Saturday, April 9, 2011

Gas Thieves

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Outrageous! Gas prices continue to skyrocket, with nothing but more bad news in sight.

When you go to the gas station, chances are you've seen a sign there warning you that gas thieves will be prosecuted and have their driver's license revoked. (Not that it's possible any more to pump gas without paying for it first.)

Back in 1995, I worked as a cashier at a gas station/truck stop. (This one, in fact.) I usually worked on truck side, but there were a couple nights I was on gas side. I remember one night, someone came in, got on one of the non-prepay pumps, gassed up, and drove off as fast as he could. It really ticked me off, and not just because I got in trouble for it.

But today, when the gasoline cartels have a stranglehold on our economy, I'd bet most of you get absolutely livid, because THIS is gas thievery.

For the past few years, the petrol cartels have been crying about how expensive it is to charge a reasonable price for gasoline, and how they have no control over the price of gas, and how they can't afford to cut prices or increase supply. There's always some excuse why they have to raise prices. And then they go and make record profits. And I'm not talking about oil industry records, I'm talking history-of-capitalism records! As in, no other company in human history has made so much profit! And they have the audacity to say they can't afford to lower the price of gas? We're talking about enough profit to send $147 to every man, woman, and child in America, including the illegal aliens. If we assume a family of four, that's about $600.

Nowadays, $600 is enough to keep your car moving for over a month, or enough food to feed your family for a month, but only a few years ago, it would've bought about twice as much as that. Thanks to the rising prices of gasoline, a $20 meal used to be expensive, but now it's considered cheap.

Recently, with this flap in the Middle East, gas prices have gone up quite a bit, even though we in the United States don't get much of our oil from that region. We get most of it from Venezuela and Texas. Those companies who bring us oil from the Middle East should be the only companies increasing their prices, but ALL gas stations are going up. Whatever happened to capitalism? Whatever happened to competition keeping prices low? The oil cartel has a monopolistic position which they're using to strangle our economy!

Over the past years, there have been a number of ideas on how to break the power of the oil cartel, presumably to get cheap gas.

You've seen pledges not to buy gas on a certain day. How practical is that? Even if you could herd enough cats to actually pull it off, you've got the problem of what happens the next day: you still have to buy the gas, and even if you're successful in disrupting distribution for a day, guess what? You're going to wind up jacking up the prices to cover their losses. The only losers are us.

Another idea I saw was to "buy out evil". If we the people pool together some of our money, we can afford to buy out one of the large corporations, in this case, an oil company, and then use it the way proper capitalism demands: to provide competition by providing the lowest possible price on gasoline. However, this too has a significant flaw beyond requiring everyone to invest a few thousand dollars. You're giving your enemy a ton of money, which he'll just use to found a competing company, drive you out of business with his enormous cash reserve, and then jack the prices up even worse.

Since so many politicians are in the oil cartel's pocket, and they're as eager as all the rest of America's domestic enemies to bring us crashing down, what can really be done besides continuing to hang your head in defeat and hope they don't gouge us any more?

That's the question, folks.

Adding alcohol to gasoline isn't the answer; it only degrades fuel efficiency and raises the price of corn. And there isn't enough corn in the WORLD to power JUST the United States.

Liquid hydrogen? Dangerous stuff. Building the infrastructure to support it will take time and money, and the end result won't see cheaper fuel prices unless we're all given water-cracking stills and solar panels to power them.

Electric cars? Some of these hybrids are getting better mileage, but they're doing it by reclaiming the energy lost when you hit the brakes, or when you plug them into the wall. You've still got to buy new batteries every few years, and they cost more than you'd save in gas. An all-electric vehicle has the added problem of extremely low range. Maybe some infrastructure could hande it - build a LOT of electrical outlets - but who's going to foot the bill for it? And who's going to pay for the electricity?

There are really only two solutions.

1. Live within walking distance of everything important to you so you don't have to drive very much. This is likely to require some serious city planning, all the way to the extent of building arcologies. Japan is way ahead of us on this. Did you know that Tokyo has a higher population than all of Canada?

2. Invent useful superconductors. Power lines can be embedded in the roads to recharge electric cars as they pass by. There's little if any loss in such a system, because we're using superconductors. Ideally, the power company will start harnessing solar power too.

Either way, it costs a lot in the short term, but the long term benefits will be staggering, and in the meantime, I'm pretty sure building all this stuff will create at least a few jobs.

Get to it!

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More awesome articles from an awesome website:
Everlasting Trains
Watch your Words
Maps are freakin' awesome

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