By Shawn Dell Joyce Thursday, May 05, 2011, 09:53 AM EDT
Last week, the price of crude oil jumped to $113 a barrel, and suspiciously soon afterward, the national average for regular unleaded gasoline leaped over the $4 a gallon mark. Lost production in Libya was blamed for the gas price hike, yet even at $4 per gallon, it's really a bargain. Before you start sending me hate e-mail, let me explain. Even at $4, we are not paying the real cost of gasoline. Our federal government subsidizes the oil industry with numerous tax breaks, price protections, and research and development funding that totals billions of dollars every year. These subsidies help keep domestic oil companies competitive with international producers, and keep gas relatively cheap at the pump.