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Ray Haynes

Time To Identify The Real Thieves

I was driving to Arizona not long ago, and needed to buy gasoline. I, for the most part, don’t pay close attention to prices at gas stations, since there are so many of them that, usually, market forces keep prices relatively competitive from gas station to gas station. It is rare to find a few pennies difference between gas stations.

Only this time, I crossed the Colorado River and entered Arizona. I had filled up in California that day, and paid $2.799 per gallon at the gas station near my home. I drove around Riverside County a while for that day, to the point where I had to fill up, literally just across the border in a little town called Ehrenberg, Az, which is less than a mile from Blythe, Ca. Here is the amazing fact, gasoline in Ehrenberg, at the gas station at which I stopped, was $2.0499 per gallon, 75 cents less than the exact same gasoline literally just across the border in Blythe. That 1 mile difference saved me over $10.00 when I filled up my gas tank. I only noticed because the cost difference was so dramatic.

I then started paying attention to the gas prices along the freeway in Arizona, and saw that the further I got into Arizona, the cheaper the gasoline got. That is, the stations along the border knew they could charge more because of the price differential between California and Arizona gasoline. The cheapest gasoline I found was $1.99 per gallon, 80 cents less than California.

Market forces don’t explain the difference. If they did, the gasoline in Blythe would be similar to that in Arizona, since the stations are less than 5 miles apart. However, gasoline in Blythe is 80 cents more as well. The difference is the result of taxes and regulations imposed by the Democrat controlled state government in California and the Republican controlled government in Arizona.

We know that the gas and sales tax in California add close to 60 cents per gallon to the price of gasoline in California, 36 cents per gallon in state gallonage taxes, 18 cents in Federal gallonage taxes, and a sales tax that adds an average of 8 cents per dollar of the price of gasoline. In California, the state even taxes the tax, that is, the sales tax is assessed on the price of a gallon of gas, including the 54 cents of gallonage taxes. On a $3.00 per gallon price, those taxes are 78 cents per gallon. Here’s the rub on taxes, Arizona’s freeways are better, built faster, and less crowded than California’s, all with less taxes. The freeways aren’t perfect in Arizona, but they are better and less expensive than California’s freeways.

Of course, Arizona has the federal taxes and state taxes on a gallon of gas, so adjusting for those changes, the extra taxes on California gas would account for 50 cents of the price of gasoline. However, California has, thanks to amendments to the Federal Clean Air act of 1990, added by California Democrat Congressman George Miller, a special blend of gasoline, sold only in California, and made only in California. In other words, if any of California’s 4 or 5 oil refineries break down, Californians are faced with an instant shortage of gasoline because of this special blend. Of course, Arizona’s pollution is not impacted by the “less clean” blend that is used in Arizona. California’s special “clean air” blend of gasoline, mandated by an intrusive government, just makes its gasoline more expensive.

There are reasons why people are leaving the state. This 80 cents per gallon difference in the price of gas is one of those reasons. $10 per fill up for bad freeways and unnecessary government regulatory burdens is simply not worth California’s weather.

California’s Democrat politicians will bleat about how the oil companies are ripping off the consumers by charging obscene profits. The fact is, liberal politicians and government bureaucrats are the thieves. They waste the tax dollars they take from us on programs that don’t build, expand, or care for our freeways and add regulatory burdens that cost us money for no added value. That is the definition of thievery. They are the thieves.