We're part of the gas problem

Published 7:38 am Monday, September 15, 2008

By Staff
Admit it. You freaked out and bought gas on Friday, didn't you? You heard the rumors about sky-high prices and shortages; you saw the massive Ike headed for a collision course with Texas, with oil refineries in between. You figured you'd better fill up before those big bad oil companies raised prices and refused to deliver any more fuel.
We all like to blame someone else for high gas prices, but the fact of the matter is sometimes we're part of the alleged conspiracy ourselves.
Now, of course there is no excuse for unscrupulous business owners who raise prices beyond reason.
And Alabama figured out a way to deal with those businesses Friday afternoon, as Gov. Bob Riley declared a state of emergency based on the threat of fuel shortages. It was a clever way to make sure price gouging was illegal, since the state can only regulate those prices during a state of emergency, and Ike didn't hit us nearly close enough for that to happen.
But sometimes we forget that gas prices in our free market system are in large part a result of supply and demand. It's simple economics: If dozens of cars line up to get gas based on rumors that gas prices are going to go up, gas prices are going to go up because of the demand.
Did some area gas stations run out of fuel because there was a shortage - or did we help create a shortage by lining up to buy fuel we didn't really need?
Most stations in Alabama expect to have more fuel by early this week. Most of us probably could have waited to fill up, but we all panicked and headed to the pump.
It's human nature, but we also have to live with the consequences.

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