Friday, February 24, 2012

Ode on a Grecian Future

Ode on a Grecian Future
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
February 24, 2012

With apologies to English Romantic poet John Keats (1795-1821) for bastardizing his Grecian Urn title, the United States economy will resemble Greece more and more due to soaring gasoline prices and the arrogance and stubbornness of one Barack Hussein Obama.

For Obama to declare in a speech this week that there is “no silver bullet” answer or cure to what ails this nation on the energy front is myopically disingenuous. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the deal for the XL Keystone pipeline “a no brainer.” Yet, Obama, deeply entrenched in the pockets of the extreme environmentalists, unilaterally rejected the plan that would have brought thousands of shovel ready jobs to the United States, more domestic oil and an opportunity to tell the Saudis no thank you to any more of their oil. And no more bowing to Saudi princes and emirs.

Ultimately, it will be the price of gas that will drive this economy – pun intended.

Not to get mired in the weeds of statistics, but they do tell part of the story. When Obama was inaugurated in 2009, the national average cost for a gallon of gas was $1.83. On February 23, 2012 that average reached $3.61 and a day later it hit $3.65, with no ceiling in sight.

Twenty states are above the national average: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia. The average price per gallon in those states is $3.79 with 54 percent of the US population residing there. The five states being hit the hardest are Connecticut at $3.90, New York at $3.91, Alaska at $4.05, California at $4.20 and Hawaii at $4.28.

Since last year each driver has spent $840 more to fill their tanks than the year before. That’s $230 billion in disposable income lost. That’s vacations cancelled, stretching last year’s school wardrobe another year, postponing purchasing that new car or other big ticket items, dining out less frequently, buying fewer gifts at Christmas and Chanukah time and even stretching the supermarket dollars farther.

With the aforementioned purchases moving to the back burner for an undetermined amount of time, consider what millions and millions of Americans making those same decisions will do to the economy out of dire necessity. Production drops, thus raising unemployment in both manufacturing and sales. Increased unemployment puts increased demands on the government coffers for unemployment benefits, thus the need for government to derive other sources of revenue. Government revenue comes from the taxes paid by the workers of America. With less revenue entering the government coffers and more needing to be paid out, as well as covering the already committed for expenditures, the debt rises higher and higher.

The current debt in the United States is above $15 trillion and is projected to reach $16.4 trillion by Election Day. The per capita debt for every man, woman and child in the United States is currently $44,215 and will reach $75,000 by 2020, should Obama’s budget become law, according to Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and supported by Matt McCall, president of the Penn Financial Group, LLC. Sessions also attributes his numbers to the IMF.

Consider the riots in Greece and the civil unrest in many other European countries tethered to the EU and the stumbling Euro, which never should have been implemented in the first place. Per capita debt in Spain is $18,395; in Portugal it is $19,989; in France it is $33,491; in Greece it is $38,937; in Italy it is $40,475 and in Ireland it is $43,887 – all lower than the US figure.

With $4 a gallon of gas inevitable and $5 a distinct possibility by mid-summer, think about what you won’t be able to do with the additional money going into your tanks and not into the aforementioned purchases. Daydream about the rounds of golf you won’t play or the swim club your family won’t join, or the summer camps your children won’t go to or the baseball games you won’t attend. Think about the sweaty house you will endure because the cost of energy to air condition your home will also skyrocket.

While doing those things and sweating through the stifling heat this summer, remember as you watch the Democrat and Republican conventions who to thank – the party rejecting XL Keystone or the party clamoring for domestic drilling to end our reliance upon unfriendly nations for their oil. End our reliance upon those nations and cripple their economies at the same time.

There is enough oil domestically via the XL Keystone pipeline, ANWR, the Gulf of Mexico and the shale in the Rockies and Pennsylvania to sustain the United States for what experts say should be centuries. While drilling at home, continued research and development should be conducted to provide wind, solar and bio-fuel energy at competitive prices, without government investment and side by side with gas and oil.
Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

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