250 Miles, give or take

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250 Miles is roughly the distance from Denver Colorado to Springer New Mexico if you took I25. Barring traffic, construction and potty breaks, that’s about a four hour trip.

That’s also how far I can go on a tank of gas. Well, I could probably go another 50 miles but I don’t like to run my car with the gas tank so low – usually a quarter of a tank is when I start thinking it’s time to fill up again. 250 miles leaves me with a little more than an eighth of a tank and at that point, I’m looking for gas and checking prices.

I bring this up because we are in the midst of sky rocketing gas prices that are putting the crunch on just about everybody, myself included. We Americans are not used to paying so much for gas. I do recall a few years ago, though, when there was a lot of talk from the extreme, far left side of the aisle about getting American gas prices ‘in-line’ with European pricing of $5 or more a gallon. The thought was that, if we had to pay what they pay, there’d be fewer cars on the roads, more people biking or taking mass transit, lowering our carbon dioxide emissions to ‘more acceptable’ levels, blah, blah, blah. Basically, they thought, we needed to be punished for being evil, gas guzzling SUV drivers.

Well, here we are today with $4.00+ a gallon prices across the nation. Are we being punished punished yet?

It amazes, amuses and scares me the reactions $4 gas receives from our government.

Let me put it to you like this: say there’s something that you like, something you need. Let’s say Tacos. You want tacos everyday. You need tacos to get to and from work, to help you get your kids to school and the dry cleaning from the cleaners. And you can only get tacos from one place in all the world right now. Your tacos have to be imported, refined, distributed and eventually sold to you and I, the consumers, in little taco stands on every corner of our busy city streets. Now, tacos can also be found in other places, but you can’t go and get your own tacos because of laws restricting that sort of thing, and taco getting machines are kinda big and bulky and no one wants one in their backyard anyway, so, we don’t have any choices in the matter on where our tacos come from.

a monopolyThat’s called a ‘monopoly’.

Because of this little fact, the Taco Princes, owners of the taco machines that dig up raw tacos, can pretty much set whatever price for their raw tacos that they feel the market will bear. When they set their prices for raw tacos, it starts an avalanche of sorts down the distribution chain as each link raises their price as well so that they can show a profit. After all, the reason they are in the taco business in the first place is so they can make money and show a profit. This is called ‘capitalism’.

Now, most countries have to import goods from other countries, but they might have competing goods that are home grown, so they lay taxes and tariffs on imported goods to raise the price a little bit and help the locals compete. Sometimes, they lay taxes on stuff because, heck, so many people are going to buy them it’s a cash cow / no brainer / instant source of revenue for them.  Stuff like tacos.

Our own federal government puts a tax on every gallon of tacos we purchase. Additionally, local governments also put taxes on tacos so that they can get a cut too. Granted, not every local government does this but I think it’s easier to point to the ones that do than try and find one that doesn’t. This means that, by the time you and I go and buy our tacos at the corner store, there’s a lot of taxes built into the price we see on the giant taco signs advertising: Tacos, Taco Supremes &, of course, the Double Taco with Crunch.

Oddly, when the taco distribution companies have to raise prices because the taco refineries had to raise their prices due to the Taco Princes (with help from the Taco speculators) raising their prices on raw tacos, our government’s reaction is to say that what needs to happen is for the taco distribution companies to give up some of their profits as penance. See, the taco companies are gouging us, in their humble opinion.  Never do they think, “Gosh – maybe we should lower our own profits, in the way of the taxes that we collect to give folks a little room to breathe.” Never does the thought occur: “Gosh, it’s not good to be dependent on the Taco Princes as the sole source of Raw Tacos in all the world. Maybe we should go find our own Raw Tacos…”

Well, I say never, but some people do speak up and are usually crushed beneath the backlash and fallout about keeping our backyards pristine and untouched. Forget the fact that we could have the taco machines running and just get a decent landscaper to make it look purdy and be smart about it. Spend a little money upfront to do it right and have as little impact as possible while ensuring our nations ability to survive without having to depend on a foreign country to provide us with our, uh, tacos. Nope, we have to continue getting our tacos from the Taco Princes and pay whatever they feel the market will bear, or whatever they feel like charging (see ‘monopoly’ above…).

Forget that competition is what drives prices down! Forget that we have laws against monopolies in this country!  To me, it seems silly to ignore our own, domestic, uh, tacos but I’m not the guy who gets to make that kind of decision (apparently).  So our prices on, uh, tacos, continue to climb.  Eventually, they will level out, higher than where they were a year ago, and settle for a little while until we ‘get used’ to paying more.

Then it will all happen again.

Domestic tacos.  It’s the only way to go.

…see, now I’m hungry for a taco.

~P