Consumers Should Be Outraged by Oil Prices

Commentator Andrei Codrescu wonders why there wasn't more outrage by American consumers when gas prices soared to their highest levels this summer. He says "Big Oil" is not a friend of the people, and that the public has been numbed to the oil companies' abuse.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

In this country the price of gasoline has come down from its highs of the year. That's no consolation to commentator Andrei Codrescu.

ANDREI CODRESCU:

When the price of gas went over $3 a gallon you'd expect mobs to burn a few cars, but there was hardly a peep from the populace. And just when there may have been, the price of gas dropped just enough to stop the grumbling. And Exxon miraculously reported its highest quarter profits in history, enough billions probably to rebuild New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

It must be obvious to all, from the oligarchs to the poorest trash hauler, that the oil companies run this country. The highest aspirations of our democracy are to be found bound and gagged between Riyadh and Bahrain. Oil companies do not promote US interests. They're multinationals. They have no borders, national loyalties or sympathy for humans. The talk from oil and major car companies about hybrid cars and hydrogen fuel cells is rather eerie. We could have had cars running on ethanol at least one decade ago. We were puritanical for a while after the gas crisis of the '70s, turning down our heaters and air conditioners and buying smaller cars. Since then, we've become softer, pudgier, more hypnotized by endless consumption, more docile and more afraid.

What are we afraid of? Debt, for one thing. Everyone is up to their necks in debt and fearing for life. My friend Joe Cardarelli, a poet, used to say, `The government in Washington is a play that Texas puts on every four years.' Boy, was he right, and we are just stupid spectators who don't even boo and hiss or throw things the way real spectators used to when they knew who they were. We don't even know that we are at a play and that we paid a lot for the tickets, so much so, in fact, our kids and grandkids will still be paying for them.

NORRIS: Andrei Codrescu's book "New Orleans, Mon Amour" has just been published.

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Books Featured In This Story

New Orleans, Mon Amour
New Orleans, Mon Amour

Twenty Years of Writing from the City

by Andrei Codrescu

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