There Is No Such thing as Price Gouging by Private Oil Companies
By Alex Epstein (Calgary Herald, May 28, 2006)
There is no such thing as price gouging by private oil companies.
The term "price gouging" implies that oil companies and gas stations have an ability to forcibly inflict harm on us--but they do not. Any price we pay for a gallon of gasoline, we pay voluntarily, based on its value to us. If we think gasoline is too expensive, we are free to drive less, to buy more fuel-efficient cars, to use carpools or busses, or to travel by bicycle or on foot. Gas station owners cannot force us to buy gasoline; they can only offer us a trade, which we are free to accept or reject.
Since the prevailing price of gasoline is the result of trade, it reflects not the arbitrary "greed" of gas station owners, but the facts of the market: the producers' costs, competition, and what customers are willing to pay.
Oil company "greed" is not "hurting the nation"--it is making oil and gasoline available to all of us who are willing to pay market prices. We should be grateful for that.