Weekly Comments Archive
Archived Issue
Sunday, October 17, 2021
ISSUE #1083
High Prices, Empty Shelves, Backlogged Ports and Scarce Fuel 

Higher fuel prices and empty shelves in stores have let all of us know we have a problem. An economist wrote last week, “Don’t blame solar and wind energy.” Right. So, who (or what) is to blame?

President Biden came out against our fossil fuel production on his first day in office. He cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline and placed restrictions on new drilling. As a result, our oil production has gone down and gasoline and diesel prices increased at least a dollar a gallon. Natural gas prices are predicted to cost 30 percent more this winter. Instead of exporting oil and gas, we depend on Saudi Arabia and others for imports (the same OPEC countries that started the 6-month oil embargo on this date in 1973).

Unbelievably, after forcing a scarcity in American oil and gas, the President asked the producers to cut prices. Senate Leader Chuck Schumer agrees with the President and claims that higher prices this winter will force poor and middle-class people to decide whether to feed their families or keep warm.

On the supply chain issue, the person most directly responsible for working on it is the Secretary of the Transportation Department, Pete Buttigieg. You might be surprised to learn he has been on a 12-week paternity leave (on full salary) because he and his husband decided to become “birthing persons” through adoption. Now, I’ve got no objection to the adoption. But how can the person in charge of Transportation, reporting directly to the President, take off 3 months while the country faces the worst supply chain crisis in our history.

The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles seem to be the epicenter of the crisis because 40 percent of all container ships arrive and depart there. The lack of trucks to transport containers has been blamed. Well, the brilliant minds in charge of California state government ruled that only trucks built in the last 10 years are legal. And the state prohibits non-union drivers. How can vehicles (and drivers) that are legal throughout the country be prohibited in California? Instead of attacking this problem head on by telling Governor Newsom to relax their rules, President Biden simply asked that ports unload container ships around the clock, 7 days a week.

Here’s another self-inflicted problem for California. They are banning lawn mowers, chain saws, and any other machine powered by a small gasoline or diesel engine because they don’t have expensive emission controls like cars and trucks. (Actually, they would prefer to ban all lawns; they have almost banned tree cutting and brush clearing.) All such devices will have to use electric power in the future even though the state is tight on electric availability and residents must deal with frequent rolling blackouts.

The weirdest item on the list of banned gasoline engines is a portable generator. Let that sink in. From now on, only generators powered by electricity will be available for emergencies when the electricity goes off. They’ll have to run an extension cord to Nevada.

I started with a question about blame. Well, instead of placing blame, let’s use logical thinking and common horse sense to find solutions.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

“You all know we struck oil here in southern California. But did you let anybody else know? No, you didn’t say a word about it…  you are so darn modest you won’t let the world know what we have.” WA #47, Nov. 4, 1923

“John D. Rockefeller says: ‘Love is the greatest thing in the world.’ You take a few words of affection and try and trade them to him for few gallons of oil, and you will discover just how great love is.” WA #59, Jan. 27, 1924

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