Rant: Medicine or Gasoline

The price of gas is utterly fucking ridiculous.

There’s no other way to say it; and saying it without profanity doesn’t come anywhere CLOSE to describing it.

Utterly. FUCKING. Ridiculous.

Of course, there’s the usual anti-corporate finger-pointing going on. Oil companies are posting record profits and so everyone assumes they’re doing something illegal. Maybe they are. Maybe not. I don’t know enough about the oil industry to tell either way, but I do know basic economics. Shenanigans are not out of the question, but I think it’s more likely they’re benefiting from a good old fashioned supply-and-demand crisis, which they are only partially responsible for creating themselves. There’s lots of oil in the ground that doesn’t happen to be sitting underneath an Arab country. We aren’t drilling for it. Why not? And even if we were, our refining capacity hasn’t increased significantly in the past 30 years. Again… Why not? Meanwhile our demand for energy of all types has skyrocketed. As an energy company, you’d have to be completely inept NOT to make record profits in such a circumstance. It’s raining money for those guys, and people are pissed because they’re getting soaked?

Whatever. I’m not ranting about oil companies. What’s on my mind is this:

With gas the way it is, something is going to give. And by ‘give,’ I mean break. Shatter. Erupt. Gas-riots in the streets? No… no, you could only WISH. At least that would be entertaining. Rioting can be fixed with a suitable application of OMGWTFTEARGAS!! but the slightly-more-subtle cracks in society are just as dangerous but aren’t so easily addressed. Things are going to start changing for the worse, and we can’t stop that with the National Guard.

WTF am I talking about?
Okay, here’s a few misanthropic thoughts for you:

  1. Buy a locking gas cap. NOW. Popping open the little door on the side of your car and siphoning out a few gallons… or all of them… has suddenly become a lot more attractive. People who wouldn’t steal your car outright might think differently about just lightening your tank every few nights. When gas was $1 a gallon, that was just a harmless prank you played on people. Now you can make money at it. No alarm system=easy target.
  2. Just today, a member of my family had to make a choice between buying gasoline and buying medicine. More and more people are going to have to make similar choices as prices go up. As a society, we do not want that. Even for a hardcore misanthropic “let them all starve” libertarian like ME… that’s too much. Why? Because I’m SURROUNDED by people in the same situation and I don’t have enough bullets. And I can’t afford more. And I certainly can’t move. As that becomes more common… well… re-read item number 1 above and extrapolate. A poor economy is just an EXCUSE for crime… not a cause. However, when the economy reaches the point where you can no longer afford necessities, it breeds anger and disillusionment… which IS a cause for crime. Why obey the rules of society when the rules say you starve? Speaking of affording things:
  3. Every physical item you buy… everything… got to the place of purchase on the back of a truck. Trucks run on gasoline. Prices for food are already starting to go up. When prices spike, most people won’t even know enough to connect it with rising energy prices, but that’s what it is. Everything will start costing more soon. Spending patterns will shift, and the economy along with it.
  4. Very soon, some people will no longer be able to afford their current job. Sounds ridiculous, yes? Think about it. I see a rise in telecommuting and a sharp drop in business travel (plane tickets are already starting to rise). That’s actually a good thing and long overdue, but will it be enough? If your job is to dig ditches for minimum wage, you still have to physically be there, right? And if the closest ditch-digging job is 30 miles away… can you afford to work? You probably never thought about it… and that’s the problem. I don’t trust the person of average intelligence (at least in my area) to REALIZE that they’re losing money on their job until they’ve already ruined their finances. Suddenly, bills will stop getting paid. Debts will stop getting paid. What does this do to an already strained economy with prices rising due to energy costs and whatever the hell else?

Oh, but don’t worry. I’m sure mommy and daddy the government will step in and fix everything. And by “fix” I mean make things only marginally better (only for the poor, of course) in the short term while sacrificing freedom and long-term economic stability. Like those “economic stimulus” refund checks. Right. Well, I’m not getting one of those because I already owe the government money, so fuck me. How about just LOWERING taxes so that people can keep more of what they earn, thus enabling them to afford gasoline AND food AND medicine at the same time? No? Okay, whatever. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

Nationalize the oil industry? You might hear that idea batted around, but they can’t pull that off. Not yet. Maybe after another generation or two has been raised in complete ignorance of the Constitution, but not now.

Seize those “obscene profits” from the oil companies? That, they probably COULD get away with. And do what with them? Whatever it is will SOUND good (to idiots), but won’t help a damn thing. This is the same government that brought you… well… the mess we’re in right now! So now you want them to grab money and throw it around in hopes that some of it lands on a solution? Please. They’ll probably just hand it out to poor people (which will include ME, but I won’t actually get a check because I still owe the fuckers money) which means that it will end up in the hands of the same people who have it right now in a matter of months. Net Result: Fuckall. Call it “Economic Stimulus II: Electric Boogaloo”.

