Thursday, October 13, 2005

What a Difference a Law Makes!

Although Hawaii's gas prices are the highest in the country:

Before the gas caps, the newspapers were reporting that we never had it so bad.

Now that there are gas caps, the newspapers are reporting that we never had it so good.


At October 15, 2005 8:07 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

At the Kapahulu Neighborhood Board meeting, House speaker Calvin Say responded to concern about the gas cap, with the statement that the legislature could repeal the gas cap on January 1, 2006 -- but before then, the governor could suspend the law whenever she wanted, which seems peculiarly arbitrary.

In the newspapers, the gas cap proponents were insisting the caps were working fine. In that view, does the governor have the power to suspend the gas caps?

Which is it? Are the gas caps working, or is it the governor's fault that they aren't?

At October 17, 2005 10:08 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Poll: How much is too much for gasoline?
Oct. 17, 2005 | WILL LESTER - Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Americans are grumbling about gas prices hovering around $3 a gallon, but that price would be welcome in many other countries.

AP-Ipsos polling found wide disparities in what people in the U.S. and eight other countries think is a fair price.

Americans grit their teeth as they pump $3-per-gallon gas. They think $2 is about right. In Britain, $3 sounds sweet - people there pay about $6.40 a gallon and think $5 would be fair.

Spaniards would like to see gasoline for just over $3 a gallon. People in France, Italy, Germany and South Korea put the fair market price at $4 or a little more. Australians and Canadians would like to see it just under $3 a gallon. The cost of gas in these countries is higher than in the U.S. - from just over $4 a gallon in Australia to about $6.70 a gallon in Germany.

Americans' desire for cheap gasoline comes in a country that uses more than its share of the world's fuel.

The U.S. has less than 5 percent of the world's population but consumes 20 million barrels of oil a day, about one-fourth of the global total, according to the American Petroleum Institute.

Paying fuel prices that have been substantially higher than U.S. prices for years, Europeans have found alternatives to dependence on cars. In much of the United States, however, people are addicted to the car and view it as essential to social and economic well-being. When gas prices shoot to record levels, it rattles the U.S. economy and depresses consumer confidence.

"This whole country runs on cheap gas," said Clinton Ahrens, a businessman from Dows, Iowa. Most Americans, he said, have come to expect it over the years.

In much of Europe and elsewhere, gas taxes account for two-thirds or more of the price of gasoline. People in those countries look for high-mileage cars. Public transportation is well-developed.

"The Europeans decided to use tax policy to reduce demand and did so with phenomenal success and they used regulatory policy to promote alternatives like the use of diesel," said David Goldwyn, an Energy Department official in the Clinton administration. "For the United States it's difficult to use either tax or regulatory policy for political reasons."

In the U.S., taxes vary by state but amount to about 20 percent of gas prices. Fuel is cheaper in this country than in most parts of the world, investment in mass transit is minimal, gas-guzzling SUVs and trucks zoom along highways, and politicians talk about increasing gas taxes - or any taxes - at their own risk.

"We do have a sense of entitlement here in the United States," said Steve Yetiv, a political scientist at Old Dominion University in Virginia who has studied the impact of energy prices. "This stems partly from the individualism that is part of the American fabric - an individualism that prizes freedom of action and prizes the freedom to buy as big a car as you want to buy."

While Billy Fillers of Sycamore, Ill., drives a Chevy Tahoe on his rounds to do X-ray repairs, his weekly gasoline bill has gone from $60 to $120. But he likes his SUV: "The bigger your vehicle, the faster your vehicle - it's a status symbol."

People in most of the countries polled agree that the rising price of gasoline is causing financial hardships.

From two-thirds to three-fourths of those polled in Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Spain, South Korea and the United States say they expect increases in the price of gasoline to cause them hardships. About half in Britain said they worried about financial hardships, and one-third of respondents in Germany felt that way.

"Women - particularly those with children at home - are much more worried than men about the financial impact of rising gas prices on the family budget," said Thomas Miller, managing director of Ipsos Public Affairs in New York.

A majority of people in most of the nations polled said they think their government can act to limit increases in the price of gasoline. In many of those countries, unhappy consumers have been pushing for more government action.

As Americans struggle to cope with the rapid rise of gas prices, Europeans have learned to live with expensive gasoline.

Jacinto Romero, 53, a businessman in Spain who drives a late-model Audi, said gas is very expensive, but he has no idea how much it costs to fill up.

"I didn't bother to check," Romero said. "I just paid with a credit card."

At October 19, 2005 8:17 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Some may recall that before the gas caps went into effect, Washington D.C. had the outright highest gas prices in the nation.

"Meanwhile, yesterday's statewide average of $3.49 a gallon was 54 cents higher than runner-up Washington, D.C., and 75 cents above the national average, according to AAA's Fuel Gauge Report."

At October 19, 2005 8:20 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

You have to wonder if these people know what they are doing when they try to regulate prices on the most volatile commodity in the world.

At October 19, 2005 9:02 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

The gas cap just turned everybody into a commodities trader -- whether they wanted to be or not.

They should have just left it to the gas stations to figure it out for them. That's what a free market does.

At October 23, 2005 4:05 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

I know the Democrats are claiming gas prices are falling because of Hawaii's gas caps -- but here's the real reason.

Gas Prices Plummet Amid Falling Demand

AP Oil analyst Tom Kloza said he expects to see retail prices below $2 a gallon in some markets by the end of this year.

More Coverage:
· Track the Cost of Fuel
· Find Cheapest Gas in Your State

Talk About It: Post Thoughts

NEW YORK (Oct. 23) - The average retail price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States plunged more than 25 cents in the past two weeks, as refining capacity was restored and demand slowed, a survey showed Sunday.

Still, prices remained slightly higher than pre-Hurricane Katrina levels.

The national average for self-serve, regular unleaded gasoline was $2.6587 a gallon on Oct. 21, down about 25.3 cents per gallon from Oct. 7, according to the nationwide Lundberg survey of about 6,000 gas stations.

"This is the biggest drop in a two week period that we have ever seen in our many decades surveying the gasoline market, survey editor Trilby Lundberg said.

Supply is up due to restoration of refining capacity, which was damaged during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Lundberg said.

Demand was dampened as consumers cut back on gasoline consumption in response to skyrocketing prices, as well as by evacuations of areas such as the Gulf Coast.

Of the areas surveyed, Honolulu had the highest average price at $3.03 a gallon for self-serve, regular unleaded gas on Oct. 21, while the lowest average price was $2.20 a gallon in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

"It's been a real roller coaster."
-Trilby Lundberg, gas price survey editor

Preliminary data shows gasoline demand is 2 percent to 3 percent lower than a year ago, Lundberg said.

The current U.S. average price for a gallon of gasoline is just 3 cents above the pre-Katrina price, Lundberg said.

"It's been a real roller coaster since then," she said.

"The supply and demand were grossly out of balance and remain somewhat out of balance in the gas market,'' Lundberg said. "But that balance is normalizing as refining capacity is brought back up.''

Lundberg said she expected the cost-cutting to continue in the coming weeks unless an extreme winter drives up heating oil demand and affects the price of crude oil and its derivatives.

Lundberg said Hurricane Wilma, which is bearing down on Florida after hitting Mexico, seems to be benign to gas supply, but not to gasoline demand. "The evacuations do remove some demand."

At October 23, 2005 4:24 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

I just wish all the "news" wasn't so partisan -- so that one doesn't have to read everything wondering what is political propaganda and what is unbiased information -- that we've all come to accept as the norm.

It's quite tiresome fighting off the disinformation campaigns that are so overtly one-sided, and proud of their ability to "fool the people."

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