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A decidedly non-shocking 'shock at the pumps'

When gas prices rise, us media types say motorists “got a shock at the pumps,” which is silly.

When gas prices rise, us media types say motorists “got a shock at the pumps,” which is silly.

A shock would be if prices plummeted, or if I noticed the Old Spice guy in the next car. On the surprise meter, rising gas prices is between violence in the Middle East and Lindsay Lohan falling off the wagon.

Gas prices rise every summer. They have already skyrocketed in central Canada, and if the rest of you think you’re immune I’ve got a used SUV for sale. Not only can I guarantee you at least one headline in your local paper that says, “Motorists steamed over gas prices” based on a scientific survey of three people filling up, but I’m pretty sure this year we’ll finally see the story, “Full gas tank to become status symbol.”

Gas prices provoke a lot of questions from motorists (“Are you @*#%*~ kidding me?”) but as a journalist who has covered this story every year for a decade, I have all the answers.

Why are gas prices so high?

Gas prices rise whenever there’s a change in the “world situation.” When the world stops changing its situation, gas prices will stop rising.

Where does the money go?

It’s important to realize that only a small percentage of the money you pay goes toward gas. A breakdown:

  • 33 per cent: Solar-Powered Car Company assassination fund

  • 33 per cent: The middleman

  • 33 per cent: Taxes used to investigate and regulate gas prices

That leaves one per cent for the oil companies, which is why they need government help to stay afloat. Check the web to see where you can donate.

What role does speculation play?

It’s important. For instance, speculators might note that the Atlantic contains a lot of moisture, which could eventually form a low pressure system that could strike Barack Obama with a bolt of lightning, causing Iran to strike in America’s moment of weakness. If speculators were to imagine this scenario, they would have no choice but to force gas prices higher until the end of the imaginary war.

What are the long-term effects of price increases?

Young drivers with large vehicles are looking at the legacy their parents have left them and coming to the same conclusion: No kids, ever.

As you can see, not much can be done about gas prices. That might seem glib, but I’m actually bringing journalistic objectivity to bear: I’ve never owned a car. I can talk the talk because I walk the walk, whether I want to or not.

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