$5 Gas This Summer?

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The way things are going,  gas prices will probably top $5 a gallon this summer. We may be lucky if it stops there. Some industry experts, including former Shell CEO John Hoffmeister, believe that a combination of bustin’ loose inflation and real fears about an impending war in the Middle East being pushed by neo-con chickenhawks will push gas over $5 per gallon by July. An actual war with Iran, courtesy of these chickenhawks, could push prices much higher.

It’s possible we’ll be paying $7 or $8 a gallon if there’s a U.S.-Israeli strike on Iran – god help us all.

Remember: It was $4 a gallon gas back in ’08 that triggered the economic free-fall we’re still trying to pull out of today. And while many of us have acclimated ourselves to the New Normal of $3-and-something gas, an uptick to $4 or more is likely to have the same effect it had back in ’08 – only worse because millions of people don’t have the reserve cash (savings, equity) they still had back in ’08 – many don’t even have a job.

It might be a good time to start thinking about how you’ll handle $5 gas – before everyone else starts thinking about it.

Now, for example, might be a good time to buy a motorcycle or motor scooter for “just in case.” Rising gas prices are a good excuse to indulge – and smart policy if gas prices do go through the roof.  Not just because of the money you’ll save on gas, either. If the cost of fuel continues to rise, expect the cost of high-mileage transportation options to go up, too. Supply and demand. Simple. A used 50 MPG bike that goes for $2,500 today might very well draw $3,500 (or more) a couple of moths from now, in a world of $5 regular. Same goes for scooters. They were very popular circa ’08 – and popularity equals pay more.  Right now, it’s still cold out and gas prices, though higher, are still manageable. I have a buddy who owns a bike shop; he also sells Chinese-made scooters. Things have been slow for the past year. If you walked into his store today, odds are you’d ride out on a good deal. But tomorrow? What happens when customers are lining up for his 80 MPG scooters? Right. Forget about haggling. If you don’t want to pay full MSRP sticker, the next guy in line behind you will. So, again, if you’re worried about what’s coming and are considering possible ways to insulate yourself, the time is, indeed, now.

Another option is a basic beater. Something you can sub in for your current (thirstier) ride, to get you from a to b as inexpensively as possible or at least, less expensively. Let me give you an example:

Friends of ours recently nabbed a steal of a deal on a one-owner late ’80s GM compact-sized station wagon. Just over 70,000 miles, great shape – and 30-plus MPG on the highway. They picked it up at an estate sale for $2,200. If they drive this unit instead of their Suburban (12 MPG) they’ll have recovered the $2,200 outlay within a year. After that, it’s gravy.

As with bikes and scooters, expect the price of used economy cars to skyrocket along with the cost of gas. And not just because people will want more fuel-efficient cars. $5 gas is going to make it that much harder for many people – millions of people – to buy a new car, including new economy cars. When food costs 15 percent more; when your heating bill has gone up $100/month – and so on – there’s less money on hand to buy a new car. This will boost the price of used cars, which people will smile on as more financially feasible. And high-mileage models will be especially popular.

The last thing is to consider doing what the smart money does on Wall Street – get out before the bottom falls out.

If you currently own a big SUV – or even a mid-sized crossover – be aware that its value could drop like, well, a Hummer falling down an elevator shaft if we get to $5 a gallon gas. Remember Hummers? Don’t see them much anymore. Even with gas “reasonable” at $3.60 per gallon, they are about as popular as mustard on a hot fudge sundae. The people who held keys to them back in ’08 found they owned the four-wheel-drive equivalent of an underwater McMansion. No one wanted them. Depreciation rates soared. The Hummer itself soon became extinct.

I expect a lot of the same to happen again. So if you have a vehicle likely to become a liability in a world of $5 gas, it might not be a bad idea to consider selling it now – before it loses 30 percent of its market value in a matter of weeks.

Throw it in the Woods?

