I was out driving around town, doing some errands the other day, when my low fuel icon on my dashboard came on. I pulled into a gas station, slid my credit card into the pump and started to fuel up. As I stood there at the pump, I waited for the meter to get to $50.00 (the normal amount it takes to fill my gas tank)...but then it went to $60.00...then to my surprise $70.00!!...
At first I thought that there must be a hole in my tank and gasoline was spilling out below my car...but unfortunately this wasn’t the case...
It suddenly dawned on me that at $4.25 a gallon, I was now spending an extra $25 in order to fill my gas tank or about 150% of what it had been as recently as December.
How can this be?...I was outraged!!
Shortly thereafter, I drove to a convenience store to get something to drink. A 20-ounce bottle of diet 7-up now costs $1.79. I thought about this for a moment and did some mental math...128 ounces in a gallon...roughly six bottles of diet 7-up...this came to a cost of $11.00 including taxes and recycling fees.
It definitely made me feel better about the gasoline purchase I just made...especially when I looked over at the bottled water and saw that the store was selling a bottle of water for about the same cost as a bottle of diet 7-up...$11.00 a gallon for what?...bottled water?!
My last stop that afternoon was to pick up a Starbuck’s "grande skinny latte" for my office manager. That afternoon there was a long line and when I finally ordered I found that the price of that cup of coffee was just about $5.00 (including the almost obligatory barista tip).
Doing the same calculation as I did with the water...it suddenly hit me that I was spending nearly $35.00 a gallon for specialty coffee!
Based on my two subsequent experiences, I now thought my gas purchase a short time ago was a down right bargain.
I completely understand that I was paying for "convenience" when I purchased the diet 7-up...and perhaps the "experience" when I purchased the coffee...but was the price I paid really worth the convenience or the experience?
Why is it that we get so upset at the price of fuel and not so outraged at the price of bottled water and coffee?
Is it because we feel that we must have gasoline but we really don’t need to have a diet soda or an exotic coffee blend? Maybe perhaps it is because we can choose to make our own coffee or filter our own water - at a much lower cost - whereas we cannot possibly refine our own gasoline without a lot of very expensive equipment, specialized knowledge and will end up breaking several federal, state and local laws in the process.
Personally I think the answer lies in control. We are in control of our coffee consumption or water purchases but an item like gasoline is typically beyond our control. The loss of control is really why we’re angry.
It is for this reason that I truly believe that electric vehicles and personal power generation (such as solar cells on a rooftop) are the next great economic booms in our future.
Human beings typically like to be in control of their own destiny (or at least think that they are in control). Producing their own electricity and using it to power their vehicles allows them to stay in control.
I now have a couple friends who own electric vehicles (and several more who own hybrid cars) who are in elated bliss as they drive past gas station after gas station knowing that they are no longer prisoners of the oil companies. Yes, they paid a bit more for their cars and have jobs that allow them the freedom of commuting only about 40-50 miles each day (well within the charging range of their electric cars) but I suspect that they would find a way to make it work even with a longer commute.
For them it’s just a matter of principle...they want to be in control of their own choices.
While some will argue that there is a portion of society that wants to be led, I tend to believe the opposite. I truly believe that individuals want to be in control of their own lives...to enjoy freedoms and make their own decisions. This is the "pioneering spirit" that we all have inside of us.
Freedom is a great reason to explain why there are roughly 28 million small businesses, accounting for almost one trillion dollars of gross receipts, just in the US alone according to the Small Business Association. These businesses were begun by those people with ideas and a strong work ethics. They no longer wanted to be told what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. For them it’s an inner desire to be free to choose there own course.
In places across the world, the winds of change are blowing like hurricanes. People are bravely standing up against the governing establishments and demanding to be heard. They are fed up with the ruling class and the corruption that it brings.
They have decided that the time is now to take control of their own lives...if not for themselves, but rather for the generations still to come. These people are risking their lives to fight for their independence...for their freedom to make choices.
Just a few thoughts as you are filling up your car or truck this weekend or standing in line waiting to place your order for a tall non-fat mocha.
We can make a choice...we can make a difference...we have the power.
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