Other than a couple of on-air Fox TV personalities, the vast majority of Americans are outraged about the situation in Ukraine.
But there isn’t much that we in the U.S. can do about it directly, whether individually (unless we want to join the Ukrainian army) or collectively (unless we want to start a nuclear World War III).
Yes, the U.S. is working with other nations in supplying weapons and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. We also have imposed unprecedented and devastating economic sanctions upon Russia that already are wreaking havoc with the Russian economy.
But what has not been done is the big one: Shutting-off the spigot of Russian natural gas and oil, the means by which Putin is able to finance his war and his hold on the Russian people.
Congress is in the process of passing a bill that would ban the import of Russian oil into this country. Apparently, we get seven percent of our oil from Russia.
The Biden administration has been hesitant to do so because it fears that this would cause a huge spike in the price of gasoline, which would further fuel inflation.
However, we cannot offer platitudes to the Ukrainian people and talk about our commitment to democracy and peace if we are unwilling to make sacrifices ourselves.
Congress and the Biden administration can soften the effect upon average Americans of skyrocketing energy costs in a number of ways, either through direct payments to income-qualifying Americans or even subsidies to domestic energy producers, with the caveat that they need to increase production here in America. (In fact, our domestic oil producers are engaging in nothing less than crass war-profiteering by refusing to produce more oil and natural gas, which they easily can do and as they have done in the past, in order to flood the world market and bring prices down.)
The state and federal governments also can suspend the tax on gasoline. In California for example, the per-gallon state tax is 51 cents and the federal tax is 18 cents. Here in Mass., our state tax is 24 cents.
If the world is to turn the tide against the Putin regime, we must be willing to make sacrifices on an individual level. If that means paying more for gasoline, then that’s what we have to do.
But governments can soften the blow upon average Americans of soaring energy costs, which will have ripple effects throughout the economy, and should take action to do so immediately.