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POV: Gas prices need to be lowered

The writer is a Latham resident and a freshman at Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., where she studies economics.

Americans everywhere are asking the question, “Why am I paying so much for gas?”

Since gas prices began to drastically rise in 2000, consumers have been experiencing an economic strain when “filling up” at the pump. Pressures from consumers as well as the national government are urging the car industry to make more fuel-efficient cars with better gas mileage, but this is not solving the problem. As prices fluctuate, Americans tend to feel they have little or no control over pricing. But if we, the consumers, aren’t controlling the prices … who is?

Although there is involvement from the government and foreign suppliers in gasoline prices, the price we pay at the pump is a product of the supply and demand market for gasoline. Suppliers of gasoline are able to price gas at what they do because we, the consumers, are willing to pay that price.

The inevitable question is, at what price will we, the consumers, no longer be willing to buy? Seven dollars a gallon? $10? $15? $35? Without any intervention, gas prices could continue to rise to a point where consumers are not willing to buy — effectively causing the gasoline and motor industry to collapse entirely.

In an attempt to avoid such a collapse, I’m proposing that a combination of more consumer education and state and national legislation could help to keep gas prices lower, while giving consumers more control. If legislation could be passed to allow consumers to purchase and use prepaid cards for 50 gallons (basically the equivalent of three full tanks) at any time in a given calendar year, this would help the problem two-fold.

First, my belief is that this would begin to make all customers better informed consumers. Due to the need to make the decision on when to lock into a price, more consumers would begin to educate themselves on gas production, refinement, state and national gas taxes. Knowing such information would allow consumers to buy gasoline at the lowest price they can get.

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