Just a few weeks ago, the Venezuelan maroon, Hugo Chavez, claimed that oil could soar to $200. a barrel. Since then, it has dropped like a stone and now rests precariously at $114. Demand has been well down for months, but as fear-mongers have sown uncertainty, speculators have had a field day — costing us all a lot of cash and concern.
Lately, in so many ways, the price of crude has had no more rational basis than the run on Wonderbread at the prediction of a two-inch snowstorm. Alas, producers and speculators know very well that with investors and consumers, panic and greed can be as powerful as logic and reason.
On the other hand, I still can’t fathom how anyone even remotely familiar with the hostage-bound Jimmy Carter era of 2-mile gas lines, odd/even rationing, and empty filling stations could allow themselves to fall into the vulnerability of V-10 trucks and 12MPG SUV’s.
Personally, I come from a proud tradition of Depression based miserly paranoia, where Grandma recycled tinsel from the Christmas Tree for use the following year, placed a brick in the toilet tank to save water, and expertly ensured that the last 16th of an inch worth of ketchup never went into the garbage.
I for one do not blame the oil companies or OPEC or GM for our current energy issues. Credit where it is due. With memories gone foggy and myopic sensibilities regarding the cost of energy, we have done it to ourselves.
If there is a conspiracy, it is one based in stupidity. With homes so many can’t afford, and gas tanks so many can’t fill, we have found ourselves too quick to spend our cash and too slow to use our brains.
It will be interesting to see if government bailouts and rebate checks will keep us all, wise and foolish, from paying a very high and hard price.
The lessons of today are rather expensive, and they are a commodity as precious as petroleum. Unlike what we have done with those from the past, let us never allow the wisdom of present day experience to lie in waste.