Skip to content

7 reasons why we have a right to be pissed off about gas prices

March 21, 2022

Over the passed several weeks, there have been a plethora of memes on social media that are intended to point out the brutal violence that the Ukrainians are facing since the Russian Invasion began. The text that goes with these memes usually goes something like this, “If prices go up at the pump….it’s temporary fallout. Think of it as the price of freedom. You aren’t sitting on a concrete floor in a train terminal holding your cat.”

Of course, for those of us who are not currently under military occupation, we can sympathize and realize that things could be worse. One can be outraged about how the Russian invasion has caused tremendous hardship for thousands of Ukrainians, but one can also be disgusted at the fact that gas prices have gone up significantly in recent months. Gas prices going up more than a dollar per gallon in recent months, has caused significant economic hardship for millions living in the US. These are millions of people who are already experiencing poverty, exploitation, institutional racism and the impact of the pandemic, so yeah, they have every right to complain, be outraged or disgusted with the increase in gas prices. In fact, people who are using the “don’t complain about gas prices” memes, are most likely people who have class and racial privilege.

The problem with our reactionary social views in the US, often is related to the fact that millions of people have internalized Capitalist propaganda, which often pits working class people against the poor as opposed to redirecting our collective rage against the people who own and run this country. Instead of telling people who are financially struggling to not complain about gas prices, how about we direct that energy towards the oil & gas industry, along with the economic and political system that has created our collective dependency on fossil fuel reliant means of transportation. Here are a few reasons we should be pissed off at the people who own and run this country.

First, let’s be pissed off about the fact that the oil & gas companies receive massive subsidies from the US government. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that governments around the world had subsidized the fossil fuel industry $5.9 Trillion in 2020. That is $11 Million dollars every minute for an entire year.

Second, let’s be pissed off about the fact that the oil & gas industry has contributed $814,014,243 since 1990 to political candidates in the US. Add to that, the oil & gas industry spent $115,082,396 on lobbying the US Congress in 2021 alone, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In other words, we have a political system in the US, where the oil & gas industry generally dictates public policy. 

Third, let’s be pissed off about the fact that there was an actual conspiracy in the US to destroy most forms of mass transit, involving the auto industry. GM, Firestone and Standard Oil paid millions in fines in the 1950s for their role in buying up urban street car companies, light rail and bus companies, paving the way for a car-dependent society in most US communities. See the documentary Taken for a Ride – The U.S. History of the Assault on Public Transport in the Last Century. US residents have effectively had no real say in transit, with powerful capitalist forces determining that people are car-dependent, with whole cities being designed around car use, road construction and parking areas.

Fourth, let’s be pissed off about the fact that the federal government is unwilling to radically alter our consumption of fossil fuels, by adopting a Green New Deal. People will often say that shifting to a mass transit society would take too long, so we should just continue to promote electric cars. This is nonsense. During WWII, the US war economy shifted quickly to redirect resources to war, which included the auto industry producing military vehicles and other equipment. The current auto industry could re-tool to focus on mass transit construction, while the US government could create rail systems to connect communities, just like the Eisenhower Administration did in 1956, with the passage of the Federal-Aid Highways Act to build 41,000 miles of interstate highways across the country.

Fifth, let’s be pissed off about the fact that the US military budget is the largest in the world and that US foreign policy is driven in part by the securing of access to oil & gas resources globally. According to the National Priorities Project, Michiganders are paying $19.35 Billion in taxes that go directly to the US military budget. As a tradeoff, if this money were to stay in Michigan it could provide some of the following combined:

  • $84.24 Million for Public Housing Units for 1 year
  • 9.65 Million children receiving low income health care for a year
  • 42.48 million households with Solar electricity for 1 year
  • 261,167 Clean Energy Jobs created for 1 year

All of this is to say that if current US military spending were reduced and redirected to supporting the most vulnerable in US society, then we could reduce the harm that is being done right here. 

Sixth, let’s be pissed off about the fact that the US Congress just passed $13.6 Billion military aid package for Ukraine, which will likely lead to the escalation of the fighting against Russia and further destabilize that part of the world. It took the US Congress just a few weeks to send $13.6 Billion in military aid to the Ukraine, but Flint, Michigan is still waiting for a clean water infrastructure, millions of Americans are still waiting for rent relief, and millions of Americans are food insecure on a daily basis right now!

Seventh, let’s be pissed about the fact that all six of the previous reasons to be pissed off and major contributing factors to the current Climate Crisis. The most recent ICPP report makes the following comment in their summary statement:

Today’s IPCC report is an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership. With fact upon fact, this report reveals how people and the planet are getting clobbered by climate change. Nearly half of humanity is living in the danger zone now. Many ecosystems are at the point of no return now. Unchecked carbon pollution is forcing the world’s most vulnerable on a frogmarch to destruction now. The facts are undeniable. This abdication of leadership is criminal. The world’s biggest polluters are guilty of arson on our only home.

These are just seven reasons why people can justifiably be pissed off about the rise in gas prices in the US, although there are many more reasons we could identify. Never let people tell you what to be pissed off about, especially when you are not only excluded from any decision making in the current gas price hike, you are not the ones who are exploiting the public and making massive profits while the world burns! 

%d bloggers like this: