Sunday, 22 June 2008

Rising Prices

Photo: Iocto

I’ve had enough!

I’m sick of hearing people whinge about the rising cost of fuel, food and a variety of other products and then laying the blame on the government, expecting them to do something. As much as some like to believe it, the truth is, in this case anyway, the government do not have us by the bollocks.

In fact, more than anybody else, the blame belong with us.

We’ve long been warned that oil supplies won’t last forever yet far too few did anything to curb their usage. Now that we’re close to using peak supplies, we’re fast heading up the creek without the proverbial paddle.

What really gets my goat, though, is that EVEN THOUGH WE’VE BEEN TOLD CLEARLY WHAT THE PROBLEM IS, people are still consuming far too much oil. Just yesterday, as I drove around town doing some necessary errands, I passed several huge 4x4s that guzzle fuel at a horrendous rate. Talk about “sod you, Jack”. While many of us are switching to smaller, more energy efficient cars and driving less, these people are adding to the problem by using more than their fair share. They’re contributing to the coming oil crisis and polluting the atmosphere but they just don’t seem to care. How you can need a car like that in a town like Crewe is beyond me.

Then there was the person who complained about the price of food these days and wondered how on earth she’d ever manage to survive on her meagre income and yet she’ll happily admit that she prefers plastic articles (bowls, buckets, garden pots etc) over more traditional materials because they’re cheap and lightweight. I tried to explain that oil is used in the production of polymers and that the more oil we use the more food and fuel costs will rise, but she wasn’t having any of it. “The government ought to step in and do something about it then”.

And, of course, there are those who simply don’t or won’t ‘get it’. Those who just can’t see how the price of food, that isn’t made from oil, can be affected by this. Do they think that food just magically appears on the supermarket shelves? Or that it’s transported by air fuelled trailers, airplanes etc? Buying local produce and supporting local traders will help more than any amount of whinging.

Surely now is the time for everyone to start realising that this IS a problem and it isn’t going to go away. If the only way to encourage people to use less oil so as to give researchers more time to develop viable alternatives is by increasing the price, then so be it. We have to learn to start tightening the belt and become more self-sufficient because soon, there probably won’t be any choice in the matter. Simple living will be something everybody but the very rich will be forced into.

The trouble is, we humans are generally very ignorant, even to our own needs. Even though we know that our actions are harmful, as long as they’re not actually affecting us too much, we just carry on as usual because that’s the most comfortable way. And then when the roof falls in, we wonder why. It must be somebody else’s fault, though - couldn’t possibly be our own. It’s the government, the oil producing nations, the oil refineries, the Chinese and Indians for wanting their share of oil too… anybody but US.

Of course, other knock on effects of the oil crisis are also affecting us now. Small businesses, from the local grocer to haulage companies, are starting to struggle as prices increase and their chances of competing with the market giants are even further reduced; interest rates are increasing as lenders fear our inability to repay loans; property prices are falling as general spending power decreases and an increasing number of potential buyers fear even higher increases in interest so are keeping their backsides firmly on the fence; the demand for social housing is rising as more and more homeowners realise they can no longer afford their mortgages and associated outgoings; the cost of public transport is increasing; and that’s just the start of things. If we don’t curb our usage on a global basis, things are only going to get worse.

Isn’t it about time we stopped laying the blame at somebody else’s doorstep, expecting them to sort it out and accept that we have responsibilities ourselves?

  • Buy British to avoid unnecessary transportation, preferably locally produced goods.
  • Grow your own food as much as possible.
  • Avoid oil based packaging & products (plastic and polystyrene are the main offenders).
  • Switch to a smaller, more fuel efficient car and drive less.
  • Cook double portions when the oven’s in use.
  • Turn the heating down by a couple of degrees.
  • Mend and make do.
  • Reduce, reuse and recycle.
  • Spend within your means to avoid becoming yet another victim of the credit crunch.

It’s no more than 50 years ago that all of the above were the norm. My grandparents grew fruit and veg in their garden (organic and they didn’t even know it), used very little plastic, had no car while my dad, who was from the same generation, always studied fuel efficiency before replacing his car, they were thrifty with the heating, used the cooker sensibly, mended and made do, and had no idea what a credit card was. If they could do it then, surely we can do it now?

Sharon J


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Gavin said...

Sharon, I hate to be pessimistic, but it may be just the fact that those who don't understand will not survive the oncoming energy decent. Those of us who do have prepared in our own way, even if it is as to think differently than the herd, will be OK in our own way! Herd mentality is what got us in this pickle, and breaking the mindset will help us survive. Sorry for the very down comment, but I believe it needed to be said!


New Leaf said...

The trouble isn't affecting the rich......yet. They can still afford to pay high prices for petrol and still drive big gas guzzlers. And for most of them it's all tax deductable!

I think we are lucky because we've been downshifting for a while now. We have learnt to be more thoughtful about our energy consumption and to use less, be thrifty and eco thoughtful. It's gonna be one hell of a hard landing for those who are sitting with their heads up their bums still.

It does make me cross that quite a few people are just not 'getting it' but as Gavin said, we're a little more prepared.

Anonymous said...

