This column first appeared in the Orlando Sentinelon November 8, 2015.
Now that Thanksgiving is near, millions of Americans are making plans to get in a car and drive somewhere to enjoy turkey, football and loose clothing with friends and relatives. According to AAA, in 2014, 41.3 million people drove over 50 miles to enjoy this national holiday. In recent years, this annual road trip has not come cheap. Last year, the average national price of a gallon of gasoline was $2.81. The year before gas was $3.29. In 2012, it was over $3.40 per gallon. This year, barring some unforeseen calamity, it looks like American drivers are going to be able to fill their tanks for around $2, or less, per gallon.
This is welcome news for those of us that have budgets and would like to save money wherever we can. After all, for an SUV with a 20-gallon tank we are talking about savings of almost $28 per tank compared to three years ago. That is enough money to buy a really nice turkey or enough cans of cranberry sauce to keep your family in leftovers until Christmas.
Yet, I wonder if everyone is happy about this turn of events.
Clearly, the oil companies, OPEC and everyone working in the oil-rich regions of North Dakota and Texas are not happy. Profits are down, job losses are up and low oil prices threaten to destabilize parts of the country that have grown dependent on the oil boom economy.
But there is another group that might be — or should be — irked about the downward pressure on prices. That group is comprised of every non-hypocritical registered Democrat in the United States.
Consider the facts. Republicans do not really care much about climate change and often argue that the global-warming alarmists are relying on faulty, or worse, contrived “evidence” to push our country toward higher carbon taxes, the elimination of coal-fired power plants and into an economy that relies on windmills to keep our lights on.
Libertarian-types argue that if global warming is being caused more by human beings than natural cycles on the planet, then all we have to do is wait for profit-seekers to produce the energy-efficient appliances, long-lasting light bulbs and electric-powered cars that people might want to buy in order to save the planet. The last time I checked, the profit-motive is beautifully playing on our possibly irrational fears and we are seeing record production of all sorts of new “green” products.
Democrats, on the other hand, keep telling us that 100 percent of climate change is caused by human beings who selfishly choose to drive cars rather than take crowded, slow buses and enjoy air conditioning during the summer rather than sweat into buckets that we can use to water our … oh, that’s right, we are not supposed to have lawns, either.
Democrats keep warning us that if we do not cut our CO2 emissions this very second, we are going to see Orlando homes called beachfront property while oranges will be harvested in Minnesota during month of January.
Therefore, if Democrats are honest, they will admit that falling gas prices is a horrific development because, by the law of demand, as gas prices fall, more gas will be burned, more CO2 will be released and Alaska will be one step closer to cactus farming.
Thus, the only honest solution for democrats this Thanksgiving is for them to stay off the roads and hope that somehow the oil companies and OPEC can find a way to drive prices back to $4 per gallon.
Anything less would be disingenuous.
Happy Thanksgiving and pass the garlic mashed potatoes financed by low gas prices.
Jack A. Chambless is an economics professor at Valencia College and a senior fellow with the James Madison Institute in Tallahassee.