Gas Prices: Robbing Us At the Pump

Another Spring, another robbery at the gas pump. But we aren’t being held-up at gunpoint by people in ski masks. The average price of gas has increased every day for the past thirty-six days. Currently, the average price of gas in California is around $4.29 a gallon. And we are being told to expect the price to reach $5.00 a gallon by the summer.

For most of us, an increase of just a few cents in the price of gas is enough to disrupt our lives. Our daily commute to work becomes more expensive. Visiting friends and family who live in other cities becomes more expensive. Going grocery shopping becomes more expensive. And whatever small amount we might have left over from our paychecks after we pay rent, pay bills, and buy groceries, quickly vanishes when gas prices go up. So, we are forced to put off camping trips with our families or even going out to dinner just so we can have enough gas in the car to get to work.

Meanwhile, as rising gas prices raise our daily stress, the bandits at the big banks and oil companies who are responsible for the rising prices are smiling and counting their profits. In the major newspapers and on TV, we are being told that the rising gas prices are the result of increasing tensions between Iran and the United States and Israel. We are told this might turn into a war and create a global shortage of oil. But all of this is just serving as an excuse and a cover for the fact that it is the gambling and hoarding of the big investment banks and oil companies that is driving up the price of gas.

When tensions between Iran and the US and Israel heated up, investors on Wall Street saw an opportunity. They used it as an excuse to begin buying up massive amounts of contracts for barrels of oil. These contracts allow them to sell barrels of oil at a fixed price in the future. These contracts are basically bets that the price of oil will go up. All this begins to push up the average price of oil.

And as the price of oil goes up, the big oil companies begin smelling profits and start hoarding the oil they already have in stock and keeping it off the market until they can sell it in the future¾after the price is sky high. The consequence of all this speculation and hoarding is transferred onto us at the gas pump.

The big banks and oil companies know that it’s easy to rob us at the pump. As gas prices increase, we don’t have the option of not driving our cars. Public transportation in most places in the US is not cheap or efficient. Funding for public transportation is being cut every year in order to fill local budget deficits. As a result, the cost of taking public transit is going up while services are being slashed.

Most of us also don’t have the option of driving cars that don’t use gas, such as electric cars. The oil companies have done everything they can to try and keep it this way. The technology to produce electric cars has been around for decades. But oil companies have blocked every attempt to mass-produce affordable electric cars.

We don’t have to tolerate living in an economy where our lives can be thrown into chaos because a handful of investors and corporations see an opportunity to steal even more from us. The resources exist to get us out of our cars and into cheap and fast public transportation. The resources and technology exist to create alternative sources of energy. The only obstacle that stands in our way is this system and the minority who profit from it.