Vespasiano

The Price of Gasoline

21 posts in this topic

I received the following e-mail from an acquaintance.

ATTENTION: THIS IS NOT THE 'DON'T BUY' GAS FOR ONE DAY APPROACH, BUT IT

WILL SHOW YOU HOW WE CAN GET GAS BACK DOWN TO $1.30 PER GALLON.

This was sent by a retired Coca Cola executive. It came from one of his

engineer buddies who retired from Halliburton. If you are tired of the gas

prices going up AND they will continue to rise this summer, take time to read

this, please.

Phillip Hollsworth offered this good idea.

This makes MUCH MORE SENSE than the "don't buy gas on a certain day"

campaign that was going around last April or May!

It's worth your consideration. Join the resistance!!!!

I hear we are going to hit close to $4.00 PER gallon by next summer and it

might go higher!! Want gasoline prices to come down?

We need to take some intelligent, united action. The oil companies just

laughed at that because they knew we wouldn't continue to "hurt" ourselves by

refusing to buy gas .

It was more of an inconvenience to us than it was a problem for them.

BUT,this is a plan that can really work. Please read on and join with us!

By now you're probably thinking gasoline priced at about $2.00 is super

cheap. Me too! It is currently $3.19 for regular unleaded in my town.

Now that the oil companies and the OPEC nations have conditioned us to think

that the cost of a gallon of gas is CHEAP at $1.50 - $1.75, we need to take

aggressive action to teach them that BUYERS control the marketplace..not

sellers. (OPEC announced this week that it would not increase production,

thereby insuring that oil continues to sell for $104 per barrel and higher.)

With the price of gasoline going up more each day, we consumers need to take

action.

The only way we are going to see the price of gas come down is if we hit

someone in the pocketbook by not purchasing their gas! And, we can do that

WITHOUT hurting ourselves.

How? Since we all rely on our cars, we can't just stop buying gas.

But we CAN have an impact on gas prices if we all act together to force a

price war.

Here's the idea: For the rest of this year, DON'T purchase ANY gasoline from

the two biggest companies (which now are one), EXXON and MOBIL.

If they are not selling any gas, they will be inclined to reduce their

prices. If they reduce their prices, the other companies will have to follow

suit. (But, when they lower prices, you must resist rushing to their pumps in

order to buy their gas. You have to avoid buying their gas completely, knowing

that other service stations will follow suit in a matter of days. So hang

on! Eventually prices WILL fall.)

To have an impact, we need to reach literally millions of Exxon and Mobil

gas buyers. It's really simple to do! Now, don't bug out on me at this

point...keep reading and I'll explain how simple it is to reach millions of

people!!

I am sending this note to 30 people. If each of us send it to at least ten

more (30 x 10 = 300) ... and those 300 send it to at least ten more (300 x

10 = 3,000)... and so on, by the time the message reaches the sixth group of

people, we will have reached over THREE MILLION consumers. If those three

million get excited and pass this on to ten friends each, then 30 million

people will have been contacted!

If it goes one level further, you guessed it..... THREE HUNDRED MILLION

PEOPLE!!! (And that's more than every gas buyer in the USA.)

Again, all you have to do is send this to 10 people. That's all! Well,

and, of course, stop buying gas from just one company.

Hw long would all that take? If each of us sends this e-mail out to ten

more people within one day of receipt, all 300 MILLION people could conceivably

be contacted within the next 8 days!!!

I'll bet you didn't think you and I had that much potential, did you!

Acting together we can make a difference.

There is nothing wrong with corporations making a reasonable profit. But

$40.6 billion in just 13 weeks is a little over the top, don't you think? With

millions of Americans losing their homes and with taxes going through the

roof, we need some relief somewhere and there is no sign in sight that any

politician will help us. So, this is up to us. Either hang together on this one

or hang seperately--one at a time.

If this makes sense to you, please pass this message on. I suggest that we

not buy from EXXON/MOBIL UNTIL THEY LOWER THEIR PRICES TO THE $2.00 RANGE

AND KEEP THEM DOWN. THIS CAN REALLY WORK.

Please Keep This Moving, and,

Thank you!

After an initial bout of giggling, I set out this proposed response:

I'm surprised that an individual like Mr. Hollsworth, with so little a grasp on the facts of economic reality, could ever have been employed by Halliburton or any other major economic concern.

