A word or two about the developing worldwide energy crisis....
There's a good reason that European Truckers, Farmers and people are fed up: Taxes on Fuel which have at times exceeded 75% of the price of the product. Responsibility for this rests squarely on the shoulders of European Union Legislators. OPEC has little to do with the present situation, except that their own production ups and downs have added a modest amount to the price of a gallon. But the real problem is that the European Governments are so arrogant and so used to gorging themselves on the taxes extricated from fuel sales that they simply refuse to give up any of it.
One of the main reasons that European Union members have spent the last century playing second fiddle to the unparalleled success of the American Economy is that they have never understood the depth to which they sabotage their own economies with their outrageous taxes. Is there any chance they'll wake up this time? Obviously, they could use a healthy dose of laissez-faire and a reduction in taxes to, say, around 30% of the price of a gallon of fuel. Why are the European Governments so naked in their eagerness to take advantage of the inelasticity in demand for a crucial product? Do they want their economies to do well or not? 212 years ago, it was "Let them eat cake" and we ended up with Revolution. This time it seems like "Let them drive the Rolls". What a pointless and needless situation. It is obvious that the consumers of petrol throughout Europe, particularly those for whom it is the life-blood of their business, have been burdened unjustly. Let the wrong be corrected, and the continent move on to problems more difficult to understand.
The farmers and truckers who are protesting the matter have no real alternatives. No-one in the European Community or elsewhere has offered a widely-available renewable-fuel Truck or Tractor for sale. And European auto-drivers are still probably having difficulty laying their hands on practicable affordable electric and hybrid vehicles. So what are they supposed to do? They have no choice but to buy Petroleum-based fuels, in quantity. The vast portion of their money goes not to OPEC but to the governments of Europe, masquerading as guardians of "The Environment".
The long-overdue protest against Fuel Taxes in Europe is not the only developing situation for those who follow the world energy scene. The recently delayed attempt to deregulate Electricity in San Diego was one of the most important Energy Industry developments in our time, and only serves to underscore how long it's been since we've all had to deal with a free market in the arena of energy. It's going to take several decades to achieve a more competitive open market in energy for consumers and hopefully we won't get too discouraged at a problematic first try.
I recently ran across a free-market advocate who questioned the wisdom of supporting CARB's historic vote to maintain the ZEV mandate. I have to admit, at first glance, the mandate does not appear to be the act of a free society.
But what was CARB, and the citizenry of California, supposed to do? Something is really broken in our system, and free market advocates seem to turn a blind eye to this instead of trying to examine it. Do we really have free markets in energy and transportation? How can this claim be made when the few really big auto companies blithely ignore the demands of millions of customers and then lie about it for decade after decade?
For better or worse, global warming is apparently not a fantasy of left-wingers looking for a pretext to attack business, but simply a fact. At least, the scientific evidence appears to indicate this. The proper response to this should not be to deny facts, but to ask what they mean for us and what we'll do about them. One logical response would be to build and use clean reliable efficient electric vehicles. Another possible response is to stick with hydrocarbon-powered vehicles, but to make them more efficient and reliable and to ensure that the hydrocarbons are manufactured from renewable sources (such as solar energy). We've waited for a long time for Detroit to offer us some better choices, and all they've done is refuse to build the electric and high-mileage vehicles we have been asking for, while happily and shamelessly giving away market share to European and Japanese manufacturers. Those manufacturers, up against such measured mediocrity from the Americans, have in turn practiced their own spastic earily measured policy of refusing to build and sell Electric Vehicles, Hybrid vehicles and Vehicles with Regenerative Braking.