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While it is difficult to accept, it is the way a free economy works. Big oil companies report obscene profits – in the billions – yet gasoline prices keep rising.The national average price for a gallon of gas at the pump is $3.29 today, compared to $3.17 last month and $2.69 last year. Prices will top $4 per gallon this summer, according to projections.Oil prices reported a “dip” this morning to $101 per barrel. But that is little comfort. Telling us oil prices are up or down is meaningless information. The price we’re forced to pay continues to grow regardless of what the barrel does.Last year, the oil industry reported a record-breaking $123 billion in combined profits. If that doesn’t boggle the mind, how about the fact that the government actually gives tax cuts to these companies?In other words, we as tax payers are subsidizing these record-breaking profits. Is there not a problem here?People are changing their lifestyles in order to cope with the mounting economic strain, but that is not easily done. Industries are at the breaking point. Truckers are now paying around $1,000 to fill their gas tanks, up $300 from last year. Many companies can’t afford to reimburse truckers for added fuel costs and they haven’t been granted a tax break from Congress, whose approval rating by the way, is at an all-time low.Yet, despite all this, demand remains high. If there is a product that no matter what the charge, people buy, the cost will increase. That is free enterprise.Today, Congress begins grilling oil company executives. We as consumers should seize this opportunity and push Congress to ensure that these companies invest their profits in energy research and exploration.Despite the oil industry’s enormous power in Washington, Congress should use these hearings to encourage the industry to move forward and invest in the future – and end the subsidies.
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