Friday, May 05, 2006

Gas Prices Primer

Caught this at Captain's Quarters.

The Economist aptly summed up U.S. attitudes on the matter: "Americans are being ripped off at the pump! 'Greed-heads' are manipulating the market and gouging the little guy! Something must be done!" Heading into the busy summer season, when Americans typically take to the roads on summer vacations, gasoline prices are hovering around $3 per gallon. Those are the highest prices since the post-Katrina spike, and they are expected to rise even more. Blame has flowed in all directions. Republicans fault Democrats for years of resisting Alaskan drilling; Democrats fire back that Republicans are in cahoots with big oil. Energy corporations draw fire for executive pay packages and alleged price-gouging. In turn, the companies say they are every bit as beholden to global market factors as the American consumer. For all the politicking, sifting through the relative influence of these factors is a complicated proposition. The price Americans pay for gasoline has a number of components: the price of crude oil; the costs of mining and refining it; the costs of federal and state taxes; the costs of corporate marketing and distribution; and the various profits taken along the way. Each element has its fluctuations and its relative importance, and each varies in the extent to which it can be manipulated by government policy.
Capt' Ed defines the Council on Foreign Relations as center-left. So this is probably a pretty good primer.

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