Monday, November 24, 2008

All Pumped Up...
It's a Gas, at least I thought it was...
I drove by my favorite gas place a few times last week, and each time I drove by, the Price At The Pump was a little lower. $2.10, then $2.06, and by the weekend, $2.01. I almost decided to get gas then, figuring that under-two-buck gas was Not Gonna Happen. Well, guess happened. I drove by today, and SCREECH!!!!! My eyes popped out when I read the Gas Sign. $1.95 a gallon. After popping my eyes back in my head (pop! pop!) (oooh, that hurts), I pulled in for some good ol'-fashioned Low Price Gasoline. Of course U gotta remember that the State Of Oregon doesn't let you pump yer own gas, which is probably the reason that prices are a little higher here, especially in my Neck of the Coast. But, it's under $2.00 a gallon. I almost regret that I don't have a big gas-guzzling Dodge Ram Pickup Truck (or something similarly sized) so I can pump several thousands of gallons of fuel into its tanks, 'cos I'm Saving So Much all of a sudden...

I pulled up to the pump and the attendant (who is also the owner of the gas station) asked me, "What'll It Be?" "Oh, let me have $15 dollars worth of regular; I usually get $20, but prices are so low". And it's true. I got more gas today for five dollars less than I paid last time for gas. So anyway, my conversation with the attendant/owner continued thusly: "I sure do like the prices these days; I bet a lot of people are getting gas now, and you're probably making more than ever, right?" "Well, no; when gas was higher, we were making 17 or 18 cents a gallon; right now, we're down to about 8 or 9 cents a gallon." So I said, "well, (I say "well" a lot, probably too much), yeah, but gas is cheaper, so a lot of folks must be coming in, right?" And he said, "Nope. What with the economy, it's hit a lot of people and they're not buyin." So not only is the Gas Station owner making less per gallon, he's selling less of those gallons too.

Now, let me get this straight...Gas Prices are lower. Gas costs less than it has for A Long Time now. All of a sudden, deflation has knocked gas prices down to approximately 1980 levels. (I just saw a Car ad that said something about "in these days of high gas prices...", only Gas Ain't High right now.) Add to that, the fact that 2008 dollars don't go as far as 1980 dollars. Except at the Gas Pump. And a gallon's still a gallon, so you'd think that motorists would be falling over each other, Buying Gasoline in much the same fashion as shoppers virtually kill each other during Christmas Shopping Season, making sure they get That Big Gift Item That Is Already On Sale 6 weeks before Christmas For a Ridiculously Low Price, 'cos people don't have as much disposable income as they used to have, and Economists Say It's Gonna Be A Gloooomy 'Black Friday' 'cos people are hedging their bets, gettin' thrifty and not payin' any more than they have to.

Evidently people have been hit so very hard by the latest frenetic undulations in today's economy, that they just ain't buyin', no matter how low the price. Or, they're buyin' a lot less. That goes for gasoline and everything else. And here I thought Saving Money was Good For The Economy, but it turns out that "nothin' from nothin' leaves nothin'," and if people don't have the money, they can't buy, no matter how deflated the price. And I am Utterly Mystified. The Curse of High Gas Prices has eased for the time being, but it's gonna take a while before the American Marketplace really benefits from this. Because, if Gas Prices are low, and we're still not buying as much gas as we used to, you can figure that Americans aren't going to be buying as many Ronco Dial-o-Matic Weenie-Wobblers, or Zenith "Mammoth" 15,000 square-foot three-dimensional television screens, or Dr. Scholl's Nuclear Feet Massagers with built-in rotating devices for Added Orthopedic Pleasure. Or much of Anything Else.

We all knew that higher gas prices would tend to remove The Major Automotive Beasts from circulation. Rejected "Rams", booted "Blazers", Forsaken Fords, all of those big overbearing trucks litter the landscape. They ain't sellin'. So the automakers in Detroit are desperate, trying to get "bailed out"? Serves 'em right for manufacturing trucks the size of Your Average Parade Float. Those in the industry all knew Gas Prices were Volatile, especially these days! But, Buying Public, you're at fault too. Someday, maybe American Motorists Will Have The Sense to buy "Economy" vehicles even when times are good. But, oh, no, you've gotta hit the consumer in the pocketbook before he/she reacts. Maybe I'm not the most Shining Example of Economy, since I drive a Dodge Intrepid, but it has the "small 6" engine, has plenty of get-up and go, and gets better mileage than a lot of vehicles out there. America, you don't have to drive YUGO's, for cryin' out loud, but "Economy" has got to start somewhere. I'm STILL seeing too many humonguous vehicles on the road. Maybe that'll change. Maybe we'll yet see scenes of Dodge Ram Pickups, lined up on a conveyor belt going into a big processing plant, and out the other end comes Reynolds Wrap, perhaps. A sort of automotive "Soylent Green."

Could it be? Gas pumps going to seed because the economy's tapped everyone out?

It's getting to be quite the economical wasteland out there. Gas prices are low, low, low; a case of "gas, gas everywhere and no money to buy it with." I'm wondering if this time around, as things cycle around and around (I'm sure gas will be going up again if the overall Economy improves), Will People Learn From This? And not buy oversized vehicles the size of Sherman Tanks just because gas prices are low? And is that already happening? Indications are just that. Layoffs in Detroit. You've been making ALL THE WRONG TYPES OF VEHICLES, YOU GUYS! I have a 1999 Dodge Intrepid. It's not an economy car, but it's not a guzzler, either. And it's definitely not a Recreational Vehicle. Meanwhile, still I see yuppies, boomers, elders, all types of people driving those huge pickups with the cab up there so high you almost need to breathe thru an oxygen mask while you're driving (and I'm close to sea level, ha ha). Either that or they're driving RV's the size of Greyhound Buses (which get about 4mpg; I know, 'cos I asked a bus driver).

Today, I heard the news that President-elect Obama said he might have to delay those tax cuts he promised. And he is advocating a $700 BILLION-dollar economic stimulus package. Will those cuts, if they ever happen, actually stimulate the economy? I'm thinking they'll go for basic necessities purchased by people who've been laid off, and their cash supply is tight, so there isn't actually a lot of New Money which'll go back into the economy. Who knows?


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