Kill it before it grows?

· dKo journal, Edgewise, Paleoblogs

No one knows exactly what “price gouging” is supposed to mean in a capitalist economy. Price fixing and collusion are a different matter, but that so far does not appear to be the issue currently with gasoline.
There are some relevant things we do know.
As traffic volume increases, private cars become less efficient: traffic jams, higher fuel consumption and GAS PRICES!, problems parking (for 22+ hours daily storage of two tons of idle equipment).
As traffic volume increases, mass transit becomes more efficient: more passengers carried on the same train or bus, lower fuel consumption per passenger, more frequent service (at three-minute intervals, there is no such thing as missing or waiting for your train), more convenient routes and stops, more shuttle service to and from major hubs, little increase in parking/storage burden, lower costs, lower fares. (Indeed, the entire current fare-box revenue of public transit in America could be offset by a few cents per gallon increase in the gas tax.)
(And note, it is the commute we’re really concerned with here. That’s what burns the gas, not shopping trips and family rides in the country. Keep a car! It is second and third cars per household that have dominated the overflow of autos in America. We should at least give more people an incentive to live near transit and ride to work.)
So mass transit is a potential blessing for the public and a horrendous threat to America’s core industrial corporations: autos and petroleum. This caused GM and Firestone to buy up and destroy the tracks and cables of 200 mass transit systems in the US during the 1930s and 40s.
In the Bay Area, this was the Key Line, which ran across the lower level of the Bay Bridge (and through the Solano Tunnel). The agreements under which they sold off the remnant properties forbid reestablishment with anything other than rubber wheels.
For the corporations, the advantages of expanding mass transit are a slippery slope. Can they kill it before it grows?