A Slippery SituationWhen Bush the Elder invaded Iraq, he had the massive power of public approval behind him. US citizens were relatively happy, he quickly assembled a real international coalition, and managed to get other countries to foot the bill for the war. It was almost enough to make you forget that he and the intelligence services were asleep at the switch and didn't notice the impending invasion of Kuwait in time to quash it before it started.
Things were fine until the final days of the war. Then, Elder Bush - in a foresight his son shockingly shows little of - decided Iraq was a blind alley filled with a quicksand of competing sects, ethnic in-fighting and dangerous thugs. He held Stormin' Norman short of Baghdad and signed a treaty that failed to impose a few additional safeguards to more successfully keep Saddam pinned down - for example, prohibitions against all flights, even the helicopters he eventually allowed the Mustachioed Maniac. He topped off the blunders on the ground by hinting that Kurds should rise up and depose Saddam. However, being a Bush, he conveniently forgot the promises of support when the time for action came. The result was lots of dead Kurds and disgust and mistrust that dogs the US today.
The Bush clan has a special knack for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. With polls riding high, he could have convinced people to make sacrifices toward more energy-independence and they would have gladly gone along. A key part of that solution would have been higher gas prices to force people onto public transportation and provide funding for alternative fuels and infrastructure.
We all know how that worked out.
This morning I heard a near-apoplectic CNN anchor sputtering about $3 gas prices. His complaints sounded more like a migrant farm worker's than a high-buck anchorfella's. His gaggle of talking heads laid out all the usual culprits - war in Iraq (and probably Iran soon), fuel reformulation, Katrina-damaged refining facilities, high oil company profits, increasing demand here and in China, and a plague of locusts descending upon the land (OK, we made that last bit up). However, the anchorfella missed the fact that high prices might not be such a bad thing.
Prices should be higher, just like prices in most other industrialized countries. Three-buck gas is the envy of Europeans who pay substantially more for their go-juice. We've become fat, profligate drivers of SUVs and cars the size of Eisenhower's Presidential limo on artificially low gas prices and Lil' Bush's saber flailing hasn't done anything to entice us to make sacrifices. High gas prices are a huge carrot on a short stick to get people into cars with better mileage than an Abrahms tank. We should seize the chance while it's still there.
We'd advocate jacking up the prices even more, though we would jiggle the current configuration, which doesn't help anyone except oil companies and lunatic speculators.
First, a tax break or other offset for low-income folks who unduly shoulder high gas prices like they unduly shoulder everything else. Mid-to-high income people, your screams about fueling the old stretch SUV don't impress me much. Dump the damn thing and kick in a few bucks per tank for the good of the country. Hell, if you're willing, we'll even work out a flag-burning amendment or something for you.
Second, tell the oil company fat cats there's no more ahi tuna cat food for them. Legislate a nice, equitable profit and skim the rest for energy research, development, and infrastructure improvements. Like most corporate regulation, they'll find a way to skirt the rules eventually anyway. Meanwhile, we're getting the dough and using it for the good of the country, something we shouldn't have to force the greedy bastards into.
Third, make the President travel in something more efficient than a 30-piece, stretch-Hummer caravan. And Air Force One? No more campaigning in that President Dickweed. You campaign; you fly coach like everyone else. We have a fleet of smaller jets. Use them or get a loan from Daddy Warbucks to buy a Business-Class ticket. It's the least you could do after the screwing you've been giving us.
I'm personally willing to pay higher gas prices, even higher than they are now, as long as I'm getting something other a dry hole and broken derrick in the deal. I'm a patriot and I'm for anything that gets us out from under the bejeweled jackboot of the Saudis. Allies? PAH!
I only have one question. What's up with those 9/10 cent increments tacked onto gas? Do they think we're stupid or something?
Never mind, I guess I answered my own question.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Friday, April 21, 2006