Saturday, April 5, 2008

Concern Over Gas & Diesel Prices In 2000 Were True as They Are Now

On July 7, 2000 Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman published an article online at Mother Jones. Titled “The Solution to Rising Gas Prices: Antitrust Action” This article is very interesting and gave early insight to our present day gas and diesel price gouging

They state the concentration of economic power from the mergers of large oil companies is going to require new levels of government intervention in the marketplace. Mokhiber & Weissman (M&W) were correct when they stated the American public would enter an era of skyrocketing gasoline prices. What they did not say was that diesel prices would be escalating at even a higher rate.

M&W stated “Either the federal and state governments will act to break up monopolistic and oligopolistic corporations, or government agencies will assume regulatory authority of a kind largely abandoned in the United States, or consumers will be gouged and innovation stifled”.

Early in 1999 when Exxon and Mobil merged a change in the structure of the industry occurred. Some analysts thought the trend toward lower gasoline prices and more efficient distribution of gasoline would be underway. In fact the reverse has been seen. Unjustified profit taking has been the result of industry concentration. With fewer oil companies the mergers of Exxon and Mobil, BP, Amoco and ARCO price-fixing is much easier. Most likely this is accomplished through overt or illegal agreements.

In 2000 M&W stated “With oil prices skyrocketing nationwide, prices spiking in the Midwest and industry profits reaching stratospheric heights, even the Clinton administration has called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether the oil industry is illegally colluding to raise prices”. History has shown very clearly the power the oil industry has over the political machine no matter the party in control of the White House.

The oil industry over the years has mastered the ability of rationalizing the sudden jump in gas prices. In reality, the oil industry’s public remarks are nothing more than a cover-up of gouging the American Public.

Whether current fast rising prices at the pump are collusive agreements or as M&W pointed to a "conscious parallelism". The lack of tough action by lawmakers has failed to uncover the truth, and, the current field of lawmakers most likely never will. So be it! Now is the time to vote to regulate prices we pay at the pump.

Why does congress fail to introduce legislation to protect the American public from the oil giants? Could it be big money somehow going to members of congress? Something for sure keeps these kinds of price increases intact and unchecked. Unless our federal government chooses to regulate Big Oil the trickle down effect on everything we buy will turn into a flowing river. Government statistics would have us believe runaway price increases at the pump do not cause price increases in other products we buy.

The time is now to do something about price controls. Why should the oil industry continue to self-regulate the price at the pump? Is it not about time for the federal government to take charge?

Only direct government regulation at the federal level will stop the runaway gouging. As long as the control over the price of gasoline and diesel remain in the hands of the major oil companies this practice will continue. Each oil company has the ability to influence prices at the pump and the rest of the oil companies are more than willing to follow suit in their determination to gouge the American public.

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