Taking the vacation I can't afford to...
Right now, gas in Colorado Springs is around $3.79 a gallon, depending on where you buy it. I know from past experience that if it's $3.79 here, it'll be $3.89 in Trinidad, Colorado, and anywhere from $3.80 to $4.15 between there and Dallas. The high cost of gasoline has raised the price of everything else along my route (I-25 to Raton, NM, US 64/87 from Raton to Clayton, NM, US87 from Clayton to Dalhart, TX, US287 from Dalhart to Decatur, TX, US 380 from Decatur to Greenville, Tx, US69 from Greenville to I-20, and I-20 to Ruston, LA, where my father-in-law lives). Total miles: about 1100 one way, 2200 round trip. Since my wife and I are both in our 60's, we don't push it. It usally takes us two days to make the trip. Our 1996 Dodge Caravan (fully paid for) gets about 23 miles per gallon on the highway, a little less on some of the local highways we drive. That means we'd have to buy at least 95 gallons of gas to make the round trip, plus whatever visiting we'd do once we got to where we were going. At an average price of $4 a gallon, that's $380. Add in another $200 for food, another $250 for lodging, and the cost of just getting there and back is over $800.
I get an Air Force retirement check, VA disability (70%), and Social Security. That's pretty fixed. My local bills haven't been fixed, and the $1500 we'd set aside to go to Louisiana this August/September for the annual family reunion had to go elsewhere. I'm staying home this year, even though we have something special we want to share with the family. We just can't afford to make the trip.
What's that got to do with Congress taking a vacation? A lot! The reason my bills have been so high is because the cost of a barrel of oil has shot up from $65-$70 a barrel to $120-$145 a barrel. Just about everything in most towns in the United States is delivered by truck or train. Both use oil products. If it costs more to move products, the price goes up. That goes for gasoline, food, and just about everything else. The linens in most motels are picked up and returned by laundry trucks, or washed locally. They require hot water, which is heated mostly by natural gas, whose price has gone up along with oil.
People who bid on commodities hoping to sell them at a higher price later and make a profit have seen that there's a greater demand for oil and gas than there's a supply. The old law of supply and demand has kicked in, and the price of oil and gas has doubled in less than a year. The people in the US have reacted, driving less. The price came down $.10 to $.20 a gallon, but that's about all it's going to drop from conservation. The only way prices are going to go down to the $2/gallon range (or less) is for there to be a major increase in production. There's little hope for increased production elsewhere - not with the people who control that oil becoming addicted to the higher prices. About the only place that production can be increased in such a way as to lower prices is to drill locally - along the US coasts, in Alaska, in untapped formations in the lower 48 and in Canada. Two things that stand in the way of that happening are the Democratically-controlled Congress, and several thousands of pages of unnecessarily stringent environmental regulations backed by lawsuit after lawsuit brought by the majority of "environmental groups" in the United States and Canada to delay, to increase costs, and to hamper any hope of energy independence for this nation.
There is legislation that was brought before Congress this year to ease the restrictions, open up areas known to contain large quantities of oil and gas to development, and to move the United States forward toward energy independence - or at least to reduce the level of dependence (and the cost) that we're currently held hostage to. The Democratic leadership, instead of bringing this legislation to the floor, discussing it, and voting on it, decided to stonewall the legislation and go on vacation.
It's time to hold those accountable who stall, sabotage, and subvert the will of the people for greater energy independence. It's time to hold those accountable who make it impossible for people like me to take a vacation, while they run off with work left undone. If I'd done that in the Air Force, I'd probably have been court-martialed. The least we can do for those that put pleasure before the work they're paid to do is to fire them. It's very easy - instead of voting for the Democratic candidate, choose someone else - anyone else. Unless they're a member of the "Green" party, they can't do any worse at the job than Representative Nany Pelosi, who uses her power and position to stiff the rest of us, or Senator Harry Reid, who is just as feckless about obeying the oath of office he's repeated enough times to know it by heart.
NOTE: Republican Representative John Bohner has created a live-action blog where you can post your comments for the Republicans remaining in DC to read. Check it out, and share your ideas.