Magazine article The American Conservative

Running on Empty

Magazine article The American Conservative

Running on Empty

Article excerpt

The Memorial Day hot dogs were still in deep freeze and Americans' plans for long drives to the beach were already imperiled, under threat from spiking prices at the pump. With the market price of crude oil again hitting triple digits, gas climbed to $4 per gallon in some cities, a height not seen since 2008. Hedge funds made bets that with ongoing turmoil in the Middle East crude might soar another 50 percent, into the neighborhood of $150 a barrel. Analysts speculated that come summer, prices might hit $5 per gallon.

Then came the usual cries for the federal government to do something to keep cheap oil flowing. As one West Virginia columnist insisted, "Don't say we can't do it ... surely lawmakers in Washington can take steps to lower gas prices. So can the president of the United States." Calls to lower the gas tax and tap the strategic petroleum reserve rang out--quick, ineffectual fixes to what is in fact a very long-term problem.

Amid the panic, there was little attention paid to the history of government intervention that created our dependence on foreign petroleum in the first place. …

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