Fuel prices have returned to "normal"?

Fuel prices have returned to "normal". They have reached pre-Katrina levels.

I've been waiting for the pro big business voices to start wanking about how the "free market" works, and I have read the first example of it. From the Washington Times columnist Paul Greenberg releases his balderdash "Gas price vapors". (see here)

Perhaps Paul thinks we consumers should be happy to pay $2.00 a gallon for fuel? (Prices in my area hover around 1.999 a gallon for regular unleaded. Diesel prices are higher.) I do know that when I was traveling in upstate New York I did overhear one consumer make comments along that line. In the small town of Red Creek, NY prices had, by that time, dropped to around $2.459 a gallon and the man I overheard was remarking to the cashier how he never thought the day would come when he would pay 2 and a half bucks a gallon and think he was getting a bargain.

Well I am not grateful. I still think there needs to be a windfall profits tax on oil. I still have my records where I was paying way below a buck a gallon and the oil companies were still making a profit back then. On Dec 30, 1998, only 7 years ago, I paid 77.9 cents a gallon for diesel. I guarantee you that fuel was not being sold at a loss. Now prices are somewhere between double and triple that (closer to triple) so just how much profit do oil companies continue to make at "today's bargain prices" on domestically produced oil?

And just where do these profits go? Do the Big Oil companies that try to portray themselves as "America's energy companies" plow these profits back into future production? Do they invest their new found wealth in alternative energy sources? Nope. At least the executives from one Big Oil company decided to line their pockets. They're not going to invest for the future they are just going to continue to ride today's gravy train. They decided to do a stock buy back. What is the harm with this? Well all it did was drive up the value of stock they personally held and drive up the potential value of stock options they possess. I guess there is nothing wrong with it if you think there is nothing wrong with these companies doing nothing to meet America's future energy needs.

But what was it we were told when Exxon bought out Mobil? That it would not stifle competition? Well seems to me competition has been stifled. We were lied to.

How come there is not enough refinery capacity to meet America's energy needs? Why is it that every time there is a refinery fire it is big news? Well I think I know the answer.

Why should oil companies invest in a new refinery when it is so risky? The world is approaching "Peak Oil" production and even though demand might continue to rise in America where it would make a new refinery profitable there probably is not going to be an endless supply of crude oil to refine. As the American people start feeling the effects of climate change they are going to start finally demanding that their government do something about it. Investing enormous sums of wealth into a shiny new refinery does not look like such a good investment choice.

But then do they invest in alternative energy sources to help America meet tomorrow's energy needs? Nope. They just perch themselves atop the cash cow and poise themselves to ride it into the dirt.

Well if "America's energy companies" do not have the vision to help America meet tomorrow's energy needs then I say we throw a windfall profits tax on them. We then help the entrepreneurs who want to invest in America's future energy needs by subsidizing them. If Big Oil will not do it on their own then "we the people" do it for them.

Big Oil saw this day coming and they did nothing to stop it, all they did with the money as prices rose was start buying each other out so there would be even less competition in the market. They have America hooked on crude oil like the drug pusher has has his customers hooked on his wares. Instead of investing in a future with a plentiful supply of alternative energy they try and stifle competition, keep the oil needle in America's veins, and reap obscene profits off the dwindling supplies of what they have to sell.

Either Big Oil gets serious about being "America's energy companies" or we slap a windfall profits tax on them.

I for one am still not happy with paying two bucks a gallon for fuel. If at least some of the money I'm paying will be invested in the future I might not be so unhappy.


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