Be that as it may, the central premise -- an entirely false and, therefore, pernicious premise in fact -- of Mr. Hollsworth's "idea" is that one's need or desire for the products of others gives one not only a "right" to that product, but a "right" to determine its value to its owner. This notion turns the concept of the principle of rights on its proverbial ear: to say that there is a right to goods and services produced by others means that those others are rightless. This is the parasitical morality of a thief or a slave-owner.

But there is more.

Contrary to Mr. Hollsworth's suggestion, the rising price of gasoline we are seeing today is not a consequence of arbitrary actions by "evil" oil company executives who summon numbers out of thin air in smoky board rooms. Although certainly a vivid image sure to provoke equally vivid emotional responses on the part of a reader, it remains an irrational fantasy wholly unconnected to basic economics. There is a veritable multitude of factors that contribute to the price of a gallon of gas at the pump, not the least of which are the crucial interrelated issues of the available supply of a finite substance and an ever-growing, worldwide demand for it, neither of which Mr. Hollsworth mentions in his "program". Add to this the considerable costs of research and development, production, transport and delivery, franchising, etc., again none of which Mr. Hollsworth bothers to consider, and one only begins to see the tip of the economic iceberg with which those supposedly "evil" oil company executives must contend in the course of doing daily business. But even these issues affecting the price of gasoline at the pump pale in comparison to (1) the continued, devaluation of the U.S. dollar as a result of the inflationary monetary policies of the U.S. Federal government, and (2) the exponential increase in confiscatory Federal, State and/or Local taxes levied against consumers on gasoline purchases at the pump. The first of these accounts for the breathtaking fall in the exchange value of the dollar and cannot be laid at the feet of oil company executives who must, nonetheless, offset production investment capital lost as a result of it. The latter accounts for as little as an average of $.47 per gallon purchased to as much as $.64 per gallon (California) with calls for substantial increases at the Federal level. This tax against consumers must also be seen as being in addition to the expropriatory Federal, State and/or Local taxes levied directly against those "evil" oil company executives themselves: while Mr. Hollsworth (or the writer of this message) calls attention to Exxon's $40.6 billion profit margin (a well-deserved profit in my view for so valuable a commodity), he fails to mention the fact that Exxon, having paid nearly $30 billion in taxes in 2007, pays by itself the same amount in taxes as the lower 50% of all American taxpayers combined.

And even if the rising price of gasoline we are seeing today were or even could be a consequence of the arbitrary whims of oil company executives, whether pronounced in smoky or unsmoky board rooms as the case may be, those executives have every right to do so with respect to their own product. Nor would their doing so violate anyone else's rights properly defined (see above for an improper definition): others are free either to purchase the oil companies' products at the price set, to negotiate on an individual basis a lower price, to find a lower-priced alternative, or to limit or refrain from purchasing the product altogether. Of course, others would also be free to produce their own oil at their own cost, but for the immoral environmental policies of the U.S. Federal Government which prohibit to an extraordinary degree the further, private development of the vast oil reserves known to exist in U.S. territory.

As for OPEC, this consortium would not exist at all but for the betrayals by Western governments of their own citizens' inalienable rights to property. If Mr. Hollsworth were truly concerned about the materially adverse effect of the decisions of that organization, especially its Middle-Eastern membership, he would call for the immediate restoration of the oil concerns in that part of the world to their rightful owners (i.e., the Western oil companies, primarily French, British and American, who developed and built them in the first place, and without whom they would not exist today).

As to the particulars of Mr. Hollsworth's idea, Americans are already doing what he suggests to little effect -- they are "shopping" for better deals wherever they can find them. The difference between the price a a gallon of gasoline purchased at an unbonded gas station has never been more than a few cents below that at one of the major producers' (Exxon, Mobil, Sunoco, etc.). In fact, there are times when it has been more. For example, during my drive to work today I made note of the price of gasoline at my usual unbonded Valero station: it was $3.29 per gallon. A few miles down the road, I noted the price at Sunoco, a major producer, was $3.17. This is, of course, mere anecdote and does not necessarily represent the reality in other parts of the country. However, it does point to another of Mr. Hollsworth's unanalyzed premises: what Mr. Hollsworth fails to recognize is that American oil companies and their unbonded affiliates are already selling gasoline at the lowest possible threashold, a point of fact which precludes the kind of volatile price-war he envisions. American are still paying far, far less for a gallon of gasoline, comparatively, than any other people on the face of the planet. This will be true even if the price of that gallon in the U.S. exceeds $4.00 or $5.00 or $6.00 or $8.00 or $9.00, etc., as anyone who has driven and purchased gas in the E.U., for example, ought to keep in mind (the going rate in the E.U. for semi-Nationalized gasoline is about $2.50 to 3.00 per liter). Seen in this light, Americans are, indeed, "getting off cheap". If U.S. oil company executives were the "evil" Simon LaGree's Mr. Hollsworth would have us believe, I fail to see how this rather transparent discrepancy can be explained. Or perhaps Mr. Hollsworth sees this as simply a mere "overisight" on the part of his supposed villains?

