Commonwealth Journal

December 21, 2011

Pirates of Somerset

Commonwealth Journal

Somerset — Dear Editor:

Owing to a recent string of successful movies about a certain Captain Jack Sparrow, the term pirates now conjures up images of jolly men drinking and wenching and having adventures on the high seas.

The reality of piracy is much less romantic, as the modern day pirates who prowl the coast off Somalia have proven.  Pirates are robbers who use violence and intimidation to separate people from their money.

Our homegrown pirates do not use violence to rob us, but instead have found a way to separate us from our hard-earned money through the time-tested techniques of monopoly, price fixing and price gouging at the gasoline pumps.

Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson fought such Robber Barons, as they were then known, by using the courts and government regulation as well as the bully pulpit to weaken the stranglehold monopolies had on American businesses.

This became known as trust busting, and it proved an effective deterrent to the abhorrent practice of a few strong businesses controlling a particular commodity, then driving out weaker competitors and demanding exorbitant prices to deliver the commodity to consumers.  That is exactly the situation we in the Somerset area find ourselves in today.

A few people control the delivery of oil and gasoline and the retail outlets in this area, and they consistently demand more money for gasoline than any of the surrounding markets are charging.  But alas, where are today's trust busters?  Our Congress is so busy with in-fighting that it cannot find its oversized backside with both hands.  The city of Somerset seems powerless to shame the price gougers and the state Attorney General's investigation of Marathon and Speedway seems to have gone nowhere in a hurry.

I submit that it is up to us, the consumers, to stop this odious price fixing and price gouging by shopping for gasoline in cheaper markets, wherever we may find them.

Driving a little extra distance to buy gas may be a small waste of gasoline, but if enough people do it, the greedy people who monopolize our oil and gas will feel the pinch.

Just yesterday, gas in at the Marathon station in Nicholasville on U.S. 27 was 25 cents a gallon cheaper than here in Somerset.  Stations as close as Stanton and Renfro Valley are often 10 to 15 cents cheaper. Monticello generally charges less for gas than here.

So I put it to you, the citizens of Somerset. Will you continue to pay whatever the monopoly here demands or will you look for opportunities to buy gas when you travel to other places?  You won't just be saving a few dollars here and there.  You will be helping to fight an insidious monopoly and you will be exercising the most basic form of democracy  we have.  You will be voting for change with your hard-earned dollars.

Don Delver

Eubank, Ky.