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Gas Prices: Have You Hit Your Mad-As-Hell Breaking Point Over Them?

Local gas prices are hovering around the $4 mark again, and residents have taken notice. Frankfort Patch editor Joe Vince asks readers for their ideas on what to do to combat them.

"I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad."

A resident called me this week to talk about local gas prices in Frankfort and Mokena. He wasn't simply upset about the see-saw nature of prices but also how high the cost of filling up a tank has become compared to nearby communities, such as Monee, Manhattan and Manteno.

To his mind, this was a clear case of oil companies gouging and other Lincoln-Way area residents.

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This man's call reminded me of a similar email I received about the exact time last year, asking why there was such a discrepancy in prices in the Southland. . Although it shed some light on the process, it certainly didn't satisfy some readers, who also push the price gouging button.

Unfortunately, that's just not the case, according to the State of Illinois. In fact, even Springfield struggles with the fine line between gouging and volatility. This is from the state's website on gas price monitoring:

Price gouging is difficult to define, but many people believe that they know it when they see it at the gasoline pump. Volatility in gasoline prices (e.g. up ten cents one day and down three cents two days later) coupled with an overall upward trend in crude oil prices can put consumers and government agencies on the alert for signs of price gouging. To avoid interference in the proper functioning of the market however, care must be exercised in sorting out opportunistic price gouging from normal (i.e. legal) price volatility.

So if there's no legal recourse, what's the answer? Have Lincoln-Way residents reached their Howard Beale moment? If you've watched the fantastic, satirical Network, then you'll recall Beale (played with Oscar-winning bravura by the late Peter Finch) and his impassioned plea to viewers upset with what they're being fed through TV to scream from their windows, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" (I've included that clip of the film in this file, which is slightly NSFW because of a bit of off-color language. But if you haven't seen the movie, you should remedy that as soon as possible. It's one of the classics of American cinema.)

"All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad!"

In May, . Should L-W mayors band together to tell their constituents to fulfill their fuel needs in other communities? Or is that a futile effort if it exhausts half of a tank of gas just to get to their cheapest pump?

That's why I'm putting the question to you: What can—or should—the members of Lincoln-Way communities do to send a message to gas companies? Share your ideas in the comments section, and I will gather some of the most interesting suggestions for a future notebook to see what other readers think about them.

Think of this as your Howard Beale moment, and this is the window to tell everyone you're mad as hell and you're not going to take it anymore!

Editor's note: Non-indented, italicized quotes are from the screenplay from Network (1976), written by Paddy Chayefsky.

 

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Joe Vince August 03, 2012 at 07:06 PM
@518: It's my opinion that Frankfort would see more competitive prices if the village had one or two independently owned gas stations (ones that aren't owned by a major oil company). But given this community's size and the razor-thin profit margin service stations work on, I don't think that's likely to happen. As a side note: Can we drop the "government workers are slackers" cliche? It's reductive and as useful when it comes to discussing economic issues as saying "all rich people are bad." It cuts both ways. Meritocracy in the labor force is not only found in the private sector, nor are cushy, redundant jobs solely the product of government employment. And when it comes to golden pensions, I'm pretty sure the private sector has been doing a fine job of handing out more-than-substantial nest eggs to individuals who might be less-than-worthy. Remember: When you paint government workers with that broad brush, you're throwing "slackers" such as soldiers in Afghanistan under the bus. Oh sure, you don't mean "those government workers," but I bet if you started marking a list as to who was exempt, you might find yourself with a minority of actual goldbrickers. Joe Vince Local Editor, Frankfort
Marie August 04, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Joe, Illinois residents are getting fleeced by the burdensome taxes, regulations, and government and pension abuse. This plays a very large role in the cost of living and doing business in this state. We must get rid the the bad apples in government offices, streamline services, bring real pension reform to the state. How much do these stations pay in property taxes?
Joe Vince August 04, 2012 at 01:32 AM
@Marie: I don't think we're in disagreement. My point wasn't about taxes; my point was putting those taxes all at the foot of government workers. The state is in dire financial straits, and something needs to be done. I don't know how much the stations pay in property taxes. Unless they secured some sweet tax abatements when they came to town, I would imagine they generate a healthy amount of property taxes. Of course, when I say something like that, I just know someone's going to tell me I'm wrong, and I'm going to feel stupid. Joe Vince Local Editor, Frankfort
bob August 04, 2012 at 06:29 AM
There's nothing you can do about it besides not buy gas from those stations, or buy a really fuel efficient car to put a dent in the amount of gas you consume. Just like any other staple of American living, milk, bread, tv, internet, the automobile and the fuel to run it is a product just about everyone will buy, at any price, because the only other choice is not driving, and that's about as realistic as not eating to try and do something about high food prices. The oil companies own the goverment. National, state, local. You can complain and whine and moan all you want about gas prices, but at the end of the day, you and everyone else buy gas, no matter how much it costs. The only power the people have is as a mass of consumers. We saw it back when GM went bankrupt and gas prices dived when millions of people traded in their SUVs for compact cars, refused to buy all the new SUVs GM was telling us we all wanted, and went on with our lives. But even then, there's no consequences for them, GM got bailed out, the gas companies got away with raping our wallets and making yet more record profits, and we let them. This is just the cycle repeating itself. The only other thing I could suggest is running for public office and getting rid of your elected officals who are in bed with the gas companies and letting them get away with this.
Marie August 04, 2012 at 11:40 AM
Another option is to buy stock in the gas companies :)

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