Consumers feeling ripped off over gas prices.
Few topics get people riled up as much as gas prices. As someone that drives 150 kms a day, you'd think I'd be on the side of the riled. I'm not.
While gas prices can/do/have made me wince and cringe while filling up my vehicles, I really don't curse the "greedy" oil companies responsible. Why not? All companies are greedy. It is a simple tenant of operating a business, sell as little as possible for as much as possible. I.e. try to part the customer from as much of their hard earned cash as possible. Everybody does it. But we get particularly upset when Oil companies (or Internet Providers) do it. (Many of the same people that bitch about being ripped off, will then go out and drop $180 on a pair of running shoes....)
Do I like having my wallet vacuumed by oil companies that inflate prices at every opportunity? Of course not! But I do it because I choose to drive as much as I do in the vehicles I own. I don't have a right to cheap gas, anymore than I have a right to cheap pants, shoes or bottles of wine.
There is a dearth of competition at the refinery level. Too few suppliers with too few refineries too keep up with demand have created a supply shortage to keep up with consumer demand. But you can't force a company to enter a market and compete. We have to hope that someone will sense an opportunity and will be willing to invest to expand supply.
We live in a capitalist market. The only choice we have is how much product we choose to consume. Don't like the price of gas? Then don't drive as much and switch to more fuel efficient transportation.
I shake my head anytime someone proposes a boycott of a particular gas station brand. This is the most ineffective method of protest out there. All this does is hurt the independent owner operator of the gas station that has to buy gasoline at the price the refinery sells it to them. If you boycott Imperial Oil gas stations and buy only from the independent Beaver Gas station brand, chances are those stations are still buying their gasoline from Imperial Oil the parent company. The only "company" to feel the pinch during the boycott are the private businesses that own the gas stations. It sure as hell isn't the parent company behind the brand of the chosen boycott.
So I will evaluate the impact of gas prices on my bottom line. My next vehicle will be very fuel efficient. I constantly calculate if the commute is worth it in comparison with housing prices (it is) and I hope that new, cheaper alternatives will quickly come to market.
But I won't begrudge the oil companies for being greedy, well no more than all the other greedy companies I buy products from. Go ahead and bitch and complain if you want, any pressure on oil companies to reduce prices is good pressure. But I can't be bothered to waste the energy.