Tag Archives: gas

5 Effects Low Gas Prices Are Having On Americans

By Andrew Follett – For months, American drivers have enjoyed near historically low gas prices, with the national average dropping to only $1.89 per gallon.

Even President Barack Obama sees the benefits of low gas prices, commenting “gas under two bucks a gallon ain’t bad,” in last week’s State of the Union speech. Behind the huge drop in gas prices is an even bigger collapse in the price of oil, from more than $100 a barrel in 2014 to just under $30 a barrel this week.

So plan that road trip, America. Gas prices are at historic lows and could even keep declining, which is already having several surprising side effects.

1: Poor And Ethnic Minorities Get The Most Benefits 

The poor and ethnic minorities tend to spend a higher proportion of their incomes on “basic needs” like gasoline, so any relief at the pump creates a ripple effect of benefits.

“It may not have a huge effect on the top 10 percent of households, but if you’re earning $30,000 or $40,000 a year and drive to work, this is a big deal,”Guy Berger, a Royal Bank of Scotland economist, told The New York Times. “Conceptually, this is the opposite of the stock market boom, which was concentrated at the top.”

High energy prices harm ethnic minorities far more than they harm the average household, according to a study by the Pacific Research Institute. When average energy spending rose from 2.9 percent to 3.8 percent of annual income for the average household, the average African-American household, annual spending rose 4.5 percent to 5.8 percent of household income. Lower-income black communities bore an even larger burden and ended up spending 26 percent of their household income on energy.

2: Everything Will Become Cheaper

Changes of just a few cents per gallon can have huge impacts on the economy.

When the price of gasoline decreases, the cost of producing goods and services that use gasoline as a component decreases as well. Any good which is transported to market via truck or car also decreases in price. Thus, low gas prices effectively reduce the price of almost everything.

Economists say cheap gasoline and oil slow inflation too.

“The bottom line is that lower prices boost GDP [Gross Domestic Product] and consumer spending but lowers overall inflation pretty dramatically,” Josh Zumbrun, The Wall Street Journal’s national economics correspondent,wrote in an article.

If gas prices remain this low, it will be a pretty big boost to consumers who ultimately benefit from these huge decreases in the price of everything.

3: It Will Become Easier To Save Money

“Lower gas prices mean that the cost of transportation and heating will be lower,” Alexander Goldstein, founder and CEO of Eligo Energy told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “It is no surprise that consumers will save the money that they aren’t putting into their gas tanks. According to recent studies, Americans saved 5.5 percent of their income in November because they spent less money on utility bills and gas….A fall in oil prices is effectively like a free tax cut.”
U.S. consumers spent $370 billion on gasoline in 2014, meaning a 28 percent price drop is equivalent to a $102 billion tax cut. Low prices at the pump are enormously beneficial to American households who can now use money not spent on gasoline to save more, pay down debt, or buy other goods.

American households are expected to save $700 to $750 at the pump this year, according to analysis by the Energy Information Administration.

4: Airlines And Travel In General Will Become Much Cheaper

“Consumers are going to a witness a drop in the cost of flights,”Goldstein continued.”Because of the low gas prices, airlines all over the world are making more money than they have because they are buying their fuel for cheaper! Travel experts say that this month they are seeing some of the lowest fares they have seen in years.”

International air travel travel is already 15 percent cheaper than it was last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In fact, it is cheaper than any other time period the BLS has data for!

“Dallas to almost anywhere in the United States you can fly on certain days for $40 each way,” George Hobica, who runs airfarewatchdog.com, told National Public Radio. “There are fares from San Francisco to Las Vegas for $67 round trip…and the reason they can afford to do that is because oil prices are going down.”

5: Russia Will Become Even More Assertive

Today’s low crude oil and gasoline prices and surging American oil production will likely continue making Russia’s foreign policy even more aggressive.

“Low oil prices are almost certainly involved in Russia’s decision to get involved in Syria, since the impact of low prices combined with U.S. and E.U. sanctions is seriously hurting the Russian economy,” Emma Ashford, an expert in oil politics at the libertarian Cato Institute, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Russia’s economy has historically been extremely dependent the sale of large amounts of oil to America and Europe, as the country heavily relies on oil to buoy its economy and fund the government. In 2013, crude oil exports accounted for 68 percent of total export revenues, and low gas prices mean less revenue to fund the country’s domestic and foreign policy agenda. Paradoxically, this likely means that Russia will become more aggressive.

