Tag Archives: gasoline

What Should the Price of Fuel Be at the Pump?

Geek!This is Tim Whitney’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Appears everyone is screaming about Big Oil and their record multi-billion dollar profits. In America, everyone has a god-given (or natural) right to work hard, deliver a quality product, and make money – commonly understood as Capitalism.

Based on my web research, information from the EIA, and my own calculations, we Americans consume approximately 190,858,000,000 (billion) gallons of gasoline & diesel fuel per year. My research also indicates that Big Oil makes about $0.10/gallon or about $19,000,000,000 (billion) dollars in profit on fuel sales.

Big Oil could certainly make more profits – if they choose to – as we are still a free county. As one loyal American Capitalist, I could not fault them if they did make more money on “their” products. This would certainly open the door for more competition (bio-fuels?) – if we truly have an open/free market.

Does this mean I like paying $3.00 per gallon for fuel – NO WAY! I’m mad as hell and I think we should all stand up and tell the “real profiteers” we are not going to take it anymore. Just who are the real profiteers?

Sure the Middle East is a big profit player and I would even pay more per gallon — if we could stop using imported oil. Yet again, they are businessmen and it’s their oil, coming out of their ground and they have every right to charge what they want to. If you don’t like what someone charges – buy it from someone else, this is also your right.

By now you must be wondering who I think is raking us over the coals – if it’s not Big Oil and not the Middle East. The answer may surprise you, but the real profiteers are the local, state, and federal bureaucrats. Say what? You heard me loud and clear. Did a bureaucrat dig a well, build a pipeline, a refinery, or even drive a delivery truck? When was the last time you saw a bureaucrat-owned and operated gas station? Yet, our bureaucrats make more than four times the money per gallon of fuel than Big Oil does. The average “tax” is $.046/gallon, filling the government coffers to the tune of approximately $87,795,000,000 (billion) per year. Where is the yelling & screaming about this unbelievable tax (profit) the government Bureaucrats take – for not delivering a product?

What should the price of fuel be at the pump?

  • $25.55/gallon – I hope you are wondering why I suggest this. Simple math is the answer. Total projected government Depredations in 2007 is expected to be approximately $4,400,000,000,000 (trillion). Big Oil gets $2.50/gallon and local, state, and federal Bureaucrats get $23.05 per gallon. I’m sure you think I’m crazy – as people are already going broke at $3.00 per gallon.
  • $14.29/gallon – this would pay Big Oil about $2.50/gallon and the Federal bureaucrats would get the rest – $11.79/gallon. Why? The Federal budget for 2007 is $2,251,000,000,000 (trillion), and simple math tells the rest of the story.
  • $2.58/gallon – with crude oil costs at ~$76/barrel, no calculator is needed here. With a Presidential Executive Order, “all” fuel taxes could be suspended, until the price of crude oil drops below $50/barrel. See Executive Order 11051. This would also demand a restraint in total government /bureaucratic spending by $87,795,000,000 (billion) or a two percent reduction in spending for 2007. Of course, this restrain may also spur Congressional bureaucrats into real action with regards to an energy policy – one that keeps their fuel tax gravy-train rolling (by making sure oil stays under $50/barrel).

Please give all the above suggestions a little more thought before dismissing them as nonsense or frivolous. Think of all the various taxes and non-productive time we could eliminate – especially the income tax – by simply putting “one sales tax” on our energy-based economy. At either of the “depredation prices” suggested in 1 or 2 above – there will be ample incentive / demand for competition, conservation, new more efficient fuel technologies, and an end to our imported oil addiction.

“European governmentshave long used gasoline taxes not only as an important source of revenue, but also as a policy tool to drive down oil consumption and reduce pollution. Williams said taxes account for about 66 percent of the pump price in Britain – so, of this month’s average price per gallon of $6.40, about $4.22 goes to the government.” – The Boston Globe, 04/30/06

Competition (and only true competition) will create extremely economical transportation, less vehicles on the roads, a surge in telecommuting, and alternative energy breakthroughs. Competition, not bureaucrats, will generate real energy results on an annual basis – instead of decades or centuries, if left in the hands of Bureaucrats. However, paying $511 or $286 for a 20 gallon fill-up at the gas station will bring a lot of things into perspective for each and every driving American – real fast. Maybe it’s this “perspective” the bureaucrats should be investigating – their own windfall profits on every gallon of highway fuel sold in the USA.

