The trouble with the high price of gas is we got used to cheap gas here. And now we're mad because in a lot of states, a gallon costs us more than $2 and we don't know who to be mad at.
The first culprit is OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. There are 11 of those, and they recently decided to limit the amount of oil they're producing to make oil scarce and drive up the price.
Before we get too mad at OPEC though, we should consider what a group of American businessmen would do if they controlled half the oil in the world.
What do you think they'd do? Oh, I think they'd limit production of oil in order to drive up the price of gas. I know darn well that's what they'd do.
Anyways, that's apparently just what they have done. They import crude oil and then refine it here. Big oil companies have limited the number of barrels of oil they're refining in order to drive the price up.
Gas taxes are high too, of course. New York State takes 33 cents a gallon, Wisconsin gets 31 cents, and Wyoming is one of the lowest. It only gets 14 cents a gallon.
Drivers are caught between Middle Eastern Oil producers who own the lakes of oil under their ground and the giant oil companies.
Americans tend to fight anything where they find it though, so they aren't as mad at OPEC or the Oil Companies as they are at their own gas station.
I talked to Charlie Judge who owns the Gulf station near our house in Connecticut.
Rooney: What does a gas station owner make on a gallon of gas?
Judge: Averages 6 to 10 cents a gallon.
Rooney: How many gallons do you sell on a good day?
Judge: A location like this, ah, we are only going to do about 22 - 23 hundred gallons.
Rooney: A day?
Rooney: 2,300 gallons at 10 cents, that's $230.
Rooney: Do you make more when the price of gas goes up?
Judge: No, I make less. What happens is the price goes up and to stay competitive you have the tendency to actually hold and eat a lot of it.
Rooney: Now, who sets the price for a gallon of gas? Do you set it?
Judge: The dealer sets the price, the oil companies come in and say 'Ah, this is what we would suggest you pump gas at.' Gas companies and taxes on it, the government, they make more money than any dealer does. But there's no one out there -- Bush, Kerry -- no one who will take on an oil company.
The gas tank in my car is almost empty now. After I finish work in New York today, I think maybe I'll drive out to Wyoming and fill 'er up.
Written By Andy Rooney
Copyright 2004 CBS. All rights reserved.