20 Mar 2022 Energy War on the Poor
As the price of a gallon of gasoline skyrockets, Biden Administration officials like Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg have argued that a simple solution is to buy an electric car. The problem with this only starts with the fact that a brand-new, low-end, base-model Tesla costs over $45,000.
On top of that, consider those who live in the inner city. How are people in a high-rise supposed to charge these depreciating assets? Even if the Biden Administration makes good on the equity goal of underwriting charging stations in “underserved” areas, accommodating a mass conversion to electric cars would be impossible. And a steady supply of electricity requires fossil fuels – something the Biden Administration is trying to curtail.
Project 21 member Michael Austin sees the energy crisis as a war on poor Americans. As an advisor to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and an emerging poverty scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Michael is uniquely qualified to assess the impact of Biden energy policies on black Americans:
In mid-February, President Biden vowed to “work like the devil to bring gas prices down.” Since then, his transportation secretary repeatedly tells Americans to buy electric vehicles while the president pleads with foreign governments – including Iran and Venezuela – to produce and export oil.
To no one’s surprise, these actions aren’t giving Americans relief at the pump. On the contrary, Biden’s avoidance of energy independence has created an energy war on the poor.
The impact of high gas prices on poor and middle-income Americans is growing every week. As of mid-March, the Energy Information Administration reported that weekly gasoline prices across the country ranged between $4.20/gallon and $5.28/gallon. Considering how essential transportation is to Americans – especially in lower-income and non-coastal areas – higher gas prices are devastating to a family’s budget.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the lowest 20% of income earners spend 6.2% of their gross pay just on motor vehicle fuel, and 33% on all transportation costs. To make matters worse, those statistics were reported in 2020 – when gas prices were half as high as they are today.
Sound economic principles can lead us to a solution. In a free market, businesses have an incentive to supply more goods and services when prices rise. Not only does this eliminate any shortages, but prices fall when the goods hit the market.
This phenomenon isn’t a theory. It’s a reality. During the Trump Administration, Saudi Arabia cut oil production and limited oil exports, pushing derivative gas prices high. In response, President Trump initiated a series of rollbacks of Obama-era regulations which led to record production of 12.4 million barrels of crude per day. Yet now, under President Biden, gasoline prices have hit a record high.
Economist Thomas Sowell once suggested that true solutions to problems are often not very complicated. What is complicated, he noted, is evading the truth. So we shouldn’t be surprised that Joe Biden’s promise to “work like the devil” means he will look to any option except the obvious one.
A free-energy market is the only real solution to give low-income Americans the relief they deserve.