COMMENT By Bob Weaver

Gasoline prices have never been higher this time of the year across the US, with WV per gallon prices among the highest.

The pump price, in parts of the state, are now approaching $4 a gallon.

The cost went up another 15 cents a gallon on average in WV during the past week.

Experts are saying that the price could exceed $4.25 a gallon by the end of April. Others say price will be $5 by summer.

The surge in gas prices follows an increase in the price of crude oil.

Higher gas prices could hurt consumer spending and curtail the recent improvement in the U.S. economy.

It could cost the economy about $35 billion, even though the national demand is the lowest in 11 years.

Critics say if supply-and-demand free market determines the price, the price should go down.

ExxonMobil had the largest profits of the Big Five oil companies in 2011, raking in $41.1 billion for the year, with record breaking profits continuing in 2012.

The billions are suppose to trickle down and help America's faded middle class.

Exxon's $41.1 billion in 2011 profit translates into nearly $5 million in profit every hour, or more than $1,300 every second.

Exxon limits its tax pain with the help of 20 wholly owned subsidiaries domiciled in the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands that (legally) shelter the cash flow from operations.

The corporation does not release how much taxes it pays, but it pays a lower tax rate than the average American.

Between 2008-2010, ExxonMobil registered an average 17.6 percent federal effective corporate tax rate, while the average American paid a higher rate of 20.4 percent.

In 2010, Mitt Romney paid an effective tax rate of 13.9%, and is currently campaigning for more tax breaks for America's wealthiest.

In the 1950's, America's wealthiest paid 25% or more in taxes.

In 2011, ExxonMobil spent $13 billion on lobbying.

ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson made about $30 million in 2010.

Fill'er Up!

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