Oh . . . and did I mention that the average price for a bottle of water in the U.S. is $1.99 for 24 oz. (approx. $10.50 per gallon).

Any suggestions? Comments?

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Well put V.

I'm still trying to understand why, when everyone buys at company A, and not B, there is any incentive for A to reduce prices. Only when they go back to B, will it make sense, but that defeats the purpose of the exercise.

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The escalating price of petroleum products does matter. Gas is not cheap and concern for the rapidly increasing costs should not be flippantly dismissed. High prices for "bottled water" and European taxes are irrelevant. The increasing costs of oil are devasting for many people trying to heat their homes in the winter, transportation by truck and airplanes, etc. In addition to direct impacts this is adding unnecessary costs to all kinds of things that use petroleum for plastic, etc. as well as production of energy for transportation, manufacturing and electric power.

If people want the price of energy to come down, which they should be concerned about, then defeat the Anti-Industrial Revolution. Energy production is an absolute requirement for industrial civilization, which is why it is targeted for strangulation. To decrease costs, increase supply and decrease aritificial costs imposed by government: Remove the viro bans on drilling for oil, natural gas and on the mining and use of coal, and remove the government restrictive mandates for a "mix" of expensive, hopelessly inadequate Green-approved sources for electric power, the several different refinery processes that hopelessly complicate the production and distribution of gasoline, etc. Costs are progressively getting out of hand because we are drowning in a tsunami of ideologically motivated government controls.

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The laws of supply and demand seem to escape "environmentalists" and those within the Beltway. One of Clinton's harebrained ideas that got her a "double-digit" win (really 9.4%, but who said she knew how to count?) was to open up the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, just like Bill did, in the "good old days" when gas was $1/gallon. Of course, the reserve is a drop in the bucket, and our real issue in the immediate term isn't crude oil supplies, but refinery capacity, but if it wins a few votes and maybe the nomination, why does it matter?

Anyone who thinks about the situation for more than a few seconds can realize that with China using up more energy (as they get richer), the price of oil will tend to rise. At the same time, since we restrict refinery capacity, don't allow drilling in ANWR, have shunned nuclear power, and sink billions of research dollars into energy-wasting but feel-good measures such as biofuels (though the recent food price increases, thankfully, are leading to a backlash), it's no wonder why energy prices are so high.

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The laws of supply and demand seem to escape "environmentalists" and those within the Beltway. One of Clinton's harebrained ideas that got her a "double-digit" win (really 9.4%, but who said she knew how to count?) was to open up the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, just like Bill did, in the "good old days" when gas was $1/gallon. Of course, the reserve is a drop in the bucket, and our real issue in the immediate term isn't crude oil supplies, but refinery capacity, but if it wins a few votes and maybe the nomination, why does it matter?

Anyone who thinks about the situation for more than a few seconds can realize that with China using up more energy (as they get richer), the price of oil will tend to rise. At the same time, since we restrict refinery capacity, don't allow drilling in ANWR, have shunned nuclear power, and sink billions of research dollars into energy-wasting but feel-good measures such as biofuels (though the recent food price increases, thankfully, are leading to a backlash), it's no wonder why energy prices are so high.

Clinton's "solution" to use up the strategic reserve is not a serious proposal and is not intended to be. It is shear demagoguery intended to appear to promise to give something away for free while trying to make it look like stingy Bush is responsible for rising prices. They do this repeatedly. Clinton knows very well that it would have no effect on energy supplies for anything but the shortest time period, would solve nothing, and would only create the potential for a worse disaster if the reserves were needed for an emergency. She supports the bans on drilling such as at ANWR because she does not want energy produced. The Democrats don't want a solution, they want a crisis as an excuse to seize more power. They want to impose rationing of energy as a means to impose social and economic controls on everything. They do understand the basics of supply and demand in a free economy and want to do away with it.

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I received the following e-mail from an acquaintance.

[...]

After an initial bout of giggling, I set out this proposed response:

[and excellent response that I'll leave out to save space.]

Any suggestions? Comments?

