I hope that they’re happy

With gasoline prices reaching new highs seemingly daily, and quite a few stations breaking through the $1/liter barrier on regular gas in this area. The average price of gas for today is at $3.683 per gallon (97.4c/L) – an increase of 80.3 cents over one year ago. Last night, I paid $3.599 per gallon to fill up the car, and that is one of the lowest prices you find in the area now. Nationally, it’s gotten up to 3.50, and there is no end in sight to these increases.

It can lead to people complaining that the oil companies are making way too much money.

However, I’m not complaining about that. They’re only the incidental beneficiaries of my target. My gripe is with all of those people who must have nothing better to do than to play games with the wallets of everyone around the world. Yes, the speculators who spend their time hunched down on the trading floors of commodities markets like the Chicago Board of Trade, the New York Mercantile Exchange and other similar trading houses around the world. It is this group of people, along with all the others who are requesting trades be made, who are forcing the prices of everything to go up.

Of course, you never see the heads of these trading houses being brought in to explain why they’ve forced the prices of crude oil, raw gasoline, and other commodities (which literally range from Bananas to Wheat – and everything in between, meats, vegetables, fruits, name it, there’s likely a commodity traded for it) to increase substantially over the last year or so.

However, it’s not sexy to see some financial analyst in front of Congress. Nope, it’s cool to have the oil executives in front of a Congressional committee facing ignorant questions from ignorant politicians about why they have such high profits. That isn’t to say that the oil companies don’t have some fault in this situation – for example, the last refinery in the US was built in 1976! The reason that they aren’t building them anymore is twofold – first off, apparently they’re not profitable for the oil companies, and of course, it seems that if you build just about anything nowadays, there’s the barrage of environmental complaints which come from it. And, believe you me, sometimes the extreme environmentalists can get quite annoying…I can name one in particular who still is around…

Another problem is the government, whose continuing insistence that corn-based ethanol will be a boon for making us more energy independent (of course all of those evil sheiks in the Middle East – the truth is that our biggest source of foreign oil is Canada, and possibly, if things come to fruition with the recent find there, Brazil) has caused the prices of food to skyrocket (remember when you could get a gallon of milk for $2.49 and it wasn’t a sale? I remember when a Wal-Mart opened locally, the price of milk was $1.68 per gallon – now, $3+.

So, what can we do about this? There isn’t much we can do about getting the price of oil lower, because at this point, it’s nearly cost prohibitive for anyone to buy a barrel of oil – and you can’t just go in and say "I want to buy one barrel of oil, for $25.00" – you’d get laughed at by some bigwig in his new Armani suit, paid for off of the backs of other speculators who, as far as I can tell, don’t give two shakes about the damage they’re doing to the economy.

The only practical thing that you can do is drive more efficiently – combine trips, use the shortest route, go the speed limit (or a few mph/kph over), keep your tyres inflated, and keep your car in good working order. With the economy the way it is right now for a lot of folks, buying a new hybrid car is probably out of the question, but if you can do that, and are comfortable with it, you should consider it.

One thing I should add, though, is that there is a good side effect to what has been happening to the price of gas – we’re using less of it now – with the amount used projected to decline by a small amount – not a lot, but it is less than in the past. Of course, China and India’s increase in oil usage will outstrip any decreases we have here in the US.

All I know is that I hope that the speculators are happy that they’ve made 3 airlines go into bankruptcy, along with a lot of other people needing to cut way back on their spending in order just to afford the basic supplies. And yes, in this modern society, fuel is a basic supply.