Agree with all you have said as usual!
Actaually food has never been cheaper, and should not be as cheap as it is! Yes New Leaf is right sadly, those with more money than sensibility will prevent change, unless the tipping point of motivation is reached. I am more optimistic than Gavin about that, but without any reason to back the feeling.

WebSmith said...

The price of gas in Saudi Arabia is 60.6 cents per gallon which translates into about $15 for a barrel of oil.

One (1) is the worst number in business. When you have one suppler, in this case, they control you instead of you controlling them.

In the late seventies, Saudi Arabia dropped its price to less than $20 per barrel which caused American oil companies to stop drilling.

In order to continue paying for Viet Nam and to stop the demand for gold from other countries, Nixon removed the gold standard from the American dollar in 1971.

Later, in order to hedge the dollar and give it some value, the U.S. entered into an agreement with OPEC that said that they would price oil in dollars if we would not drill and guarantee their Monarchs with security. Iraq and Iran were the only OPEC members who did not price their oil in dollars.

Saudi Arabia is pumping oil from 11 of its 80 known oil fields.

Who told you what the problem is?

Prior to the bank and mortgage crisis, Congress passed legislation making it much harder to to declare bankruptcy and lengthened the statute of limitations on taxes making it harder to eliminate owed taxes in bankruptcy.

Every cent of tax money collected goes to pay the interest on the money that Congress has had the Federal Reserve Bank print and loan to them. The $10 trillion dollars that Congress has borrowed and spent would reach 3 times the distance to the moon if they were stacked one on top of the other.

The extra $10 trillion dollars is almost the total cause of the inflation we have suffered. The dollar is now basically worthless and the price of oil has to be raised substantially to keep OPEC happy. If they switch to the Euro like Iraq, Iran, and Bolivia, the dollar will collapse.

Shortly after the bankruptcy legislation was passed, the Fed lowered the interest rate and produced an excess inventory of money. This encouraged banks to make bad loans and become blatantly predatory. It relieved them of the responsibility to make sure that borrowers could repay their loans. No legislation exists to prevent the banks from deciding that you just have the possibility of borrowing too much and using that as an excuse to raise your interest rates to points higher than what you would get from a loan shark after you have borrowed money from them.

The same people who own major shares of the Federal Reserve own major portions of the UK version and the world bank- Rockefellers, Morgans, Rotheschilds, Lehmans, to name a few.

General Motors produced and electric powered family sedan about 10 or 15 years ago called the EVS that people loved. It's range of 80 miles was the drawback. Instead of continuing development, they took them all back and canned the idea. The cars were all smashed flat as a pancake to prevent anyone from getting their hands on them.

Consider this empirical data before you come down too hard on us.

Brown and Bush certainly are sharing a little too much buddy, buddy making a joint announcement that Iran's assets in the EU have been seized in response to Iran's nuclear program that both of their intelligence communities have told them doesn't exist, aren't they?

Some good news is that Telsa, producer of a $100,000 electric car with a 250 mile range has just received another influx of Venture cash earmarked towards producing a much cheaper family version. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come.

Richard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sharon J said...

Gavin. I don't think it's a matter of those who don't understand not surviving, I think it's rather a matter of those with fewest assets who'll go under. The poorest nations, even though they're the ones using the least oil, because our greed and selfishness will prevent them from further development.


New Leaf. I agree that the landing's gonna be hard for those who aren't prepared. During a recent conversation with a family member who was ranting about rising prices she asked how I could stay so calm about it. "Err...because I'd been expecting it" was the only answer.


You're right about the price of food, Cherry. It's ridiculously low even now so it's little wonder so many farmers are being pushed out of business. Somebody said just yesterday about how they were disgusted at the price of a pint of milk from the milkman compared to Tesco these days and hadn't given a thought to how much it actually costs to produce. Only when I pointed out that dairy farmers have a right to make a living too did she stop and start thinking about just how much the big chains are lining their own pockets at the expense of others. But of course, they're only responding to demand really, so again the blame is predominantly ours.


Hold on a second, Wordsmith. Could you put that in plain English, please? ;)

Are you saying that there isn't an oil crisis and that we should all be able to just carry on as we have done or what?

WebSmith said...

No. I'm saying that there didn't need to be a fuel crisis, doesn't have to be a fuel crisis, and I agree with you that we shouldn't be whining for the government to do something. The government has been doing plenty and the last thing we want them to do is more.

I forgot to mention that Congress, collectively, has $200 million worth of personal investments in the military industrial complex and oil.

I also forgot to mention that, after the OPEC agreement, Congress got all up in arms, with much media fanfare, over environmental concerns and banned drilling in the Alaskan wilderness and off-shore. The Alaskan oil field has enough oil to satisfy U.S. needs for 200 years at our current rate of use. The oil field off the shore of Louisiana is larger. Environmental groups represent less than 5% of the U.S. population.

A Saudi sheik recently announced that the U.S. presence in Iraq is and illegal occupation.

While we are glutenous, we didn't prepare the feast, we were led to believe that there was plenty to go around, and we just weren't too careful about who's table we sat down at.

None of this, of course, means that I want to start drilling. It's too late. We can replace oil much faster than we can get it out of the ground and into our gas tanks. What a wonderful world it will be.

Sharon J said...

Ok, I think I've 'got you' now ;)