Sunday, September 25, 2005

Hurricane Rita and Gas Prices: Did Sonny Screw Up?

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue (not to be confused with the late “chicken man” Frank Perdue) did something rather pro-active this week in preparation of Hurricane Rita’s arrival on the Gulf Coast. As soon as he heard that oil refineries and platforms were shut down on the Gulf Coast, Perdue requested that all Georgia schools to be closed on Monday and Tuesday to help save gas. He also asked all “non-essential” state employees to stay home and telecommute if possible.

The idea here is to cut down on the demand for gas in the first two working days after the hurricane so there won’t be this “panic buying” that occurred right after Hurricane Katrina hit. Perdue had already ordered that the gas tax be waived for the month of September and his people were monitoring gas stations looking for price-gougers. (Sorry Sonny, but it’s the oil companies that are really gouging people.)

Now some people have an issue with Sonny-boy’s plans. The state will be missing out on millions of dollars in tax revenue because of the gas tax being waived. I’m sure that every single greedy, money-grubbing politician in the state is pissed off about that. The parents are pissed because this news hit on late Friday, and that doesn’t give people much time to set up day care or some other way to take care of their kids. I’m sure that plenty of parents will be taking personal days off from work whenever possible because of this situation.

But here’s something that needs to be pointed out… Governor Perdue took a PRO-ACTIVE stance on this matter. He didn’t wait for something bad to happen. He didn’t wait for the prices to go up. He didn’t wait for there to be price spikes and panic buying. He stepped forward and said, “I’m going to do everything possible as governor to cut down on demand BEFORE it becomes a problem.”

It’s about frigging time that SOMEONE did something like that! Of course, now we have to follow up on this train of thought and cut down on OUR overall demand. Fat chance, I know, but we still gotta do it at some point, and it’s better to do it NOW when gas is threatening to hit $3 a gallon than when it approaches the $4 and $5 range. When gas prices reach those levels, it’s not going to go back down to the $2 range ever again!

And here’s something else that you probably haven’t even considered… guess what is the biggest gas guzzling activity for ANY vehicle, large or small? Waiting around in traffic! Just ask the people in Texas that were fleeing Rita and they’ll tell you! A lot of people ran out of gas simply because they were stuck in the middle of the rush to get out of town.

Now guess what is THE biggest cause of rush-hour congestion? School! Between school busses and those STUPID parents who chauffeur their precious tax exemptions to and from school, our roads become congested because of school. When school is out, for whatever reason, you’ll notice that traffic moves smoothly. I have been an Atlanta-area commuter for over TEN YEARS and I can tell you from experience that anytime school is in session, our roads become parking lots!

So now we have Monday and Tuesday where the schools are out, and some parents will probably have to stay home for those two days as well. That means fewer cars on the road, which means less congestion, fewer traffic jams, and thus those commuters who do hit the roads will get to their destination without being stuck in traffic and wasting their gas. That means less overall demand for gasoline for those two days.

It’s rather ingenious if you think about it.

Whoops! I said that naughty word again, didn’t I? “Think”! Yeah, we’re not supposed to “think”, we’re just supposed to “react” and “obey”. Asking people to THINK… what was I thinking?

By the way, gas prices have already started to climb here in ATL. Before Friday, the lowest I saw prices were at $2.53/g (that's WITH the gas tax being waived). On Friday they went to $2.59 and then to $2.69 and some places are now at $2.74. And those stations that still have gas advertised at $2.53... are out of gas.

What is it like over in your neck of the woods? Seeing any closed-down pumps? Do you agree or disagree with the Governor's plan? Don't be shy! Don't just be a blogging lurker! Sound off! (Just don't SPAM.)

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