Wednesday, August 24, 2005

How to Confront Rising Gasoline Prices

If you're a politician in Michigan the proper reaction to current record high gasoline prices is - HYSTERIA! As this article from today's Detroit Free Press demonstrates, politicians continue in their ignorance about basic economics and the current world situation.
Gasoline pumps are the latest targets of suspicion as public and political anxiety mounts over record-high gas prices.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm on Tuesday ordered the immediate hiring of 10 more gas pump inspectors to assure that motorists aren't cheated by pumps that give them tainted gasoline or less than their money's worth.

The state Department of Agriculture will spend $1.3 million to eventually hire 16 inspectors in coming months. That will double the number of inspectors through next year.

And today, a House joint meeting will hear testimony on whether gas stations are tweaking profits illegally. House Republicans are backing bills to increase fines for gas stations that shortchange customers or misrepresent the octane level of gas from their pumps.

The scheduled hearing has ruffled gas retailers, who say they believe they are scapegoats for the price of gas. There are about 5,100 gas stations in Michigan.

"This is much ado about nothing. It's a blatant attempt to get political gain on the backs of gas stations," said Mark Griffin, president of the Michigan Petroleum Association/Michigan Association of Convenience Stores.
Granholm is posturing, as I'm sure she feels she must, since Michigan has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. That coupled with current gas prices are seriously dampening her chances for reelection.
In Washington, U.S. Sen. Carl Levin on Tuesday asked President George W. Bush to insist that oil companies reduce prices or face an excess profits tax.

"The president should call the oil companies into the Oval Office and give them a piece of the public's mind," the Michigan Democrat said in a letter to the White House. "It's just been silence on the part of the administration."

Levin's letter also suggested that Bush tell oil companies that he'll seek a federal investigation into rising gasoline prices.
I wish I could say he was joking. So let me suggest here in my own tiny voice that Senator Levin tax the Saudis on their excessive profits. Then seek a federal investigation into the extensive use of petroleum products in the expanding economies of China and India.

And then, shut up and find something useful to do with your time and energy!

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