Anyway, this unentertaining rant was brought to you by $4.00 a gallon gas, a car with a full tank and no lock on the cap, a 45-minute commute that gets more expensive every time I make it, the money I still owe Uncle Motherfucker Sam, and three loaded guns within arm’s reach.

Atlas Shrugged.

Out.


4 Comments

  1. Kragon, May 24, 2008:

    Well Marc, I have nothing I can really add to this. All I can say is “I really FUCKING agree.” Gas up here where I live in Michigan topped close to $4.25 in some places. Driving back and forth to work on top of picking up my daughter from school and the nice stack of doctor bills I have. It’s getting to the point where me and my family are coming close to living from pay check to pay check. And this is a two income family.

    Nice, gotta love America.

  2. WeREwOLf, May 24, 2008:

    Let’s not forget the Amazing Shrinking Dollar Bill. Oil is measured internationally on American dollars, so as the value of the dollar shrinks, the price per barrel grows. This is *in addition to* the Saudis et al artificially jacking prices further by keeping production limited (THEY sure as hell understand how to milk supply-and-demand). Last year the Canadian dollar was, for the first time, worth more than the American dollar; this was not because the Canadian dollar was growing at an unusual pace, but because the American dollar is shriveling faster than a straight dick in a gay bar. Combine all this with the crashing housing industry, upon which OTHER industries hinge (and consequently suffer, eg. a nearby 2000-person cabinet manufacturing plant in my area laying off by the hundreds), and especially a market that’s jumping from its own shadow, to help jack inflation even further, and you’ve got one great big clusterfuck for the economy. Hell, this didn’t happen over night; food prices went up nearly 50% in the past 5 years, which is faster than ordinary past inflation. Prices on vegetables are jumping, partially due to corn ethanol programs, even fertilizer and lumber are starting to go up, at least in my area. This shit’s BEEN building to a head for a while, and it’s only recently people are starting to see the effects.

    But look on the bright side. Right now, it’s not *really* that bad… it’s gonna get a whole hell of a lot worse in the coming years. Enjoy what you got NOW.

  3. WizardofOz, May 25, 2008:

    Here’s what I find interesting.

    That “get rich quick” wacko Robert Kiyosaki wrote a book basically saying that the biggest stock market crash in history AND the worst economy in history (for the US) was coming.

    I thought the guy was complete off his rocker when I read the book maybe three or four years ago … and now I’m sitting here watching every damn thing he said coming to pass.

    Here are my thoughts:

    1) The war in Iraq isn’t about oil … and it damn well SHOULD BE!!!! We need to stop dicking around in the cities and move to protecting the oil fields and the pipelines and screw all the religious infighting that’s been going on for the last 1000 years. Let the fuckers kill themselves. We seize the oil fields and pump every last drop of oil as quickly as we can.

    2) Once we do that, we walk over to those terrorist growing Saudis and tell them that if they don’t start pumping more oil we’re going to do the same shit to them. The rest of the world will pretend to be outraged but when oil drops to 40/barrel again … no one will actually DO anything.

    I will say this though.

    I’m no “OMG Global warming!!!” nut job. Humans, when it comes to global energy production, are NOTHING. More carbon is output by ants than by humans. The last 100 years or so has been oddly geologically active and particularly the last fifty years since the erruption of Saint Helens. The erruption of Helens put out more carbon in that one erruption than the human race has put out in its entire history on this planet.

    Pinotubo put out something like 30 TIMES the amount of carbon of the entire history of the human race.

    So … sorry … I’m simply not buying the bullshit that global warming is caused by humans. I’m not even entirely convinced that there actually IS a long term global warming trend.

    MY POINT however is that the economies of THE ENTIRE FREE WORLD is built on oil and far too much of it sits in an area of the world that has been a powder keg for over 1000 years.

    Having oil prices rise the way they are FORCES people to look at other alternatives.

    Let me give you an example that can help you RIGHT NOW:
    http://loudle.water4gas.hop.clickbank.net

    That will help your car get something to the tune of 70 mpg … yes, I said 70 MP-FUCKING-G

    My GMC Envoy runs about 68 or so on that.

    You see, here’s the thing … right now, until gas 5/gallon most people don’t even understand that Hybrids are actually a RIP OFF.

    You can convert your own car right now to a “hybrid” and save the cash.

    Over the long term, as more people start taking matters into THEIR OWN HANDS prices for alternative energy sources will fall (economies of scale) and that will reduce the global dependency on oil.

    If we have to go through (even a lot) short term pain now to accomplish that, I’m not so sure it’s a bad thing.

    Except that I can almost take it to the bank that some how global governments will SCREW IT UP somehow.

  4. nate, March 7, 2011:

    Deja Vu… and getting worse.

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