A full decade ago, I was 16 and began driving. Mom had her green mini-van, Dad had his bright blue Durango, I had my deteriorating blue mini-van, and I absolutely l<3ved it. It was the best piece of crap I'd ever had! I had my license for a couple weeks, when the unthinkable happened -- the price of gas jumped! It was $1.40! People were outraged. There were protests and plans for protests. People were even saying they were going to ride their bike instead as a way of boycotting oil. $1.40 for gas?! How appalling....
...okay, well, everyone reading this knows how absolutely laughable that is now. Over the summer, I think at one point I was paying $4.30-something here in Indiana for gas, possibly more. Nobody liked the price of gas, but there wasn't anything anyone could do about it. People actually grew nostalgic about "the times when gas was only $3 a gallon." Well...those times are past us...aren't they. The lowest I've seen gas so far is $1.68, and it just keeps on dropping.
I've heard a lot of different theories about what's happening, and I've found not too many people agree. Granted, some sources are more credible than others (the Wall Street Journal compared to my dad's pessimism), but I think all of them are potentially valid to some degree. I am fully willing to admit that I'm not an economist and there is a lot I don't understand. The most valid theory I've heard (Wall Street Journal) is that of supply-and-demand. Due to a number of contributing factors, the demand for oil is currently surprisingly low, the value of the American dollar has risen, and thus, oil's price has dropped dramatically.
Despite what Americans might think, we are not the only people in the world. Just because a Doublestack from Wendy's will always be 99 cents here doesn't mean it will always be so in other countries, and vice-versa concerning us for other (though less tasty) items. The global market's like that.
I've also heard that, with the stock market crash the other month, people panicked and sold their stocks of oil, wanting to get the best price possible. Dad also fumed to me that the oil company's dropped the price, wanting the American people to think we were doing well, and to then reelect a Republican president, so they can continue to make their billions and billions of dollars. Bush has been accused (possibly rightly so) of being an oil monger and that was the impetus of us going to Iraq (a good majority of Americans at the time thought Iraq had something to do with 9/11), and has allowed the oil companies to go about and do as they please, and artificially inflate the price of oil. This pessimistic and cynical viewpoint permeates throughout the surprisingly poetic Flash game, "Oiligarchy." For those with an hour to kill who enjoy simulation games, try to get to the end.
I suspect the oil companies actually have been making a good profit throughout all this, though. Billions of dollars have been made, and while, yes, a good deal of that goes towards maintaining and furthering its business, a lot has also been stashed away. With all that privately owned money, I'm seriously wondering if it might be going towards something similar to the fictional Philosopher's Legacy.
Wherever the truth lies, at least one thing remains constant -- I don't like oil. Yes, it might fuel the world and propel our cars, and that's what I think is the problem. At the risk of sounding like a hippy, I find the stuff to be a damaging crutch on which our world has become dependent. It's harmful to the environment and there's only a limited amount in the world itself. Efforts have been made in recent years to combat this with the introduction of hybrid and electric cars, as well as additives to fuel to make its exhaust more environmentally friendly. Our world only has so much, though, and I know its reserves won't last forever. It's a pity the human race has a history of living in the "now," rather than trying to tend to more long-term goals. In the meanwhile, fights have broken out concerning ownership and much blood has been spilled all for that oil, black gold, Texas T. Personally, I'd rather avoid any future wars that might erupt, due to the stuff. It's scary, but true -- humanity is also one of the world's limited resources.