If I read this out of the blue, I'd cheer the writer, and so I do! The only thing I'd recommend changing / leaving out is the neutral reference to Sunoco, which is, I believe, now controlled by Venezuelan dictator Chavez. Perhaps you could substitute BP/Amoco, or even suggest that Sunoco is the gas station to boycott, by reason of its being (relatively recently) the stolen property that constitutes what is likely this dictator's biggest cash cow.

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The escalating price of petroleum products does matter. Gas is not cheap and concern for the rapidly increasing costs should not be flippantly dismissed. High prices for "bottled water" and European taxes are irrelevant.

Thanks for your comment. But I'm a little confused by it. Certainly, the line concerning the cost of a bottle of water is a flippant element of my response. It is also superfluous. I will be posting an updated version of this response tomorrow with that line excised and with a brief closing that I had not yet formulated before posting today.

Otherwise, my response is not meant as a dismissal, flippant or otherwise, of the rising cost of gasoline. Rather it is a dismissal of Mr. Hollsworth and his ideas. I don't quite see how any reader could construe it any other way. Could you point out the offending passage(s)?

If people want the price of energy to come down, which they should be concerned about, then defeat the Anti-Industrial Revolution. Energy production is an absolute requirement for industrial civilization, which is why it is targeted for strangulation. To decrease costs, increase supply and decrease aritificial costs imposed by government: Remove the viro bans on drilling for oil, natural gas and on the mining and use of coal, and remove the government restrictive mandates for a "mix" of expensive, hopelessly inadequate Green-approved sources for electric power, the several different refinery processes that hopelessly complicate the production and distribution of gasoline, etc. Costs are progressively getting out of hand because we are drowning in a tsunami of ideologically motivated government controls.

I agree with most of this and cover quite a few aspects of government meddling in my response. Do you feel my remarks need to be clearer or more focused or do you think they would be enhanced by specific mention of some of the items you discuss here? I'm not sure, but where we do seem to have a point of disagreement is on the effect of the ever-expanding worldwide demand for oil which, in my view, is going to have a material effect on gasoline prices for some time to come even if there is an "increase [in] supply and decrease [in the] artificial costs imposed by government." Furthermore, it's my position that the Fed's inflationary monetary policy is the elephant in this particular room that stands to undermine advances in those other areas. Am I missing something here?

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If I read this out of the blue, I'd cheer the writer, and so I do! The only thing I'd recommend changing / leaving out is the neutral reference to Sunoco, which is, I believe, now controlled by Venezuelan dictator Chavez. Perhaps you could substitute BP/Amoco, or even suggest that Sunoco is the gas station to boycott, by reason of its being (relatively recently) the stolen property that constitutes what is likely this dictator's biggest cash cow.

Thanks for that. I see your point about Sunoco . . . thanks for reminding me of that. I certainly do NOT want to send business in that person's direction. Incidentally, the price variation I saw this afternoon on my way to work has since evaporated.

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The escalating price of petroleum products does matter. Gas is not cheap and concern for the rapidly increasing costs should not be flippantly dismissed. High prices for "bottled water" and European taxes are irrelevant. The increasing costs of oil are devasting for many people trying to heat their homes in the winter, transportation by truck and airplanes, etc. In addition to direct impacts this is adding unnecessary costs to all kinds of things that use petroleum for plastic, etc. as well as production of energy for transportation, manufacturing and electric power.

If people want the price of energy to come down, which they should be concerned about, then defeat the Anti-Industrial Revolution. Energy production is an absolute requirement for industrial civilization, which is why it is targeted for strangulation. To decrease costs, increase supply and decrease aritificial costs imposed by government: Remove the viro bans on drilling for oil, natural gas and on the mining and use of coal, and remove the government restrictive mandates for a "mix" of expensive, hopelessly inadequate Green-approved sources for electric power, the several different refinery processes that hopelessly complicate the production and distribution of gasoline, etc. Costs are progressively getting out of hand because we are drowning in a tsunami of ideologically motivated government controls.

Don't forget to add what is happening to the price of food. The mouthpieces may pooh-pooh everything as "hoarding," but I'd bet they haven't sat down and calculated what happens every time you go through your receipts. The fear is based on reality.

I keep hearing Miss Rand say, "You asked for it, brother."

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Vespasiano, within my own context of knowledge I enjoyed your response very much. However because ewv's argument addresses the central cause of the crisis and the ideas at stake, I see it as a more fundamental and effective approach.