Buying Gas with a Credit Card Could Cost More

Many credit card companies, such as Visa, charge gas stations a fee every time you use your credit card at the pump. Many of these stations are passing that charge along to you in the form of higher-than-advertised gas prices. Let’s say the price per gallon of gas is $3.85 when you pay inside with cash. That same exact purchase using your credit card could cost you $3.95 instead. Some companies are admitting to this extra fee, and offering discounts for paying with cash. Other companies are not even bothering to tell the consumer, hoping you’ll never notice. What did my friends at FriendFeed have to say about this?

WHOA!!! That is outrageous! I’m glad I just started following you! – Justin Korn

I’ve heard of this happening from time to time lately, but this was standard in like 1983… Back to the future? – Jay Wiegmann

the WaWA stations around the Philly,NJ, DE region take 10c or more off for paying cash. – clarke thomas via twhirl

Debit card too? Anyone know? – zoblue

There’s a gas station down the road from me. I think it’s Giant. They list the price on the sign and then in dark letters on a dark background it says "cash." At night, you can’t read it till it’s too late. – Jason Shultz via twhirl

None of this is new folks. We went thru this in the late 70s/early 80s. – Steve Gillette via twhirl

LOL Marc. None. I made it up to express my emotions. Just fill in the blanks. 😉 – AJ Batac

I have yet to see a gas station in Southern California that does this but then again I only get my gas at Costco. – Michael Narciso

Yes, this was common in the 1980s. It was widely outlawed, no? – James Joyner

it does make some sense, the retailer will lose money on the credit card purchase b/c of having to pay the fee to the CC company for use of their product. – clarke thomas

@Michael: Almost every AM/PM I’ve seen in California and Arizona does it. They don’t charge per gallon, but they do charge a one time fee. Usually at least .35. and you have to know your cards pin #. – Jason Shultz via twhirl

Still happening here in New Jersey – the difference is typically 8-10 cents, and that’s why I use cash. – Scott Kitchen

Blogged about this here: http://www.outsidethebeltway.c…. Credited you. – James Joyner

This is an on-going issue on a lot of fronts not just gasoline. We have discussed offering rebates to clients that pay by check vs cc as the s/c’s that we get hit with by the cc companies are outrageous compared to our bank’s fee structure. The flip side is that a lot of folks use their cc for the points or other gimmes. As well as from a corporate accounting perspective, it is quite easy to track expenditures as they relate to profit and loss when cc is the method of payment. – Mathew A. Koeneker

Steve: I wasn’t buying gas in the 70/80’s, so I was shocked to here this, particularly now when prices are so high. – Justin Korn

Clarke: If you are a retailer and you accept Credit Card, you adjust your prices accordingly or set a minimum purchase so that the credit card fee is worth your while. – Justin Korn

Jason: AM/PM puts this charge up front and does not at any time sneak it in while you are at the gas tank. They have always done that and people (i think) are generally aware of it. – Justin Korn

Justin, l0ckergn0me (Chris Pirillo) is a great guy to follow, even before FriendFeed. His site is all about making technology understandable. Plus, he has a sweet PC setup in his office. – J. Phil

@Justin They make you aware of it when you pull up to the tank and then try to pay by card only to have to walk to the center of the island and then read the little sticker saying they are charging you a convenience fee. It’s not a convenience when I have to leave my car and walk over to an atm and do it all there and then have to go back later to get my receipt. – Jason Shultz via twhirl

J.Phil – Thanks for the tip…I’ll need to get acquainted with Chris and maybe someday check out this sweet PC setup – Justin Korn

@Jason – True, but my point is this video that was shared is a shock and totally absurd. For a gas company to slip the surcharge in at the tank with no warning, notice, nothing…that is wrong and possibly illegal. AM/PM has been charging a credit card fee for years, that’s their policy, always has been (and their gas is typically cheaper too). – Justin Korn

One last thing….AM/PM calls it a "convenience fee" to make it sound nice and sweet. really it’s a, "we are being charged, so we are passing that fee on to you" fee and being nice about it. – Justin Korn

Merchants are allowed to DISCOUNT for cash. However, Visa and MasterCard DO NOT allow merchants to charge a fee for using a credit card. If you see them doing this, report it to your credit card company. You can report to MasterCard here: http://www.mastercard.com/us/p…Jeremy Brooks

@Justin: I agree with you on both points. The video was definitely a shock fest and what some of those companies are doing probably is illegal. Second, AM/PM does eventually disclose what it’s doing. A couple of years ago, that .35 meant something. they weren’t always cheaper. now, your right, it doesn’t really mean much at all. – Jason Shultz via twhirl

@Jason: AM/PM does not charge for credit card transactions (in fact, last time I checked, they don’t accept credit cards). They charge for DEBIT transactions, which is allowed by bank’s terms of service. – Jeremy Brooks

