Passing Gas

Something smells in our democracies. We the people control our government, we all own our public land, but the resources found on that land get sold to whomever the government decides to offer contracts to (without our permission). The end result is that multi-national oil conglomerates rake in hundreds of billions of dollars while the average North American family winds up paying an average $4200 a year on gasoline.

Living in Canada as I do, I am amazed that as a country we have the third largest proven oil reserves in the world, but our government refuses to subsidize gas prices like in most oil rich nations. In fact, out of the top 15 oil rich countries on earth, no one pays more for gas than we do.

Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait among others all have large oil reserves. However unlike Canada, they refuse to look at their citizens as customers, after all, the resources should belong to the people. The cost of a litre of gas in Venezuela is $0.023 and $0.13 in Saudi Arabia.

Conservatives and Libertarians might have you believe that one reason we pay so much at the pump is government taxes. While we do pay our fair share (only a quarter compared to most of Europe), our taxes are relatively low. According to Petro Canada, we pay $0.30 to $0.35 a litre in various taxes. If we did away with these levies it would bring down the price to about $1.10, still higher than the biggest 15 oil countries.

In the United States, gasoline production has been at an all-time high while demand for the fuel is at a five year low, yet gas prices continue to increase. There is such an over-abundance of gasoline and other fuels in the U.S. that this year, gasoline has overtaken aircraft as the top manufactured American export.

Americans are starting to place blame for the increase in gas prices on President Barack Obama, a man who is all but powerless to do anything about it, short of giving into big oil. Obama has recently declared a stop to oil company subsidies, something that should have been done decades ago given their high profits.

He also turned down the KXL pipelinea couple months back after being forced to make a quick decision. Contrary to what Republicans are saying, if that decision was reversed and the pipeline was built, according to industry experts it would result in gas prices falling about a nickel… ten years from now.

Almost reality to some

Oil Company execs have stated publicly that Obama will pay politically for his actions and that might be exactly what we are seeing. Corporations and their psychopathic tendencies will always place profit before people. In this case it is more profitable for the oil companies to sell their gasoline overseas than it is to sell it domestically even if they are drowning in it. Obama and the American people are left to pay the price.

In a global free-market economy, gasoline is susceptible to the price of oil, speculation, natural disasters, wars and other various factors. As peek oil approaches and our governments continue to subject us to the unpredictability of the market; we the people will continue to go broke, while the fat cats running the oil industry will continue to grow even richer and dominate our lives further, capitalizing on our own natural resources.

Although I’d like to see our national resources actually nationalized, one only needs to look at Hydro Quebec as an example as to why. I’m not completely close minded on finding other solutions as long as they serve the public good. Investing heavily in green energy would be a hell of a good start. We should also have fixed gas prices; an energy rich nation should be passing the savings to its people, not passing the profits to foreign owned corporations.

Of course nothing will change as long as the people who own it, don’t demand it…

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