Hogan's Alley

Friday, April 28, 2006

Oil Demagoguery - Everybody Dance!

Americans appear to be angry about the rise in gasoline prices. Just look at any local or cable newscast. You know the routine: reporter standing in front of large sign with prices (often the highest to be found in their local area); short interview with driver upset at having to pay $60 to fill his or her tank; no follow up question to ask why the person is driving an Escalade that gets 15 miles to the gallon.

Of course we are not privy to the number of calm and rational drivers who the reporter had to screen out in order to get "good interview". But the truth is that bemoaning gas prices is the currency of water cooler conversations these day, especially in a week without a new "LOST" episode.

Every rational thinker I have seen, including almost every living politician, understands that in the long run America's dependence on oil is harming the environment and making us beholden to those states with large reserves, from Saudi Arabia and Iran to Venezuela. Everyone knows our "addiction to oil", to quote the President, must end.

Simultaneously, every politician is calling for steps to reduce current oil prices, a step that will sate the American appetite for cheap gas, exacerbate the problems created by that dependence
and postpone the efforts necessary to cure our addiction. It is the equivalent of attempting to reduce addiction to heroin by reducing the street price and removing some of the profits of the drug dealers. Politicians don't live in the long term world, their world is bound in cycles of 2 - 4 years. Let solving the oil dependency be the next guys problem.

Charles Krauthammer has a splendidly lucent piece in today's WAPO on the topic, and Andrew Sullivan piles further argument on the topic. Meanwhile, over at Daily Kos and Matt Yglesias, silence. Kevin Drum can only manage a state of mild peevishness at the Republicans. Pelosi and others may be stupid politicians, but they're our stupid politicians.