Gouged Out: The Consumer and the Gas Station Operator
Thursday, 24 April 2004, CNN Money ran an interesting article called Gouging myth out of gas1 that further explained how the myth that gas stations participate in "price gouging" is unlikely, at best -- and it casts an eye toward the primary culprit through the use of some very interesting facts and figures.
Image created by GreyHawk using Microsoft Excel, based on the percentages provided in the article.2
Note: Excel automatically changed the 72% to 71% because the total of the figures provided added up to 101, not 100.
According to the article, some people assumed that gas station owners get a bigger slice of the approximately $3.50 per gallon than they actually do -- but several suspected something much closer to the truth.
Abby Razaque, manager of the BP station where Garnes filled up, said the owner's take was 8 cents per gallon, and that the lion's share of the proceeds go to BP.
With the lion's share of the profit going to Big Oil, it's not surprising that companies like ExxonMobile are shattering profit records. An attempt at a Congressional investigation into price gouging by oil companies yielded dubious results, particularly after it was proven that oil company executives lied to Congress about their participation in Dick Cheney's 2001 Energy Task Force meetings.3
When Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., asked last week during a hearing on oil industry profits whether any of the companies' representatives had participated in the task force, four of the executives said they did not and the fifth said he did not know.
The oil executives weren't put under oath at the hearing, but it is still a crime to lie to Congress, reports CBS News correspondent Bob Fuss. Lautenberg wants the Justice Department to look into it.
Of course, note that the oil executives weren't put under oath.4 That makes it OK, then -- right?
In any event, prices are rising, further hurting the general populace and raising an outcry that has resulted in Congressional leaders engaging in verbal slapfights of blame-trading. From The Swamp,5
Republicans say Democrats have broken their promises to contain rising gas prices. Democrats say Republicans have stymied their efforts to increase market regulation and reduce American dependence on oil.
Given that the Republicans have been steadfastly protecting their own interests and Party over those of the nation and her people as a whole, and that they have been working in sync with the White House in nearly all disasters that have been brought to bear on our economy, our energy policy, our infrastructure, our security and our environment, I'd be willing to bet that the GOP shoulders the lion's share of blame here.
Particularly when I keep in mind the emphatically stated, Republican-supported quote from the White House that they would be fighting oversight attempts by the now-Democratic majority Congress, promising a "cataclysmic fight to the death."
The Republican members of Congress have also bragged about their ability to obstruct progress now that they've lost the majority.
Overall, when the Republicans claim6
"It has been two years since [House] Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi promised 'a common sense plan to help bring down skyrocketing gas prices,' " reads the conference's new YouTube video, set to a bouncy lounge soundtrack that recalls the I Dream of Jeannie theme. "Where have the Democrats gotten us?"
it behooves us all -- as a united people -- to give them back their own words:7
"The strategy of being obstructionist can work or fail ... and so far it's working for us."
The little guy at the pump isn't gouging us; the big oil companies are, in concert with the Republicans who are hell-bent-for-leather determined to to wage "a cataclysmic fight to the death" to protect their party, their inflated reputation and their tenuous grip on power (and the purse) in the United States government today.
- Gouging myth out of gas, by Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer; Last Updated: April 24, 2008: 6:13 PM EDT
- From the article:
For every gallon of gas, about 72% of the price goes to the producers of the crude oil from which it's made, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration - producers like Chevron (CVX, Fortune 500), ConocoPhillips (COP, Fortune 500) and BP (BP). Exxon Mobil (XOM, Fortune 500) recently made history by reporting the highest annual profit ever for a U.S. company when it reported 2007 results.
13% of the remaining price of a gallon of gas goes to taxes, while 8% goes to the refiners, and another 8% goes to distribution and marketing, which includes gas stations.
The total of the numbers provided equals 101%; without the raw data, this was adjusted by knocking the 72% to 71% for purposes of the pie chart.
- Who met with Dick Cheney's 2001 Energy Task Force? Why, several members of Big Oil:
A White House document shows that executives from big oil companies met with Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001 -- something long suspected by environmentalists but denied as recently as last week by industry officials testifying before Congress.
The document, obtained this week by The Washington Post, shows that officials from Exxon Mobil Corp., Conoco (before its merger with Phillips), Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc. met in the White House complex with the Cheney aides who were developing a national energy policy, parts of which became law and parts of which are still being debated.
- "...oil executives weren't put under oath..." -- That was something that the then-majority Republican party insisted upon.
The executives were not under oath when they testified, so they are not vulnerable to charges of perjury; committee Democrats had protested the decision by Commerce Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) not to swear in the executives. But a person can be fined or imprisoned for up to five years for making "any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or representation" to Congress.
Almost as if the Republicans wanted to give the executives "wiggle room" and minimize potential penalties if they got caught lying.
Note, too, that the the WaPo article cites Secret Service logs as part of the reason behind how the lies came to light; this serves as the second reason that the WH and Secret Service attempted to obscure the log files -- it took a court a court case to reassert the reality that the WH Visitor Logs are public documents. The first reason? Propagannon, of course -- the visits of a falsely credentialed sham reporter & gay prostitute to the WH, and several unexplained overnight stays.
- Gas at $3.50 a gallon: Whose fault?, The Swamp (Chicago Tribune's Washington Bureau), by Matthew Hay Brown, April 22, 2008 6:30 AM
- The common claim I've seen on forums and in many places since the Democrats took over the majority in Congress by a very slim margin has been to say that "everything fell apart since the Democrats took control" -- a claim made in the hope that people will still be half-asleep and not paying attention to the Republicans' stated goal of obstruction. It's not working very effectively, however. The People are beginning to pay attention, and the GOP is on the verge of imploding.
- Politics of Obstruction -- source Bill Sher, Huffington Post. This is all part and parcel of the Republican "culture of corruption" -- their primary job, as they see it, is to screw Democrats and to further their own capacity to lie, cheat and steal -- not to help secure the nation, provide for the common defense or promote the general welfare. Further evidence and reminders of Republican corruption overall as par for the course is available at Salon.