Share
 

Please REGISTER to post comments or be notified by e-mail every time this Blog is updated! Firefox/IE7 users can use RSS for a browser link that lists the latest posts!

WRITERS WANTED – Keeping this blog current can be a bigger job than for just one person. “Mugsy’s Rap Sheet” is looking for VOLUNTEER guest writers to contribute to our blog to help make it worth visiting more than once a week. To contact us, please send an email to the address on our About Us page along with a sample and/or link to your writing skills.
– Mugsy

Yesterday I received my “stimulus check” from the Federal Government. Having a low Social Security number and Direct Deposit, I was among the first to receive my check from the government. My first purchase: a full tank of gas.

Since I work from home, I’ve been noticeably absent from my blog as of late, shirking my blogging duties as I concentrate on other projects. This has kept me home quite a bit over the past few weeks. And because I work from home, this saves me a lot of driving and a lot of money on gas. But “money” and I don’t see a lot of each other, forcing me to economize whenever and wherever possible. That means stretching out a tank of gas for as long as I possibly can with fewer unnecessary trips. The last time I filled up my gas tank, a mere 6 weeks ago, I was upset that the price of gas had shot up overnight an extra ten cents a gallon to $2.69. Had I of bought gas the day before, I would of saved a couple of bucks.

Because of my meager income, I try to put off buying gas for as long as I possibly can, hoping that at some point, prices may dip a few cents some week. But I always fill up. I can’t understand people who “only buy a few gallons” or “fill up when they hit just half a tank” hoping against hope that the price of gas will come down before the next fill up. This is just stupid in my eyes because 99 out of 100 times, the price of gas goes up, not down. And if you buy gas more often that you need to, you are ensuring that you always buy gas at the highest current price. While $2.69 seemed like highway robbery at the time, I was awfully glad I filled up at the time when the price of Regular Unleaded hit a national average of $3.51 a gallon 9 days ago:
 

April 21 record high

…and another nine more cents just six days later:
 

April 27 record high

Did you know the gas pump “dings” when you hit the $50 mark? I didn’t until yesterday.

As I’m filling up at the pump, the same thought wouldn’t leave my mind: “They might as well of just cut these checks straight to the oil companies because that’s exactly where they are all going.” The irony is that it is the high price of fuel that has caused the current economic crisis, and the bulk of the “stimulus” funds will be eaten up by increased costs due to high fuel prices.

I have a Conservative friend (by Texas law, I must have at least two) that I’ve known since high school. Back in 2004 (I believe), I was angry that gas prices had breached $2/gal. He responded with his usual Conservative “pro-corporate” indignance: “You Liberals all think: gas prices are high (ergo) the oil companies must be making a killing.” His thinking was obviously that the high price of oil was hurting the oil companies too, cutting into their profit margins. I responded that the last time I checked, it didn’t cost them any more to pump the oil out of the ground just because oil prices go up.” It wasn’t a week later before the news reported for the first time that Exxon had record profits that quarter, so high that they had surpassed G.E. as the richest corporation on the planet. I’ve never let him forget it, and now every time they announces record profits in the oil industry, I throw it back in his face (as any good friend would) as an example of how Conservatives can be so sure of themselves and get extremely indignant over things they “believe to be true” when the facts and evidence are often 180o opposite.

More and more often, I find myself thinking about the Summer of 2000, Clinton’s final year in office. As Texas Governor George W. Bush and his VP-nominee were talking the economy into a recession at nearly every campaign stop (“The economy isn’t as good as they say.” he kept repeating over and over until it became a self-fulfilling prophecy), long-haul truckers across the country were threatening to go on strike when the price of diesel rose 20cents in just four months to the unbearable price of $1.49/gal. In June of 2000, the governor was telling everyone that if he were President, he’d tell OPEC to “open up the spigot” to increase the oil supply and bring gas prices down from the unbearable price of $1.46/gal, up $0.29 from $1.17/gal the year before.

My earliest memory of gas prices was in 1979 when President Jimmy Carter tried to switch an unwilling country over to the “Metric System” and gas stations were required to list the price of fuel in liters instead of gallons. I remember the commotion when gas prices fell from $0.79/gal to $0.21/ltr literally over night. Seeing that low number still sticks in my memory to this day. As Carter correctly pointed out, continuing to use the old “standard” system while the rest of the world went metric was costing the U.S. economy billions every year, mostly from having to produce things likes nuts & bolts in two different formats, one for us and one for the rest of the world. Different labeling, different pricing, and just adding to the cost of doing business overseas. Interestingly enough, the only remnant of Carter’s metric push: the 2-liter soda bottle. Before that, I remember buying Coke in giant 32oz glass Coke bottles. For some odd reason, no one ever complained about only being able to buy soda by the liter… but gasoline, never!

In 1996, just prior to Bill Clinton’s re-election, gas prices briefly fell to just $0.99/gal locally, down from the normal price of about $1.10. Think about that. From Carter to Clinton, 1979 to 1996, in 17 years, the price of gasoline had risen a mere $0.30 (with fluctuations in between, maybe as much as $0.50 at any one point.) When George Bush became President in 2001, the price of Regular Unleaded gasoline was $1.43/gal (up apx 30cents in four years). A mere three months later, with two Texas oilmen now in office, the “National Average” price of gasoline “soared” $0.19 cents to $1.62/gal. This was BEFORE 9/11, so you Bush apologists, don’t waste my time with your stale “9/11 changed everything” defense, and AFTER Governor George Bush said “as President” he’d tell OPEC to “open the spigot” in order to to bring down gas prices from the lofty high of $1.49/gal.

In the 7 years since George Bush became President, the price of gasoline has risen 252% from a “National Average” of $1.43/gal in April of 2001 to $3.60 today. And only NOW as the price of diesel broke the $4/gal threshold, have truckers threatened to go on strike in protest of high fuel prices.

I have no answers, only questions. Why is it when a Democrat is in office, a 30cent rise in fuel prices is worth striking over; a stock market that grew from just under 340% (3,500 points to 11,723 at the start of the 2000 Presidential campaign) was derided with “the economy isn’t as good as they say it is” and helps get a Republican elected President, but a 252% rise in fuel prices in seven years, a stock market that has risen barely 21% in seven years, despite not one but two recessions, and a home mortgage market in meltdown, a Republican candidate for President can describe the economy as “strong” and still be considered a serious candidate for President?

If you have the answer, you are wiser than I.

(Postscript: “Crooks & Liars” started a great thread yesterday reminding everyone how the price of gasoline magically fell $0.80 just in time for the 2006 election.)

(ThinkProgress: RNC Celebrates Windfall For Oil Companies.)

Share