Lately, we have all been passing gas. Yes, you’ve been doing it, too, even if you didn’t know you were. And it’s not okay.
I’m not talking about farting, I’m talking about letting the big gas companies get away with gouging prices. You’ve been giving them a pass, and so have I . . . but we have to stop.
Let’s start with some gassy facts: prices have gone up in recent years. And have gotten up so high that many Americans are changing their work schedules or vacations so they have to drive less. According to one source, gas prices have risen a $1.50 per gallon in the last six years (though the lowest to highest price difference over the six years is closer to $2.50). Back in 1979 gas was roughly 80c a gallon. . . now we are close to or even over $4 per gallon in some places.
About ten years ago I helped my sister move out to Los Angeles, which involved taking I-40 from East Tennessee all the way to the Pacific. As we neared the Mojave, gas prices climbed until we hit our ‘last stop gas shop’ where we had to pay . . . . two whole dollars per gallon! The whole time the pump worked, we kept saying “Thank you sir, may I have another?” Now what I wouldn’t give for $2 a gallon gas.
You may say that we are all just waxing nostalgic for lower prices. Remember in elementary school when you got that carton of milk for a dime or a quarter? 50c for ice cream? And your Dad complained about how expensive gas was getting? But that’s not the issue here. With gas prices adjusted for inflation the rate is amazingly flat – i.e. no growth in prices except standard inflation . . . until 2004, at which point the adjusted prices still begin to slope upward.
Not only is that line going up, it’s trending steeper by the year. So the answer is: yes, we are getting gouged. (Just in case you weren’t sure . . .)
There may be factors other than just pricing involved . . . the lovely BP oil spill in April of 2010, the fact that every European nation pays for the liter what we pay for the gallon (which is roughly 2:1), all that crap in Alaska . . . but the fact is that European nations have always paid more – that didn’t start in 2004. And if you’re watching the dates here, the gulf oil spill was in 2010, way after the prices started to climb.
Here’s the trouble. I have no issue paying what gas is worth. Or even paying to fix the environment after we drill . . . but that’s not where your money is going. The COO of Exxon made 2.9 million this year for salary and received a 40% increase in his bonus (putting it at 3.36 mil). Honestly, he probably works a lot harder for his 5mil than say Tom Cruise and certainly more than Charlie Sheen. What should be getting to you is the 15mil in stock he was granted this year and the 400mil of retirement he set up for himself. Yes, of that 5 million annual salary, he doesn’t have to put any in savings. (If any of you know how to get an automatic 80 years annual salary upon retirement – or even getting fired – please tell me!)
Exxon also reported the biggest profit ever. Ever. 36 billion (yes, that’s a ‘b’ not an ‘m’ with a head cold).
BP is much the same. They lost a lot of money over that nasty “spill”, but their CEO was taking home ~6mil annually. Yes, your gas prices aren’t cleaning anything but the insides of the exec’s pockets.
In the meantime, all us chumps have been paying our grocery stores to let us use our own cloth bags instead of plastic (don’t know if it’s true but I heard that the petroleum from 30 plastic bags could fuel a car for a mile). We are changing our work hours because of gas prices. And we’re buying hybrid cars . . . remember when you buy them, they cost extra so you don’t see the savings for often several years. And honestly, I keep seeing increases of only 6 to 11 miles per gallon for having the hybrid.
Add in the issue that the gas companies are so big they write laws, and it seems kinda hopeless. Yes, our ‘democratic’ American government is kowtowing to these jerks. You can cry ‘capitalism’ if you want, but I’d like to hear you do it at the gas pump when you can’t fill your hybrid for less than $50.
It’s time to take a stand . . . and maybe a walk or a bike ride. But no more passing gas. You can’t do it in private (shaking your head while you set aside a bigger portion of your paycheck to fuel your car) and you sure shouldn’t pass gas in public (no sighing at the pump and saying ‘gosh prices are so high’ – no sh**, Sherlock.) If you’re going to say anything about gas, start a conversation like this:
“Did you know that Exxon posted record profits this year? Even though there’s still oil off Prince Island Sound where the Valdez spilled. Are you going to get eighty times your annual salary for retirement?”
Sure, you’ll sound like a kook. But after a minute, people will realize that you only sound crazy for starting a random conversation at the gas station, what you’re saying is actually important.
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