There were reports of people getting really nasty with each other, but I never saw anything like that. I heard an interview on the radio with a tanker truck driver who was being stalked by drivers and accosted by angry drivers when he got out of his truck. Like it's his fault. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.
Governor Perdue put the blame on us residents of metro Atlanta, calling the panic "self-induced." It's really all our fault, see. Oh, here's an AJC article from September 24 (registration required) where he says:
“There is ample fuel in the city,” he said. “It’s not everywhere it needs to be, but we do not have a crisis in the sense that we don’t have fuel coming in.”
That ain't ezackly so, Sonny. He is obviously a complete fool for believing that we are complete fools. Does he even know what the word "ample" means?
Also, where was he with a prayer session on the Capitol steps? He prayed for water last year, but gas isn't important enough to bother the deities about? Oh right. He was out of the country. Because state governors need to be visiting foreign countries instead of doing their day jobs, you know. Must be planning to run for VP one day.
Here are the main reasons for the shortage, from what I can tell:
- Hurricanes Gustav and Ike--what are you going to do? Hurricanes happen (well, 'ardly hever in 'Artford, 'Ereford, and 'Ampshire, but I digress). Sometimes they mess up oil refineries.
- Price Ceilings. Price ceilings (in the form of "anti-gouging" laws) create and exacerbate shortages. Obviously, most politicians don't understand even the rudimentary basics of economics (as demonstrated this week in Washington). Makes me want to thwack them on the foreheads until they figure it out.
- Fuel Mixture. Because of our stringent fuel requirements, we can't just get any old kind of gasoline here in Atlanta. Those requirements messed up the delivery of the fuel that was available and by the time the restrictions got lifted, it was too late.
It could have been much, much worse. We're lucky that Perdue didn't decide to activate the full real live emergency plan "which could have set minimum and maximum purchases at gas stations and restricted the days on which motorists could buy fuel." Next time will certainly be worse--and no doubt we'll get blamed for it, too.
It's a strange, uncomfortable feeling, not to be able to find gas for our vehicles. To restrict our travel, not because we wanted to, but because we needed to. I felt more appreciative of the oil companies (yes! those big baddies!) and all of the peopleguys who work at various jobs along the supply chain, ensuring that gas is available to stations all over the country each and every day. It's easy to take such products for granted, but the truth of the matter is that gas doesn't just show up out of nowhere. People must produce it and deliver it. In the words of one astute individual:
“No one was surprised,” said Jim Tudor, president of the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores, who consulted with state officials on their response. “But it’s very difficult to plan. The reality is, state government can’t make gas.”
Reading that last sentence was amusingly refreshing. Nice to know that there are still some people out there who acknowledge that fact. Sadly, too many people look to the government to conjure up goods and services. Certainly government officials wish it were possible to do so--just think of the job security! The voters would never vote them out of office!
One final musing: when things rumble and bump in our economy, due to natural causes or government-made ones, shortages like our gas situation are going to occur. Big bumps, big problems. In my more paranoid moments, I wonder what will happen if the economy goes boom! I shouldn't take it for granted that I'll be able to find gasoline. Or insulin. How hard will that be to find in an emergency, with the government "helping" with price ceilings and regulations that will shackle the very people who make it and the people who need it. It's very scary to contemplate showing up at the pharmacy and facing an insulin shortage. Because you just expect it to be there, just like you expect gasoline to be at the gas station. Damn.
I'm rambling now. I'm too tired to spend much more time on this post, so I'll just put it up there, in its "unpolished" form (which, as you've no doubt noticed, I often do!). Thoughts welcome.