Can the government help to lower the price of gasoline?
When looking at the possibility of our government intervening to provide a timely and effective relief strategy for high gas prices, there is virtually nothing, short of shutting down the country, that our government can do. Oh sure, they could suspend the federal gas tax for a while, but that would accomplish nothing. As shown by my Governor Jim Doyle (D-Wis.), if you pull the tax structure off gasoline, they'll just come for that money in some other manner. Wisconsin eliminated its automatic annual gas tax increase, so the good governor simply jacked us up for about 70% higher vehicle registration fees.
The government could attempt to stimulate increased refinery capacity. That might help some, but not for another ten years or so. Besides, our price at the pump is dictated by the demand for crude oil. Refinery capacity represents only a small fraction of the cost detail. Refinery capacity should be increased just as a measure of protection against extreme shortages caused by catastrophe, but as far as lowering your fuel cost in the next couple of years, new refineries mean nothing to you.
How about increased oil exploration and a free pass into areas which hold oil but are currently off limits? These things sound good, but take a good long look. Oil exploration is already moving at break neck speed. With today's prices, why wouldn't it? As far as getting oil from areas which are currently off limits, it's a great idea but again, it won't help you for about a decade because infrastructure needs to be built.
So, is there anything our government can do to help relieve this pain at the pump we're all feeling? No, not for today or tomorrow. However, I believe that implementing an immediate cohesive strategy could set us on course to start feeling some relief in 2009. An effective gasoline relief strategy could include the following details:
1.) The United States government should immediately declare a national energy emergency, and get the propaganda machine in motion.
2.) The price of diesel fuel for commerce must be retracted to $2.80 a gallon and frozen, with any charges in excess of that amount to be paid by tax on oil company profits.
3.) Venezuelan dictator, Hugo Chavez needs a kind and gentle reminder of exactly who's money put him where he is. (sarcasm intended)
4.) The government should provide incentive and assistance for employers to successfully institute 40 hour, four day workweeks whereever possible to reduce commuter miles.
5.) All government legislation impeding clean coal development should be immediately suspended.
6.) The government should oversee massive investment in non-petroleum alternatives for electrical generation, heating and manufacturing materials.
The major point here is that something must be done, and soon. If you think you're seeing turmoil now, you haven't seen turmoil yet. It's a fact that there's very little your government can do today to ease your gas pains. However, an immediate and proactive assault on the situation might just keep this country from disintegrating completely.