Unless you live and work in the same building, or are independently wealthy, you cannot help but notice that the price of gas has gone up significantly in the last couple of weeks, even more so than during the unrest in Middle East, or even during the initial invasions of Iraq in 2003.
The experts are saying it is an issue of demand. Drivers are demanding more gas. And yet other experts, pointing to increased use of fuel efficient vehicles and radical changes in driving patterns in general say it is speculators driving up the price. But who is speculating and what are they speculating on?
Recent reports have the price of oil dropping through $90 a barrel, normally the main driver of high gas prices. In fact, oil has not exceeded $100 a barrel since the unrest in Libya began. Other commodity items are similarly declining. So who is speculating?
It will not come as a surprise that the oil companies themselves are already out in front of this with advertisements that portray them as the good guys, investing in new technologies, communities, and mom and apple pie. Yet it will not come as a surprise when they announce yet new record profits at the end of the quarter, driven by gas prices over $4 a gallon. And yet no one can prove they are gouging, or price fixing, despite every station having the same price, and moving in lockstep when the new truck load arrives.
Clearly the United States needs to find a solution to the problem. But the average American does not have the ability to cut back much more because of the poor design and zoning decisions that have been made over the last 100 years. Most people cannot afford to live where they work, nor are they in control of the traffic that they have to wrestle with on a daily basis. So until I see some real change, I cannot think that the oil companies are doing anything but gouging. And I will not easily change my mind on this.