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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Free Market Always--Except for Gas Prices

From the NY Times:
The governors of eight states sent a letter on Tuesday to President Bush and Congress calling for an investigation into profits made by oil companies after Hurricane Katrina and asking for legislation that would require the companies to refund to customers any profits deemed excess.
Our own governor, Jennifer Granholm, made a name for herself as the state attorney general by making a fuss about gasoline price "gougers." She is one of the eight signers of the letter, as is Bill Richardson of New Mexico. Richardson, you may recall, was Energy Secretary in the Clinton administration. During his tenure, the mergers of Exxon with Mobil and BP with Amoco were formally approved, and the merger of Chevron with Texaco was proposed. Whatever power the oil companies actually have to "gouge" consumers is due in large part to these mergers, which only went forward because the Clintonistas, including Richardson, refused to enforce anti-trust laws.

This anti-gouging posturing by the governors is every bit as opportunistic--probably more so--than the high prices at the pump. These governors continue to allow corporations like Wal-Mart and Northwest to gouge workers with low wages, and permit Cargill, Conagra and ADM to gouge farmers with low prices, and stand idly by while just about every corporate scumbag outsources every job except his or her own, all the while praising the virtues of "free trade" and "free markets." But when it comes to gasoline, a commodity which this country absolutely has to use much less of, these governors turn into bloody communists. If any one of them had a spine, he or she would propose raising gas taxes so high that gasoline sales and their associated profits would drop substantially. But that's not how our political system works. These governors were bought and paid for by all those other corporations whose bottom lines are suffering due to high gas prices. Seeing that these corporations pay their workers enough money to afford those prices is not the answer for these governors--grandstanding on "gouging" is.

Note: I don't mean to just blame these Democratic governors. Even the Bushies are at least giving lip service to the gouging game. There's a Gas Price Watch Hotline form on the Department of Energy web site. I'm sure it all ends up in the same unread cyber-trash heap that my e-mails to aWol about all of his crimes do. But it does point out one more time what total hypocrites these free-marketeers are.