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Survivors of Bhopal Gas Disaster Call on President Obama to Hold Henry Kissinger Accountable

In early December protesters in India marked the 30th anniversary of the Bhopal gas tragedy, calling on President Obama to hold American officials, including former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, accountable. 

On December 2, 1984 methyl isocyanate, a lethal ingredient in insecticides, leaked from a tank at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India. The area surrounding the plant was tightly packed with a large population. Residents exposed to the gas had their eyes and throats burned. The immediate deaths resulting range in estimates from 3,787 to 8,000.

In the last three decades those numbers have climbed to 25,000 deaths. Residents of the area are dying from diseases caused by water and soil contamination. An estimated 150,o00 people are fighting chronic illnesses including cancer. Children in the region are often born sick and disabled. 50,000 people are said to still be living among the poison. Only 8 convictions have come since the event happened, all former plant employees, who were convicted of “death by negligence”. 

Thirty years later the death toll keeps climbing and survivors continue to demand justice. Five organizations representing victims of the gas disaster sent a letter to President Obama asking him to ““acknowledge the central role played by the United States government in the creation of the disaster in Bhopal and in the denial of justice to the victims”.

The groups called on supporters to force Union Carbide and its current own Dow Chemical to take responsibility for human suffering in Bhopal. The groups  said despite a 1991 ruling from the Indian Supreme Court ordering the Indian government to provide medical insurance coverage to 100,000 children affected by the disaster, not a single child has received medical help.

The organizations were calling for the United States to extradite Union Carbide Secretary John McDonald  under charges of manslaughter and grievous assault in the Bhopal district court. In addition they are demanding that the US government “acknowledge and express regret” for not extraditing Warren Anderson, former CEO of Union Carbide, before his death earlier this year.

Rashida Bee President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh also called out former Secretary of State for his responsibility in the disaster. Bee points to documents released by Wikileaks which show Kissinger facilitating a loan from the Export-Import Bank of the United States to Union Carbide for the creation of the Methyl Isocyanate plant responsible for the deaths. In 1975 and 1976 Kissinger assisted in the creation of the pesticide plant by assuring the loan from the EXIM bank was successful. With his help Union Carbide was able to secure a loan of $1.3 million to cover half of the cost of building the plant.

Bee and other critics of Kissinger say that a recently released letter obtained under the Right to Information Act also shows the diplomat attempting to wield his influence to help Union Carbide settle out of court after the disaster. The letter was from May 31, 1988 written by former Tata Sons Chairperson JRD Tata to then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Tata delivers a message from Kissinger to Gandhi, stating that Union Carbide would be willing to be higher settlements then those ordered by Indian courts but only if the deal could be reached out-of-court.

Tata tells the Prime Minister that Kissinger is a “consultant and adviser to many Government and large corporations , including Union Carbide in America.” Kissinger, Tata said, had concerns about the delay in reaching a settlement. Rajiv Gandhi responds to the letter, stating that “The suggestions will be given consideration.” Less than a year later a settlement would be reached in the Supreme Court. This decision would force Union Carbide to pay $470 million USD and absolve them of paying any future settlements.

The Bhopal Disaster is not the first time Henry Kissinger has come under fire for his actions as a government official and adviser. Although he is known by some as the greatest diplomat the United States has ever had for his work opening relations between the Soviet and Chinese governments, Kissinger is also known as  a war criminal to a large portion of the world.

Kissinger has evaded questions and legal summons by investigators in France, Spain, Chile and Argentina. They seek answers about his involvement in disappearances of citizens in the US and other countries in regard to Operation Condor. Condor was a campaign of political repression and terror involving assassination and intelligence operations implemented in 1975 by the dictatorships of South America. The former Secretary of State was heavily involved in Operation Condor.

On September 10, 2001, the family of General Schneider initiated a civil action in federal court in DC, claiming that Kissinger gave the agreement to murder the general because he had refused to endorse plans for a military coup in Chile.

November 13, 2002, 11 individuals brought suit against Kissinger for human rights violations following the coup. They accused him of forced disappearance, torture, arbitrary detention, and wrongful death. The suit claims that Kissinger provided practical assistance and encouragement to the Chilean regime with reckless disregard for the lives and well-being of the victims and their families.

Both cases were dismissed based on sovereign and diplomatic immunity.

For more on the controversial career of Henry Kissinger check the following report.