You Should Be Outraged

Sunday, October 13, 2013

In America, we have 487 different kinds of breakfast cereals to choose from. And there are, of course, other things you can have for breakfast besides cereal. But for one of your biggest expenses (fuel), you have only one choice at almost every filling station in the country and with almost every car on the road.

If petroleum was the only fuel that worked, this would be somewhat acceptable. But there are alternatives that are cheaper, burn cleaner, and make your car last longer, and your access to those fuels are being deliberately blocked. That should make our situation completely unacceptable to all of us.

How is our access being blocked? Oil companies make it very difficult or impossible for fuel station owners to offer any other fuel but petroleum. The oil industry has also invested heavily in car companies, which is why we see gasoline-only cars on the road with their flex-fuel capability disabled by the manufacturers, preventing you from having any choice at the pump. The American Petroleum Institute has helped create EPA regulations that prevent widespread use of alternative fuels. And the oil industry spends lavishly to influence politicians in Washington DC. The oil and gas industry employs 736 lobbyists in DC. Just to give you a number to compare that to, the NRA (which is considered a very powerful lobbying group) has 28 lobbyists. Saudi Arabia alone has 100 lobbyists in Washington. And the oil industry also spends lavishly on PR campaigns to discredit alternative fuels.

If this was happening with any other product, people would be completely outraged. But we've grown up with it, so it seems "normal." If there were other choices of breakfast cereal available, but the only one in the store was Cocoa Puffs because the Cocoa Puffs manufacturers were preventing stores from carrying anything else, people would be justifiably up in arms. I know I would. I hate Cocoa Puffs.

And breakfast cereal matters far less than fuel. Especially when you consider two other factors: Oil's monopoly allows OPEC to plunder the world's wealth, and what they are doing with that money is awful for everyone in the world, including their own citizens.

OPEC produces a large enough percentage of the world's oil production that they can cut their production by only a little to raise world oil prices, and they do exactly that. They've been doing it for years. They get together twice a year to determine what price they want, and they keep raising it, and we all keep paying it because we don't have any choice. Saudi Arabia, which has the biggest influence on OPEC, can produce a barrel of oil for less that $2. But they have raised oil to over $100 a barrel. Year after year they reap tremendous windfalls, providing them with almost unlimited funds, which they use to repress their own people, spread violent fundamentalism around the world, and corrupt our government.

This has got to stop, and the sooner the better. Put your outrage into action and let's get it done: Start here.

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