In my area Chevron, Shell, and Mobile have empty gas pumps throughout the day. Arco and 76 are filled to the brim with cars. I really do hope Chevron and Shell feel the pain. – Michael Narciso

@Jeremy: you can use your credit card at am/pm if you know the pin number for it. – Jason Shultz via twhirl

As much as I agree with the dislike of the practice, I am more burned by the rates merchant account companies charge for the ability to take credit cards. With gas especially, a percentage is just not feasible when rates climb. The percentage cuts into the already extremely narrow profit (pennies) the gas station makes. There should be a different rate structure for gas stations if Visa/MC want to keep this business. – Jeremy Hall

@Jason: Maybe they have changed; the last time I was at an AM/PM, they didn’t accept any type of credit card, PIN or not. They only accepted debit cards. – Jeremy Brooks

Jeremy, it is entirely possible/probable that it is I that was wrong. I was under the impression that you could. Your probably right. – Jason Shultz via twhirl

I’ve been using CC’s issued by the gas companies Union 76 & Chevron here in California for over 20 years and have never seen a fee or cash discount imposed for their use. – Jeff P. Henderson

I can tell you how I feel, I’m not happy. The price of gas is outrageous enough these days without gas stations passing along their merchant’s fees to me as well. What do you think? Are you ticked off? Are you going to ask the station attendant what you’re actually paying before you fill that tank? Or… will you just start paying in cash now?

Is the Speed Limit a Gas Saver?

Sen. John Warner asked Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman to look into what speed limit would provide optimum gasoline efficiency given current technology. He said he wants to know if the administration might support efforts in Congress to require a lower speed limit. Warner cited studies that showed the 55 mph speed limit saved 167,000 barrels of oil a day, or 2 percent of the country’s highway fuel consumption, while avoiding up to 4,000 traffic deaths a year. Let’s see what some of my friend had to say on Friendfeed.

The speed limit was repealed in 1995 when crude oil dipped to $17 a barrel and gasoline cost $1.10 a gallon … this Fourth of July weekend, gasoline averaged $4.10 a gallon nationwide, with oil hovering around $145 a barrel. – Wow, that puts it in perspective. – Gary Bacon II

I read an article before which said at $4/gallon, every 5 MPH over 60 MPH essentially adds 20 cents to the price of gas. – Scott Watermasysk

Funny thread comment re: the constitution in there. I can hear Jimmy Carter’s energy crisis speech now…"by 1981 this nation will be free of it’s dependence on foreign oil…" Er, I think not. – BISQ

In the words of Sammy Haggar, I can’t drive 55.alanoakes

Is 55 some magic number? None of the changes in engine technology or whatever in the past 30 years affects that point of efficiency? Just curious and a little surprised. – felix

Want some real perspective? My 2000 Pontiac Grand Am averaged 26 MPG. The Model A Ford… 26 MPG. Figure that one out. – Brian Norwood

55 is actually a magic number, felix. Actually 60mph. In wind tunnel tests, most cars’ fuel efficiency drops off severely over 60mph. – J. Phil

The national speed limit was repealed in 1995 because the US House was controlled by Republicans for the first time since 1954. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U…Christian Burns

Wasn’t this tried once before? What was the result then? – Brian Sullivan

I’ll raise you one fail whale that it is. A lot of the issues (beyond the obvious) have to do with how inefficient start/stop driving is. – Steve Spalding

As I recall it was accompanied by price controls and the result was gas shortages and no re-election. 😀 – Hal Rottenberg via twhirl

I’m not opposed to it…but we might as well make it 90 km/h since so many signs would need to be changed. – Thomas Lopez Jr

I’m opposed to it because I’m not a fan of big brother now big mother style of government. what’s next? perhaps one car per household? – Hal Rottenberg via twhirl

I think the best gas saver would be huge incentives for companies to allow workers to telecommute. And 4 10-hour days for workers who can not. Both of those would seriously decrease the demand of gas and should eventually run the price down. – Tad Donaghe

I vote for the 4 10 hour days, And yes I remember 55 MPH everywhere. I spent 6 years of my life driving to places that I will never get back But even now I think about the gas tank when I go over 65 mph here. – Earl E Morningwood

Agree with Tad – four day week and lots more telecommuting would both help a lot. Always baffles me why telecommuting still seems to have so little support. – Patrick Jordan

Agree with Hal…I believe voluntary interactions provide solutions much quicker and more efficiently than arbitrary "mandates." – Chris Rossini

