It’s been years since I fisked Strib columnist Nick Coleman, Mr. He Who Knows Stuff. Since it’s been years, I am not suffering from Coleman Fatigue, so I am just the one to fisk this piece…
Gauging the gouge when tanked up and tapped out
By Nick Coleman, Star Tribune
Last update: May 22, 2007 – 10:23 PM
I had put 14 gallons of unleaded What, there’s a place you can buy regular still? into the family car, which carries five people, a dog that has one blue eye, and a month’s supply of Happy Meal wrappers, A MONTH’S supply? Don’t you empty the trash every time you fill up? I can’t believe your wife hasn’t nagged you yet, since this is the FAMILY car we’re talking about here. Maybe nobody minds because of all the homeless you talk to; you know, make them feel at home in your car while you interview them. when the spinning numbers on the pump started to slow to a crawl.
This was not good. Cue menacing background music
The pump said I owed Super Mom $47 already, and the numbers, though crawling, were still headed up. Second, I was still far from filling my 21-gallon gas tank, which had been down to running on fumes. And now the pump was coming to a stop. And there it was: It shut off.
I owed $50 American and the tank was only two-thirds full. Cue menacing dramatic music: duh-duh-DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
Not too long ago, I paid that much for an entire car. So what? The price my mother sold our house for in 1986, the house I grew up in, wouldn’t cover the standard 20% downpayment on an average-priced home today. Besides how come you don’t describe what that $50 car looked or ran like? Now I was paying $50 to dampen my fuel tank: 14.925 gallons. Dampen? Tell you what. I’ll pour 14.925 gallons of gas on your pants leg and see if it gets “damp.” I’ll even pay the $50 for it. Fifty bucks, and it wouldn’t take more, even if I could have afforded it. What, paying for that luxurious estate on Crocus Hill taking too much from your exorbitant salary? The antitheft protection on my credit card doesn’t permit anyone to buy more than $50 of gas. Well, then you CAN afford it. A little misdirection, perhaps?
Not even me.
That’s to make sure that crooks can’t get too much. But I never thought the bandits would own the pumps. Bandits? We wouldn’t be talking oil companies here, right? No way.
This is the third summer in a row that Twin Cities gas prices have spiked by a dollar or more a gallon just in time for summer driving. That’s because more people drive in the summer. This time, despite industry assurances a few weeks ago that it wouldn’t happen again, prices have reached the highest level ever, with the price for unleaded regular hitting $3.40 a gallon at many stations Tuesday, and $3.35 at hundreds more, including the one where my credit card crapped out before the tank topped off. Yeah, times are tough all over.
Gouging? Nah. You’d have to be crazy to think the oil companies would rip anyone off. I’m sure there are many good, sound business reasons why the gas they put in the underground storage tank at your local service station last week is worth almost a buck a gallon more today. Right. Maybe you should broach this topic with your Middle East buddies. You know, the ones that keep threatening to destroy Israel? Every time they do that, the price of gas goes up. Or maybe your green friends. You know the ones who oppose all oil drilling and oil refinery construction? If you oppose those also, maybe you should stop whining about the price of gas.
Can I get my card back now? By the way, does anyone remember when gas last cost just $1 a gallon? The 1970s? That was the average price for the entire year back then.
According to http://www.twin citiesgasprices.com, the average Twin Cities retail price for a gallon of regular hovered between $1 and $1.20 a gallon throughout the fall of 2001 and spring of 2002, briefly dipping as low as 96 cents a gallon. Ah, those were the days of our untroubled youth. Nice cherry picking. What Nick doesn’t tell you that the price came down from nearly $2 a gallon before that, and went up to nearly $1.40 after, and has been steadily climbing as the Chinese economy has grown, sucking up a hefty percentage of the available oil market.
Five years ago.
Since we invaded Iraq and made Mideast oil safe for democracy, Americans have learned to accept $2-a-gallon gas. That should read: Since we now depend on 60% of our oil from imports and have not allowed any drilling within 100 miles of a US coastline or the construction of any new oil refineries since the 1970s, Americans have learned to accept $2-a-gallon gas. But we didn’t top that price on a regular basis here until 2005. Since then, like the proverbial frogs in the ever-warming pot, we have gotten used to being parboiled. But when gas looks as if it might hit $4 just in time to drive to Bemidji, us frogs should be hopping. Mad. Yes. At anyone who had a hand in making our economy so vulnerable.
The $1.20 we were paying a little more than five years ago meant 20 gallons cost $24.
Today, 20 gallons cost $68. Wow! You can do math!
That kind of jump has some eco-greens happy because they think the public will turn away from minivans to mass transit. Don’t you mean “gas-guzzling SUVs” to mass transit?
Great. Count me in. Then maybe you won’t accumulate a month of Happy Meal wrappers.
But I will need that new streetcar tomorrow morning, in time to get the kids to school, and another one to get them home, plus one for grocery shopping. Don’t tell me it’ll take 20 years to get the trains running. Wow! A thin light of reality breaks through the gathering storm clouds!
The kids can’t wait that long for their next meal. What, there’s not a place where you can purchase Happy Meals anywhere along the bus routes?
This is ridiculous. If I wanted to pay European gas prices, I’d drive to Europe. Yesterday, the price of petrol in the United Kingdom was running a few pence below one British pound per liter. If I performed my calculations correctly, my 14.925 gallons of gas that cost me $50 would have cost me $111 in London. Hey, your eco-green buddies used to say that it was unfair that we paid so much less for our gas then they across the Atlantic. Now that we are on our way, you’re griping?
That’s a big difference. But not as huge as it used to be. For the kind of money we are paying for gas, I don’t want to see the Foshay Tower.
I want to see the Eiffel Tower. You still can. I’d go before the “unruly youths” in France that torch 100 cars every night get bold and burn it and the Louvre to the ground.