Comparing Presidents, The Price of Gasoline and Energy Independence

This post is on energy – it looks at energy independence and the price of a gallon of gasoline over time. Data used in the post includes figures for energy consumption and energy production and the real (year 2000) price of a gallon of gasoline. For gasoline, I use the price of leaded gasoline until 1976, and unleaded thereafter. (However, for changes over the length of Jimmy Carter’s term, I use the change from the 1976 price of a gallon of unleaded to the 1980 price of a gallon of unleaded to maintain consistency.)

(Regular readers may recall I once took a similar look at the topic, but that was before I knew how to put a graph up on blogger so this seemed a good excuse to revisit it.

OK. Some graphs.

Summary tables…

First, in terms of what it means – the price of a gallon of gas… the biggest spike occurred during the Carter admin, as a result of the Oil Embargo. Result… Carter got off his butt, and was also the president who did the best job at moving the country in the direction of energy independence. The next biggest annualized jump in the price of gasoline took place under GW, but he hasn’t exactly been Mr. Energy Independence. In terms of gasoline price hikes, he was followed (distantly) by Clinton, who was also no great prize when it came to making the country self-reliant, though arguably, at least in Clinton’s administration, one could argue people had an easier time affording the gasoline price hikes.

The biggest decrease in the price of gasoline came during the Reagan admin – courtesy of the end of the Oil Embargo. Interestingly enough, the big price drop in the Reagan admin happened in 1986. What happened in 1986? Accessing … accessing… here it is: in 1986, the US supplied Iran with several plane loads of missiles and other assorted military equipment, plus a cake shaped like a key, and for good measure, a bible shaped like a bible. (In fairness, I believe Ollie North denies the cake and bible part of the story, but I’ll leave it to you to decide if anyone associated with supplying weaponry to Iran in violation of the National Security Act is credible about any part of the Iran Contra affair – especially someone who shredded every bit of evidence he could.) Who said a President can’t affect the price of gasoline?

In theory, GW’s approach is similar to Reagan’s, as he’s now providing an enemy with weapons, and ingratiating himself with Middle Eastern despot who wouldn’t mind seeing the US destroyed, but it hasn’t yielded the same results…

Next post in this series… Religion.



It seems that Iran-Contra occuring the year of the price drop is just a coincidence, or at least I should note that Iran did not increase output that year.