BIO     CALENDAR     MEDIA     COLLEGE     STORE     BOOK STEVE     BLOG     PODCAST     SUBREDDIT    

FREE ALBUM DOWNLOAD
Get your copy of "Dark Side of the Room" now

Los Angeles, CA      Phoenix, AZ      Louisville, KY      Bowie, MD      Orange County, CA     
Indianapolis, IN      Seattle, WA      Tacoma, WA      Marco Island, FL      Dayton, OH     
Ottawa, ON      Toronto, ON      Toledo, OH      Lansing, MI     



The Column

Excusing America's Gas Problem
5/30/04

I may not have concrete proof for what I'm about to say, but I'm going to float a theory by you. Gas prices have gone up so much in the last year because we, as American consumers, are suckers.

The price per barrel of oil is at a 13-year high. A few weeks ago, that price passed $40 for the first time since Iraq invaded Kuwait when the other Bush was president. But gas, to the American consumer, is somehow about two-thirds more expensive than it was during that invasion. This is the beginning of my sucker theory.

For those of you who think microeconomics refers to paying for things with smaller bills, bear with me while I explain the economic theory behind why we're all getting, well, pumped.

The price of oil is set like the price of any other limited consumer good – the cost is determined by the price the company perceives it will cost to replace the goods they are selling. Thus, when Iraq first invaded Kuwait, the price of oil jumped because everyone was afraid of how high the price might be in the future.

This paranoia made sense – and a heck of a lot more sense than those cheapo "Bomb Sadaam" shirts everyone was wearing. (Like your mall t-shirt is going to influence our foreign policy). It made sense because Iraq, one of our enemies, invaded Kuwait, one of our allies. In 1990, Iraq and Kuwait accounted for about nine percent of America's oil supply. So if Iraq took Kuwait AND became hostile to us, the supply of oil would have been harder to come by. Afraid of that, oil companies raised the price of gas as the price of a barrel of oil went up.

But guess what happened? The price of the barrel dropped down once we sent in troops, and was cut in half once the only memory of the war was that "Proud to Be an American" song. Did the price at the pump go down? Of course not. We got used to paying as much as we were for gas, so the price simply leveled off. Are you starting to believe me about how we're suckers?

And in the past 10 years, the United States has been importing fewer and fewer barrels of oil from the Middle East. America now relies on Iraq for just 7% of our oil, and just 3% of our consumer oil. Still, if the oil companies were scared that it'd be more expensive to get oil next quarter, the prices would justifiably go up. But the oil companies are not scared. They're laughing. They're looking at us giving them all our money and laughing hysterically that we're doing it out of a blind sense of patriotism.

The price of oil should have gone up only when we first invaded Iraq. But it's gone up consistently for the last two years. Yet we're allegedly in control in Iraq now. Hell, we're in so much control, we have time to take prison pictures that could cost our president re-election (there's that silver lining).

Yet the price of oil is still rising. Because we're letting it. We hear terrorism and Middle East and oil prices rising and it all makes sense to us somehow. How? Because we're suckers.

Last year, Exxon-Mobil reported profits of over $21 billion. Iraq's estimated GNP is as low as $13 billion. In other words, Exxon-Mobil could have made this whole mess a lot simpler by acquiring Iraq.

Never mind that Vice President Cheney used to be the CEO of Haliburton, an unregulated monopoly that makes most of their money off of the rise in the cost of oil. Never mind that Saudi Arabia (our biggest supplier of oil) increased their production to help stave off the inflated prices. Never mind that the price of oil per barrel is roughly the same as it was just after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, yet by the end of the summer gas prices are anticipated to have doubled since then.

It would be hard to tell a company to charge less than consumers are willing to pay. If we never paid more than a product is worth, there'd be no Burberry or WNBA. But what's happening here is not good business – it's collusion. Oil companies are simultaneously artificially inflating the cost of their product, a practice in direct violation of every anti-trust act we've got on the books.

So while America lets these oil companies get away with everything, I am curious to know if we're being paid back. Lots of commercials tell us to sacrifice for the war. My question is, how much is Exxon-Mobil sacrificing? Are they paying a large sum towards the rebuilding of Iraq? They're certainly the ones directly profiting off of it.

There's not much we can do about the prices. We can't afford a boycott, and I know too many people I dislike to start carpooling. But we can make the oil companies explain themselves.

No matter who you're voting for and why, if you'd like an explanation as to why the current prices defy basic economic theory, why not ask for one? Print out this column and mail it to:

K.P. Cohen
VP Public Affairs
Exxon-Mobil
5959 Las Colinas Boulevard
Irving, TX 75039

And if Exxon-Mobil doesn't answer, maybe we can try Chevron-Texaco next – they only profited $7 billion last year.

No matter what we do, gas prices will not come down; gas prices never come down. But maybe if we all voice our concern, we can prevent them from rising any more than they already have. Of course, I could be wrong about all of this. I'm just floating a theory.

Sucker.