 

 

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eric

Author of "Automotive Atrocities" and "Road Hogs" (MBI). Currently living amongst the Edentulites in rural SW Virginia. 

  174 comments for “$5 Gas This Summer?

  1. Ray
    March 24, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    Dom had it right. The best place to learn to ride is off road, but ride in pairs. A great on off road bike is the DRZ 400 with an oversize tank. $5 gas will be chump change this summer if the neocons who have highjacked our government have their way.

  2. Stan
    March 15, 2012 at 3:36 am

    Y’all are tryin’ to make me feel bad about buying a 8 yr old 4wd Expedition, aren’t you?

    Fortunately I only drive it to church on Sunday, have a take home company car for the rest of the week.

    We have a VW diesel that gets 40+ but also have a 13 old thats 6’2″

    Theres not a car made that gets more than 18mpg with a back seat comfortable for someone over 6 feet.

    • March 15, 2012 at 9:32 am

      Hey Stan,

      There’s one: The Versa hatchback. It has a very roomy back seat. I’m 6 3 and fit back there comfortably. Plenty of leg and headroom. Check one out – you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  3. Fred
    March 11, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    I’ve owned and driven small fuel-efficient 30-50 mpg cars for the last 40 years, and I’ve ridden motorcycles and motorscooters for just as long. Plus I’ve been a car salesman for the last 20.

    Americans seem to have short memories when it comes to their buying vehicles based on gas prices and fuel economy. Gas prices go up and they all rush in wanting to trade in their SUVs for smaller SUVs or cars. They spend thousands or tens of thousands to save $500 or $1000 per year at the pump. Makes no sense to me. Then gas prices go back down a bit and they’re all back in trying to justify purchasing SUVs again – and spening thousands more in the process. And it still makes no sense to me.

    For me, riding motorcycles or motorscooters has always had inherintly more risky than driving four wheels. But I’m always super careful when I’m on two wheels and I just pretend always that I’m invisible. I don’t think that scooters are more dangerous than motorcycles, and although many commenters here have bashed scooters for their shortcomings – like motorcycles, it all depends what size engine the scooter has, to determine its capability and its practical applications.

    My large road motorcycle only gets about 45-47 mpg, and my Toyota Yaris hatchback gets about 42 hwy, so in comparison the large bike gets ridden purely for the fun of it. My 150cc scooter which I bought used a few months ago for $600, gets about 90 mpg, and it’s 150 cc’s is more than enough to keep up with the under 55 mph city traffic that I encounter daily. When I want to hit the highway and still get better gas mileage, my maxiscooter (250 cc) gets 75 mpg cruising at 60 to 65 mph, which is enough for my personal needs.

    So different strokes for different folks, as they say. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but Eric offers plenty of good ideas in this article.

    • dom
      March 12, 2012 at 12:39 am

      Nice write-up and well said! You obviously are not the same Fred we had last week.

      • Fred
        March 12, 2012 at 4:07 pm

        Thanks for the comment Dom. If last week’s Fred is a clover, then that certainly was not me. I am fully awake and aware as to what is really going on in the USA and the world, have been for many years, and I share none of the cloverites’ worship of the government, or belief in anything that our lamestream presstitute dinosaur news media tells us.

  4. Gail
    March 11, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    TOG sez: “I can’t imagine it’s too difficult to learn as long as I don’t let the thing scare me to death. A healthy fear is probably always good.”

    Essential, I’d say.

    A long time ago, I experimented briefly with owning and riding a bike. I handled the whole affair half smart and half dumb.

    I was coming from a position of no experience — didn’t know the first thing. The first thing I did was buy a bike. Everybody around me advised me to buy one size larger than I thought I’d want because in no time I’d want a bigger one, so why not start out with the big one. This seemed sensible, but what is sensible for a man is not so much for a short, slightly-built female. I ended up with a 350 Yahama and had no hope of getting it back on its feet when I dumped it — a not infrequent occurrence. I had often to rely on the kindness of strangers all of whom, I’m sure, were repressing the urge to laugh or to pat me on my cute little helmet, which was of course infuriating.

