Feeling the Pain

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I don’t know about you guys and gals, but I’m really starting to feel this inflation thing.

I’m not exactly a rich guy (financially speaking, anyway), and any extra expense has always been a cause for concern in my little private economy.

But this is like being slowly squeezed in a vice as the basic cost of keeping my boat afloat continues to creep up and up while my financial inflow stays about the same. It’s just not a sustainable situation.

The recent acceleration of already inflated gas prices (and predictions of even worse to come) is getting particularly worrisome. And that’s coming from someone who drives a Prius and gets around 45 miles per gallon on average. I originally bought that thing specifically to save money on gas, and it has done that job pretty well over the past few years – but, as of late, I have been rediscovering what it feels like to calculate fuel expenses against other basic necessities.

And the fuel crisis – which has been exacerbated by Putin’s evil and insane excursion in Ukraine – will likely drive the price of just about everything else even higher.

Of course, Republicans and conservative news outlets are working overtime to lay all this at the feet of Biden and the Democratic Party – and even after writing off a good bit of that as politically motivated meanness and hyperbole, I still think a fair share of the blame actually does belong to those currently in charge of this great country. They are in charge, after all, and wearing a big bullseye on your shirt rightly goes with the job.

To be fair, there are some positive economic indicators, particularly when it comes to job creation and low unemployment. But for those of us who already had jobs and have worked straight through the pandemic, low unemployment numbers aren’t doing much to ease the pain we’re presently experiencing.

Getting back to the fuel issue, it seems clear to me that Biden’s policy of curtailing domestic drilling and production has put us in a vulnerable position at a particularly bad time. And while I think the ethical thing would be to stop buying eight percent of our oil imports from Russia, that will almost certainly push prices at the pump even higher.

It’s really beyond me why on earth we’ve been buying Russian oil and helping to fund Putin’s regime when we have more than enough energy resources right here in America. And if we returned to being a net exporter of energy (like we were a little over a year ago), we could help ween Europe off Russian resources while boosting our own economy.

Now, I’m not a climate denier, and I believe cutting back on our use of fossil fuels and developing more alternative, cleaner energy sources is definitely a goal we need to pursue – but in an intelligent, patient, realistic way that involves getting a sufficient chunk of the new energy infrastructure up and running before we start tearing down the house we’re still living in. And just buying more of our oil from oversees hasn’t done a dang thing to reduce carbon emissions globally.

As far as I can see, Biden’s energy policy to date has been little more than a performative exercise in virtue signaling aimed at placating all the climate zealots camped out on the far left side of his party’s big tent.

And, besides, I don’t think any long-term plan that involves imposing significant, prolonged economic pain on consumers is likely to fly very far in an American-style, highly polarized, two-party democracy, even if you’re genuinely trying to save the world. All those hard-working folk throwing down their paychecks at the pumps are going to vote you out of power the next chance they get, and then the other guys are just going to take it all back to the drawing board when they take over.

Like it or not, that pendulum will keep swinging, and political power will continue to shift from party to party as they each take turns screwing things up and making people mad at them. That’s just the American way, I guess.

But, anyway, I don’t claim to know the answers to all this stuff. That’s way beyond my paygrade.

What I do know is that me and my wallet aren’t feeling too good about the way things are going these days.

And it seems to me that changing course on a few things would make pretty good sense at this juncture.

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