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Energy - does anybody really care?

by Eric Wolf, AMTRAN General Manager

Wednesday, February 18, 2009 | Categories:

Remember last summer when our biggest economic threat was $4.00 gas? Ah, the good old days. With $2.00 gas and a worldwide economic meltdown, the energy issue has receded, but it certainly hasn’t gone away. Does anybody believe that when the U.S., China, and India turn the corner economically, gas will stay at $2.00?

Fuzzy priorities

Every president since Gerald Ford has promised to end America's dependence on foreign oil. Their success has

Will President Obama do better? Will we allow him to do better?

The tipping point for gasoline demand seemed to be $3.50 per gallon. So we Americans are willing to spend $3.50 a gallon, even though much of the money enriches the coffers of foreign interests who range from unfriendly to downright threatening to our nation.

At the same time, if an elected official dares to suggest a 5¢ increase in the gas tax to fix roads and bridges (making them safer) and to improve public transportation (reducing our oil dependency), they get death threats.

Sending dollars to our enemies is okay. Keeping pennies here at home is evil. Where are our priorities? This is not just an economic issue. It’s an issue of national security.

Sea change?

There may be a glimmer of change on the horizon. Intelligent people are beginning to talk about strategies like setting a floor for the price of oil to begin the weaning process. When columns in both Motor Trend and the New York Times agree that the U.S. needs a carbon tax, “the times they are a’changin.”

I am not recommending one strategy over another. I’m simply saying that we need to start talking about hard choices when it comes to energy. Any effective course of action is going to be painful to consumers and businesses. Of course, that’s not the kind of scenario that will bring out political courage in any elected official. But meanwhile we continue to transfer our wealth to petro-bullies who hate us.

(And by the way, if you want to increase a tax that will boost the price of gas at the pump, wouldn't it be a good idea to try it when gas prices are at a five-year low?)

Politcal Will

The question facing our nation mirros the classic Sean Connery line from The Untouchables, “What are you prepared to do?”