    The one venue for learning the skill was a guy who ran a private school. IIRC he didn’t have instructor creds of any kind; he just hung out a shingle one day and was in the motorcycle driver’s school business. After the third or so lesson he decided that he wanted to date me more than teach me how to ride, which kind of threw a monkey wrench into the thing, so I quit him and decided to go independent and utilize the by-guess-and-by-god method of motorcycle mastery.

    I do not recommend this.

    Looking back, I can’t imagine what I was thinking. I imagine that but for the alertness of drivers I would have met the angels any time. I had absorbed the first three lessons and thought I could figure the rest out based on those. I was half right. I did all right as long as I didn’t have to 1) shift, 2) turn or 3) stop.

    Kidding aside, I was always afraid. I was so taken up with being afraid that I was unable to concentrate on applying what I knew to learn the rest, like you do with, say, baking bread. Being afraid was smart, since what I was doing was insane.

    I finally gave it up as a bad idea and sold the bike. I feel now that I could have handled the whole business a lot better. I take responsibility, but I also got some bad advice, I think. I believe even now that starting out too ill-equipped to ride without being afraid — or only a little afraid — would have left me fearful forever after. It would have tainted and maybe ruined the experience. That’s why Eric’s advice to get certified training and Dom’s advice to fiddle around in the woods with a small machine is very good. There is stuff you can learn as you go and stuff that you can’t, like flying a plane, I would imagine. But there’s a difference between, as you say, healthy fear and debilitating fear — not a good thing when you need good powers of concentration.

  5. clark
    March 11, 2012 at 8:34 am

    “During WWII, an engineering buddy of mine converted his car over to using kerosene.” – Now that is interesting.
    In the meantime my solution was to buy a bicycle. Next week I hope to purchase a VW Bug, or something like it, … maybe.
    I think I’ll probably freak out a bit for awhile though after having ridden in a high up in the air 4×4 for so long. I’m not sure I’ll do well dragging my butt so low to the ground right at bumper level.

    “During WWII, an engineering buddy of mine converted his car over to using kerosene.” – This is the second time I’ve wondered how easy it is to make K-1.

  6. Chumchingee
    March 11, 2012 at 6:03 am

    Concerning gas mileage on the Honda. I own a 97 Honda 4 cyl. I suggest changing the PCV valve as a cheap fix. Probably give you a couple of miles more per gallon in town. The air cleaner is probably worth about 1/2 mile to the gallon though it could be as much as 1 or 2 miles.
    Inflate the tires. I suggest at least 35 pounds per tire. That is worth a mile or two. It adds up. Over the winter the tires deflate to around 28 lbs per tire.
    Put 5w20 Oil in the engine. That is worth at least 2 miles per gallon.
    The 5w20 is prescribed on later models.
    The other problem is mufflers. If there is a small hole it can effect mileage.
    Course, you probably have tried all those little tricks. On the old cars we used to change the timing, but I don’t think that trick is available anymore.
    During WWII, an engineering buddy of mine converted his car over to using kerosene. Gasoline was restricted but no one thought to restrict kerosene. I don’t know how he did it. He probably figured out the octane then retarded the timing so the engine ran right. He also had a carb and not fuel ejection.He was 89 when he died from medical complications of diabetes or I would ask him. Needless to say, he was very popular with the girls during that war. He was the only one with transportation.
    With leaded gas, changing the plugs helped and resetting the gap. Don’t think that works anymore either.

  7. Kevin Beck
    March 10, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Had to replace my last car after it was totaled in an accident. This time I got an MR2 Spyder circa 2002 w/90k miles. Was able to purchase for about $5,000 cash, it just needed a new paint job. It works wonderfully, and I get 38 mpg on highways, which accounts for 98% of my driving. Certainly beats the 24 mpg I got with the previous vehicle.

