Thursday, July 31, 2008

Staring At The Gas Station Marquis I began to think...

A busy day and evening meetings meant getting home late yesterday. As I pulled out of the church parking lot anxious to finally get home a startling discovery caught my attention, causing me to divert from intended destination. My discovery.... a gas station marquis that displayed a 36 cent rise in gasoline from that morning. My stop... an adjacent gas station who had yet to change their price.

Watching the ever changing prices at our local service stations has quickly become a new national pastime. My daily commute now includes monitoring the several convenience store signs indicating what the going rate is for fuel. As I have watched the pricing trends I have discovered that one gas station in my route is the initiator of the price increases, maintaining their price increase if the other stations follow, retreating if the competition does not join them at the higher price. Last night, this lead station attempted a 36 cent price increase. I was releaved this morning to discover that none of the other stations had followed, causing the rogue gas station to return to the going rate.

While not discounting the myriad of factors that impact the price you and I pay at the pump, watching the pricing patterns in my community has led me to the conclusion that opportunism and greed play a huge role in the meteoric rise of fuel. We've come a long way from those "Andy Griffith" days, when Goober would wash your windshield and offer to check your oil while filling your tank. The service station has been replaced by the convenience store, the friendly gas station attendant has become a computerized gas pump and store clerk behind bullet-proof glass. The price on the pump no longer reflects a fair price for a product, it instead is an attempt to extract the most money possible out of your wallet or bank account.

Which brings me to the heart of the matter. I am convinced that yesterday's attempt by this convenience store owner to raise his gasoline price by 36 cents is a pointed illustration of a character collapse in current culture. Concern for our fellow man (or driver, as the case may be) somehow has been lost in the relentless pursuit of higher profits. All too often the question of what is right is avoided, and replaced by what is tolerable. The answer for the oil crisis in America will not be found in hybrids, biofuels, or drilling in the wilderness of the Alaskan wildlife refuge. Be assured that I am fine with all of those options.... I simply state that a return to the Biblical principle that "honest scales are the Lord's delight" and "be kind and compassionate toward one another" is a critical factor.

Greater character will have greater impact than greater crude oil. Just a thought :)


Greydon Cochrane said...

I noticed that too going to Magic waters and when we returned, an increase. The some one noticed that State farm got paid today,and that it is considered the weekend.

So this maybe the increase, but awesome read i was thinking the same thing!!!!

Anonymous said...

I miss the goobers from that era too. How cool would it be to revert back to gas station attendants, It would be worth paying a little extra for gas to get that friendly type of relational contact, instead of a machine that half the time doesn't even give you a receipt correctly.

Adam said...

It sounds like a communist plot to me.

Golf Nut said...

Pastor Ed, another job well done. I have been telling anyone who would listen about the rogue station and their practices. If a group would just go somewhere else on the day they raise their prices, they would Quickly and Easily get the idea not to lead the dollar parade on a greedy whim.

You know back in the good old days, when I was on college, we were taught that prices were a result of supply and demand. This was painfully born out in the Gas Lines of the 70's. Gas every other day and limits on how much you could buy, today prices over $4.00/gal.,and not a line in sight. This has nothing to due with supply, there is plenty of gas, as long as we are willing to pay more then it is worth. This issue is driven by greed and not the usual econoic models. Irregardless, nothing will change because not enough of us are willing to get a little uncomfortable for a little while. What price comfort ?