PART OF A RUNNING CONVERSATION I’M HAVING WITH JESSE AND MACKENZIE
Jesse had some very good points that I thought I would post. It’s fine with him. His side of the conversation is far more interesting than mine. He’s a well-informed young man and offers thoughts to contemplate.
Jesse: We’ll have lots to discuss, too, I’m sure — while I’m working on your computer, of course! I’ve got a list of things I want to write about and haven’t gotten around to yet — immigration reform, Cynthia McKinney, and what a big waste of time so many of our elected representatives really are. I tell you, the more I follow politics, the more I loathe the men in power.
Me: If anything the current administration, Enron, etc. has taught me, it’s that I too loathe the corruption that power appears to beget.
Jesse: Ah, yes — Enron. You can add energy to the mix of issues I have on my mind. High gas prices — ugh.
However, as much as I hate to see an oil company throwing $400 million pensions towards outgoing CEOs and raking in tens of billions in profit each year while average folks are struggling to pay for gas, I can’t really get behind punishing them for success, either. Gas being $3.00 per gallon isn’t all that far out when inflation is taken into consideration; a gallon of gas in 1960 may have been $0.31, but that’s roughly equal to $1.79 now. It’s really pretty reasonable to assume that a product could nearly double in price in 45 years given that the demand has quadrupled.
Prices on nearly everything have gone up, but gas seems to be that one product that we hold to a different standard. We don’t expect it to get more expensive, and all the while we take other price hikes in stride. Comic books, for instance: they cost, oh, probably $0.05 or $0.10 in 1960. They were $1.00 or $1.25 when I bought them in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Today, a standard 30-page comic book costs $2.99! Inflation has affected comic books more than gas! And it’s the same for other products, too — milk, eggs, etc. A $0.49 gallon of milk in 1960 — a little over $2.00 today — now costs well over $3.00.
Of course, we usually don’t go out and buy 20 gallons of milk or 30 comic books at a time, so gas hits us a little harder … okay, a lot harder.
And, I have a hard time being mad at oil companies for making a healthy profit. Isn’t that the goal? Capitalism says yes … decent, hardworking and honest human nature says there should be limits to that success. Congress has thrown around the idea of somehow punishing oil companies for record prices (and profits). If there’s corruption and price gouging going on — sure, I’m all for it. But if they’re simply making money because the law of supply and demand allows them to do so, it’s much harder to fault them for having a good fiscal year. After all, if oil prices were at record lows, how many of those people who favor capping oil company profits would also support government bailouts for failing companies? Probably not many.
I don’t know — it’s a tough issue to wrestle with. All that said, I hate paying $45 to fill up my car. I hate it that some bastard CEO can slip out with half-a-billion dollars for all his “hard work.” I hate it that average, middle-class, working Americans have to scratch and save and pawn off their possessions just to have money to drive, while oil companies are making more money than Microsoft. But it’s the price we pay for being such a mobile society, I suppose. My adjustment has been to drive less and walk more, but that’s not possible for some people.
Anyway, my best driving advice is to keep your car topped off. If you only have to add a few gallons of gas as opposed to a full tank, you’re paying less per time (and don’t feel a huge hit on your wallet), and, if prices drop back down to $2.25, at least you didn’t pay $2.95 for a full tank.
Lots to think about, eh?
And from Mackenzie:
I agree with you - Luke and I always talk about this when people on the radio are going on and on about gas prices. The price of everything goes up, and yet we don’t blink an eye to most of it, yet “gas prices” has become the new “how’s the weather” topic of chat. When we travel places we’re always asked what our gas prices were in Dallas and I never know… there’s not a whole lot of point in me keeping track down to the penny… I know that it’s something I require and no matter how expensive it is, I still require it. It’d be different if I had to decide if I could afford a tank of gas, but luckily I don’t have that problem.
I constantly wish everyone could get OVER it and move on to something new - something they can actually impact - because short of not driving a car anywhere, gas prices aren’t going anywhere.
Plus look at Europe - they’re probably laughing their tails off at us silly American’s complaining about our prices - they’ve had killer prices for years.
Anyway, I had to comment
The cruise liner, QE2, moves only six inches for each gallon of diesel fuel that it burns.
Mackenzie is right. When I was visiting my friend Ann Harrison in England …five years ago, the equivalent of a gallon of gas was then over $5.00.
Mackenzie and Luke are wisely relocating closer to work for several reasons. One is that instead of an hour commute each way, their move will be reduced to 20 minutes. It’s a matter of prioritizing for all of us.
Anyone else have a thought to share?