  8. SM777
    March 8, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    A year ago last Dec., I was in a country where gas is approx. $6/gal. in the Summer and $5/gal. in the Winter. I saw cars like the Hyudai Getz w/the 1 liter engine. Also, the Accents I saw, (walked by a dealer), had either a 1.3 L gas or 1.5 L diesel with all of the safety items that US cars have. Ever heard of the Toyota Aygo?

    Maybe the US elite has decided that another little trick they can use to get rid of the middle class is to raise the price of gas via manipulation (ie, keep closing those refineries) while keeping real economy cars out of the country.

    There are people who strike back in their own little way. Just check YouTube for those individuals who make their own diesel fuel out of trash plastic. From what I understand, 1 pound of trash plastic equals 1/3 gal. of diesel fuel.

    • March 8, 2012 at 6:28 pm

      Yup!

      I try to deflect gas prices by riding my motorcycles as often as I feasibly can. Since the bikes get 45-60 MPG, this amounts to a halving o my normal gas expenses. Of course, I cant do much about the rising cost of food and other items, all affected by rising fuel prices (and inflation). But it’s something, anyhow.

      • SM777
        March 8, 2012 at 6:56 pm

        Hello Eric,

        My dad used to have a Kawasaki 175 back in the mid-70’s when we lived at the overpass of 460 and the Blue Ridge Parkway. He used to take me along on the parkway in the Spring. Motorcycles are a load of fun with the exception of the occasional @$$…. running us off of the road. From what I discovered, it wasn’t a question of – if – you get thrown off of a bike, but – when -. When a large dog jumped my dad at 40 mph and he broke his collar-bone, that was it for cycling in my family.

        What do you think about trikes?

        • March 8, 2012 at 8:12 pm

          Hey SM,

          That’s my neck of the woods!

          I dunno about most trikes – here’s why:

          As you know, a single-track vehicle like a bike is steered by a combination of push-pull (steering, input via the handlebars) and leaning. But how do you lean a trike? If it has a rigid rear axle, you can’t. So, going into a corner, the front (single track) wants to lean toward the inside of the corner; meanwhile, the back wheels fight this tendency, with the outer wheel pitching up. This can result in a dangerously unstable, crappy-handling machine.

          I don’t seen any advantage. A single track bike handles better, weighs less. The trike is heavy, poor handling. The only reasoning I can see in its favor is that it enables people who are handicapped or who have poor balance to experience “motorcycling.”

          There are some three wheelers out there that don’t have the handling issues I’ve just laid out; I forget the name of the company that builds ‘em, but IIRC they are expensive – which you’d expect for the complex suspension systems they have!

          Addendum- I found it: Can Am, see here: http://en-us.spyder.brp.com/Home.aspx
          $16k to start….

    • BrentP
      March 8, 2012 at 6:33 pm

      The government in Illinois sends out the department of revenue after anyone who makes their own fuel. They demand the road taxes on the fuel -AND- then the state will demand all the fees, licenses, etc and so forth they want from a refiner. All in all as I recall it ends up being about thirty grand for a little home fuel making.

      So if you do it, don’t let your neighbors or any one else know because eventually the government will probably learn about it and send out the muscle. Even if it is just pennies in road tax they’ll do it.

      • March 8, 2012 at 6:38 pm

        Indeed.

        There is saying out here in The Sticks that’s apropos:

        Shoot, shovel – and shut up.

        • Mithrandir
          March 10, 2012 at 1:30 pm

          The last part is very important. Listen to Sargent Schultz: See nothing, tell no one.

          Don’t blab to the world about what you did on the net. Most people don’t care what you did and you don’t want to tell those that do care.

