Texas was the target of Hurricane Ike last week. And while the storm was a half a country away, it wreaked havoc on the lives of regular citizens of the Southeast, particularly in the Carolinas and Tennessee. And unless you haven’t left your house in the past week, you know that I’m talking about the unexplained, unnecessary sharp rise in gas prices the day before the hurricane hit.
    {mosimage}Here in Fayetteville, you could say we were in the middle of the storm. Driving into work, I thought to myself, “Self, you should get gas, because you know they are going to stick it to the man (or in this case, the woman.)” But I didn’t listen to self, I kept driving and passed numerous gas stations.
    Later in the day, I, like a lot of other people, was kicking myself in the pants. Gas had jumped at a minimum 30 cents. Some stations went to the extreme and jumped as much as 50 cents on the gallon. All of this amidst the governor’s call for people not to panic, and strong words about price gauging.
    Anybody notice the prices dropping?
    Most of the stations that upped the ante were still pumping gas that they had purchased at the lower price. They were hedging their bets — recouping money on profits that they may have lost over the coming days. Somehow, that seems not quite right.
    Now with Ike having passed, analysts are saying that the rise in gas prices should not last long. But no matter the length, there has been no rhyme or reason in this increase. It’s a man-made increase, not one caused by actual lack of supply.
The federal government, over the past two days, has loaned large amounts of oil to the oil companies. That’s right — they’ve taken oil out of the strategic reserve and given it to the oil companies for their use — so they can stick it to we regular Joes, and reap a huge profit. I mean, when your profits are in the billions, you don’t want to lose one cent. Does anyone have a problem with that?
    So here we are paying $3.99 a gallon, while the folks in the middle of the actual storm were paying $3.79. The day before the storm, our prices jumped at a minimum 30 cents — theirs jumped 4.8 cents. In neighboring states, prices are around $3.70. North Carolina’s high gas taxes are part of the reason our prices remain high.
Somewhere, somehow, something has got to give.

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