Let’s skip a payment to the gas pump pimps

By By Aaron Zundel

By Aaron Zundel

Students are taken advantage of in a lot of ways. They pay through the nose for tuition, overpriced textbooks and parking. At a commuter school, though, students at the U also buy a lot of gas.

Currently, Utah has the fourth-highest gas prices in the nation. Now, at roughly 40 cents per gallon above the national average, the oil companies are the newest group of bullies dipping into students’ already threadbare wallets.

Though they are perhaps one of the most severely impacted groups, students aren’t the only ones hurting from the gasoline squeeze. People all around the state are shelling out their cash, throwing up their hands in vain frustration and twitching in agony as they drive away.

Some of them aren’t going to stand for it anymore.

In response to the outrageously high prices, local KSL Radio talk show host Doug Wright has proposed a statewide gas boycott. On Friday, Oct. 13, Wright is calling on Utahns to abandon their local service stations. In addition to boycotting gas, Wright is asking Utahns not to patronize service stations at all, not even for a pack of gum. His goal is to leave the local Chevrons, 7-11s and other stations “ominously quiet” for the day.

It’s possible many people think a boycott may be overreacting or-even worse-plain old whining from a bunch of spoiled suburbanites, but even Gov. John Huntsman says something is rotten in the state of Utah. As a man who used to be in the petrochemical business, Gov. Huntsman has insight into the way oil is bought and sold, and he admits that he cannot make sense of the current situation.

At the tail end of the summer, when gas prices began to plummet across the nation, local retailers told Utahns that the lack of relief at the pump was due to their storage tanks still being full of the older, more expensive gas. Now, almost two months later, that excuse doesn’t fly anymore. The public is being lied to and manipulated for financial gain. Gov. Huntsman eloquently explained this betrayal and lack of honesty to the public when he stated, “When a shot is fired in Lebanon, gas prices in Utah go up overnight.”

It’s a statement that’s hard to refute when oil companies are posting record breaking profits quarter after quarter-record profits not just for their company or even the oil industry, but record profits for all of corporate America.

Earlier in September, Gov. Huntsman’s office appointed Francine Giani, the Executive Director of Commerce for Utah, to find out why the price of gasoline is so high in the state. After being jerked around by various sources, companies and local gas stations for the better part of a month, Giani’s conclusion is that Utahns are getting gouged at the pump.

Even nationally respected economist Jeff Thredgold admits that, despite a few legitimate concerns on behalf of the oil companies, those companies are fleecing Utah and its residents.

In their search for answers, the governor’s office got hold of a local retailer’s financial records. The records showed that the retailer was making between 25-29 cents per gallon of gas. The usual profit margin is between 1 and 3 cents.

So, on Friday the 13th, go support Wright’s boycott and stay out of your local gas station. Don’t even go in for a Coke or a cup of coffee. While it’s true that boycotts are largely ineffective, they do turn heads. By bringing more and more attention to the situation, local legislators are more likely to do something about the gas problem at their upcoming session.

Perhaps then students might get just a little piece of the financial relief they need so badly.

Aaron Zundel