In case you haven’t noticed (doubtful), gas prices are rising very quickly. As a matter of fact, they have risen steadily for over 30 straight days, with no end in sight. Now, we as Americans have grudgingly become accustomed to fluctuations in gas prices over the last several years, but a lot of people are wondering what is happening right now because there seems to be no obvious reason to at least share some of the blame for the hikes.
In times past, prices would rise quickly just as they have done since December, but there is commonly some sort of incident that experts point to and say, “There’s your reason.” It might be hurricanes, oil spills, instability in the Middle East…the list of reasons go on and on. However, right at this particular point in time, a lot of people are watching those magic numerals go up above their heads at the filling station, and some are stopping to wonder just what is the reason behind it this time.
Well, the answer can be really complicated or really uncomplicated. We’ll give you the hard version first. According to the mainstream media and so-called experts on this sort of thing, the prices are going up because of a variety of factors worldwide. Refineries have went down. Some have closed, some have cut production. Also, the price of crude oil is rising (which, of course, is set arbitrarily by OPEC, a group of countries that are known for their special love of the people of the United States of America). And as you know by now, the gas price business is not about what has happened as much as it is about speculation. There are many refineries in the process of switching over to their processes for summer gasoline. Yes, that’s right. They perform maintenance so they can produce a different formulation of gas for driving season. More on that later. Anyway, all of this adds up to rising costs at a time when Americans are already facing tax hikes and diminishing paychecks.
That was the complicated answer. You want a simpler one. This happens every year. The prices stabilize in the winter when not as many people are on the road and then start to rise gradually, hitting their peak during the summer vacation season. Experts and economists then blame sky-high gas prices on the demand of everyone going on trips. This makes a lot of sense, except for the fact that the prices go up before the season really kicks into gear. Once again, it’s speculation. They raise the price on a perceived future demand that may or may not come to pass. In the harder years of the economic woes in the United States, many people stayed home, foregoing vacations and driving trips to save money. Guess what? The prices went up just the same. Without the shortage or the demand.
Additionally, it was quite coincidental that gas prices became remarkably tolerable right in time for the few months leading up to the presidential election. Another perk that helps sitting presidents win reelection the majority of the time. Now, it’s only natural that gas prices would be increasing to make up for those “good times” we had just a few months back to make sure everyone stayed happy with President Obama through November.
So, the bottom line is that the government and world powers that create this oil juggernaut rely on the old “shit happens” saying to make this work out for them. Basically, every year, something happens, and then they can blame it on that. So far, nothing remarkable has happened this year, leaving a good opportunity for those that have a mind to see that it really makes no difference and the price curve will do the same thing no matter what. And the government will get its wish eventually. A natural disaster or something will happen (it’s unavoidable in nature) and then they will point to that as the “reason” for something that was going to happen anyway.
Get used to it people. The real conspiracy is that each year, they push that envelope a little farther up and then let it go not quite as far down when the prices “stabilize” the next time around. This keeps Americans constantly paying more and then being relieved when the prices come down to “tolerable” levels — a few cents above the previous “tolerable” level. All leading to higher gas prices that are climbing steadily over the years while coaxing the American public into a “Hey, that’s not so bad” mentality.
Welcome to Gas Prices 101. Next time we’ll talk about what you can do about it. Which, of course, is either accept it or get yourself a bicycle or a horse. Not much.