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Don't Rush Me

Holy Gouging At The Pump, Batman!

Calling all internet computer geeks: I need you to start verifying all oil company claims

June 05, 2013 - It was late last week when I hurt my neck as drove past the first gas station with prices for the cheap gas well over $4 a gallon. I hurt myself because when I whipped my head back to double check.

Yep, my eyes did not deceive me, the crappy gas was on sale for $4.15 per gallon. Something inside my head area popped.

Holy gouging at the pump, Batman! Just last night the price was $3.75 Maybe it wasn't in my neck that I hurt -- maybe it was a blood vessel in my brain. I think I silently cursed very loudly.

"Ooo," I seethed. "I am so gonna' write a seething column about this on Monday!"

On Saturday, I received this e-mail from Oxford's Andrew S.:

"Hi Don, Just got back from a 10-day trip to Texas. Flew to San Antonio, spent a few days there, drove to Galveston, spent a few days there, drove to Houston, spent a few days there, drove back to San Antonio and flew home. I was able to buy regular gas in all three cities for 3.27 a gallon. Thought you'd like to know. By the way, if you think Michigan drivers drive fast, you ought to go to Texas where the speed limit on the freeways is 75, not that anyone is driving that slow."

Well, I wrote that off as gas being cheaper in Texas, because well, that's big oil territory. They have to have cheap gas. The weekend continued.

* * *

On Sunday, I received two e-mails from Clarkston area's David S.:

Hello Don, I just returned from a road trip vacation to the east coast and while driving through Beverly, Massachusetts. I stopped for gas and received full service gas pumped by a clean nicely dressed young lady for $3.39 per gallon.

So the begging question is where does all the profit go from Michigan Gas stations which is now charging over $4 per gallon for self service? According to the state gas tax for Michigan is 61.3 cents per gallon and Massachusetts is 41.9 cpg. Our good governor wants to raise it considerably (as if our high rate of unemployed/underemployed and part time work force can really afford to pay higher gas and tax rates). Not to mention if you are a home owner in Oakland County you have the pleasure of paying for the Detroit Zoo and Detroit Institute of Art on your property taxes along with the multimillion dollar football fields that all high schools need and lifetime pension and healthcare for the millions of "Civil Servants!"

David's other email wanted me to investigate what road and bridge builders are political donators, and to whom they donate.

* * *

Guess what, as of this weekend, according to the Detroit Free Press, only Hawaii gas prices were higher than Michigan's. They were shelling out $4.36 a gallon. National prices, $3.62 a gallon.

* * *

That same Freep article reported this as why we are being gouged. " . . . gasoline prices . . . jumped sharply . . . after rumors spread of an undetermined refinery buying gas from other refineries."

Do the words poppycock and balderdash mean anything to anybody? I don't know what they really mean either, but in Don's Personal Book of Words and Their Meanings, poppycock and balderdash are used as colorful metaphor to express sincere disbelief. So, when I read that prices jumped 40 cents a gallon in the span of eight hours based on "rumors" and "undetermined" refineries . . . I whip out poppycock and balderdash.

I don't believe 'em.

I am calling on all computer/internet geeks across this nation to start a super secret band of brothas and sistas who will investigate when prices spike for some reason at some refinery somewhere. I want this merry bands of muckrakers to verify "pipe leaks" and "refinery problems."

Let me know when you set things up and I'll give you some publicity and I won't divulge your identities no matter what the Attorney General's war on journalism threatens.

* * *

Did you know that of the 18.4 cents per gallon of federal gas taxes, about 10 cents must be used for highway beautification and transportation museum -- and for pedestrian and bike facilities. Hmm? Over half of the gas tax goes to things other than making sure roads and bridges are in good shape. That's just swell.

* * *

The Mackinac Center, Michigan's tax (on top of the fed's) is 19 cents. According to the center, the Gov's proposal replaces that tax, "with a wholesale tax, initially levied at an effective rate of 28.3 cents per gallon – an immediate 9.3-cent increase. Assuming no other changes, this would put government's total take per gallon here at 67.1 cents, making Michigan the second highest after New York (67.4 cents) with Connecticut and California tied for third (67.0 cents)."

I think another something just popped in my head.

Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at:
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