Category Archives: Economy

The Man: at it again

My car was on empty so I pulled into the neighborhood gas station this morning, before the once-a-week trip to Sacramento. I hit a record this morning:

My wife also filled up her tank this morning. Her total: $61.24 for 13.61 gallons, at $4.49 per gallon. So, all told, we spent $116.09 for 25.968 gallons. This is going to turn into an election issue, of course. I appreciate the honesty with which Sen. Obama is addressing the issue. I like some of his ideas. Sen. McCain in a  posturing move, also agreed that gas prices wouldn’t drop before the November election.

In other news, there has been discussion of drilling in Alaska again. It’s not a workable solution. What is needed is a lifestyle change, which the average  person is unwilling to support in this country. We hear the news but we think it somehow doesn’t apply to us. We want what we want, a nation of overstimulated brats used to having our way. What a mess.

I’m still aghast at the number of full-size SUVs I see cruising around town with one passenger, although I will say the decrease in big cars and trucks on the streets is noticeable. Beyond the foreclosure crisis, there are a number of economic “indicators” that are also prevalent in our city:

  • I see more and more older people in entry-level retail and customer-service jobs. There has been a shift in the past 20 years, in which immigrants, mostly from Mexico and Latin America, work the fast food jobs that were largely populated by teen-agers when I was that age in the (cringe) mid- to late-1980s.
  • A number of Mom-and-Pop businesses are folding. And not only in certain neighborhoods. I see businesses failing in high-visibility sections of the city.
  • I notice businesses cutting back on services. I went into a nationally recognized chain store to purchase some items for the house, and when I attempted to use my credit card, the machine where customers could swipe their card and enter their pin or signature wasn’t working. Instead, there was some complicated procedure in which the sales person had to call an 800 number and validate the purchase by entering my information. I was amazed that they could be so backward.

Does anyone else notice less-reported signs of the economic downturn? I’d be curious to see how things are in your part of the world.

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Fightin’ The Man

The cost of milk at our grocery store has increased from $3.89 per half-gallon to $4.09. Gas continues to rise to about $4.39 per gallon for regular unleaded. By the way, does anyone remember when “regular” meant “leaded” and not “entry-level unleaded”? Just curious.

We were nearly out of milk and I had just made coffee for my long evening of writing, so after my wife made this discovery and resisted the urge to throw a small appliance or piece of cutlery, we hopped in our ’93 Honda Accord, affectionately dubbed by our friends as our “big car.”

As we left the store with our coveted milk and approached our car, a twentysomething in a Chevy Blazer comes up to us and says “Hey, do you want to sell your Honda? The gas is killing me.” I assumed he meant the gas in his vehicle, but you never know. There’s a taqueria that stays open late just down the street.

I heard something on NPR the other day that simply startled me. Due to the current gas crisis, the lowly Geo Metro is the eco-chic vehicle of the season. Sure enough, a Google search revealed the Metro is getting the ink, like this May 20 online CNN article.

My Hyundai, also the laughingstock among my family and friends, gets decent gas mileage but in fightin’ The Man, it’s never enough. That’s why after months of scrimping and saving the extra money from my freelance writing gigs, I’m weaning myself off the gas.

I live less than 5 miles from my job and it’s mostly flat streets, so minus the 100-plus-degree temperatures and the insane drivers in this town, I think I’ll be fine. I’m psyched! Something about having a red bike that makes me want to get up and sing. Woot woot!

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The Man is at it again

So, I roll up to get gas for our weekend of camping and I see this:

ripping me off since 1970

Yes, America, it’s time for the annual gas price hike. On Monday, I went to a gas station in my town and bought gas for $3.91 per gallon. I returned to the same brand of gas station this morning and purchased gas for $4.03 per gallon. Nothing drastic happened in the world in four days. The Man has done this every Memorial Day weekend, as it has done for years, because they can.

I know I sound like a cantankerous old goat, the kind that regularly show up at city council meetings and gripe about potholes and shopping carts left in the neighborhood, but this is ridiculous! That I should live to see the day when I cruise around town in search of cheap gas and think $3.91 per gallon is a good deal.

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