Tag Archive: gas prices

Wagging the Dog

Sometimes when I watch the news and see what is going on, I have to admit I wonder what is the real story.

Picture by Grafixer

For the last few weeks, we have heard nothing but how birth control – and who pays for it – is a religious freedom. Women are not allowed to speak before the congressional hearing, only clergy who happen to be men. And Rush Limbaugh, in his infinite blast of nonsense, calls the female law student a slut, whore and prostitute because she wants to testify in the defence of birth control as a covered healthcare item. I wonder what that makes those men who take Viagra which is covered under most health insurance policies.

 See how easy it was to go into righteous indignation?

I am not saying birth control is not important. I am saying it is being used as a screen because the issue is so important to us. People are going to get fired up about birth control pills and devices – once again – being seen as a tool for easy sex and not how they help many women deal with endometriosis or heavy periods. Heck, some of the pharmaceuticals advertise that the pill does wonders for your skin.  

What we need to be asking is why this issue is being brought up – especially by the Republican party? What are they trying to hide?

I think the screen is coming up because the Republicans have no unifying voice and cannot find one presidential candidate to get behind. Mitt Romney is too rich and a Mormon. Rich Santorum has the looks but wants life to be the way it was in the 1950s. Newt Gingrich might have so good ideas but his baggage and bombastic personality is a turn off. Ron Paul, again with some good ideas, but who is he?

None of these guys seem to have that pizzazz, the touch with the regular guy, that sparkle that makes us want to follow him. Argue all you want about Herman Cain but his lack of foreign knowledge – and sexual baggage – made him a non-runner. Michelle Bachman was out of the race the day she promised gas prices back to under $2.00 a gallon. Rick Perry blew himself up by forgetting his own policy changes. Rick Pawlenti who?

The time before convention is shorter and shorter with no clear winner in sight. The GOP governor of Maine, Paul LePage, is calling for a dark horse to emerge during the convention that will take place in Tampa. The republicans need a superstar who can compete with Obama while setting forth an agenda the republican voters can rally behind.

Right now that is not happening. I am not sure why but they seem to want to alienate women voters the most. Every time I watch one of the candidates speak, they seem to try to push back time once more so that men are in control and women follow along. Guys, that is not going to happen anymore. Women have learned that a man will abandon them with kids who still need to be feed and clothed. Women have learned that they can support themselves and that a man completes their life, not make it. We don’t have to depend on you any more.

So the birth control screen is running rampant to help us not see those issues or forget the ones at the gas pump. A 70-cent increase in the last two weeks is going to kill those who have been struggling. But the possibility of having another child when that would wreak havoc with the family budget. Which is worse? That is a hard one but watching gas prices rise every other day is frustrating after you work your usage down, get a car with better mileage and give up the little extras because you need gas to get back and forth to work.

Want to get heated conversation going just ask “did you see how much gas is today?”  

We hear that it is Iran’s threats to block the shipping lanes is causing the higher gas prices. Another causal factor is greater demand around the world despite drop-offs of demand in the U.S. My favorite is that the speculators on Wall Street are causing the high prices as that one is the most logical. Then there are the industry insiders’ predictions of $5.00 a gallon by summer. Was that prophecy or just a way to prepare us for what the oil companies want to happen?

Picture by Karpati

I don’t have those answers but I do see a disturbing trend. When the bigger issue needs to be hidden, one that gets people’s’ ire going is brought to the forefront to take notice off the original issue. This is an old trick called “wagging the dog.”

So why is the dog being turned around? What is your theory?





picture by runron

Monday, June 28 – $2.55

Tuesday, June 29 – $2.55

Wednesday, June 30 – $2.74

Saturday, July 3 – $2.69

Monday, July 5 – $2.69

I am not journaling my daily candy expenditure. This was gas prices in my county last week. The $2.55 was only at some of the stations but those stations were quite popular.

I listed the gas prices to show why those of us in Illinois are so frustrated. We never know what to expect from day-to-day when it comes to gas prices. I live in a very small town that is 15-20 minutes from another town. Our gas prices are always higher, from 5¢ to 9¢ per gallon higher than the next town over. And that is why I will never buy gas from our town stations unless I absolutely have to do so.

Picture by Ariadna

Worse yet, prices can vary greatly depending on how close you live to Chicago. In Kankakee (K3) County, prices can be up to 30¢ per gallon lower than what they are in Chicago. From my experience of working in the south suburbs, just going 40 miles north meant an increase of 8¢ to 10¢ per gallon.

Crazy you think? It gets better.

Go south of here by about a half-an-hour to an hour and you will find prices lower by 5¢ to 10¢ again. Watseka and Champaign will always have lower prices. Makes me want to have excuses to travel there.

 Now some people might think there is some sort of conspiracy going on. When I used my Linked-In connections to find an expert, one of the first questions was on unfair taxes in K3 County. This person wanted to know why our prices are closer to that of Chicago as opposed to some he sees in the Western Burbs.

 I did a lot of searching and found nothing about specific gas taxes for K3 County. There was a proposal in 2008 to get one on the books that would have pushed a tax of 16% on every gallon of gas sold in the county. However, that was voted down in the voting booth in November of 2008 according to http://www.outragenew.org. Thanks to Outrage, that tax never happened.

Furthermore, I am not sure where this person is going in the Western suburbs of Chicago because I have not seen that great of difference when I travel about.  I do notice that our price for gas per gallon is close to the price per gallon of a gas station near the University Park METRA train station. I suspect that is so business will naturally go there. Having travel for work a bit in that area, I would not allow that one gas station to be your barometer for gas prices.

But what I do know is that gas prices at the pump are affected by oil futures market prices. When you listen to the radio you might hear the report of what the price per barrel is currently. I started watching this and noticed that when the price per barrel went up, gas prices here would go up by 15¢ to 20¢ per gallon. And when barrel prices come down, pump prices trickle down by 2¢ to 5¢ per gallon.

Another person who wrote me stated the future market affects the prices as does availability of product, ability to refine the crude to gasoline, taxes (federal, state and local), and various cogs in the machine setting up their profit margins. That does make sense. (Thanks for the good info, Robert) Quite frankly, these businesses do need to make money.

On the other hand, I do not want to be gouged for the mistakes of BP.

Picture by Nacu

Within a week or so of that tragic explosion gas prices in my area went up 30¢ per gallon. So now I am paying for the mistake they are not able to fix. Granted, prices have gone down since then. And perhaps it should.

For the last five years, the public has heard report after report of trillion dollar profits from the oil companies. While Americans are tightening their belts and thinking how to make due on fewer trips in the car, these guys are rolling in the dough by all appearances.

 Instead of making us pay for their mistakes at the gas pump, it is time for these companies to pay for their mistakes. Start with those trillions of profit from the last few years.

Karyn Bowman lives in Kankakee County with her husband and children. Become friends with Karyn on Facebook.