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MUNDANE DISTRACTIONS
Oil thoughts 
11th-May-2008 09:41 pm
So you can't go the day without seeing some kind of story on the current price of gas in the US (well, if you live in the US that is). I keep reading them and seeing the same thing...people are confused. I'm no better either. There are good things about it (people finally making the tough choices they've avoided for a long time) and there are bad things (spending money on gas, spending money on gas and...oh yeah, spending money on gas).

Now I keep reading about a possible "gas tax holiday" or a "windfall tax" on the oil companies. Personally I think both are pretty crappy ideas.

I think the gas tax holiday is just going to create a false sense of security or well being where none really exists. Sure the break would be nice, but I think people being a little more thoughtful in their driving practices would probably offset the whole what...18 cent a gallon difference? Now, on the other hand it could be helpful for business that are having problems adjusting to the new higher gas prices (and in turn us paying more for their services). Still, I just don't know what such a thing would "help" in the long run.

Higher gas prices have a major cascading effects. Food, shipping, etc. I think it's time to start looking at our spending habits (and believe me I need to myself) and see exactly what we're "wasting" our money on. Of course, if you're a person or family who is already doing their best just to get by then you don't have the "opportunity" to make "better" choices like the rest of us do in order to save gas money. Folks in that position (just scraping by) are just straight up screwed. They already need a job to pay the bills and now driving to their job increases their expenditures. That sucks.

Now the idea of the "windfall tax." I think it's crap and I think it's unfair to the oil companies. Now please understand that for the most part I think a lot of the people who run them are selfish bastards at this point, but we're a capitalist country so...tough for the rest of us. You see, this is where I get SO ticked off at how our society works. We talk all this crap about how capitalism is best and how we need less government oversight so we don't turn into one of those "other" countries. Yet, when a large number of people start defaulting on their loans, or we're paying higher prices at the pump we immediately EXPECT the government to step in and fix the problem. That's not right in my eyes.

Please know though that I believe the oil execs that were recently meeting with the Senate panel are a bunch of crybaby pansies too. I'm sick of hearing this "we shouldn't be penalized" in regards to how they are taxed. They're right, they shouldn't be. HOWEVER, if we take back their tax breaks we're not penalizing them. We're simply returning their tax level to where it's SUPPOSED to be. I mean, seriously. You're making that much money and you DARE to make such comments? It's a good thing I'm not in the senate because I would have verbally drilled the person(s) who said such things. If it was in response to a windfall tax being implemented, sure it's a fine comment, but to my knowledge that idea hadn't taken off at that point.

Still, the one thing I'm glad about is that I can sleep at night with the choices I've made. My car is about to turn 10 years old this summer. I've taken pretty good care of it and it treats me we. Here is the thing about my car though. When I was offered the opportunity to get the car (a good chunk of money from my father as a graduation present when I got my BS) I knew I wanted a car with three things. The first, was AC (a necessity where I lived before and also where I live now). Second, good gas mileage (30 MPG+ on average). Third, a manual transmission as a car with gas mileage that good back then just sucked as an automatic (having to floor the gas to downshift...ugh). You see, TEN years ago I already knew MPG was going to be a must (at that time to me it already was).

Since that time we've been assaulted and assailed by SUVs and pickups that are now equipped like they're family vehicles. If you're bitching about the price of gas due to having such a car, I take your complaints with a grain of salt. If it's a "necessary" car, then fine. If you're just pissed because your bad-ass Hummer costs you more to show off...screw you. Seriously. Go cry to someone who cares because I truly don't if your big vehicle doesn't serve a serious purpose.

Back to the oil companies. If they want to build their profits, that's their call. If the government wants to kill their tax break, awesome. If they want to hit them with a windfall tax, that's crap. WE created this problem. It was in motion a loooooong time ago. People have seen it coming for quite a long time. But, instead of acknowledging reality some of us allowed ourselves to get caught up trying to keep up with (or better yet "one up") the Jones'. The oil companies may be bastards on some level for making insane profits while people in their native country hurt economically, but that's our country. They have the right to do it. I think the bigger picture is that now the other countries see once again how hypocritical we are in turning on our own toted capitalism and desire to keep the government out of our business (figuratively and literally). Please know that I think capitalism is great and so is not needing the government to run everything, but I also acknowledge that certain concepts can get pushed too far and as such become painful distortions of the original ideas.

I wanted to say sooo much more but the tangenting was pretty bad even with this bit.
Blair Witch - Mike's Trust
Comments 
15th-May-2008 03:59 pm (UTC)
It's also interesting to note that as we are bombarded daily with a new record for fuel prices in the US, that we still have some of the cheapest prices in the world.
16th-May-2008 05:10 am (UTC)
Oh heck yeah. That's one of those things I didn't get to. I think we actually had a few conversations about that back when the "big" jumps happened when I was back home.
15th-May-2008 04:15 pm (UTC)
The "tax holiday" is pretty much a joke. I think it's political in nature...politicians trying to suck up to the little people making it look like they are actually trying to do something to quell the rumblings they're hearing across the country.

I agree with most of your assessment about oil companies too. Just remove the tax breaks they're already getting for crying out loud...it's f'n ridiculous that they should get any at all. I'm opposed to government nurturing (handouts, subsidies, tax breaks) to any sector of society that has the ability to stand on its own feet...and those that collapse because of its own greed or stupidity probably deserve it to (see Bear Stearns).

In regards to a "windfall" or "luxury" tax; in general I side with your opinion here too. I agree that in a capitalist economy, the prime idea is profit, so it's BS that we should penalize someone for being successful, unless it's become monopolistic; which in this case it's not.

We have made some attempts to quell our spending. Sheri and I carpool most days and we take the Grand Am which gets much better MPG than the Pathfinder. Groceries are more expensive as you noted, so we grow our own herbs (which Sheri uses abundantly in her cooking) and plan trips to the store better than we used to.
16th-May-2008 05:18 am (UTC)
So I'm guessing you're loving the news about the "veto-proof" new subsidies about to go to some of the farmers, eh? I'm still trying to figure out whose move that's gonna go down as.

I can tell you that if I had a house I'd seriously be looking for a high end scooter or even be moving sooner on having a motorcycle (I've always planned on having one for about-town driving once I had a house). Here, I think I'd have to go motorcycle though as Hwy 62 is just too insane and I think I'd have a better chance of surviving with something with some power.

Yeah, having a house to have a garden would be awesome. Still, with projections saying the market won't bottom out in many places until next year I'll so more apartment living until then.
15th-May-2008 04:16 pm (UTC)
Another side note; I noticed on the way to work the other day that on a corner where you typically find several cars for sale by owners that it consisted of 3 SUVs, a 3/4 ton truck, a boat and an RV. Not much of a surprise there...I wonder how much they'll be marking them down to sell?
16th-May-2008 05:24 am (UTC)
Probably gonna have to take in on the chin...hard. I'm guessing if they could get a decent price from a dealer they would, but I'm guessing the dealers aren't moving many either.

Scooters however are just flying out of the stores according to an article I read today or yesterday.

Again, it's getting some people to really ask some good questions. The thing is that it's gonna be scary driving scooters around SUVs. Of course, if that's how things go (more scooters) you can guess that people will start asking that city weight ordinances start being enforced regarding vehicles. A little know piece of information is that many larger SUVs break vehicle weight restrictions for residential areas in a number of towns and cities. Oops!
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