to last long enough to fully develop other ways to power ourselves. Electric cars? Hydrogen fuel cells? Giant sails attached to the roof? Solar vehicles? Buses powered by corn? I don't know, but I do know that we need a plan B, and with gas prices so egregiously low, considering the supply, we might not get there in time. Would a higher gas tax do it? Should we tax gas like we tax cigarettes? Maybe, although whoever put that through would sure not get re-elected. All I do know is that when you look at the supply and the demand, we are paying far, far too little for gas these days.