Opinion » Bill Cope

Oily

Does the price of gas pass the sniff test?

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Taking a little survey here, citizens. Let's see those hands when I get to your personal assessment of the situation at the gas pumps. And look, it doesn't matter whether you call yourself a Democrat, a Republican, or one of those Libertarian loons. This concerns all of us in one way or another, so don't be shy about answering what you truly think.

Question One: You believe the price of gas is being determined by:

A) Put 'em up if you believe it's determined solely by the incontestable principles of supply and demand and whatever it is, it is a small price to pay for the privilege of living in a nation that understands the marketplace must be free of any government oversight or regulation whatsoever, no matter the cost.

OK, put 'em down, dumbshits.

B) You believe that it's being determined by some of the greediest bastards to ever walk the Earth ... and that every gas station in America should hang a big sign out front that says, "Bend over, Worm, and take it like a man because there's not a damn thing you can do about it anyway HA HA HA HA HA!" ... it's your turn.

Whoa, Nelly! Are those some Republican hands I see? And those tense, clenched fists ... they must be the Libertarians, eh? Funny thing ... I've been curious about how far their unquestioning faith in the market would go if it were them being screwed, and I think we're about to find out.

On with the survey. Question Two: Seeing as how it took five generations for gas to go from about a nickel a gallon to $1.35 when Bush took office, why do you think the prices have climbed so precipitously, and in such a relatively short time?

A) In less than two years (we were paying about $2.25 a gallon in January 2007), all the people in the entrepreneurial-sizzling countries of India and China have run out and scored themselves a car, increasing the demand faster than anyone could have foreseen (so we mustn't blame anyone in the petroleum industry for their astonishing lack of foresight, because even though they've been in the business for well over a century, how could they have possibly seen this coming?), and when you combine that with how those rotten environmentalists have virtually shut down the development of our domestic oil supplies because they have become so omnipotent and powerful (especially during these last seven years of the Bush administration, right?), then how could gas prices not be so high that the national economy (already in a shaky condition due to those unregulated sub-prime mortgage schemes and the dollar being so weak it couldn't bench press a penny) is staggering? Hands up.

OK, hands down, dumbshits.

B) With the Bush/Cheney era coming to an end, the oil industry fears their binge of tax-breaks, subsidies and low-mileage requirements may soon be over, and, like saloon drunks at last call, are glutting up on as much profit as they can get their lips around while they still can, and they could give a rat's ass what it's doing to other sectors of the economy—food, transportation, anything that comes to a retail outlet near you by any means other than rickshaw, etc.—because they figure they can pass off the blame to one or all of the following culprits: Indians and Chinamen, Arabs, environmentalists and/or oil speculators. Incidentally, had you even heard of oil speculators until a few weeks ago?

Question Three: As you and your wife both are considering the very real possibility of having to get second jobs so that you can afford to buy the gas it takes to get to your first job, what do you see as the solution to this crisis?

A) Start drilling the hell out of caribou country and also lift all limitations from drilling the seabed off the coasts of any state next to an ocean, and do away with any restrictions whatsoever on oil extraction from any federal lands—even though it will take at least 10 years for any of that oil to reach the marketplace—and while we're waiting out the decade for this solution to take hold, pray to God that the oil barons don't just keep raising the prices at the pump, using the excuse that, in spite of the generous tax breaks and subsidies, they need to pay for all that new well drilling somehow. Hands?

OK, you've been counted ... dumbshits.

B) Call all the oil executives in the country to a meeting with the new president and Congress, and before they even have a chance to open their mouths with sob stories about "supply and demand," inform them the new administration will be pumping enormous, unprecedented gobs of federal cash (on the level of going to the moon in six months or occupying Iraq for a year) into the development of vehicles capable of getting 40-plus ... no, make that 60-plus ... mpg, and that consumers will be encouraged to buy these new, efficient vehicles by making the entire purchase price tax free, and that every dollar it takes to fund this project will come from windfall profit taxes on the oil and related industries (with particular attention being given to Halliburton and its subsidiaries), and that if domestic automakers don't want to go along with this ... well, fine ... we'll just encourage Toyota to open up a few dozen more plants on U.S. soil, and by the way, gentlemen ... there is evidence that this whole spike in fuel prices has been orchestrated in much the same way that Enron orchestrated the California energy crisis a few years back, and that if we (the new president and the new Congress) find any truth whatsoever to the allegations that you've 1) avoided drilling on 75 percent of the offshore leases you already possess, 2) limited the production at refineries (as reported in early May), or that 3) you've stashed oil reserves offshore so they couldn't be included in current inventories—all designed to drive prices to such exorbitant levels that if it drops back down to $3.50 a gallon, consumers will think they're getting a deal—then prepare yourselves, gentlemen, for some serious time in some serious prisons (the "country club" pens are full, so you'll be going to the nasty ones with all the gang bangers).

Thank you for participating in this survey, citizens. I have alerted the corporate offices of all the major oil concerns that I would be conducting such a survey, and I forewarned them there may be a great deal of anger reflected in the results, even among the most ardent free-market advocates. I now share with you their collective response: "So walk, asshole ... HA HA HA HA HA!"

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