Saturday, September 27, 2008

Oh the irony

Yesterday I paid off my car. After four years, no more car payments. Hallelujah! Now maybe I can afford gas without giving up something else.

Yesterday I drove past 3 gas stations. All of them were out of gas.

So here I sit at home, waiting for the games to stop. Oil companies raised prices prior to Hurricane Ike because they just KNEW those oil rigs were going to get destroyed. Then they'd have to rebuild and we, of course, would have to pay. Except that didn't happen. In what oil companies viewed as a preparatory move, they raised the prices first. A week after the storm, the rigs were ready to go with no damage.

But the damage had been done. By the oil companies.

They fueled, pun intended, the panic buying that many folks did just prior to the hurricane. Rather than reassuring folks, they tried to scare people by reminding them those rigs comprise 20% of the fuel we use, meaning prices would rise. So people ran to fill up every vehicle they owned, including the lawnmower, prior to the storm. Stations were caught off guard and ran out. I live in an area where threat of hurricane isn't unusual. Most of us follow a protocol which doesn't include hording anything. We merely stock the essentials, ensuring there's enough for the next family. As the "warning" of CEOs egged on a blind panic some stations, in order to not be the eye of a riot, limited people to 10 gallon purchases. Therefore the fat cats with the huge profit margins got fatter. The poor local station owner, who merely makes a nickle a gallon in profit, got frustrated AND yelled at. And the people got angry...and stupid.

When will people learn to focus their anger in the right direction?

And so I sit, temporarily grounded. Why? Because I won't be a panicked consumer who ultimately aids and abets who should be ashamed to brag about their profits while everyone else is tightening their belts to the point of asphyxiation. I'm no math whiz, but I know statistics work both ways. That "scary" 20% translates into "Hey, we get 80% of our fuel elsewhere." I have enough fuel to get to work on Monday, when everything will probably return to normal, such as it is. The price itself has already fallen. I'm sure the tankers are just around the corner, ready to resupply.

But as I sit, I wonder. What happened to all those wise adults who promised, [back in the 70s when I was a kid who couldn't drive], that they would come up with a plan which wouldn't make us dependent on oil. Especially foreign oil. Adults who would ensure that when I was old enough to drive, there would be no lines at the pumps where you could only buy gas on the day your tag number matched whether it was odd or even number day. So what happened? Things improved momentarily and life went on, without a real plan. And where are those wise folks now, the ones who were going to ensure my future without an oil dependency?

Dead. Or in Washington, D.C., still making empty promises.

Life goes on. I have to wonder though, will there be an electric car...or a horse and buggy in my future?


Dave King said...

I think they are in the wings, waiting for their cue to come on - but they keep rewriting the script!

Rachel Fox said...

We're just changing our heating and water heating to try to make the house greener (it used to have oil heating). It took so long to sort out what might be the best thing to do and even then what we have settled for is not exactly the perfect green solution! Nobody makes it easy to change! Plus the cost...

hope said...

That's the sad part...try to do the right thing and it's almost cost prohibitive. They tell you how much you'll save in the long run...but do you wonder if you'll survive to MAKE it to the long run? ;)