There’s been an awful lot of misinformation, as well as out-and-out lying, thrown out over the past few months by Republican presidential candidates and their adherents about all the "pain at the pump" that we’re currently experiencing. Mitt Romney, in his constant flailing in attempts to throw more mendacious mud at president Barack Obama, has been claiming repeatedly that the $3.80 we’re shelling out per gallon is somehow his fault. As this most cheerful of liars admittedly knows his conservative audience well, he probably deserves credit for playing on their collective three-year hate fest against the president, even as his administration continues helping America and many of his own detractors forget the George W. Bush years.
But to the GENUINE independents out there, people who actually have some curiosity about the myriad of issues confronting us every day, and don’t get their information from FOX NEWS, Rush Limbaugh and Romney’s daily distortions, here’s some real facts about Big Oil and why most of us now have to unfurl two or three Jacksons to fill our car’s gas tanks instead of one.
1. The Number One reason for the wild fluctuating of gasoline prices is the unbridled stock speculation-run-rampant by entrepreneurs busy making crazy money at our expense. China’s heightened need for oil as their own manufacturing level increases, economic sanctions on Iran, 2011's unrest in Libya leading to Khadafy’s assassination, etc. remain major contributors as well. But the worldwide proliferation of unregulated futures oil speculation, prompting billions of dollars poured into their stocks daily, has catapulted a barrel’s worth far beyond anything that could be called intrinsic. This artificial spiking, and not any American drilling negligence, remains the primary culprit, and also serves to minimize bank losses when an actual production problem (natural disaster, war declared in an oil-producing nation, etc.) occurs.
And regarding Romney’s continuous Obama-bashing on this topic, check out the chapter in his 2010 book "No Apology" that discusses the topic. He wrote two years ago that " higher energy prices would encourage energy efficiency across the full array of American businesses and citizens … It would provide industries of all kinds with a predictable outlook for energy costs, allowing them to confidently invest in growth." The funny thing is that Romney is absolutely correct economically with this assertion. But you’d be hard-pressed to find him declaring it NOW, in his continuous race away from anything and everything he really believes in as he panders to his new 2012 audience.
2. America’s commander-in-chief, whether his name is Reagan, Kennedy, Eisenhower or Obama has virtually NO POWER to influence the cost of a barrel of oil or a gallon of gas. When pundits yammer on about opening up our Strategic Oil Reserve to alleviate consumer gasoline costs, they are ignoring the fact that prices are set on the world market and aren’t subject to automatic rises and falls if we release a few hundred million more barrels for our consumption periodically. At best the cost of a refined gallon would drop by a few pennies. And when these same people parrot Michael Steele’s and Sarah Palin’s simple-minded 2008 exhortation to "drill baby, drill!" they are similarly ignoring the fact that domestic oil production is at its highest level in nearly a DECADE under Obama, despite the gallon’s near-record cost. And they’re also forgetting the aftermath of 2010's BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a catastrophe that finally shut Palin and gang up for a while about the "safety" of their eagerness for unrestrained increasing of offshore drilling.
3. American Big Oil corporations have enjoyed humongous profits for years, save for 2009. Everything from Exxon’s annual $30-$46 billion income from last decade, Shell’s $31 billion from 2011, etc. has been well-documented. Despite all this economic largesse, over $4 billion of our tax dollars are funneled yearly to these already-affluent companies, and has been for over a century. President Obama’s attempt to end these obscene additions to their already-bloated profit margins was voted down last month by Senate Republicans, calling it a "political stunt" by the Democrats.
The real reason, of course, was the PAC dollars that Washington GOP members, as well as Democrats, realize from these same corporations to vote to keep the subsidies in place. Nearly all Senate Democrats were willing to vote against their PAC interests to bring some fiscal sanity to the issue, while with the GOP it was business as usual. So this totally-illogical income stream continues unabated, while Republicans go on hammering Obama on fuel prices, despite standing with the Exxons and Sunocos when they could’ve made a difference.