Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rising Gas Prices

"President Obama isn't doing enough to lower gas prices."

The truth of the matter is that gas prices aren't high enough for Americans to be willing to take any real steps to change them.  Let's face it, if gas prices were a real problem, we would outlaw gasoline-powered racing.  We'd heavily tax the most inefficient vehicles, or make them illegal.  We would institute higher gas milage standards for new vehicles, or we would take serious steps to replace gasoline-powered cars entirely with electric ones.

NO ONE has mentioned doing anything like this.  In fact, if the President were to take drastic steps like the ones outlined, he'd be attacked and accused of interfering with the free market.

Interestingly, a look at our free market reveals that there are factors at work herein, that are anything but free.  Oil production is up, while actual gas usage is down.  So, we have high supplies and low demand, yet prices are still climbing.  Why?

The answer in a word is "speculators"- those who purchase gas not to consume, but to hold, in hopes that prices will continue to go up.  Such speculation is fear driven, and ignores actual market place consumption.  Unrest in the middle east isn't a new thing, and the current turmoil hasn't represented any serious interruption in crude oil supplies, and refineries are operating at around 80% capacity.  So, there is a sincere disconnect between supplies, demand, and pump prices.

The really sad thing is that unless gas prices get much much higher, there will be no political will to take serious steps to fix this problem.  The only real solution to high gas prices is much higher gas prices than the $4.25 per gallon we saw under President Bush.  In order for America to take rising gas prices seriously, we are going to need to see $6 per gallon, or possibly more.

Until marketplace consumption and real demand take the place of speculative pricing, we will continue to see fuel prices completely disconnected from actual usage.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Is Tornado Alley Moving?

"Climate change is an unproven science."

Admittedly, I am a tree hugging progressive, attempting to garden my way into a greener world, and encourage others to do so, as well.  I have always tried to be connected to the land on which I lived, trying to grow whatever I can where ever I live.  When there is good growing weather, predictable patterns, I can get my crop(s) in safely.  In my youth, I was told that living in north Texas meant that we were right in the middle of "Tornado Alley", which continued up into Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska.  Most of the tornados occurred in this area.

There was a tornado in Vermont last year.  Tornados east of the Mississippi were once a rare thing, but not anymore.  Just a few days ago tornados killed 45 people in North Carolina.  The weather is becoming more unpredictable.

As tornados march east, the lack of rain and humidity have left western states like Texas in a tinder-box condition, resulting in over 1 million acres burned by wildfires.  With over 125,000 acres burning at once, several reporters described Texas as burning from border to border.

While easterly tornados and western wildfires are not unheard of, both are occurring on a more regular basis and with greater intensities.  Granted, these observations are anecdotal and based on a period of only 30 years, but when one addresses even broader historical data, the same inferences are drawn.

Our climate is changing, this is not in question.  Whether or not this change is caused by our own hands, or is simply part of our planet's natural process, might be.  Given that the global market has seen no indisputable proof that it is man-made, all broad sweeping efforts to alter made-man CO2 emissions standards were halted or outrightly discarded.  So, if our world is changing again, and there is nothing we are doing to cause the change, nor anything we are willing to do to avert the change...then expect to see drought areas get wider, while some storms in other areas get more severe.

The Earth's climate is changing, and we are ushering it forward.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

No More Tax & Spend

"We have to start tackling our debt."

With this I agree with Republicans.  Our debt needs serious attention, and the sooner we start making serious payments, the sooner American Stock, the U.S. Dollar, will go up.

We should raise a debt tax, the sole function of which would be, to pay down our debt.  Rather than include this new tax in or as part of the general revenue, like we did with social security, ALL of the revenue collected is to be applied solely to the national debt.  Instead of being 'tax & spend liberals', we can be 'tax & PAY DOWN the debt progressives'.

Rather than waiting for after the re-election, we should run on 'responsible tax rates', in regards to debt payment.  We can win the middle if we demonstrate real responsible stewardship over an economy that sees both job growth, and the increase in the value of a dollar.

Cuts in spending to offset deficits should be met with increases in taxes to pay off long overdue debt.  That Republicans managed to threaten a government shutdown, and get over $70 billion in spending cuts, while Democrats only managed to save Planned Parenthood and ZERO tax increases is simply mind blowing.  This shutdown aversion was a missed learning opportunity, as far as I am concerned.  People need to understand that taxes and services are directly proportionate.

Raising tax to pay down the debt will do two things, first it will show voters how truly detached Conservatives are from fiscally sound policy, but more importantly it will raise the value of the American Dollar, providing us with more spending power, further stimulating the economy.

Democrats need to start talking about the benefits behind raising taxes, and showing how we can raise taxes while at the same time stimulate economic growth.

Above all, Democrats and Progressive Liberals alike, need to make better arguments about raising taxes.