Sunday, October 25, 2009

Choosing to put a tiger in my tank

Economic behavior is for the most part driven by free choice and self interest, which usually means looking for the best product at the best price. Every once in a while, our economic behavior is modified by a positive or negative political, social or moral cause, which influences us to boycott product A or patronize product B based on a personal value judgment.

An example in history was the tea boycott staged by American colonists, given the onerous taxes on tea imposed by the British crown. I don’t know how effective it was, but it was at least a symbolic gesture that helped rally the cause that inspired the American Revolution.

Other cause driven economic behavior fails to gain traction, such as when Hillary Clinton said: “I turn off a light and say, ‘Take that, Iran,’ and “Take that, Venezuela.’ We should not be sending our money to people who are not going to support our values,”

Before I come down too hard on Hillary, I have to confess that I too engage in futile, cause-driven economic choices, though for the most part I am looking for the best value and what is best for me and my family. For example, though I will obviously look for the lowest gasoline prices in the vicinity, I always avoid Citgo stations. I have to be running on fumes and know for a fact that there is not another service station in ten miles before I will purchase a drop of gasoline supplied by the thuggish government of Venezuela.

I do realize that at best I am just making myself feel better. It is difficult to buy any petroleum product these days without supporting some thug-ocracy somewhere, and I wouldn’t doubt that Hugo’s crude finds its way to some of the brand-X, convenience-store based gasoline outlets like Sheetz or Wawa, which I patronize frequently.

But our economic choices are also driven by things we approve and affirm, which is why Wawa doesn’t always get my business. For example, just off of east bound US 50, a few miles before the Bay Bridge, there is a Wawa that has some unusually low prices, especially considering that it is on such a major thoroughfare. But right beside the Wawa there is an Exxon-Mobil station that usually matches the Wawa price.

It’s a no-brainer to choose the Exxon, not because I believe for a minute that the brand-name product is in any way superior to brand X, but rather because I remember how last year Exxon-Mobil was made to be a major bogey-man, the symbol of evil, corporate capitalism, by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other left wing politicians.

As far as I am concerned, any company that has supplied an in-demand and needed product or service, employed thousands of people worldwide, earned handsome profits for its stockholders and has paid its fair share of taxes (demagoguery to the contrary notwithstanding) is fine by me and deserving of my support. If Exxon-Mobil has inspired the ire of the left, it must be doing something right.

So today I filled my tank to the brim with Exxon regular. Take that, Hillary! Take that, Barack!


Giovanni said...

Paging Captain GPS please stop by this blog and explain that the left wing of this country starts around the late Senator Ted Kennedy and not at President Obama or Secretary of State Clinton! By the same token the right begins somewhere around Sens Jim DeMint and Jeff Sesions.

Here's my point it's not about capitalism but rather about corporations. There where lots of people who felt they where getting hosed over $4.00 a gallon gasoline. They were not all on the left unless you had the "club for growth" people as ground zero.

I don't believe for a minute that you didn't complain about those prices, or what the crowd in Wall Street did to this country. Ask Californians how they felt when they found out how Enron manipulated the flow of energy going to them. Ask Anyone how they felt about the "planned obsolescence" of the auto industry or how the defense industry is able to charge the Pentagon $500 for a hammer.
I'll agree to lets get the government off the back of small businesses.
How about you plan a tea party on how corporations (they're not boogey men but most don't have a soul either) need to stop gauging the American people at every opportunity.

These people like our politicians need to be watched 24/7!

Dither that,Vice President Cheney,Dither that, Sarah,birthers,deathers and anyone that thinks the crowd that runs the insurance industry has the best interest of the American people at heart!

Buonna festa

Leo B. VadalĂ  said...

Hey, great to hear from you. It’s been a while. Hope all is well.

Before I get into the political stuff, Go Phillies!

Now in response to your comments:

1. Captain who? You lost me there.

2. Yeah, sure. I know that the left was beating up on Exxon-Mobil and “big oil” well before Hillary and Barack. It’s just that last year’s rhetoric was fresh on my mind. To be honest, I only specifically remember Obama beating up on Exxon Mobil and only assumed that Hillary did too. I should have researched that.

3. Corporations are easy targets for demagogues, but I have some earth shattering news. Corporations are not owned by those horrible and overpayed C.E.O’s but by stockholders, many of them like you and me. They are governed by a board of directors, who together with the CEO are charged to keep the company healthy and making a profit. Oh, horror of horrors! If corporations behave badly, they eventually end up losing market share or running the company into the ground and it would serve them right

4. Sure I complained about $4.00 a gallon gasoline prices, but my ire was not aimed at oil companies. Do you think that Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP, Amoco, Sunoco and all the others conspired and said, “Hey, let’s milk this for all it’s worth and gouge the American public!” If there were any hint of that DOJ would be all over them with an anti-trust investigation. Even so, if they were really gouging, it would not last for a minute. That’s the wonderful thing about competition. And why wasn’t anyone mentioning Citgo as one of those horrible, blood sucking corporations? Did they make any less money? Did they decide not to gouge and therefore sell gas at a dollar a gallon cheaper and I just didn’t notice?

5. Who do you think was making the most money when the price of gasoline was that high? I have some suggestions:

First place: the thug-ocracies of OPEC that sell the crude oil.

Second place: Federal and state governments, who make more money from a gallon of gas without lifting a finger than do the oil companies who explore, drill, ship, refine and distribute.

Third place: “Big oil” whoever they are.

Fourth place (maybe): speculators on the commodities markets, who were perhaps at fault by betting that the price of oil was going to continue to rise, which made it a self fulfilling prophecy. But then again, a lot of them lost their shirts when the price plummeted, and I cry no tears for them.

6. What the Wall Street crowd did to this country? You mean when they invested too heavily in government induced mortgage securities from Fannie and Freddie and then took a bath with the rest of us?

[By the way, . I made a lot of these same points in that super long email I sent out about a year ago, which our cousin later posted on my behalf ( I still stand by my statements.)

7. What Californians felt about Enron manipulating the flow of energy? Yeah, they were so enraged that they threw Gray Davis out on his ear. Remember, he was the governor who was pointing the finger at those horrible energy companies.

8. Planned obsolescence of the auto industry? I must admit, I have no idea what you are talking about. Have you been watching Michael Moore films or something? There is one American company that is doing fine right now, and without any help from the government. I’ve already said everything I can on that subject in a previous post.

Anyway, I am perhaps spending too much energy trying to answer you point by point. A lot of it seems to be name calling, ranting and slogans. If you would like to rant, you may.

You obviously don’t trust industry. I don’t trust government. Both need to be subject to some accountability. I will grant you that, given human nature, there are shady characters in all walks of life. I don’t even trust me, but that is a subject for a different post.