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Vespasiano, within my own context of knowledge I enjoyed your response very much. However because ewv's argument addresses the central cause of the crisis and the ideas at stake, I see it as a more fundamental and effective approach.

Actually . . . I focus in my response on what is wrong with Mr. Hollsworth's ideas, and why. What I do not include is an actual alternative to Mr. Hollsworth's "plan", simply and directly stated. Although he has not confirmed it yet, I believe that is what emv was pointing out.

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Don't forget to add what is happening to the price of food. The mouthpieces may pooh-pooh everything as "hoarding," but I'd bet they haven't sat down and calculated what happens every time you go through your receipts. The fear is based on reality.

I keep hearing Miss Rand say, "You asked for it, brother."

Oldsalt, I certainly agree the same dynamics and the same principles are at work there but I want to limit my response strictly to gas prices and, with that point of focus, to "cover all the bases" right up front. I don't fancy the idea of a protracted e-mail exchange with this individual. After reading this response, he should have a fairfly clear idea as to where I would stand on any related issue and why.

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Vespasiano, within my own context of knowledge I enjoyed your response very much. However because ewv's argument addresses the central cause of the crisis and the ideas at stake, I see it as a more fundamental and effective approach.

But it's easy to say that "the anti-industrial revolution" is the central cause of higher fuel prices. One has to concretize this. The anti-industrial revolution is an enormous abstraction, and its concretes include more than environmentalism. Religion and multi-cultural relativism are additional sources of anti-man, anti-industrial ideology.

So while discrediting the environmentalists can certainly go a long way; it would certainly be strange to leave out another issue in a discussion of high fuel prices, i.e. the effect of inflation and its causes. Not least among the causes of inflation is the federal control of the banking industry, which is a huge evil. And I don't think that the primary justification for that could have been environmentalism, since it was virtually unknown, and certainly not a prominent ideological force at the time of the creation of the federal reserve in 1913.

There is also a generally positive factor in increased fuel prices, which is the increase in worldwide demand. Significant, sustained increases in demand are caused by higher production, which must be caused by greater freedom somewhere for producers. Higher demand and the concomitant higher prices for fuel spur interest in its production, and those who want to make money in fuel production will look for ideas to justify their desire make money in that industry. Thanks to John Allison, they will find Objectivism in academia, the ideas of which can be used to support the freedom that allows and encourages man to claim his right to life, including his right to produce the goods that support it.

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Don't forget to add what is happening to the price of food. The mouthpieces may pooh-pooh everything as "hoarding," but I'd bet they haven't sat down and calculated what happens every time you go through your receipts. The fear is based on reality.

I keep hearing Miss Rand say, "You asked for it, brother."

Oldsalt, I certainly agree the same dynamics and the same principles are at work there but I want to limit my response strictly to gas prices and, with that point of focus, to "cover all the bases" right up front. I don't fancy the idea of a protracted e-mail exchange with this individual. After reading this response, he should have a fairfly clear idea as to where I would stand on any related issue and why.

You are right, of course. While I didn't offer up a complete non sequitur, . . .

It is just that these days, I can see the little strings flying everywhere, tying all of this into a piece. I'll try to restrain myself. :)

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And by the way, this was as fine a piece of work identifying the facts as I've seen. Starting with the facts, and going to the principle, is what we are supposed to do. There are those who seem to get this bass-akwards these days. I find value in both summaries. Between you and ewv, the bases are being covered nicely. Thanks to you both for the work and insights.

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If the author of the original piece wants to boycott the true villains responsible for the gas price hike, I suggest boycotting the dollar. Vote with your pocketbook to get the Fed to return the dollar to a fairly stable currency. Let's not let the dollar become the peso!

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Thank-you all for your very helpful, constructive and encouraging comments. This is the promised revision of my response. I hope I've done the issue proper justice, but as always will appreciate any observation you might have. Incidentally, I will not be able to check comments for several days, but will do so upon my return Monday.

I'm surprised that an individual like Mr. Hollsworth, who appears to have so little a grasp on the facts of economic reality, could ever have been employed by Halliburton or any other major economic concern.

Be that as it may, Hr. Hollsworth’s central thesis is that Americans have a “right” to cheap gasoline. The two, interrelated and pernicious premises that serve as the foundation for this thesis are (1) that one's need or desire for the products of others gives one not only a "right" to that product, but a "right" to determine its value to its owner, and (2) that governments exist to enforce this supposed right. These notions turn the concept of the principle of rights on its proverbial ear: to say that there is a right to goods and services produced by others and that governments are charged with coercing those others to surrender them means that those others are effectively rightless. This is the parasitical morality of the thief, the slave-owner and the dictator.

