What’s the worst part of our oil addiction?

The social/political unrest sweeping the Middle East has caused a predictable jump in oil prices, with a corresponding increase in fuel prices and all other oil dependent prices (i.e. just about everything).   The price increases are understandable: the Middle East has the largest proven reserves, the highest oil production and the largest amount of oil exports of any area of the world.

Cheap oil from the Middle East has made possible suburbia, the aviation industry, mechanized agriculture, the availability of many of the fresh fruits and vegetables in our grocery stores, ubiquitous and casual automobile usage and the inexpensive heating of many homes and businesses with heating oil.

Unfortunately, the U.S. and the rest of the industrialized world have thoughtlessly built their economies, their way of life, on the idiotic premise that cheap oil would last forever.  We’ve rolled along, unaware or unconcerned, as the amount of our daily oil consumption imported from other countries steadily increased to ominous levels over the decades.  We’ve been very fortunate that cheap oil has continued for as long as it has.  But it is ending.  And there is NO replacement. 

Europe is much better prepared for this looming energy/social/economic cataclysm than the U.S., because they’ve had a steep gasoline tax in place for years and Europeans have become much more energy-efficient and gasoline frugal than Americans.

I’m loathe to advocate new taxes.  But in this particular instance, we really need a gasoline tax.  A gasoline tax would curb consumption, cut oil imports and our balance of trade deficit, increase our energy security, reduce the deficit, promote more research and development of alternate fuels, expand the potential market for electric cars and hybrids, and slow the flood of money going to the oil producing countries.

Don’t like paying money to the federal government?  Neither do I.  But would you rather pay the money to the federal government or to a bunch of spoiled, insanely wealthy Middle East dictators who are running countries that hate us?!

It was western oil companies that searched for and found the oil in those countries, drilled the wells, developed the oil fields, and built the pipelines and infrastructure to transport the oil – only to have those countries nationalize (read: steal) it all.  Now we are draining our national treasure, built up by generations of hard-working Americans, to pay for the oil being produced by those countries.  Does that seem right?

Can someone please explain to me how paying the money to those countries is preferable to paying the money to the federal government in the form of a gasoline tax?

So what’s the worst part of our oil addiction?  We did it to ourselves.

About the Author

Mark H. Witte is a strong proponent for energy efficiency and renewable energy, and believes individuals should have more control over how the energy for their homes is produced.