Metroblog

A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

22 November 2004

A Dirty Business


No, I'm not referring to my current new job, although I do it in coveralls and rubber gloves to reduce the risk to the model of sartorial splendour that is I.

"Hangeth on a second" crieth the Avid Fan "What hath happened to ye wise and knowlegeable discourse upon the genre of blogs which wast promised us?"

I know, I know. But something important has cropped up, and I can no longer keep silent.

The chicanery and bald-faced profiteering of the gasoline industry is reaching new heights of depth. Witness:

Each morning I drive by a Petro-Canada station (the former government agency which we the taxpayers sold for pennies on the upstart-cost dollar). The price lately is running about 90¢ per litre, or 3$ US per US gallon for my American Avid Fans, if I have any.

But only in the morning.

In the evening, returning over the same route I pass the same station. But now the price of gasoline has slumped to 76¢ or so per litre.

How stupid do they think we are?

Do they seriously expect us to believe that on a normal day when George W. isn't invading somewhere, the price of crude oil swings by enough of a margin to affect the price we pay at the pump by nearly twenty cents per litre. And that this happens regularly, every day?

The petro companies have lobbied and spent billions to fight off persistent rumours of collusion and price-fixing. I feel strongly that while it may run under a more dignified name, that is surely what takes place, to a certain extent. Market forces may be circumvented if you hold a monopoly, and a small consortium of companies with multiple names is attempting to gouge us while claiming that we're victims of greedy governemnts and market forces.

Aside: Do you think Exxon undercuts Mobil very often in the marketplace? How about Esso? Look at the changing graphic at the "mrketplace" site, second image from right at the bottom.

All this hand-wringing is bull. Want proof?

Here is Petro-Canada's explanation of fuel prices in Canada. Basically they say we're getting screwed by the government. "So sorry old chap/chapette, nothing we can do . . ."

The consumer's chorus here is supposed to be:
"Only 3% of the money is profit! Ooh, those poor muffins." And with that, we are supposed to let them wobble off with another wheelbarrowfull of cash, making faint burping noises while we shovel more dough into the trough.

They will take that 3% to invest in worthy projects which will benefit the developing world, such as the Union Carbide/Shell endeavour in Bhopal.

More reading.

And a note: Justice delayed is justice denied. The people most directly affected by the Bhopal disaster died twenty years ago. And they're still fighting it out. It's amazing what can be accomplished by attorneys of goodwill.

But back to our muttons, we were speaking of gouging:
Each station in my home town is now prominently displaying a sign reading "$ave 3.5¢ per litre" or similar. This includes the aforementioned Petro-Can chain. Isn't that nice of them?

But wait! At 92.9¢ per litre, that means that they're handing you 3.25%! And at 76¢ per litre it's almost 5%!

Yet they're only making 3% profit in the first place!

Why those good, generous souls; Digging so deeply into their pockets to help make our travel through this vale of tears just that little bit brighter.

Certainly doesn't sound like the greedy, grasping bastards they're cracked up to be.

Does it?

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