Lower speed limits will make me use more gas. Slowing down from 80 to 55 every time I see a cop and then speeding back up to 80 again takes more gas than just driving 80. And for those who say 80 is too fast, move to Atlanta and try to drive slower. – Adam

I’m sure the national speed limit saved some gas. It was also a bonanza for law enforcement and we all hated it. Wanna save gas? Send everyone a coupon worth $500 at their local bicycle store. Wanna mandate something? Start with bike lanes. – Chris Baskind

@Adam Brilliant – my best laugh of the day. – Kevin Shannon

how about a large initiative to fix rail lines across the country. – David Weiner

@Adam HAH! That’s exactly my speed limit as well. They may as well just change all the signs and let the cops do something useful elsewhere. – Rahsheen Porter

Rail and bicycles…that’d fail here in Atlanta (hi Adam). My commute is 26 miles, and so is almost everybody else’s. – Hal Rottenberg via twhirl

Changing the law to change people’s habits is retarded. The government has no business whatsoever meddling in how we drive other than to make sure we are driving safely. Once gas hit ~ $3.75 a gallon I started driving 60 mph most of the time. I don’t need the federal government changing laws to tell me I can save money that way. Smart people just know it and the ones that can afford the usage should be allowed to. – Richard Miles

Just from watching the consumption screen, the Prius gets the best mileage between 55 & 60. – Mike Cohen

Do you think implementing a Federal 55 mph speed limit is the answer to saving gas? What other methods are there to truly make a nationwide difference? Let’s hear your thoughts.

Gas Tax: Have Americans been Spoiled?

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Many of us remember when gas was 99 cents per gallon. Now, we are bemoaning the fact that most of the time, we have a hard time finding it for less than $4.00 per gallon. Do you realize, though, that the US has only 18 cents per gallon Federal tax on every gallon of gas… while many other countries charge several dollars per gallon for their gas tax. Robert Lutz is the Vice Chairman of Global Product Development with General Motors, and talks with us in this video about the gas prices today.

We were living in this fool’s paradise of cheap fool several years ago, according to Lutz. He feels that has harmed our country in many ways. It has permitted our infrastructure to go downhill, because we cannot keep it up to date. Also, our roads are in about the worst condition of anywhere in the World. This has also resulted in urban sprawl, as people realized they could live in a smaller, quieter community and afford the gas prices to drive to work in the cities. However, in Europe, the cost of gasoline is so high due to the Federal fuel taxes, people live much closer to the city in places like condos. If we keep spreading out here in the US, we’ll end up being one solid development from ‘sea to shining sea’.

Starting in about the 1970s, Mr. Lutz started talking to people in Washington about considering a Federal fuel tax increase for just these reasons. So far, our government has refused to do this. I know… you’re screaming now, and hurling obscenities. You cannot imagine having higher Federal fuel taxes. Let me remind you, though, that in Europe they pay a few dollars per gallon, just in “Federal” fuel taxes. They have good roads. They have good infrastructures.

What’s the answer? Do we raise the federal tax on fuel to improve things like our roads? We are spoiled. We gripe over $4.00 per gallon for gasoline… try having to pay twice that over in Europe…. and in some cases, three times.

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Are you Worried about the Gas Crisis?

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On June 9th, the National average for gas prices per gallon hit the $4.00 mark. This all-time high came as no surprise to most of us. Does this concern you? Are you worried about the gas crisis? Bloggers on Lockergnome have been discussing this for several weeks. Let’s look at what some of them have had to say.

Around where I live it is starting to look like a used car lot. By the shopping centers you immediately notice the Suburbans, Pick up trucks and other gas guzzlers with for sale signs affixed. Pricing is surprisingly low for these road warriors that guzzle gas like an alcoholic guzzles booze. Rumor has it that the car dealers don’t want the big boys unless they come with their own oil well.

Not only has the cost of car gasoline hiked up, everything has hiked up as a result. Food is more expensive. Utilities are more expensive. The price of everything is climbing, and many people are barely keeping their heads above water financially. Many more have already sunk, before they really even had a chance to grab for a life jacket.

One of my clients called with a computer problem that I determined to be a hard disk failure. I gave them a price for a new hard disk plus my labor and waited for their decision. I got a call stating that they would have to wait for the repair, since the price of gas and food was cutting into their budget.

I won’t even bother to ask if the gas crisis is hitting you where it hurts. I know it is. It’s affecting us all. What are your thoughts and comments about the alarming rate the economy is slowing down, prices are continuing to climb, and the job market is staying the same?


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What's Cheaper than a Gallon of Gas?

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I was sitting here chatting with the people in my chat room when Ponzi called me with a pretty cool discovery that I thought you all would find interesting. She was calling me from BestBuy, as she was walking past the aisle that has all of the flash drives.

