Oil prices are continuing to rise — here’s why
Dear John: Please don’t drink the Kool-Aid. Gasoline is just too expensive.
The price of $2.87 versus $2.85 or $2.84 is just way too high. There is just too much price manipulation.
By whom, I don’t know. Why do prices significantly increase when there is a hiccup in the world, but the prices do not reduce when all is well?
At this writing there is no reason why a gallon of regular gas is higher than $1.90. JM
Dear JM: As I’ve been writing for a long time, the price of energy is controlled by traders on Wall Street.
Oil prices go up when there is potential trouble in one of the energy producing regions of the world, even if the trouble never actually happens.
And when oil prices rise, so too do gasoline prices.
And when the trouble abates, gasoline producers and sellers have no incentive to lower prices quickly. Would you lower the prices you are paid — and the income you make — if nobody was pressuring you? No, you wouldn’t.
And since the media have now bought into the belief that the market — meaning supply and demand — controls energy prices, there isn’t even the press’ oversight.
Yes, the market does control the price of energy. Only it’s the financial markets these days. And the sooner Washington does something to slap down these profiteers, the better off consumers of energy will be.
Dear John: I have a question that I hope you can answer.
My late wife passed about 3 ¹/₂ years ago.
I am a retired firefighter from Trenton, NJ. I also served in the Marines from 1951 to 1955, and I am a Korean War veteran.
When my wife died, I tried to get her Social Security payments. I went to the office two times and was denied. They told me that former President Reagan signed a bill that said the pension I get disqualified me from her retirement payments.
When I retired in 1988, I made $20,000 a year, and they said I would be double-dipping. I hope you can give me a [solution].
Please excuse the color of this letter. The pen I was using ran out of ink. Thanks. RH
Dear RH: I hope someone from Social Security has called you by now. I was promised that they would.
The answer to this is complicated, especially since the Social Security Administration won’t discuss your specific case.
What I think the Social Security people were talking about was something called the Government Pension Offset (GPO), which was passed in 1997. Before that provision, a person who received a civil service pension (you, for example) based on work he did but who did not pay into Social Security was also eligible for a spouse’s and widow(er)’s Social Security benefits in full. It was a great deal.
It’s different now, according to my source at Social Security. Let’s say you work at a place that has a civil service pension, but you haven’t paid into Social Security. And say your wife, however, has paid into Social Security for 25 years.
In this case, Social Security would subtract two-thirds of your non-covered pension from the Social Security benefits you’d get under your wife’s coverage. You’d get the difference. But if the result is less than zero, you’d get nothing in Social Security benefits.
That could be the problem.
There are other things involved, so you really have to talk with a Social Security worker.
And don’t worry about the ink. I accept letters even if they are written in crayon.
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