Saturday, September 13, 2008

A regular POST!

I noticed that I've not posted a "regular" blog since sometime in August. Since then it's been all mobile-phone posts, which are typically fairly short. Sorry about that - I've been kind of busy recently. Just started a new job on September 2 - in Mobile, AL. We've been looking for a place to stay (the family) - right now I'm staying at my parents' house in Pensacola, which is a 75 mile commute, one-way. The other day it took over two hours to get back after leaving work - the traffic was pretty much stopped for most of the way on the tunnel & bridge. Silly.

And what about Gasoline? That's, as far as I know, the only publicly-traded commodity that's also a normal retail consumer good. That is, investors drive the price (based on the price of a barrel of oil), and consumers pay the difference. I understand it (I think) - but it's silly. I mean, Wal-Mart's stock price tanks, I don't see any savings at their retail outlets; the stock in O'Charley's goes way up, the price of food doesn't change. Silly? What about the SiRF stock price, which has fluctuated wildly over the past few months (SiRF makes GPS receiver chips, used in GPS receivers by various manufacturers). The cost of GPS receivers based on the chips isn't changing daily in the retail outlets based on the cost of the underlying technology. So why is this the case with gasoline? Its cost is fluctuating wildly based on the underlying cost of the barrel of oil. And that barrel of oil cost is based on market fluctuations, speculation, etc. I think we need to find a way to decouple the retail here... the underlying "value" of the gasoline really shouldn't change in such a dramatic way. Yes, it should follow the base product (oil), but not necessarily in such a fluid (no pun intended) manner. For example, the GPS receivers: they will adjust based on the underlying technology, but they do not vary wildly on a daily (or sometimes hourly or quicker) basis at the retail outlet. It is unreasonable that a retail outlet should change its retail cost so quickly. Especially when this means that investors are raking in a lot at the expense of the poor guy trying to get to work in order to feed his family (hey, that's me!). Actually, I'm not that bad off... but some people are. This is, really, killing our ability (as a nation) to reasonably provide a living

At least, that's my opinion. Feel free to comment. I may add more later... my stomach is telling me it's time to put something in it.


Christy said...

I agree. But I noticed yesterday on the news that the price of oil had actually dropped! So why the hike in gasoline? Most people think it's due to the hurricane Ike. But if we have reserves (which we do) then why the major price hike? It stinks.
BTW I hope you guys find a great house soon. I know it must be bugging you tremendously not having everyone together.

Tony M said...

If, in fact, the price of oil has dropped, then I agree there's something else going on. Like price gouging. And that definitely is illegal - you can't hike prices on milk or bread or canned goods when people need to prepare for a winter storm - you shouldn't be allowed to hike gasoline by 15% "just because" on public fear. Yes, refineries, I understand. But it's still ridiculous.

I hope we get something soon too... but we are thinking now, since it's so close, to just keep the kids in school here through fall break and then move/transfer them. I had actually gone to sign a lease on a rental, but I didn't like the wording of the lease agreement (which basically enforced the one-year lease on us but allowed the owner of the property the right to sell the house out from under us without ensuring the terms of the lease under the sale, giving us 60 days to vacate in that event), so I've taken a copy of the lease with me and I'm going to sit down with my dad tonight or tomorrow to rewrite it (he's a CPA and has dealt heavily in real estate as well as various other "legal" things, so he should have significantly valuable input in this area).

I think, however, I'm going to hold off a bit - there's a for sale by owner that also has a "for rent" sign in the yard that I'm planning to take a look at on Thursday. Who knows - maybe it'll be a better fit anyway. At least it appears to have a fenced back yard (which would be good for our dog) that the other one doesn't.

Tony M said...

Here's an interesting article on the recent gas-price hike. Still looks like price gouging by gasoline suppliers. That ought not happen on an "essential consumer resource" - on something that is not essential, such as a new model car, I can understand consumer prices being driven up by demand. But on something that is as essential to our livelihood as gasoline, for there to be a $2/gallon price hike over a day's time (that's in some areas, which equates to nearly a 100% increase in cost) for something that's already in place - it hasn't cost them any more to get the gasoline they're going to supply to the stations at this point - is silly.

Yesterday I stopped for gas. It was $3.99 at the raceway - but they were only accepting cash (supposedly the atm/debit machines were broken, but I don't necessarily buy that). Down the road at the Chevron it was $4.39, and the Pilot was $4.69. We refueled at the Chevron (they had signs stating "8 gallons per person" - but the pump didn't stop pumping at 8 gallons, so neither did I).

Tony M said...

FWIW, the gas prices in Mobile and Pensacola don't seem to have made the same jump as in Huntsville and Birmingham... yeah, tell me they're not price gouging, playing off public fear and panic...