  9. SojournerMoon
    March 7, 2012 at 1:30 am

    Might get a kick out of this. It fits perfectly what you’re saying. Of course, the guy’s probably looking for a job right now for not towing the company line:

    http://youtu.be/Cdd4selSYE0

    • March 7, 2012 at 11:18 am

      “the guy’s probably looking for a job right now for not towing the company line:”

      Or will be, soon. I can vouch for this. I’ve seen it happen. I know people it’s happened to.

    • mikehell
      March 7, 2012 at 2:17 pm

      Five years ago Ben probably didn’t even know about the problems of inflation, but now he’s on the local bubblehead news speaking the truth. Maybe he won’t last long but it’s nevertheless a positive sign of the times. I’ll take it.

  10. mikehell
    March 6, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    Obama is in a twisted, sick bind over Iran. On the one hand, they want the mullahs dead and they would love to stir the cruise-missile-loving hearts of the populace who in turn vote Obama back in for another term. But on the other hand, there could be hell to pay domestically if gas hits, say, $8 after a strike on Iran. And in that case the flag waving immediately following an attack would quickly give way to hostility towards the big O, not to mention the usual suspects such as “greedy” corporations. So the Iran thing is a dicey proposition and, IMO, not at all clear that there will ever be an overt attack. The covert stuff, which has been on-going for some time now, will of course continue.

    • March 7, 2012 at 4:47 am

      I predict Iran won’t get away with trading oil for gold with India.
      The banksters have already taken care of Qadaffi. After 25 years of being trouble, he only met his maker after going off the Petro-Dollar standard one year ago.
      Netanyahu is the second ‘sock puppet’ beside the first one, Obama, to distract the world over Nukes when it’s all about the Petro-Dollar! For Freedom’s sake, I’m pulling for Iran. Without the Petro-Dollar, Washington and the House of Saud will loose their stranglehold on the world economy.

      • March 7, 2012 at 10:16 am

        “For Freedom’s sake, I’m pulling for Iran.”

        Me too.

        Weird, isn’t it?

      • mikehell
        March 7, 2012 at 1:58 pm

        I have to keep reminding myself that the real issue is to protect the innocent Iranian people who have done me no harm whatsoever and to protect my own ass from the USG. Fuck the goddamn mullahs. They can rot in hell for all I care.

        • March 7, 2012 at 3:08 pm

          Their mullahs – our “leaders” – assholes, all.

          On the other hand, the mullahs haven’t launched a war in living memory. How many wars of choice has our government launched? Let’s see: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria… then in the ’90s it was the Balkans… Panama …before that Nicaragua… that’s seven in 25 years.

          Just counting the majors.

          Iran fought a defensive war against Iraq (which was our proxy, armed by us). That’s it. Meanwhile, the USG deposed the legitimately elected leader of Iran and replaced him with our puppet – the Shah. A brutal SOB who brutalized the Iranian people – at our behest and with our aid – for several decades.

          Gee. I wonder why they hate us…. wonder why on earth they might want a nuclear trump card….

          • mikehell
            March 7, 2012 at 3:20 pm

            Right, Eric. Their mullahs ain’t as bad as our mullahs.

          • March 10, 2012 at 2:09 pm

            … the USG deposed the legitimately elected leader of Iran …

            Ah… no. This is a widespread fallacy. In point of fact, Mossadegh was not democratically and legitimately elected at the time he was overthrown. He previously had been, although only as part of a parliamentary coalition and not in his own right – Iran had a variant of the Westminster System of constitutional monarchy, and under those the heads of government are not heads of state, and usually are only elected by the parliament and not for fixed terms but for indefinite periods that last while their parliamentary support does (even if new elections happen, as those must within a set time or at an earlier trigger, they can stay in if the results come right). That coalition had broken up and Mossadegh lost his parliamentary support, so he launched a coup of his own instead of allowing the opposition to try to form a replacement coalition or going to fresh elections as the Iranian constitution required (he actually dismissed the parliament unconstitutionally). Mossadegh was ruling as a dictator by the time he was overthrown. Under the Iranian constitution of the time, the Shah should indeed have been the head of state, working with a democratically elected prime minister; installing him (again) was the right first step towards getting back to that, only the Shah didn’t do that. This is a story with no good guys.

