High prices, low blows

By Terry ScrutonLand Line Now senior correspondent

I am starting to see more and more posts on Facebook and Twitter blaming the administration for the high cost of fuel. Let’s set a couple of things straight. You can disagree with the president on a lot of things, but the cost of fuel is not one of them. It is way beyond his control.

The price of fuel set a record back in 2008 – under the previous administration. That was no more the president’s fault then than the current run-up is now.

You want to blame someone? Blame global demand, economic problems, speculators in the marketplace, a weak U.S. dollar … There’s plenty of blame to go around. The oil and fuel market is an extremely complicated monster.

Two facts to consider: 1) The federal gas tax is at 18.4 cents and hasn’t been touched since 1993. I bring that up because of a recent post I saw claiming that it was 49 cents or something ridiculous like that. It isn’t. Google is your friend. Use it wisely. 2) U.S. oil inventories rose by millions of barrels this spring, meaning the demand for oil (and hence fuel) isn’t there, yet prices are still acting as if it is. Let’s not let the politicians turn this into yet another scare tactic to get more votes. Get the facts straight.

The truth is that the only thing that will lower prices is to use less fuel. I know, I just got through saying that the demand isn’t there to support the current prices, and it isn’t. That’s the other problem.

If we truly want lower fuel prices, then the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates trading on the commodities markets, needs to get off its rear end and do the job it was created to do: curbing excessive speculation on the oil market.

We’re heading into a presidential election and you can bet that both candidates will try to blame the other guy for the rising cost of fuel. It doesn’t work that way. One person cannot be blamed for the price of fuel. We’re all in this together. Anyone who says otherwise is lying. LL