Skip to comments.Congress moves to outlaw gas gouging
Posted on 09/19/2005 2:43:04 AM PDT by CrackinghamEdited on 09/19/2005 3:00:02 AM PDT by Sidebar Moderator. [history]
Righteously incensed over the price of gas, government on all levels is springing into action. Congress has been busiest of all, conducting hearings, holding news conferences and drafting legislation. One bill being written by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., would make price gouging a federal offense and heavily fine violators. Another bill to be introduced in the House will call for increased fuel efficiency, and still another, to be introduced in both houses, would impose a windfall profit tax on oil companies.
The Energy Department has set up a hot line to take calls about suspected price gouging. The agency has received 26,001 calls since Aug. 28.
Attorneys general in 45 states, including Washington, have started highly publicized investigations of suspected illegal pricing. Though no evidence of price gouging has been found in Washington, Attorney General Rob McKenna said he is monitoring prices and would "take action against any company that engages in illegal business practices."
Everywhere you look, some official or agency is bearing down on high gas prices, promising to right wrongs and help beleaguered consumers. But the full-throttle approach is deceiving. As gas prices hover around $3 a gallon in many parts of the country, a new reality is coming into focus: The federal government and many states -- including Washington -- are virtually powerless to combat high prices, even if they are manipulated illegally.
There is no specific federal law against price gouging on gas. In cases in which violations are suspected, the Federal Trade Commission must use broader and more cumbersome laws regulating antitrust practices and collusion between businesses . The FTC is the government's front-line enforcer of consumer protections, but, to date, the agency has never brought a gas-price-gouging case. In fact, the federal government doesn't even have a clear definition of what price gouging is.
"The federal government really is very impotent in dealing with gouging issues in the absence of collaborative behavior," a frustrated Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., said last week. "We really don't have a tool in our toolbox federally to enforce this."
Excerpt. Story follows: Seattle Post Intelligencer
It should be interesting to watch another attempt to supplant the laws of economics with some ideas from the legal profession.
Congress moves to install Gas Shortages and Gas Lines.
...and Able Danger is no concern.
Relax people. I think the primary target is to discover if price fixing has been taking place.
I seriously doubt that the mainland markets are experiencing price fixing. I think the gas stations had and continue to have legitimate concerns regarding their supply, and this merits the higher prices.
Hawaii, however, has an ineffective gas cap that ties the local market to the mainland market, where no link exists. We have our own refineries and port. Gasoline cannot be sold to another nearby market at higher prices for a profit. Prices have gone up in Hawaii, rather than remaining at the pre-Katrina levels. Something fishy is going on here.
Q. What happens when we take over the Sahara Desert?
A. For fifty years, nothing-- then, there's a sand shortage...
Sticker Shock-$3 a gallon gas? Click the picture:
That price is almost what the marina's on the Chesapeake are charging power boaters. $4.50 for gas and $4.09 for diesel. The boating business will be slowing down
a lot. Sailboats excluded.
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