President Barack Obama's call for Congress to end some $4 billion in subsidies for oil companies may or may not lower the price of gas. But it has a certain appeal at a time when Americans are feeling the pressure of rapidly rising gas costs while those same oil companies are making enormous profits.
Perhaps while he's at it, the President might also ask Congress to consider turning those subsidies over to motorists to help cope with the rising cost of transportation - which impacts more than just the price of getting from point A to B. It inflates the prices of goods and services as well.
While we won't hold our breath on a subsidy for drivers, it's worth asking why rising gas prices at home have done little more than provoke grumbling and complaints over the usual and renewed cries to drill more for domestic oil. It certainly seems to have had little impact on the way most Americans drive. And that's probably the biggest problem the U.S. faces. Instead of conserving gas and pushing leaders to put more of an emphasis on developing alternative modes of transportation, we're looking for more of the same old fix.
And still, everyone complains about traffic.
How much better off would we all be now had there been a serious push decades ago to develop commuter rail from Savannah to outlying cities? Why, as the Georgia DOT spends hundreds of millions in tax dollars to fix roads already overburdened, is someone not investing a good portion of our tax dollars on making plans for both commuter rail and a regional greenway a reality? Imagine being able to ride a bike on a sunny day from home in Hinesville or Midway to work in Savannah, then, in the event of an afternoon thunderstorm, being able to take the train home at night. No traffic, no stress, no worries over the cost of filling up the gas tank once a week or more.
It would be better for the environment, better for our health and easier on our wallets. When it comes to transportation policy, it's time for all of us to start thinking outside the oil barrel.