Pain in the gas: Rising costs makes us all victims of greed

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I drove to the Clay County Fairgrounds last week and passed a gas station on U.S. Highway 17 in Green Cove Springs where the price for regular unleaded gas jumped 20-cents in one day to $4.19 a gallon.

Apparently, oil companies were just getting started.

After leaving the fairgrounds, I saw a station on State Road 16 where gas was only $4.01 a gallon. I slammed on my brakes, made a sharp right turn and pulled up to the first open pump.

As soon as I pulled the trigger on the gas pump nozzle, the sign in front of the store flashed with a startling change. Gas now was $4.19 a gallon. It literally changed during my fill-up.

Three days later, that same station was advertising gas at $4.41.

I understand there is war in Ukraine. The images and stories are despicable. I also know the gas I pump today came out of the ground months ago – long before the first shot was fired weeks ago. So why raise the price now?

A lot of our price hikes are the fault of our leaders. Two years ago, the United States was self-reliant in oil production. The administration changed, and now we are forced to buy oil from other countries.

The White House said we now pump more oil than ever. That’s a lie. And that can be backed up with the government’s own statistics.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, an average of 11,145 million barrels were pumped each day in 2021. The record number of barrels was 13,100 a day in February 2020 – just a few days after Donald Trump left office. Seven months later under Joe Biden – and after pipelines were canceled and drilling was suspended in many areas – that number dropped to 9,700 barrels a day.

Now we’re trying to cut deals with Venezuela and Iran. I thought we didn’t like those regimes.

Here’s an idea: why not start pumping in Texas and buy from Texans, not terrorists? Maybe the simplicity of that solution is hard to grasp. But so is paying $4.41 a gallon.

It’s not just oil. Winston Churchill once said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Government and business officials have taken that idea to a troubling level.

How do Russia and Ukraine affect the price of chicken wings? I paid $5.34 for four wing sections. That’s really just two whole wings. At the same time, the price of thighs and legs hasn’t been affected by inflation. Don’t wings, thighs and legs come from the same chicken?

Some used cars are now being sold for more than what they cost new a few years ago. One of the new factors in determining a car’s cost is the mileage and how much gas is in the tank. A full tank jacks the price up.

But nothing has spun more out of control than the housing market. Prices for houses and apartments are outrageous – if you can find one. I was lucky. It took me a year to find my dream home, and I only overpaid the cost of a new Ford Fiesta than the asking price. And I was thrilled to get a bargain.

We had enough leftover money, we replaced the floors, water heater and toilets. We also bought a new grill, washer and dryer. And yet, those upgrades cost less than what I paid to fix three teeth last year. Thank goodness I had two dental insurance plans.

Even the $1 store raised its prices to $1.25.

My bank account continues to get beaten up more than the Jacksonville Jaguars offensive line. The only saving grace is food now costs so much, I no longer have to worry about fixing my teeth.

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