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May 27, 2004

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if I walked to work everyday? Iíd be 20 pounds lighter plus Iíd be $40 richer every week. Iíd enjoy both of those side effects but itís just not going to happen. So even as gas prices go over the $2.00 a gallon level, I, like most Americans, will keep pulling my truck up to the pump each week to fill up.

I think it is funny that gasoline prices are such a big political issue. John Kerry is pointing the finger at President Bush and blaming George W. for his ďfailedĒ energy plan. The presidential want-to-be must not have read Bob Woodardís book. The Washington inside claims that the President brokered a deal sometime ago with Saudi Arabia to flood the oil market in the months before the election to lower gas prices.

I guess Woodward was trying to blow the whistle on G.W. but if gas prices do fall I bet it will swing a few votes toward the incumbent. So maybe Kerry should be pointing out the Presidentís other faults (ones that he wonít magically fix before the election).

I know Iíve said this before, but I canít really fault the oil companies for the high gas prices. Sure they are holding down production, but folks thatís just good business. If you had 100 apples, would you sell them all today for a nickel a piece or would you maintain demand over a longer period, by rationing your sales in order to maximize your profit from this limited resource.

Of course, those of us that live here in farm country should be wondering when all cars will go to E85 (85-percent corn-based ethanol fuel).

Unlike oil, we can grow as much corn as we like right here in the United States of America. I donít suspect weíll have too many international incidents or acts of terrorism centered around Missouri cornfields.

You always hear that we must reduce our dependency upon foreign owned crude oil. Well heres our chance. Not only can we find a more reliable, cheaper form of fuel, we can fuel our own local farm economy at the same time.

But until we eliminate the powerful oil lobby in government (that and build a few hundred more ethanol plants to make sure we have enough fuel for the summer vacation periods) weíll be stuck paying whatever Saudi Arabia and the rest of the OPEC nations choose to charge.

It could be worse, we could be pouring milk into our fuel tanks. The dairy product is now as high as $4.00 a gallon in some grocery stores across the United States.

While folks are complaining about their SUVs, Iím whining about my three kids, who guzzle far more milk than my truck does gasoline.

The solace of spending $25 a week on milk is there are a whole lot more dairy farmers in Scotland County than oil well owners. Of course if every family was like mine, these milk producers could afford to buy their own oil wells.


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