(HOST) Commentator Bill Seamans considers prices at the gas pump and the possibility of a new fuel crisis.
(SEAMANS) As the price of gasoline continues rising, Bush admin- istration officials predict that it will reach a national average of $2.35 a gallon this summer, and what happens after that “remains to be seen,” as that tired pundit’s cliche goes. That word “average” signals that gasoline will cost even more in some areas of the country.
What is surprising, however, is that, despite the increasing cost of fuel, the motoring public has not yet raised a real howl to protest President Bush’s apparent lack of action beyond almost casually mentioning the problem now and then. And the motoring experts predict that we the people will not reduce our driving this summer regardless of the price. However, we are beginning to hear a few water cooler jokes, like the one about getting a bank loan to buy gasoline, and some are calling the expensive fuel “busholine”.
But it’s no joke for business persons who are feeling the impact as their fuel costs continue rising. Sometimes they have to figure one price in the morning and an even higher one in the evening – enough to drive a cost-of-doing-business estimator up the wall. Small businesses that depend on a lot of local deliveries are especially hard hit, as are the long haul truck companies that bring us just about everything we buy. Airlines, some already in precarious financial difficulty, are seriously impacted by rising fuel costs.
So what do they all do? The only thing they can do: pass the increased costs on to you and me, the hapless consumers. So we the people are hit by a one-two punch – one at the gas pump and the other whenever we buy something.
And there is another, perhaps more serious, double jeopardy situation. Tom Friedman, the New York Times columnist – who some in Washington call our shadow Secretary of State because of his highly regarded opinions – wrote the other day, and I quote, “By doing nothing to lower U. S. oil consumption, we are financing both sides in the war on terrorism and strengthening the worst governments in the world. That is,” says Tom Friedman, “we are financing the U. S. military with our tax dollars and we are financing the jihadists – and the Saudi, Sudanese and Iranian mosques and charities that support them – through our gasoline prices.”
I think the most effective measure of public opinion is the Pocket Book Poll. When it starts reflecting the public’s dissatisfaction with higher gasoline prices with no end in sight, then perhaps a howl will be raised loud enough to break through the Karl Rovian White House Guard and persuade President Bush to take immediate action to cope with an impending economic and national security fuel crisis.
This is Bill Seamans.
Award-winning journalist Bill Seamans is a former correspondent and bureau chief for ABC News in the Middle East. He spoke from our studio in Norwich.