Trying to make sense of gas prices

Trying to make sense of gas prices

A recent Vindicator arti- cle addressed the issue of high gasoline prices. The reasons cited for the steep rise in the price of a gallon of gas are many and varied. None seem to make sense to this writer.

The American free enterprise system works on the law of supply and demand. The larger the supply of an item the cheaper the price. Higher demand brings a corresponding increase in an item’s worth. Gasoline seems to defy both those measures of cost.

We don’t hear of shortages in the supply of the crude oil from which gasoline is refined. And refineries haven’t caught fire lately, although that will happen as sure as little green apples. In fact many news stories I’ve read point to the fact that gasoline supplies are more than adequate. Demand did increase slightly over the holidays, but it still doesn’t explain the steady rise in gasoline prices beginning way back in the Spring of 2010.

Of course the oil companies and the marketing studies they pay for tell us speculators are driving the price up because the American economy is improving. For a select group of the wealthy that are also the speculators, I agree. For the working man who must buy the end product of this speculation, I disagree.

I have another theory on the surge in the price of gasoline and it’s purely political. Before the Democrats took control of Congress, the price of gasoline skyrocketed to $4 a gallon. As soon as the Democrats got control of both Congress and the White House the price of a barrel of oil plummeted and gasoline followed suit.

However, early this year when it became increasingly apparent that the Republicans, supported by these same wealthy speculators, would gain control of the U.S. government, the price of a barrel of crude oil began to climb “based upon speculation.” Speculation not on the improvement of the American economy but speculation that the Republicans would win control in November. Once the November elections confirmed the shift in control of Congress would fall to the right wing, suddenly gasoline prices began to soar to the over-$3-a-gallon price we pay today.

Coincidence? I don’t think so. Americans fell into the trap set by the right wing that the Democrats were failing the American people when in reality it was the stonewalling in Congress perpetuated by the right wing to again gain control of the U.S. government. As I write this letter the right wing is planning their moves to wrench both the White House from the Democrats and gain further control of the Congress in the 2012 elections.

The American people wanted change in 2008 and got it. But they didn’t allow the time needed for the changes to happen and they would not hold Congress accountable. The right wing continued to block any initiative to get the country going.

The electorate voted in November for change again. But was it the right thing to do? I predict that gasoline prices will continue to increase in 2012 and approach the $4 mark. Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

Tom Hall, Lisbon