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‘Getting Gassed’ by ‘big oil’

“Getting hosed” is a slang term popular in the American vernacular. I don’t suppose I have to explain it, but for those that insist, let’s just say that the term symbolizes a wrongdoing perpetrated upon someone or something.

The oil companies have introduced their own form of this injustice to society, and a nasty one at that. Here it is in a nutshell: They want you and I, John and Jane Citizen, to believe that they really have no control over oil prices; and that they, pray tell, are really struggling despite the fact that their industry continually registers record profits.

They’d also like us to feel sorry for the “hapless” Wall Street speculators that have helped to turn the price of oil into something so volatile, it makes nitroglycerin look like tap water in comparison.

Another older saying goes something like this: “Don’t pee in my face and tell me it’s raining.” This one is self-explanatory, but for those that insist on an explanation, here’s its definition.

The colorful term is used when a scam artist, charlatan, criminal, or other ne’er-do-well is discovered telling outright lies to earn the confidence of their prey before they “take them to the cleaners.”

Sorry about that. I simply couldn’t resist. Definition? Being taken to the cleaners is akin to being bamboozled, lied to, ripped off, made into a chump, etc. Sort of like “big oil” does to us on a regular basis.

Oil prices are on the rise again (surprise!) in the Kearny area. You’ve probably been led to believe that this occurs solely as a result of supply and demand fluctuations. To that, allow me to say to the oil companies, “Don’t pee in our faces and tell us it’s raining!”

The oil industry casts its umbrella over the most profitable companies in the world – companies that reap record profi ts whenever prices are raised at the pump.

In 2011, the big five (BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell) pulled in a record profit of $137 billion! During the fi rst quarter of 2012, when struggling families in Kearny, Lyndhurst, Belleville and countless other communities wondered how they’d make ends meet, CEOs from the big fi ve saw their compensation grow by 55%!

Remember, these “struggling” companies also receive $10- 40 billion a year in tax breaks and direct subsidies by the U.S. government. These are monies that are provided by our taxes, even as we wonder how we’ll pay our mortgages.

To use a new catchphrase, I guess you could say we’re “getting gassed” by big oil. What’s that mean? Jeepers, if I have to tell you …

– Jeff Bahr

jeffbahr@theobserver.com

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