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Who’s to blame this time?

By Walt Braun

What’ll we do now that gasoline is again on the march toward $4 a gallon? Drive less? Buy a hybrid, or even a motorcycle? Ride a bike to work or class? Walk places within walking distance?

Those are all tempting, but it’s much easier to pin the situation on others. We could start by blaming President Obama. That’s silly, but reasonable given that he’s been getting credit for the recent uptick in the economy. Besides, he hasn’t stopped Iran from trying to develop nuclear weapons. And his interests in keeping the air and water as clean as possible and in expanding renewable energy sources can’t help but raise prices on fossil fuels.

Or we could blame Iran. That nation is pursuing what it considers its national interests in developing nuclear weapons. It’s even halted oil sales to England and France because they’ve taken the lead on European sanctions against Iran. Iran also has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, through which enough of the world’s oil flows to matter greatly to the global economy.

We could blame Israel. In pursuing what it considers its own national interests, Israel is disinclined to join the rest of the world in threatening Iran with even tighter sanctions and just might launch air strikes to slow Iran’s progress, an action that, among other things, could spark a war that would send oil prices sky high.

There is no shortage of scapegoats for the rising cost of a gallon of gas — not to mention the greater expense of goods that contain oil or are brought to market by oil consuming vehicles.

No question rising oil prices affect the global economy, the U.S. economy and our household budgets. And while criticism or finger-pointing is valid to a point, let’s not exert much energy expressing shock at this occurrence. Let’s not hold our breath waiting for President Newt Gingrich’s $2-a-gallon gas. And let’s not renew discussions about tapping the national oil reserve to soften the blow.

Among the lamentable realities is that we’ve seen this pattern before — as long ago as the 1970s — and it’s recurring with growing frequency. And like so many other problems on the horizon — entitlements and the national debt come to mind — we’ve found it easier to complain than to confront them. Even if deep down we know that postponing the moment of truth will only make the pain more acute.

If we’re lucky, the price of gas will rise only for a couple of months and then ease back down to something more acceptable. But if we’re smart, we’ll wise up and do what it takes — even if it means nduring higher taxes to fund necessary research — to break what truly is an addiction to oil.

Then we wouldn’t have to look for scapegoats.

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