Whether you knew it or not, there are many types of football games. According to Wikipedia, the roster includes Jorkyball, cycle-ball, football tennis, blind football, power chair football, rugby, traditional American football and my favorite, political football. While most of the others (except the gridiron variety) need an explanation, almost everybody knows what a political football is. And one of the best examples is the price of gasoline.
Regardless of the party in power, gas prices are used regularly as a line of attack on the incumbent leader of the country. Over the past 40-plus years, Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama and now Biden have been the targets of public anger over the price of gasoline. And in most of those instances, the attack on the White House has been nothing more than a cheap shot for political gain.
One of the major causes of sharp hikes in gas prices is wars or political upheaval on far-away continents. In 1973, the Arab-Israeli war caused prices at the pump to skyrocket. That was followed by the Iran-Iraq War, which started in 1980. In the 1990s, the Persian Gulf War made motorists go crazy when the price per gallon spiked. While Saudi Arabia pretends to be our good friend and is always seeking more jets and defensive weapons, the Saudis periodically decide to cut back on oil production, which hits American drivers in the wallets and pocketbooks.
Another enemy of the gasoline consumer is Mother Nature. Drivers in New York may pay little attention to disasters or climate-related events in Louisiana or Texas, but an explosion at an offshore oil rig, or a major hurricane, can cause long-term disruption of gas prices. I’ve always wondered why, within minutes after a hurricane slams into one of those key Southern states, the stations around here up their prices. That anticipatory action isn’t due to a shortage; it’s just an example of greed.
For as long as I can remember, the price of gas has gone up and down during the spring and winter seasons, respectively. The jump in price as the weather warms is actually the result of the industry practice of changing the grade of the fuel to adjust to the climate. Summer gasoline costs more to produce, because it’s a special blend that is less polluting and can adapt to the heat. Even though this has been going on for the past 30 years, there are always politicians somewhere waiting to jump on their opponents to cast partisan blame.
Jerry Kremer was a state assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm. Comments about this column? JKremer@liherald.com.