Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sky's the limit — it's a gas, gas, gas

Today is gas boycott day. Since I filled up last night when the price was a mere $3.19 a gallon . . . no problemo.

Today, the price of gasoline jumped to $3.29 a gallon here in my neighborhood. It's now more expensive than it was immediately post Katrina.

OK, let's play the blame game. Pick what you think is the reason(s) for the sudden spike in gasoline prices. Then, for what it's worth, I'll tell you what I think. Pick your favorite of the following reasons:

- Basic supply & demand factors, (You know the stuff we learned in Econ 101.)
- Oil company fat cats getting all they can get while they can get it. ("Greed is good" - Gordon Gecko)
- Aging and inadequate refinery capacity in the United States. (It's been 31 years since a new refinery came on line here.)
- Strife and political tensions in oil producing nations. (When in our lifetimes wasn't there strife in the Middle East or Latin America or Russia and its satellite nations?)
- Market manipulation. (Speculators, whether it's real estate, oil or whatever, play the last-one-in-loses game. Meanwhile they make a killing.)

The oil companies (and their executives) are fattening up because a.) they can see trouble ahead in the form of dwindling supplies or alternative energy sources but, more likely, b.) they're greedy and testing the upper limit of what consumers will pay before they wise up and start driving more efficient cars or cut back on their driving. But isn't that basic supply and demand economics? Mix in some sharp wheeling and dealing in the New York Mercantile where crude oil and finished gasoline are traded and you have the recipe for sky-high prices. — Ron Hall

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