March 5, 2009

Stable Oil Prices


The world oil price has tumbled with falling demand, caused not by preachy tree huggers abandoning their gas guzzlers, but by the economic recession, which knows no environmental ethic.

But now oil demand has reportedly stabilized, not because the economy has recovered, but because people know a bargain when they see it. At less than $2 a gallon for gas, people would rather spend their money cruising around the sprawled-out countryside searching out desperately priced going-out-of-business sales than productively and contentedly staying in one place. Why focus on rebuilding the inner city when there are plenty of cheap houses out in the boondocks where one can drive to and fro on cheap gas?

Gasoline is the currently favored currency of economic survival: Guzzle gas in the suburbs instead of investing in inner city schools, housing, and corner grocery stores. Some cities like Baltimore are doing OK right now relative to the rest of the country, but this should be our time to shine. Cities like Baltimore should be the key to a new productive economy, not places that are merely not doing as badly as they could be.

The oil barons have us where they want us. Now that oil demand has stabilized, they can dig in their heals and prepare us for the next round of massive oil price hikes. But this time we will be even more ill-prepared than before, because we are still trying to dig out of a recession. And instead of digging out by building on a new solid foundation of resource conservation, we're doing it on the fleeting illusion of cheap gas.

So enjoy the party while it lasts. Because it won't.