          • BrentP
            March 10, 2012 at 4:26 pm

            The theme of the US federal government minding its own business however is unchanged. There have been events in US history that when they happen elsewhere the US federal government thinks it is reason to intervene. Wonder how people here would react if another nation decided to intervene during Lincoln’s war, after the JFK was shot dead, or this week when the Obama administration stated it doesn’t need congress because the power comes from the UN.

          • Douglas
            March 11, 2012 at 12:17 am

            I suppose that a “truth in employment” law would have me working for the Department of OFFENSE.
            It’s amazing what the legacy of wars embarked upon, starting with FDR and moving on through his successors, both of elephant and donkey species, have wrought. Just the environmental impact is staggering, never mind the human cost! Wonder if my grandkids will be cursing what Obama hath wrought in 2050…

            • March 11, 2012 at 9:39 am

              Bu 2050, I am convinced America as it exists today will not have existed for many years. Nothing is forever – and neither is this country. It is a polyglot empire, held together not by common bonds of kin and culture, but by commerce and the gun. Like all such empires, it cannot endure.

  11. Tor Munkov
    March 6, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    Are we, the throng, really going to keep obeying the little dot? I think people are going to continue to get out of US dollars, and stop listening to the little dot altogether.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6b70TUbdfs&feature=player_detailpage

  12. Ken
    March 6, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    Years ago I had a 79 Fiesta. I’m over 6 ft. and it was roomy and got 42 mpg. which by today’s standards is excellent. Never could understand why this model did not catch on. I drove it 185X miles and it was hardly ever in the shop, and I only paid $4500 for it new. Try to get that kind of deal now
    Now I drive an Escape (stick shift) which is a little larger, but it still gets 30mpg. over all.
    I think people pay too much attention to fashion. Don’t think like my cat. Think outside the box.

    • Douglas
      March 10, 2012 at 11:56 pm

      Never shoulda gave up on my 1988 Festiva (it also did 40 mpg) back in 2000. Gas was under $2/gal back then. Ah, memories….
      Right now, my 1995 Mercedes diesel (a 300E, seats four adult(erers) in comfort, gets 30 mpg city and 45 hiway, is the cheapest vehicle in the family fleet to operate. It’s a comfortable mid-size luxury car, and it’s rock-solid to boot.
      Eric is right. Find an econobox, the simpler the better (a late 80s to early 90s Geo Metro with the three-banger and stick should fit the bill). Do it now before gas skyrockets outta sight. Then either drive a gas sipper, or when folks panic at $5-$6 a gallon for “benzina”, sell it at a profit.
      In any crisis, there are always opportunities for those that foresee and prepare. Unless the “Gubmint” finds a way to outlaw ingenuity, and I wonder at times if they’re trying…

      • March 11, 2012 at 9:42 am

        I’ve considered snapping up something like that Festiva – or even better, a Honda CRX. I have 60 (and 80) MPG bikes, but then there’s winter…. luckily, I work for myself and work out of the house, so I have a great deal of control over how much I have to drive. I could cut down my gas use by 50 percent or even more if I had to.

        But of course, none of us has any control over the price of all the other commodities that will be affected by $5 gas – and that’s what’s really going to hurt.

