Thursday, June 12, 2008

My Thoughts of Late

I've been a bit busy, but I've kept up on the world around me and the last two weeks there have been lots of thoughts wandering around in my mind. Here are a few of the most vocal:

  1. A Blogimony. This was linked from my friend Hilary's blog (one of her friends). I just had to share. Lately I've tried to convince people to start blogs -- it's been hard to explain the value of one. I truly felt that it has enriched my life through journaling, keeping in touch, learning, etc. Anyway if you read her post you'll see what I mean.
  2. At the 2008 Harvard graduation ceremony can you take a wild guess who spoke? Barack? GW? nope. J.K. Rowling. And it was amazing. Please, take a few minutes to read it as well. Read it here or watch it here.
  3. And what post would be complete without some reference to gas prices, right? The best articles I've read lately? Are Why Gas is So Expensive and At $4, Everybody Gets Rational. You have no right to complain about gas taxes unless you've done your research and found out why they are high. OPEC and crude oil prices, rising demand in India and China, and our falling dollar are the biggest reasons -- none of these come into our power to change. So don't be thinking that not buying gas from Exxon-Mobil is the cure-all (and please don't spam me with those emails) . . . it's not, Exxon buys gas from Chevron refineries and Chevron will buy gas from Maverick refineries. If it's cheaper for a Maverik station to buy from the nearest Shell refinery than the Maverik refinery, they will. So brand banning doesn't work! Below is a summary of "Why Gas is So Expensive". The "Rational" article is so short and every word worth reading you just need to go over and read it ! :-)

Even the people who have spent their entire lives studying the price of oil don't know for sure how to weigh each factor for responsibility in the total equation. Perhaps the safest thing to say is that it's all in there, in my $65 receipt. Kidnappings of oil executives in Nigeria and the nationalization of Exxon-operated facilities in Venezuela. Chinese economic growth and hedge fund manipulation. ANWR and air quality. The price of gas in the United States is a consequence of global economic growth, rising standards of living, greed, politics and the stresses induced by 6.5 billion people going about their business on a planet with limited resources.

Sound complicated? It most certainly is, which is one reason why we should avoid the temptation to simply blame greedy oil companies or radical environmentalists.

In 2008, Chevron recorded its largest first-quarter profit ever: $5.17 billion. But according to the San Francisco Chronicle, Chevron's profits from refining and selling gasoline in the United States were actually down 99 percent in the first quarter of 2008 from a year earlier, and "during the previous two quarters, the company actually lost money making gas." That $5 billion in profits is derived primarily from extracting the [crude] oil out of the ground and selling it on the open market where prices are set.

According to the California Energy Commission, "for every one dollar increase of the cost of a barrel of crude oil, there is an average increase of about 2.5-cents per gallon of gasoline." In 2000, the price of a barrel of crude was about $25; in May 2008, $133. You can do the math.

It's clear that millions of Americans, just like me, are staring gape-mouthed at their filling station receipts and thinking, “There's gotta be a better way.” And there is. But it's not likely to come about by political attempts to twist OPEC's arm or legislating lower prices. Nor can (or should) Americans try to stop Chinese or Indians from buying new cars and installing air conditioning. Instead of striving to remake the world so it gives us cheaper gas, maybe we should listen to what the price of a gallon of gas is trying to tell us: Use less.

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