Our Gas-Guzzling Nation

This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.
Talk about having us over a barrel: The oil companies announced record profits again last week — tens of billions of dollars' worth.

Record-setting, shareholder-pleasing, tax revenue-producing profits that are gaudy, gross ... and well-deserved, if you listen to the oil companies.

It's an easy thing to complain about, and you're probably pretty justified in your anger if you're one of those folks trying to figure out how to fit $3 a gallon gas into a budget that's used to, say, $2.25 or $2.30. Low-income folks know what I'm talking about, especially if they use their cars to get to work.

The price of gas is a killer. You'd think the oil companies would be trying to cut their customers a break during these tough times.

Au contraire.

Gasoline consumption keeps going up. Despite our collective howls of protest, Americans aren't conserving. We're actually using more. My guess: If the demand went down, the price would follow. But as long as we keep guzzling, the oil companies will keep smiling.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on many CBS Radio News affiliates across the country.
By Harry Smith


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