Now that gasoline has reached that $4-a-gallon plateau, which we'll find is more of an ascending slope than we thought, most people are not reacting with the anger or resolve that I had expected.
Maybe, deep down, they knew it had to happen, and that while oil reserves may have peaked, prices surely have not.
Now the talk is that gas could hit $5 a gallon by the end of the year, and we can only imagine the nightmare come winter when the cost of a barrel of oil is translated into heating bills.
Of course, as usual it is the low- and middle-income people who are being hurt the most, not only at the pumps and furnaces, but with other common ``essentials'' as the cost of fuel sends the prices of goods skyward.
Still, far too many people are driving around in _ and filling up _ the big SUVs and pickups that they've been convinced to buy by a marketing system based on profit and not on a planned energy policy that should have been instituted long ago.
Sure, we can curse at the oil companies making their multibillion-dollar profits every quarter, but in a corporate republic the government is not going to control such legalized larceny. Whether that changes after the election will show us just who's really running this country.
Clearly not the president, whose Oscar-worthy jawboning at his buddies in Saudi Arabia has done nothing to affect oil production or prices. Obviously not Congress, which has been helpless to control gas and fuel prices, and oil company profits.
One move we haven't seen lawmakers try yet is a gasoline equivalent of HEAP, the federal initiative that helps low-income people pay their heating bills during the winter. Perhaps, especially during an election year, somebody ought to propose TEAP, or transportation, rather than home, energy assistance program.
For many people in rural areas, there is no gasoline-vehicle alternative for getting to work. We're not talking about changing vacation plans to cut down on driving or flying. We're talking about having enough money left after buying gasoline and other essentials to get by.
The fact that the presidential candidates aren't jumping up and down with solutions and promises is a huge hint that there are no answers and that pledges would be empty. They know that the higher prices are here to stay regardless of what we do to conserve or use alternative energy sources.
Ending the federal tax temporarily may ease the burden for a short time but does not solve the problem of energy.
It is too late in the game for oil. The demand for oil beyond our shores is out of control, especially in such developing countries as China and India. And the prices of other traditional fuels such as natural gas and propane also are climbing off known charts.
Yes, we should know we had our chance to prevent what we are going through now some 30 years ago during the 1978 energy crisis. President Carter, for all his faults, had enough sense and foresight to initiate programs for alternative energy development, especially solar and wind. He even had solar panels installed on the White House.
And yes, we should realize by now that President Reagan scrapped those programs and even had the solar panels removed from the White House.
Maybe you've heard all the talk lately about the United States losing its stature in the world because of oil, the declining value of the dollar, our debacle in Iraq and huge foreign debt. There are even books out about how the 20th century _ as in America's century _ is definitively over.
With Bush back on the ranch and out of Washington, we have to do a lot of things differently in the coming years to fix the damage and change our nation's course. And one of the most important will be to develop alternative, renewable energy.
Presidential candidate Barack Obama offers the best choice to do just that. He has vowed to promote and develop solar technology, which not only would create power but also jobs. And we can do it right here in this country. No buying our panels from China.
With less dependence on oil, does that mean our energy costs are going to return to what they were five or 10 years ago? Sorry, those days are gone. Certainly in the short term, costs are still going to increase unless new, yet-to-be developed technologies can surprise us.
It is a new century, and we need to think about the world and its resources in new ways, to become a new country that can thrive in it.
Cary Brunswick is managing editor of The Daily Star. He can be reached at (607) 432-1000, ext. 217 or firstname.lastname@example.org.