        • Douglas
          March 11, 2012 at 9:01 pm

          Hence WHY folks should do as my church (LDS) has advocated for almost 70 years. Live “Providently”. That is, where possible, grow your own food and raise your own livestock. It has benefits besides keeping it as “local” as it gets. Else, accumulate a supply of food storage (but have a plan to regularly utilize and rotate it, else the benefits are largely lost) and other essentials. This is why every trip to “Walley-World”, TP is purchased. If nothing else, just think what can be bartered for with a roll of the hiney floss!
          Lastly, this is why I’m bullish on diesel. Has not Europe gone about 2/3 diesel in passenger car purchases over the last five years? The technology has improved on driveability and performance. “Over there” (and the Yanks came, and shoulda gone home after 1945!) they pay similar prices for diesel at the retail level as we do. Why is gasoline generally so expensive? Because they tax the “Bee-jee-sus” out of it to subsidize mass transit! Plus, diesel is far easier and safer to store. Two or three 55 gallon drums can be easily acquired and filled up (especially during price declines). Having, say, a 150 gallon reserve gives me over 4000 miles of local driving, or over 6000 of highway miles. I’ve noticed that some retailers are now selling yellow (diesel) and blue (kerosene) colored plastic fuel containers; it’d be prudent to acquire some. I keep on filled and on hand in my ‘Benz in the trunk. Just that little can would get me out of CA, or, going down ’99, all the way to Fresno where there’s other family.
          Lastly, we’re all going to have to plan our trips more wisely in order to conserve fuel and time. As a WWII poster often chided, (so BigGov could fuel the Sherman tank that General Patton wanted to grease with the guts of dead Nazis), “Is this trip REALLY necessary”. Be in a position where you, and not “O-Bummer”, decides.

  13. March 6, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    As a Canadian – currently paying around $4.75/US gal I get a bit of a chuckle out of the $4 gas “hysteria”. (In ’08 Canadians were paying over $5).

    Gimme a break! You have some of the cheapest gas in world. The Brits are paying about $8/gal right now.

    Don’t get me wrong – I’d love it to be cheaper too – but it seems to me you don’t have much to complain about (at least as far as gas prices are concerned).

    The mad slashers in DC who are gutting your constitution & trashing your dollar… that’s where your real concern & outrage should be focused.

    The longer you, the American people, allow your government to run amok the harder it will be to undo. Consider your 10 year long National State of Emergency.

    HOLY F*! Egypt had a REVOLUTION but ended it’s state of emergency after 1 year.

    Your political “leaders” seem to have grown WAY too comfortable with those special “state of emergency” powers they’ve granted themselves.

    Unfortunately, as long as the average voter/completely-uninformed-schmuck has that low, low $19.99/mth payment big screen to watch fantasy shows (called “reality tv” LMAO!) and a selection of other distracting drivel to focus on – well the future ain’t bright.

    Good luck to you, my friends. Unfortunately I think you’re really, REALLY going to need it.

    • March 10, 2012 at 1:50 pm

      Ah, but the British have real gallons (see my earlier comment).

  14. clark
    March 6, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    You guys are kind of making me feel bad about getting a car that may only get 20 mpg. (It’s still an improvement over 14 mpg though.) I’m trying to concentrate on lower maintenance costs, and hopefully lower repair costs.

    I gave up riding motorcycles when the state forced everyone to have liability insurance on them. That made it seem like a bike was too expensive to have with only a ~six month season.
    Plus, I always thought it was a good idea to have a pickup truck if one had a motorcycle. I don’t think they had those load carry things that hook up to a trailer hitch back then. I imagine those work great.
    I miss my bikes and my pickup truck.
    The other strike against a bike are the tales I’ve read about criminals in Argentina knocking the rider off and stealing the bike. That’s why I won’t get a rag-top either.

    Not that a scooter or a motorcycle is a bad move exactly,… for now. Just the view from here, YMMV.

    • March 6, 2012 at 9:46 pm

      Yeah – I resent the mandatory year-round insurance con, too. Also that the require you to keep insurance on every vehicle, even if there’s only one primary and the others are (as in my case) occasional use toys.

