[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/05/30/art.gas.ny.gi.jpg caption=" Gas prices soar over $4.00 a gallon in NY."]
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Here we go again. Every time oil and/or gasoline prices get high enough, someone in the government announces an investigation. The idea is to try to convince the poor soul forking over four bucks a gallon for gas that his government gives a damn. This time it's the Commodities Futures Trading Commission.
We've been here before. Investigators this time say they're looking at potential abuses in the way crude oil is bought, shipped stored and traded nationwide. Usually they don't publicize this kind of stuff, but say they are doing so now "because of today's unprecedented market conditions." That and senators and congressmen are catching hell from their constituents who want an explanation of why oil prices are up 42% since last December.
And, heading into the peak summer travel season, gasoline prices are up an average of 76 cents over where they were a year ago.
When you read the fine print, you discover experts say this investigation – like all the others before it – will likely have a limited impact on oil prices, which have been going up for many reasons, including growing demand from places like China and India, the falling value of the dollar, international tensions and low interest rates.
Meanwhile, a new Gallup Poll asks Americans what should be done to reduce gas prices. A majority of those surveyed, 53% favor price controls. 58% support draining oil from the strategic petroleum reserve, and 57% are for drilling in U.S. coastal and wilderness areas that are now off limits.
However, a majority of people say it's a bad idea to ration gas, bring back the 55 mph speed limit or – are you listening, John McCain – suspend the federal tax on gasoline for the summer. If it makes you feel any better, the highest gas prices in Europe are in Norway where motorists pay more than $9 a gallon.
Here’s my question to you: Do you think a government investigation of oil prices will lead to cheaper gasoline?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
David from Alexandria, Va. writes:
Gee, Jack. It can't hurt. The announcement of the investigation was enough to send prices down $4 yesterday - maybe some of the opportunistic traders are going to ground and the hounds of the SEC will go after them. This worked for Enron, didn't it? Seems to me we spend too much time vilifying the oil companies and not enough thinking about the futures traders who can pretty much do what they please.
Got the high gas price blues? Buy oil stock - that will take the sting out of high gas prices!
James from San Diego writes:
I'll bet oil will fall just before the election as Big Oil desperately tries to keep its minions in power.
It’s interesting that we would investigate this now. The more interesting issue is that if you do the basic math the price per barrel of oil has risen over 100% since January 2007 and yet our gas per gallon price has not doubled. They still pay far more "per gallon" in every European country than in the U.S. Lets all thank our stars we aren’t paying $6 a gallon like we ought to be.
J. from New Jersey writes:
Jack, Since we are funding this war in Iraq, how about recouping some of it with a little oil? Aren't they (the Iraqis) just keeping all the profits from their oil for themselves?
Adrian from Lafayette, Louisiana writes:
This investigation is clearly a political move which will have no real impact on pump prices. Our political process uses corporate money as its fuel and our spineless legislators are unlikely to upset such generous benefactors.