By Nathan Barton
Good morning, and I hope you have a good week. Last week was fixated on the Islamic war, especially the European front. But there is other news, and here are a few topics: oil and fuel being of great interest.
In a recent commentary, I discussed news that the incoming Senate Transportation Committee chair (a GOP member) was considering a gasoline and diesel fuel tax hike. But now, Boehner promises ‘No New Gas Taxes’. Several are asking, “Is this John Boehner turning a corner? Or is it simply John Boehner playing politics and jerking conservatives around? In a surprise move today the newly reelected Speaker of the House told reporters that he did not believe that gas taxes should be raised. The Washington Examiner chimed in with some good discussion, and I note that the average tax paid on motor fuel is nearly 1/3 of the total cost: like having a sales tax of 33% on buying goods. Yes, now fuel prices are dropping (see the next story), but that can and WILL change.
Motor Fuel Prices Fall, Deliver Big Savings at Pump Even as Some States Hike Gas Tax. Some states are already stealing more from motorists, with tax increases that took effect on 1 JAN. This sort of theft HURTS people AND the economy.
The sharp drop in highway fuel prices continued in the latest week, including in states where higher fuel taxes kicked in this month. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a national average retail price for gasoline at $2.21 a gallon from its Jan. 5 weekly survey of fueling stations. Of course, in many parts of the country we are well below this, as low as $1.50 a gallon. Even Diesel has dropped well below $3.00 a gallon in some places. The reason? Expanded supplies, and lowered demand, partly due to winter and partly due to more efficient vehicles and other “good” factors. But expect, as usual, that prices will rise as the summer driving season approaches and as mandates kick in. It is mostly GOVERNMENT that sends the prices climbing again and again.
The drop in oil prices continued: on Friday, West Texas Intermediate closed at just $48.36 a barrel, and Brent (North Sea) at $50.11.
Related to gas prices is this: Keystone gets congressional approval, White House shrugs House lawmakers passed a bill Friday to approve construction of the contentious Keystone XL pipeline. But as the legislation heads for a Senate vote where it is expected to pass as well, the White House says that President Obama is preparing to ink up his veto pen. Radio news reports emphasized the claims of opponents claiming that only consumers of fuel in China or Japan or Europe will benefit if KXL is built, as the Canadian oil is going to refineries in Texas on the Gulf where they can then export the refined fuel. But they refuse to recognize that oil is a worldwide economy and the price in the Fifty States is influenced strongly by total world supplies. We now use very little Middle Eastern oil here in the US: most of our foreign oil imports come from places like Nigeria, Venezuela, and of course, Mexico and Canada. But a drop in Saudi production, or even Iranian production, shows up in world markets and within days in OUR Stateside prices. Just one more piece of political and governmental blindness. Lots of people are pointing out that the GOP doesn’t have enough votes to override a veto, but there are indications that a lot of Dems may join them. Still too soon to tell.
Of course, as usual, we have to remember that government and government leaders are incredibly stupid and unable to see the cause of effect of what they do. Individually, they are as smart (or dumb) as anyone, but lump them together and give them power, and we get insanity. Consider some more things this week.
The Fuehrer says his plan for two years of free community college for any American will help train the workforce and improve U.S. competitiveness with other countries. The White House says the program will cost the federal government about $60 billion over 10 years. Details on how Obama proposes to pay for it are to be released next month. MORE welfare, MORE dependence on the State, MORE theft and spending. It is never-ending: we are extending the government-ruined, theft-funded school system on both ends, from “pre-preschool to two years past high school graduation” or more!
Barbara Boxer Announces Resignation in Bizarre Video Well, here’s one way to say farewell to Washington. Longtime Democrat Senator Barbara Boxer has finally decided she’s had enough, and she broke that shocking news first in a tough-as-nails interview…with her grandson. Those of us who have been amused at her for a long time (in a disgusted sort of way) have more fuel for the fire. What a ridiculous waste of oxygen!
In New York City, the latest crisis (worse than Occupy Wall Street or the cop-killings and beatings, or even the gunning down of two cops) is getting worse. The City is considering taking action against the NYPD’s personnel for their “blue flu” and slowdown, according to CBS. Panic is drifting across the city as revenues plunge. Seeking to punish the Mayor for the way he “abused” them (they haven’t called his actions “terrorism,” yet), the cops are not doing what they are supposed to. Actually to listen to it, you would think that NYC has descended into chaos: similar to what Gotham City experienced in the story arc “No Man’s Land. Look at the numbers: 70 percent drop in DWI arrests, so clearly hundreds if not thousands of accidents must be happening daily on NYC’s streets and highways, while the morgues fill with accident victims. 96 percent drop in arrests on subways, so they must have ground to a stop while people are getting mugged and murdered and stolen from, and while vandalism and gate-hopping run rampant. 80 percent fewer arrests in housing developments, which now must be beehives of all kinds of crime including rape, theft, vandalism, home invasions and murders. EXCEPT, of course, that is NOT happening: there is not chaos. People are able to live and work, ride and drive, and … the REAL problem is that a sizable portion of the city government’s revenue stream has dried up: fewer and fewer tickets are being written for parking and traffic violations: millions of dollars are being “lost.” The City of New York is not stealing nearly as much as normal from its citizens and visitors. So sad, and the economic boom from millions of people having a bit more money to spend won’t help overcome the chaos and its consequences. Oh, dear… [Need a sarcasm icon here.]