Gas was $4 a gallon this past weekend at the local filling station near my house in the suburbs of Chicago. What a bummer, right? It wasn't long ago that $3 seemed unthinkable, and now we are hearing the likelihood that we've yet to see the ceiling with $4. These admittedly high prices are going to continue their less-than-positive-impact on both the individual consumer's pocketbook as well as the overall economy's fiscal health for the foreseeable future.
Wishing things were cheaper is not a bad thing. Wanting them forcibly made cheaper by the federal government, on the other hand, is a very, very bad thing. The reason we have succeeded where other nations have failed (or have been forced to join together in Unions to compete with us) is our tradition of insisting that Uncle Sam keeps his Constitutionally-constrained hands out of the market in favor of Adam Smith's “invisible” ones.
As I've watched and listened to politicians on both sides of the political aisle wring their hands and drone on and on about how the solution to our gas price woes can be readily solved by increasing the already staggering tax burden placed on the companies who find, drill, refine, transport, and keep the local pumps full enough for our despised SUV's and feel-good hybrids, what comes to my mind is the Bible story of two brothers named Jacob and Esau.
The book of Genesis, chapter 25, tells how in a fit of shortsighted madness the elder brother Esau traded his sacred birthright for a bowl of stew that the younger brother Jacob cunningly provided at just the right moment in a successful attempt to trade for something he didn't deserve. Esau's craving for and caving to instant gratification was his downfall. Jacob's devious, yet effective, plot didn't cause his older brother's misjudgment; it only exposed a weakness Esau had in him all along.
Our weakness as a nation is twofold: an insatiable sense of entitlement and the sin of covetousness. We feel we are owed more than we have, and want to take it from those we feel are keeping it from us. The systems and policies that got us to the point where publishing companies can afford to pay Hillary Clinton $10 million before she wrote a single word for her last book; that enable American citizens to privately give 3 times as much in aid to the victims of a Tsunami in Southeast Asia than the next closest nation; that provides for the highest standard of living the world has ever known; those systems and policies are foolishly dismissed in the minds of millions who daily and directly reap the prolific rewards of them.
Gas prices go up and instead of demanding of Congress that the Congressionally-imposed taxes be revoked, American citizens actually nod and clap in approval while everyone from Senator Clinton to (sadly) Senator McCain proposes as a solution to punish the American corporations that provide the oil in the limos and private jets those same politicians use to go and make the speech in the first place. Ask any supporter of the recently proposed “Gas Tax Holiday” why they are in favor of such a shortsighted, economically-crippling idea and you hear the same thing again and again: “I don't mind those rich oil companies being taxed because they have enough money already.”
Economics 101: When you place further burdens on the producers of a product already rising in price, the producer will simply make less of the product (due to a lack of incentive) and there will be a shortage of that product causing further increases in the price.
Ethics 101: If someone is making their money legally, and providing a service that millions employ, then it's small and petty of you to resent their successes.
The literal foundation of the American nation, our free market economy, is under attack from people and politicians who are either under-educated, disingenuous, or both.
Now if it were just ungrateful and self-loathing college kids from the suburbs complaining about how unfair it is that corporations actually make profits for the products they sell, I'd sleep much sounder at night. Those same kids will soon get a job, have a family, and generally accept the fact that while their liberal professors' ideas sounded nice around a table at the campus coffee shop, the rest of the country is forced to (in spite of people like their Professor Marx-admirer) live in a world of economic realities where having A take from B to give to C no longer seems as fair and tolerant.
When you feel (because you've been told or led to believe) that you are owed cheap gas, it becomes morally reprehensible not to complain about the $4 per gallon price tag. Forget the fact that we pay less for gas than any 1st world nation on the planet. Forget that Exxon alone paid more in taxes ($28 billion) last year than did the bottom half (that's 50% for my fellow products of the public school system) of income earners in the United States. Forget the fact that the primary plan being touted (Gas Tax Holiday) to “fix” the price increases will ensure further fuel-related economic woes.
The truth is that candidates need votes, voters have been taught to value the “stuff” their government gives them over its being run efficiently and competently, and Hollywood doesn’t make any poignant flicks about the Fortune 500 Company that couldn’t afford to hire more employees or invest in more Research & Development due to increased tax burden. (They just make movies about the evil corporations that move to another country after the movie's liberal director’s presidential candidate-of-choice’s policies force them to relocate.)Tweet
Latest posts by R.J. Moeller (see all)
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- Post-election Thoughts - November 25, 2008
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- My State of the Union: Summer 2008 - July 10, 2008
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- Obama is no JFK - May 29, 2008
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- Gas Tax Holiday Blues - May 13, 2008
- Beguiling Simplicity of the Left - March 31, 2008
- Ideas Have Consequences - March 20, 2008
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- Dear Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi - November 20, 2007
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- _ _ _ Bless America - October 1, 2007