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Friday, Apr 19, 2024

Politicians Forget Gas Taxes When Decrying Gas Prices

Buy now or watch the price go up! And up! And up! Now is your last chance to buy gasoline for only $3.99 per gallon! Of course, you may not have the ability to purchase 500 gallons of gasoline at under $4 a gallon and store it in your garage at home. But no worry, we can always rely on our elected officials to look out for our best interests and to find a way to lower the cost of gasoline. Sure! Only the most na & #271;ve among us would expect politicians to truly seek to reduce the cost of gasoline and diesel. The truth is they are working on ways to keep the cost spiraling upward. Why? First of all, they have the perfect scapegoat. The media and government take great delight in blaming Exxon/Mobil and the other oil conglomerates for the continuing and steep increase in the price of gasoline. Both the media and politicians take great delight in talking about the oil companies’ excessive profits. One of these days some enterprising journalist is going to show the public where the money really is. It is true that the oil companies are making billions of dollars, but that only equates to a little over 20 cents a gallon for their hard work, risk and hundreds of billions of dollars of investment. It is almost never mentioned that our government is collecting more than a dollar per gallon of gas that comes out of the pump. In other words, the government is taking in five times what the oil companies are making for gasoline and the figure is growing. Why don’t our elected officials, who sanctimoniously try to convince us that they are trying to help the economy, put a cap on the amount of taxes that are charged on each gallon? For example, how about making gasoline taxes equal to the amount the oil companies make. That alone would bring the price of gas down to about $3.00 per gallon. Not a bad start. But that’s not the only thing our government could do to ease the sticker shock we all endure when we pull up to today’s one-armed bandit the gas pump. If the politicians really want to help and minimize our reliance on foreign oil, why not make it easier to build and operate more refineries, instead of creating more and more restrictions? Today there are fewer than 200 refineries in all 50 states to process our continuing need for gasoline. Just 25 years ago, there was twice that number. How can we deliver gasoline for less when the capacity of America’s existing refineries is running at maximum? That alone makes us rely more on imported oil. Our local, state and federal governments continue to apply a growing number of restrictions on the products we use so that we conserve more energy; at the same time this has doubled the cost of our own American-made products. Yet, our own federal government, the number-one consumer of oil and energy, has not complied with its own restrictions. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see the results of placing an embargo on importing any oil for 30 days or so? Doing so would force us to use only a fraction of our existing oil reserves. The real sufferer would not be us. Such an embargo would result in oil piling up on tankers, barges and storage facilities throughout the Middle East’s oil-producing countries. Their oil rigs would be shut down as there is no place to store the oil. A potential labor uprising would create a nightmare for the Middle Eastern leadership as there would be fewer jobs. The Middle East refineries would have to drop the price of oil just to entice other countries to stockpile for their future consumption. Additionally, their own cash flows would dry up and they would not be able to keep building their monster malls, luxurious resorts, and built-nearly-overnight cities in the Middle East with U.S. dollars. We seem to love czars in this country. Mayor Villaraigosa has a gang czar. President Bush has a public safety czar. Baseball’s Commissioner is often called a czar. Maybe we need an oil-price reduction czar of course, for him to be successful he’d have to report to the people, not a politician. Reporting to the people: what a concept! Rickey M. Gelb is managing general partner of Gelb Enterprises, a real estate development and property management company.

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