Mr. Hollsworth’s adherence to these premises has led him not only to misidentify the true causes of the current escalation in gasoline prices, but to propose a “solution” that must necessarily be ineffective as a result. In fact, Americans are already doing what he suggests to little effect -- they are "shopping" for the lowest gasoline prices and giving preference of place to those stations offering the best deal. And yet, the kind of volatile price-war Mr. Hollsworth anticipates has not materialized. [Note: In this regard, Mr. Hollsworth’s focus on the “Big Oil” producers, Exxon and Mobil, is disingenuous at best: the difference between the price of a gallon of gasoline purchased at an unbonded gas station and at one of the major producers’, such as Exxon or Mobil, is typically no more than a few cents per gallon. There are also occasions when that unbonded gasoline is slightly more expensive than that available from major producers.]

Contrary to what Mr. Hollsworth's implies, the rising price of gasoline we are seeing today is not a consequence of arbitrary actions by "evil" oil company executives who summon numbers out of thin air in smoky board rooms. Although this certainly conjures up vivid images sure to provoke equally vivid negative emotional responses on the part of a reader, it remains an irrational fantasy wholly unconnected to basic economics. There is a veritable multitude of factors that contribute to the price of a gallon of gas at the pump, not least of which is the crucial interplay between the available supply of a finite substance and an ever-growing, worldwide demand for it, an issue that Mr. Hollsworth fails to consider to any significant degree in formulating his "solution". [Note: Mr. Hollsworth also fails consider the effect the law of supply and demand would likely have with respect to a progressive increase in prices at consumers’ preferred stations in order to accommodate the greater consumer volume his “solution” would engender.] Add to this the considerable costs of legitimate research and development, production, transport and delivery, franchising, etc., none of which Mr. Hollsworth has factored into his “solution”, and one only begins to see the tip of the economic iceberg he evades so cavalierly and with which those supposedly "evil" oil company executives must contend in the course of doing daily business.

But the effect of these issues relative to the ordinary course of doing business upon the price of gasoline at the pump, though not insignificant, pale in comparison to the combined effect of :

(1) the continued, devaluation of the U.S. dollar as a result of the inflationary monetary policies of the U.S. Federal government,

(2) the extraordinary cost and negative developmental and technological impact consequent to compliance with Federal environmental policies and the prohibitive regulations that flow from them, and

(3) the exponential increase in confiscatory Federal, State and/or Local taxes levied against consumers on gasoline purchases at the pump.

Point (1) accounts for the breathtaking fall in the exchange value of the dollar and cannot be laid at the feet of oil company executives who must, nonetheless, offset production investment capital lost as a result of it. Much of the current price of gasoline is a reflection of this devaluation and its effects.

Point (2) accounts for not only the near total prohibition of oil drilling within the known reserves in the continental United States and its surrounding waters (i.e., ANWR, the Gulf of Mexico), but of “prospecting” for potential, new sources. This severely limits the supply of crude available. It also accounts for a wide array of extremely expensive, cumbersome and ultimately ineffectual “environment-friendly” refining processes that inhibit efficient production and distribution of gasoline (the ethanol story is turning out to be a failure from several perspectives). It is worth noting that these same environment-friendly prohibitions and regulations have rendered the development of new energy resources and technologies and the continuation of older ones, such as coal and nuclear power, extremely difficult if not impossible from both legal and cost perspectives. Much if not most of the current price of gasoline is a reflection of the expense of the oil industry’s compliance with these regulations.

Point (3) accounts for additional charges to consumers at the pump ranging from the average of $.47 per gallon to as much as $.64 per gallon in states such as California. It should also be noted that there have been repeated calls in Congress for substantial increases in the Federal component of this consumer tax. The current price of gasoline includes this taxation.

[Note: This tax against consumers is in addition to the expropriatory Federal, State and/or Local taxes levied directly against those "evil" oil company executives themselves: while Mr. Hollsworth (or the writer of this message) calls attention to Exxon's $40.6 billion profit margin (a well-deserved profit in my view for so valuable a commodity), he fails to mention the fact that Exxon, having paid nearly $30 billion in taxes in 2007, pays by itself the same amount in taxes as the lower 50% of all American taxpayers combined.]