Archives
*Kings vs. Sports Illustrated
*Paris Hilton is No Mother Theresa
*Putting the "Fan" in "Fanatic"
*Thinking Man: Happy New Year
*Jewzapalooza
*I'm Listening
*Punky Brewster Scares Me
*Don't Get Smart With Me
*Checking Out a Check Up
*Yeah, Thanks
*Steve Hofstetter is Your Friend
*Post Halloween Wrap-Up
*My Letter to Me
*The Night the Heat Went Off
*Turn That Crap Off
*You Might Be a Redhead If
*To My Future Children
*Shine Your Shoes, Mista?
*Flying Forward
*DotCom Dating Dish
*Paging Paige Page
*Watch While You Eat
*You Have Got to Be Kidding Me
*Come Home, Rachel I. K'Benjamin
*Get Out Of My Bathroom
*Subway Going Under
*Driving Forces
*Singles Anonymous
*Know When to Fold Em
*The Mirth of America
*Also Known As
*Smooth Criminal
*What That Mass Email Really Said
*Dude, Where's Your Car?
*Thinking Man: Can't We All
*You Might Be a Redneck
*A Nice Hawaiian Punch
*100,000 Friends
*Mine is Bigger Than Yours
*Good Answer
*T Stands for Terrible
*I Love You Guys
*Mitch, All Gone
*Birth of a Hate Mail Archive
*Never Do Today What...Ooh, Shiny
*Can You Hear Me Now?
*Fast Food, Slow Digestion
*Homeland Security, Eh?
*Quality Training Purposes
*The Show Went On
*Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?
*Putting My Foot Down
*Breaking the Chain Mail
*Happy Valmochrismaweenygiving
*Mr. Clean's Illegitimate Brother
*The Quest For 10,000 Friends
*Forgetting Paris
*Magnetically Challenged
*New Year's at the Barefoot Boogie
*Instant Carma's Gonna Get Me
*The Biggest Loser
*Steve vs. Kentucky
*Gone in a Flash
*How to Destroy Your Car
*Ghouls, Goblins, and Candidates
*My Freedom From Your Freedom
*Drive Unto Others
*Please Don't See This Movie
*I Love The Clip Shows
*Column of Atonement
*Happy Anniversary, Sugarhill
*Life, 9/11, and the Interstate
*Your Band Sucks
*Spending Wisely
*The Blind Dating the Blind
*Grilled Cheese With a Side of Hip Hop
*The Drive to 25
*Are You There Margaret? It's Me, God.
*Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House
*Seacrest! Out!
*Harder Than You Think
*Glad To Be Here
*Thought for Food
*Feeding the Meter
*She's Ready For Her Close Up
*Paging John Hughes
*Excusing America's Gas Problem
*Extra, Extra, Extra Long Time
*The Finals Countdown
*Your Friends and Mine
*The Future Mrs. Bueller
*Toasting Not Toasting
*A Tall Order
*Snaking Your Engine
*My Hair is the Color of Tomato Soup
*The Solace System
*You Say Potato
*It’s Getting Less Cold in Here
*This is Not a Virus
*Pitchers and Catchers
*Another Night Not at the Movies
*Higher and Higher
*To Write A Wrong
*They Call it Super for a Reason
*Imagine All the People
*Lost Wages, Nevada
*This Just In
*Why Are All My Stands Red?
*For Whom the Wedding Bell Tolls
*Silent One Day Sale, Holy One Day Sale
*I Want To Be That Guy
*Felicity Doesn't Always Mean Happiness
*That Time of Year
*My Cranberry Sauce Looks like a Can
*The Legend of Fat Dead Steve
*Two Beldings in One Building
*Happy Halloween From Happy Valley
*Three Stations and Nothing On
*15 Shots of Nostalgia
*Here's To the Dancing Guy
*Teaching an Old Dog New Sticks
*If You Could Choose Just One Dumb Question...
*Obligatory Pun on The Word Tired
*I've Grown Accustomed to Your Wet Nose
*What Do You Want For Your Birthday?
*What a Long, Strange Trip
*Open Letter to My UPS Man
*That Better Be Your Foot
*The Abandoned Lot is Always Greener
*Putting Down the Pieces
*Take One Down, Pass It Around
*Here, You Throw This Away
*Being Green at the Box Office
*Who Wears Short Shorts?
*America is an Okay Place to Be
*You Can't Stop the Rain
*Don't Feed the Alpha Males
*Don’t Sweat It
*The Special Plate Blues
*You Deserve It
*The Return to Popcopy
*They're Real, and They're Spectacular
*Keeping Your Prom Misses
*Guerillas in Our Midst
*That Weird No Bread Holiday
*The Ballad of the Buttless
*Something About Being Twenty-Something
*Have You Seen My Cell Phone?
*War, Huh, Yeah, What Is It Good For?
*Leggo My Ego
*I'm a Spazz, You're a Spazz
*Can I Please Keep My Pants?
*Engaged in Conversation
*Welcome to PopCopy
*Hold Me Closer, Tiny Bathroom
*My Two-Bedroom Furbee
*All’s Fare in Love and Daytona
*Open? Shut Them
*I Am Everyday Pimple
*Here Comes the Judge Show
*When, Praytell, Were The Days of Auld Lang Syne?
*What Are You Up To This Weekend?
*The Waiting is the Hardest Part
*A Night Not at the Movies
*Funny, You Don’t Look Flu-ish
*Does This Baby Come With Airbags?
*When The Hogan Family Was Still Valerie
*Blue (Haired) Tuesday
*In Loco Parents
*Moving Is Like A Vaccuum: It Sucks
*Thou Shalt Not Save the World and Get the Girl
*Like Oil and Stuff That Hates Oil
*How to Get Hatemail
*Fungi, Octopi, What’s the Plural of Bus? (Part I
*Fungi, Octopi, What’s the Plural of Bus? (Part I
*It Happens to the Best of Us
*Talking To A Piece of Junk Mail
*When You Can’t See the Forest for the Trees
*ICFS Disorder and Celebrity Kid Growth
*Electricity and Other Things They Cut Off
*When Pigeons Fly
*Goodbye, New York, Goodbye
*La La La-la La La, Sing a Happy Song
*What To Do at Work Besides Work
*Why is This Column Different From All Others?