I’m starting to get really pissed about gas prices these days. Yesterday, most of the gas stations in town were at $1.84/gal for regular unleaded, which was about average for the state. It’s more than I’d like to be paying, but considering how little pump prices have increased over the past few decades, I’m not going to complain to loudly. However, this morning I woke up to $1.99/gal at just about every station in town and my wallet whimpered. It was at that point that I began to seriously consider advocating for federal (or state) regulation of gas pricing.
I understand that businesses need to stay flexible in order to compete in the market. I’m all for giving business owners the freedom to make decisions regarding their product and sales. I’m even willing to pay more for gas, if that’s what the market requires. However, I’d like to see some consistency in pump prices. The oil market jumps around, and that’s to be expected. But it’s a long process to go from crude to the stuff that’s in my car tank, and there should be a number of factors going into that which would level the pricing and make it more consistent across markets.
The kind of regulation that I’d like to see would affect changes in the pump prices. There would be a percentage increase/decrease limit per day that all gas stations would be required to stick by. For instance, a 2% limit would mean that the local stations who increased their prices over night could not increase (or decrease, but that’s not likely) them again by more than $0.04 in the next 24 hours. If it’s a gradual thing, like the markets over, then I’m more willing to accept that it is a necessary business practice. This overnight price increase of 27% is absurd.
Why is it that we accept that gas prices are going to go up and down daily, sometimes throughout the day? Would we be so accepting of the same for the price of eggs, milk, bread, or other staples of life? I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time in my car. There is no public transportation here in Middle America that will take me from home in the county to work in town, or from town to the city, or to even more rural areas that I frequent. Therefore, if I’m going to get where I need to go, I have to drive my car. Thankfully, the old girl still gets 35-41 MPG.
So, inspired by the Librarian in Black, here’s my ransom note: