Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Another letter written (in crayon, presumedly) to the Editor of the Windsor Star:

Finally a break in the gas prices. I'm sure there is one on the way. The terrorists were foiled in their attempt to wreak havoc, therefore we should be getting a break in the gas prices because if they would have succeeded, the gas industry would have found an excuse to raise prices again.

No doubt about it.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

We live in a firmly capitalist society and yet so many many people don't believe that gas prices are the result of supply and demand... even as they drive across town for gas prices that are only marginally cheaper.

We drive more on weekends and we drive more in the summertime and yet the fact that prices go up during times of high demand makes ordinary people just shaking in rage at the oil companies who, in their minds, are somehow guilty of price gouging. Its always seemed so irrational to me. If it is so important to save money on gasoline, why do so many people continue to buy SUVs and trucks? And why not obsess over the price of some other commodity, like coffee, instead?

Its so bad in Windsor that last year there was a massive run on gasoline one day. No one knows how the panic began but soon the local radio stations started covering the frenzy, naming station locations with lineups and prices and it became a self-fulfilling prophesy. There was a mad dash to fill up on gas before the prices went up and then, a mad dash to fill up before the gas stations ran out of fuel. There were line ups at the pumps everywhere. It was a strange infection of madness and it went away the next day.

I think is was in the aftermath of Katrina when the gas prices were sending the local population into lamentations, that I heard a "man in the street" interview on the CBC that was actually telling. The question posed to the public was, "What price of gas will it take for you to give up driving?" Everyone who answered said that there was no price that was too high.

This is why the public panics when the price of gas goes up.


WE Speak said...

I got rid of my car a year ago. Best thing I ever did. I walk more than I used to and spend far less.

jodi said...

I'm sort of looking forward for the oil crisis to begin in earnest, because the optimist in me hopes that it will be a wake-up call and people will change their ways. That said, I'm still selfish enough to hope that the crisis doesn't come until I'm finally home from grad school, because that would be a long, long walk. But then our selfishness is the whole problem here, isn't it?

Me said...

I think some of the annoyance is 1) there should be some sort of lag between supply and demand; that is, when Katrina happened, shouldn't that affect prices in a few months, not the next day? The gas you got at your pump the day after Katrina was already there before Katrina happened .... and 2) I can't think of any other commodities (except stuff like stocks) where the price can change several times a day. And certain gas stations are always more expensive than others. The whole thing just makes no sense.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure last time we met you were trying to persuade me about the truthiosity of some oil company conspiracy -- something about how the U.S. was willing to wage war in Afghanistan solely to build a pipeline that doesn't go through Iran. Surely if oil companies can conspire to overthrow governments, they can conspire to fix gasoline prices, no?


Mita said...

Hey Jay,

While I have heard of that theory, I never really subscribed to it so I don't think it was me who tried to sell it to you.

Because of companies like Enron and Haliburton, I think the ordinary public is now more likely believe in collusion schemes that were once dismissed as leftie conspiracy theories. But I can remember my dad and his friends (who all work in the oil industry) kvetching about gas prices since I can begin to remember.

Hmm... maybe they know something we don't?