Slinging a smooth Stone
copyrighted by C.F. David
If Kerry wishes to be president, he must first try looking presidential

According to on-line news sources on Tuesday, Sen. John Forbes Kerry; or better known in both his mind and ego, as “J.F.K.,” has decided to make a political football out of gasoline prices.

President Bush has ordered that oil be taken from the market and added to the Strategic Petroleum Reserves, (SPR) on Texas' Gulf Coast. He has done this in spite of rising oil prices and the low rumble of anger from the American consumer.

The SPR was created just after the oil embargo of the mid 1970s.

According to my research, the SPR, as of Feb., 2004 held some 645 million barrels of oil; enough to keep U.S. traffic going for a mere 60 days at it's present usage.

I will give Kerry credit for one thing; he has apparently resisted pressure from some of his Democratic colleagues to pull oil out of the SPR, to the tune of some 60 million barrels.That is a mere drop in the bucket.

We are at war in the Middle-East and in Central Asia. For now, we have military control. But should that war escalate and we lose the oil production in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, that depleted 60 million barrels would loom large. However, Kerry has proposed instead to: “Suspend filling the SPR and to work more effectively with oil-producing nations and enact simpler and cleaner fuel strategies.” That all sounds great until you consider:

H Again, we are at war; with an oil producing nation that has the habit of blowing up their own wells, pipelines and refineries.

H The 11 nations that make up OPEC control about 40 percent of the world's oil production, and many of them don't really like our relationship with Israel and want us out of Iraq. Filling the SPR, and keeping it full, is important to our national defense. Should the war expand, the military will need that fuel.

H Americans, in just their personal vehicles consume 115 billion gallons of gasoline each year, while traveling 2.6 trillion miles. (That's 14 thousand round trips to the sun.) That doesn't even factor in recreational and commercial vehicles.

H What does Kerry mean when he says he wants to make simpler fuel strategies? Does he mean the internal combustion engine or an electric car? If we eventually convert to electric automobiles, where do we leave the trucking industry? Will we rebuild our rail roads? These things take time. Or, does Kerry wish to make a national fuel standard? Does he even realize that a gallon of gasoline purchased in Los Angeles isn't the same mix as fuel in Houston, Chicago, Milwaukee or Boise City? California has stricter standards than Texas; City Governments in Houston, Dallas, Chicago, Milwaukee and other cities have created their own fuel standards to combat smog. A chemist in a petroleum refinery must leave each day with a glazed look in his/her eyes.

Kerry needs to have both the gumption and courage to tell the American fuel consumer that especially as long as we are at war, there will be no easy fix; that much of the bite they feel at the pump is their responsibility. (If you don't need it, don't buy it.)

He also needs to point out that at $1.91 we don't have it as bad as some; as of Feb., 2004 when gas averaged $1.64 per gallon in the U.S. gas prices around the world were: Japan- $3.34; Canada- $2.18; Spain- $3.73; England- $5.31; Germany- $5.13; Italy- $5.84; but in Kuwait- $.76; Venezuala- $.40; Indonesia- $.45

With a quick tour around Boise City I have estimated the average price of a gallon of gasoline at about $1.91.5; about 43 percent of that price is directly tied to the price of crude oil. Added to that is about 31 percent for federal and state taxes, (about 18.4 federal, 19.96 state), 13 percent goes for refining costs, and another 13 percent for distribution and marketing. The word for the week is austerity.

 

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