With the possible exception of the immigration controversy, the most common complaints center on gasoline prices. Mention Exxon or Conoco and the most likely reaction of Utahns is to search for a hangman's noose. By now, most readers acknowledge that the service station owner is not getting rich; he's eking out a profit from selling Budweiser and Baby Ruths, not premium unleaded. We're convinced that the real enemies are greedy CEOs and Arab sheiks. In this week's "His Point" column in this newspaper, conservative columnist Blaine Nichols defended the American oil corporations. While I cannot sympathize with Big Oil, I admit Blaine had a good point when he wrote that the price of bottled water was much higher than gasoline; in other words, we freely pay for water when we could drink tap water for free yet grumble about a doubling in the price of fuel.
And it's not just water.
If you are really ticked off about the price of gasoline, shouldn't you also be frustrated about paying $4 a pop for a latten at Starbucks?
Before you bicker at Chevron, shouldn't you get enraged at your cell phone charges? It's not uncommon for young people to pay $150 per month or more for a cell phone if they use it as a message center and camera. Still, I don't hear people wanting to lynch Verizon.
How about concert tickets? If you paid $150 to see a bunch of geezers like the Rolling Stones or paid $10 for parking at the concert for Faith Hill and her hubby, you have no reason to balk at the oil company.
And if gasoline is really putting a crimp in the U.S. economy, why do I see a soaring number of expensive luxury vehicles on the road? If you can afford to make a payment on a Lexus or Mercedes, you can afford to fork over $4 a gallon of gasoline to make it roll.
Utahns are equipped with Ipods, big screen TVs and homes they really can't afford to furnish. But somehow they see these as necessities, all the while storing up their anger for the oil companies.
Hey, I don't like paying $3 a gallon either, especially since we old fogies can remember when a gallon cost a quarter. However, I also understand that prices almost always point north, not south, and as long as we depend on cars to get to work and haul kids to soccer games we really have little control.
We could, of course, cut back on other items. But, whoa, that would diminish our lifestyle. It's much easier to point fingers, grumble and reminisce about the good old days when gasoline was the same price as a box of Cracker Jacks.
Unfortunately, memories have no influence at the gas pumps.