With these factors in mind, if one has a true interest in reducing the price of gasoline, if not expanding supply to meet demand, restoring competitiveness among existing energy sources and opening the field to newer alternatives, it stands to reason that Americans must begin to engage in the task of reversing the economic interventionist programs of Federal, State and Local governments, the continued existence of which must prohibit a meaningful outcome in these areas. This means that, at the very least, Americans must demand (1) an end to the inflationary monetary policies of the U.S. Federal government, (2) a cessation of Federal environmental regulations and related government interference relative to the oil industry and (3) the elimination of consumer taxes on gasoline purchases.

Before closing, let me address two additional points raised by Mr. Hollsworth. If the rising price of gasoline we are seeing today were or even could be solely a consequence of the arbitrary whims of oil company executives, whether pronounced in smoky or unsmoky board rooms as the case may be, those executives have every right to set the price for their own product. Nor would their doing so violate anyone else's rights properly defined (see above for a discussion of Mr. Hollsworth’s improper definition): others are free either to purchase the oil companies' products at the price set, to negotiate on an individual basis a lower price, to find a lower-priced alternative, or to limit or refrain from purchasing the product altogether. In addition, others would also be free to produce their own oil at their own cost, were it not for the aforementioned government interference in the industry.

As for Mr. Hollworth’s passing reference to the machinations of OPEC, this consortium would not exist at all but for the betrayals by Western governments of their own citizens' inalienable rights to property. If Mr. Hollsworth were truly concerned about the materially adverse effect of the decisions of that organization, especially its Middle-Eastern membership, he would call for the immediate restoration of the oil concerns in that part of the world to their rightful owners (i.e., the Western oil companies, primarily American, British and French, that developed and built them in the first place, and without whom they would not exist today).

I am deeply saddened that Mr. Hollsworth and too many American citizens continue to take the easier path of blaming “Big Oil” for what is, in fact, the evil of government/State intervention in economic affairs, rather than examining their premises with respect to both economic principles and political philosophy. A re-examination of either must first begin with a re-evaluation at the most fundamental philosophical level of the almost-universally-held idea that the individual exists, not to pursue and achieve his own happiness, but to serve others.

In closing, given the fact that their product is so vital for the continued existence of our current way of life (a point which even Mr. Hollsworth acknowledges, if in a somewhat resentful manner), Big Oil producers deserve not only our deepest respect and gratitude, but every cent -- and much more than they can ever be repaid -- of what they currently receive in exchange for it. Justice demands no less. Mr. Hollsworth’s alternative of casting aspersions in the direction of so important a true benefactor of mankind is an injustice I cannot support.

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But it's easy to say that "the anti-industrial revolution" is the central cause of higher fuel prices. One has to concretize this. The anti-industrial revolution is an enormous abstraction, and its concretes include more than environmentalism. Religion and multi-cultural relativism are additional sources of anti-man, anti-industrial ideology.

The “anti-industrial revolution” may be too large an abstraction in this case, I agree. What appealed to me, however, was specific mention of the stranglehold on supply caused by environmental regulations. From attacks on nuclear power to bans on oil drilling, environmentalism is the most important of reasons why oil is so expensive today and it’s why blaming the oil companies is at worst an attack on Capitalism and at most ignorant.

Vespasiano, I’m going to be the “bad guy”. Sorry. I know, it’s easy to be a critic. :)

Your response is extremely thorough and well argued but it's 1,569 words, versus the 821 words you're responding to. It’s not concise and I think it could be organized better. Your audience will recall individual rebuttals you made, but not the main points, even though you’ve contributed a lot of objective and useful commentary.

There are two main points to your response. One is that the price of oil is so high right now as a result of government intervention, and not the “greedy” oil companies. The remedy, then, is to fight those policies and not “Big Oil”. The second point you included is that attacking the right of oil companies to set their prices is attacking individual rights. Absolutely no disagreement here on what’s essential.

I think the response would be more effective, though, if these points were put right in the foreground by consolidating evidence into two sections that support these two points and only these two points. For example, your two notes in italics rebut Hollsworth’s claims but do not contribute to your main points. Is it really important that your audience knows that prices at Exxon and Mobil are only cents apart? Also, you have two paragraphs defending indvidual rights, one at the beginning and one toward the end, that are rather redundant and could be consolidated and strengthened. Maybe that's where OPEC should be tied in?

Obviously it’s completely up to you whether you want to rework the essay. I think it’s very valuable as it is. However, in my view a more focused “attack” addressing the essentials, rather than trying to correct every inaccuracy, makes an argument more effective and much harder for its audience to evade.

