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Investigating the Rise in "Gas"

There is to be a Government investigation into the recent frequent advances in the price of gasoline. To the man in the machine the cause of the advances is very simple: John D. [Rockefeller] and his associates "need the money"–and have the power to get it. However, the investigtion will be welcomed by all consumers, who will hope that it may result, as promised by United States Commissioner William J. Harris, in "remedial legislation." Harris says it is also possible that those responsible may be prosecuted "if we find that there has been any systematized discrimination against certain cities or localities." But it is not at all likely that any special discrimination has been practiced. Kennett R. Kingsbury, vice-president of the Standard Oil Company, says that the local price of 18 cents a gallon is simply the result of the law of supply and demand, and that "the price of gasoline in California and the Pacific Coast is now from 2 to 12 cents lower per gallon than anywhere in the country." This is probably true, but is there any good reason why it should not be so? Where is oil more abundant, or produced at a lower cost than California?

Thus far the United States Government has not been very successful in controlling prices in any commodity, but it is possible that means may be found to effect a change in this respect. Possibly a "war measure" fixing prices, similar to that enforced in Germany, may point the way.

Despite the fact that the Standard Oil Company claims that the advance in the price of gasoline is fully justified by prevailing conditions, that concern has just been granted permission to issue stock to the amount of $25,000,000 for distribution as a dividend to its stockholders. This represents the accumulated net surplus profits of the company, and is the biggest "watermelon" ever cut by a California corporation, having a cash value of nearly $94,000,000 at current quotations. It will go far to convince the consumer of gasoline that the price of that article is inflated with a very superior of grade of gas.

The Star
San Francisco, March 4, 1916

Standard Oil Station in San Francisco during the 1920s

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