Saturday, April 29, 2006

Gas Prices and the Segway Conspiracy

The recent hue and cry over high gas prices has left me flat. I really don't see a big deal.

Is the issue price gouging? If price gouging is the real concern then Senator Schumer and the rest of the hue and criers should go after Mandalay Bay in Vegas because I spent $6 for a bottle of Bud Light there this week (actually it was several bottles). That's real price gouging. That's the equivalent of an upscale gas company charging $10 for a gallon of gas.

Is the issue domestic production? As this morning's Opinion Journal article points out - domestic production isn't really a Democratic strong suit:
"If $75 a barrel oil and a $3 average for a gallon of gasoline isn't a wake-up call, then what is?"--Senator Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.), April 23, 2006

Yes, that's a fine question Senator Schumer asks. But a wake-up call for what, exactly? A wake-up call to produce more domestic oil? Heaven forbid.

In fact, Mr. Schumer and most of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate--the very crowd shouting the loudest about "obscene" gas prices--have voted uniformly for nearly 20 years against allowing most domestic oil production. They have vetoed opening even a tiny portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas production. If there is as much oil as the U.S. Geological Survey estimates, this would increase America's proven domestic oil reserves by about 50%.
Is the issue about the environment? The Opinion Journal article has this little snippet I thought was fitting:
Which brings us to the Bush Administration, which is bludgeoned daily by the likes of Mr. Schumer, whose real concern is exploiting an issue that might elect a Democratic Senate in November. Meanwhile, the White House refuses to attack the left's anti-consumer energy policies and has even capitulated on requiring a rise in auto fuel-efficiency standards. Mr. Bush could instead be talking about the national and economic security need for a pro-domestic-production energy policy--starting with drilling in Alaska. It's worth reminding the American public that in 1995 the Republican Congress passed an ANWR production bill, which Bill Clinton vetoed because he said it could be five to 10 years before the oil would be produced. We would have that oil today if Mr. Clinton had signed that bill.
We can have increased domestic production or we can keep the Earth Day folks happy - but we can't do both at the same time.

Is this about hybrid cars? This I can see. Production and sales at the top US car manufacturers is down. A nice tax incentive on hybrids could jump start sales and keep giants like GM from going broke. As Archie Bunker used to say, "What's good for GM is good for America."

I admit to being a little non-plussed by hybrid cars. My understanding is that they work great in the city but get about equal gas mileage as regular cars on the highway (and produce an equal amount of carbon-dioxide). However, if they just really work in the city - wouldn't it be more responsible to just take public transportation (if you really wanted to be green responsible)? Those hybrid cars jam up the streets just as much as regular cars and don't alleviate the problem of pollution and wasted gas expended in traffic jams.

My guess is that there is also someone else lurking in the shadows partly responsible for this avalanche of criticism about gas prices. Could it be PR genius Dean Kamen has found a way to get his Segway back in the news? What is more energy friendly than a Segway? Don't be surprised if suddenly the Segway gets tax credit status.

Just sayin'.

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