Collusion: secret agreement or cooperation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose.
That’s Webster’s definition of a practice that, as far as I understand, is illegal in the United States. Yet, collusion has become a giant part of our lives as Americans. Oh, sure, we hear from time to time that this state or that state has gone after company A, B, or C for colluding to keep prices on certain products inflated. Fines are usually levied, a brief public shaming ensues, and before long the matter is forgotten.
But what about those who boldly collude and get away with it? I’m talking about price-fixing on a product that everybody in the nation relies upon in one form or another; a product that does not allow for mass boycotting.
Gasoline is a necessity—even for those without automobiles. Gasoline or diesel fuel drives our lives. It is needed to get food from the fields and factories to the supermarkets. Gasoline fuels public transportation, taking millions of hard-working Americans to their jobs every morning. Our very economy revolves around oil prices at home and abroad.
So where does collusion come into play? A few weeks ago, as I drove around my city, moving from one side of town to the other, I noticed gas prices getting that sudden and unexplained change. Nothing new there; these corporations play fast and loose with their prices. But this wasn’t a normal price hike. At approximately the exact same time during this particular afternoon, I witnessed no less than 30 gas stations raising their prices to $3.39 per gallon. I drove down one stretch where a dozen stations line either side of the street for several miles. Each station saw that $3.39 mark at the same time. It didn’t matter which station brand or location. $3.39 seemed the targeted goal for all.
Coincidence? Did each of these corporations and the mom-and-pop local operations suddenly incur some unexpected cost that needed to be passed on to their captive customers?
I understand that Big Oil funnels millions of dollars into the campaign coffers of politicians certain to be friendly to their cause. Many of these same politicians own stock in these very companies. This pretty much ensures no serious actions will ever take place where collusion exists. There will never again be true competition in this particular market.
So what can the average person do about this? A boycott of gasoline just isn’t realistic. Nor is a mass exodus from the internal combustion engine to the electric car.
What about a singular boycott?
And just what is a singular boycott? Each month, consumers agree to boycott one particular oil company and the stations that do business with that company. I’m talking about a total and complete boycott. We don’t buy so much as a pack of gum from that company or their affiliate stations. Then, when the month is up, we do it to another oil company, hitting them the same way. We do this each and every month, rotating these stations in and out of the boycott, for however long it takes to break their grip on our pocketbooks!
But an idea such as this takes unity on the part of consumers. A list of oil companies and their affiliates would need to be posted online. Consumers would need to diligently consult this list each month, taking care to avoid the company of the month.
Could this really work? It is most certainly has potential.
Will it ever come to fruition? Probably not. We here in America are just too divided. We would rather throw blame and hurl insults at each other than work together on the one thing that should unite us.
And that’s a shame, too. Restoring power to we the people has to begin somewhere, and this seems as good a place as any to begin taking it back. But there are those who will make this a Democrat/Republican issue or a free-market issue. It’s not; it’s a greed issue. There can be no free market where collusion exists.
It’s just a thought!