11/23/05 — Gradually better: Ever so slowly, consumers see improvement in gasoline prices

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Gradually better: Ever so slowly, consumers see improvement in gasoline prices

Prices are coming down at the pumps.

And just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday, too.

After what has seemed like months of high prices, local residents are finally getting a bit of a break at the pumps.

And how sad is it that we think $2.09 for gas is a bargain.

The precipitous increase in gasoline prices was more than a little bit of a shock for local residents as they tried to get to work, school and around town with gas closer to $3 — and sometimes even higher.

Budgets were stretched and cars were parked as families tried to figure out how to pay the bills and fill the tank.

Higher gas prices also hit local businesses hard, too, as they tried to absorb the extra cost without increasing prices and losing customers.

But just as difficult to swallow has been the turtle-like pace with which the prices are now starting to come back down — especially in North Carolina.

There are many places around the country where gas is already below $2 and headed lower, so North Carolina’s decline to about $2.09 is nice, but not near enough of a break for the already-strapped wallets of state drivers.

There is nothing wrong with oil companies making a little money. After all, if you own stock in one of these corporations, and many people do, the dividend check you receive at the end of the month just might make up for the higher price you will pay at the pump. Oil companies have to weather the lean times, too, and profitable years help balance out the higher costs of exploration and government regulations.

So, there is nothing inherently wrong with a company making a profit.

But that being said, there is reason to keep an eye on how this crisis and others like it have been handled. A closer look at prices and how they moved up and down before, during and after the hurricanes is a must.

And those who weren’t honest and took advantage of the troubles in the Gulf to gouge consumers should be punished, just like anyone else who took advantage of a national disaster to make a quick buck.

And those oil companies and distributors who acted responsibly and with fairness and profit in mind should be rewarded for their efforts with the continued patronage of a grateful clientele.

Published in Editorials on November 23, 2005 11:13 AM