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But it's easy to say that "the anti-industrial revolution" is the central cause of higher fuel prices. One has to concretize this. The anti-industrial revolution is an enormous abstraction, and its concretes include more than environmentalism. Religion and multi-cultural relativism are additional sources of anti-man, anti-industrial ideology.

The “anti-industrial revolution” may be too large an abstraction in this case, I agree. What appealed to me, however, was specific mention of the stranglehold on supply caused by environmental regulations. From attacks on nuclear power to bans on oil drilling, environmentalism is the most important of reasons why oil is so expensive today and it’s why blaming the oil companies is at worst an attack on Capitalism and at most ignorant.

Vespasiano, I’m going to be the “bad guy”. Sorry. I know, it’s easy to be a critic. :)

Your response is extremely thorough and well argued but it's 1,569 words, versus the 821 words you're responding to. It’s not concise and I think it could be organized better. Your audience will recall individual rebuttals you made, but not the main points, even though you’ve contributed a lot of objective and useful commentary.

There are two main points to your response. One is that the price of oil is so high right now as a result of government intervention, and not the “greedy” oil companies. The remedy, then, is to fight those policies and not “Big Oil”. The second point you included is that attacking the right of oil companies to set their prices is attacking individual rights. Absolutely no disagreement here on what’s essential.

I think the response would be more effective, though, if these points were put right in the foreground by consolidating evidence into two sections that support these two points and only these two points. For example, your two notes in italics rebut Hollsworth’s claims but do not contribute to your main points. Is it really important that your audience knows that prices at Exxon and Mobil are only cents apart? Also, you have two paragraphs defending indvidual rights, one at the beginning and one toward the end, that are rather redundant and could be consolidated and strengthened. Maybe that's where OPEC should be tied in?

Obviously it’s completely up to you whether you want to rework the essay. I think it’s very valuable as it is. However, in my view a more focused “attack” addressing the essentials, rather than trying to correct every inaccuracy, makes an argument more effective and much harder for its audience to evade.

A word about those bracketed, italicized sections: these are not meant for "publication", but are notes to myself as points of reference as I revise the piece. They're rather like "marginalia".

As for the rest of your comment, I agree with what you say. However, a bit of context if necessary. If this piece were being sent to a newspaper or magazine as a response to a published article or opinion column, I would most definitely streamline it in much the way you suggest -- the central section (the points and solution) is the key, and that's all I would need to say in that particular context, beyond a brief opening and closing. However, this response is directed toward an individual with whom I have frequent, in-depth philosophical discussions and who, despite those conversations, continues to suppose that I would support Mr. Hollsworth's position or, at least, certain aspects of it. This response, then, serves two purposes: to address not only Hollsworth's objectionable ideas, but to extrapolate beyond them to related points that my acquaintance and I have discussed between us and about which there are still some questions.

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A word about those bracketed, italicized sections: these are not meant for "publication", but are notes to myself as points of reference as I revise the piece. They're rather like "marginalia".

As for the rest of your comment, I agree with what you say. However, a bit of context if necessary. If this piece were being sent to a newspaper or magazine as a response to a published article or opinion column, I would most definitely streamline it in much the way you suggest -- the central section (the points and solution) is the key, and that's all I would need to say in that particular context, beyond a brief opening and closing. However, this response is directed toward an individual with whom I have frequent, in-depth philosophical discussions and who, despite those conversations, continues to suppose that I would support Mr. Hollsworth's position or, at least, certain aspects of it. This response, then, serves two purposes: to address not only Hollsworth's objectionable ideas, but to extrapolate beyond them to related points that my acquaintance and I have discussed between us and about which there are still some questions.

Well, you know your audience better than I do. I hope you're able to get through to your acquaintance!

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The dollar is to blame. The federal Reserve has devalued it so much to avoid the coming financial collapse that the price of any good that is valued in $$ is going to increase. The Gold standard that was written it to our U.S. Constitution needs to be enforced. Nixon was the last stepping stone to destroying the dollar. In the 60's Greenspan was a part of Ayn's inner circle but when he was offered the job of Fed. Chairman he went back on his writtings and attemped to get social security working when he know as a fact it never would work. Alan Greenspan betrayed us all. How come Iraq, which did not charge us in dollars was the country invaded? Did the Rockefellows make a secret pack with the mid east countries to buy American debt? I also read that there is more oil off the coast of Brazil and in the Artic than in the Middle East and that that when it comes on line in about 4-5 years, gasoline will be back under$2.00 per gallon thanks to American-Western ingenuity on conquering the great depths and pressure of the oceans above the oil deposits.

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