She noticed that a 128 MB flash drive was priced at $3.99. She couldn’t believe it since a gallon of gas in Seattle is currently $4.07 for the lowest octane. She was shocked that a flash drive cost less than a gallon of gasoline.

It got me thinking what else costs less than a gallon of gas here in the US right now. Even here in Iowa where I’m visiting my parents right now, the cost per gallon is high as well. I’m interested though, in hearing about things that you would never expect to be less than a gallon of gas… especially tech-related things. This is my challenge to you: Find me things that cost less than one single gallon of gasoline… or even less than one tank filling. Let’s try to come up with things that you wouldn’t expect to be cheaper, and would surprise us all.


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Alternative Fuel and Hybrid Modifications: Water4Gas?

Stephen of Ohio (that’s what he calls himself) sent me this message earlier today, no doubt in relation to my recent posts on the high cost of gas here in the United States:

Now we all know that Ethanol is not going to take the market for fuel, hydrogen is somewhat promising, but how about improving your current vehicles gas mileage by using hydrogen in it’s most basic and readily available state: water.

I’ve done some research after I discovered water4gas. Water4Gas is a collection of 2 e-books that are only available online so they can be updated with new discoveries. I took the liberty of googling some info I found on it and actually stumbled upon a url that you don’t have to pay the $97 to read… just google “A-744 water4gas” and you’ll walk into the fuel heater section.

I have seen it on TV and also came across it in another google search “water4gas scam”. This gave me a mechanics site that included a video of the unit on a ford escort. He drove 32 miles and put just over a half a gallon in the car. Giving it about 60 miles to the gallon.

That is when I bought the book.

But you don’t necessarily have to, since he continues to give a synopsis of the tome:

You use a mason jar to construct an electrolizer. Electrolysis is the process on changing water to hydrogen and oxygen that has been around for over a century. I consulted a Physics teacher about this to make sure it wasn’t BS and I was greatly surprised when he saw the unit. Before I could tell him what it was, he told me. This gave me some confidence on the subject.

After the electrolizer is constructed you put it inside your vehicle. It has a positive and negative battery terminal hook-ups and 2 vacuum outputs that need to be hooked up. For safety they recommend a tap into an existing power line in the wiring harness. There is a fuse in this line to prevent unsafe operation. The vacuum tubes are connected to a line to the intake manifold as well as the air filter.

Inside the electrolizer is water as well as a catalyst: Baking Soda. Only 1 teaspoon per Jar. When the vehicle is turned on the electrolysis takes place pumping hydrogen and oxygen into the cylinders. Hydrogen is 3 times more potent than gas so even a slight amount will increase the explosion, meaning you need less gas overall.

If this catches your interest go ahead and make a video on it, but make sure to do a bit of research because I don’t think I explained it very well.

It captures my attention, but I just don’t know how practical it is. Wouldn’t know where to begin research, either – other than trying it myself (and likely losing a few fingers in the process). Long story short: don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. 🙂

What Are You Paying for Gas?

How high do gas prices have to get before you change your own driving habits, if you haven’t already? I thought, for certain, that there would be less vehicles on the road after gas hit $4 a gallon here in the United States (at least, in the Seattle area). Seems to me that even when we see $6 a gallon, people aren’t going to travel less than they already do today. No matter where you are on the planet, gas isn’t very cheap. There’s little you can do to avoid wallet pain at the pump, though.

Can you top this?!?

It’s times like these that I’m glad I work from home (for myself, no less). I don’t have to fight traffic with regularity, and I don’t have to fill up my gas tank as frequently as others do. But have these higher fuel rates already curbed your own travel routines? I’m guessing “not.”

We can’t just sit at home, and public transportation is not always practical… so what are we supposed to do?

That’s what I’m paying now. What about you?

Gas Prices vs. Summer Vacation

I drive a car. You [probably] drive an automobile as well. Most Americans drive at least one type of motor vehicle – for whatever reason. It’s next to impossible to live without some form of independent transportation in our country – not completely impossible, but largely inconvenient (truth).

While I’m quite happy with the comfort of my Acura RL, it’s a gas guzzler. Even though I largely work from home, it still hurts every time I hit the pump for $50 per fill-up. My dad was lamenting the fact that Iowa reached $2.70 a gallon just the other day, which would have been “cheap” compared to gas prices in my area.

So, what happens when gas reaches $4 a gallon?

More importantly, at what dollar amount do you truly change your own driving habits? Is that number closer to $5.00 per gallon – or have you already made serious driving schedule recalibrations?