      I’ve tried to reduce what I have to pay the insurance mafia by having mostly older bikes – because a liability only policy for one of these is usually pretty low, provided you’ve evaded the porcine hordes and don’t have too many “points” on your DMV record. Still, I end up sending these SOBs something like $300 a year that I’d much rather have in my pocket. Clover says I should not complain, that $300 is not much. Well, Clover’s innumerate. Over say 20 years, that $300 annually grows to $6,000 – enough to almost buy a decent used car or pay for a full restoration of one of my bikes or buy firewood for, oh, 20 years.

      • clark
        March 7, 2012 at 6:45 pm

        Years ago my reasoning for not getting cable TV was based on the yearly price, not the monthly price. I just couldn’t see paying that much for TV. Twenty bucks a month was nothing, but $200 just to watch TV is nuts. Nowadays the cost is like, I don’t know, a heck of a lot more than it’s worth.

        This perspective of “… or buy firewood for, oh, 20 years.” is an even better way of looking at things,… and funny too.

        That $500 scooter sure does look appealing right now.

  15. BILL
    March 6, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    The price of gas and food are not high, the value of the money is depreciated and worth less every day. Running the printing presses has and is distroying the value of our money not the properganda that prices are going up but that the money value is going down down down. run away inflation is here thanks to our law makers and the government being in bed with money and the powers to be.

    • clark
      March 6, 2012 at 11:35 pm

      Oh, you might like this short bit, or it might make you mad? It’s kinda scary how much my autos have depreciated when looking at things this way:

      The Prices of Everything in Terms of Gold

      http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2012/03/prices-of-everything-in-terms-of-gold.html

      Maybe I shouldn’t mention this other headline I saw at EPJ, …on top of everything else… Yeesh:

      Top Romney Adviser Wants $2.00 Plus Hike in Gas Tax

      • UncleSim
        March 11, 2012 at 4:05 am

        How to Make a Ripoff Seem Like A Bargain

        My dad always talks about how much antique sports cars are selling for… usually in the $100k dollar range now, for cars that might have cost $3k new, in the 1960’s.

        Of course, storing the car and maintaining that condition isn’t free. And if you took $3.5k when the car was new and bought gold, that would be ~100 ounces, which currently would sell for far more than $100k, almost twice as much, right now.

        Back then, it also cost about a dime for a gallon of gas. A dime was made of silver, then. The same silver dime is worth over $3 today, about the cost of a gallon of gas.

        Classic sports cars are not really worth more than when new, and gas didn’t really get more expensive… our money got cheaper. That means our savings depreciated, and we all worked for progressively less and less, masked by our wages staying at the same rate, in dollars.

        • BrentP
          March 11, 2012 at 5:51 am

          The ones that are 100K now were more like 5-6K back then. They are often low production cars and were never intended to be collectors’ items. Most of the 3K cars are much lower priced. Not that such detail changes the theme any. Especially correcting the gold price to what it is on the government books at like $42 an oz.

        • March 11, 2012 at 9:36 am

          Yup!

          It also depends on the car….

          One can still buy some entertaining, interesting stuff for manageable money. For example, in the exotic category, there’s the Pantera (looks Italian, powered by Ford), obtainable in very good “driver” condition for under $30,000. And the Jensen Interceptor (British, powered by Dodge) which you can find decent examples of for $15k or so.

          A bit more downmarket, one can still pick up Novas and non-Z28 Camaros for under $10k.

          So long as you don’t have to have a Gullwing Benz, AC Cobra or 426 Hemi ‘Cuda convertible….you’ll find the hobby is still reasonably affordable.

          • UncleSim
            March 11, 2012 at 8:11 pm

            We were talking about Gull-wing Benzes yesterday, lol! Dad saw one for sale on the street once back in the day, before it was so collectible, and I think he said the guy wanted $5k for it. Musta been a good while back. I hear those are selling WELL into the million-dollar range, now.

            My dad’s a retired Saab tech, so my car choices have always been either used Saabs, or something even cheaper for me to keep running, esp Honda, my fave. When I wanted performance, I got on my CBR900, and few cars you could think of, and almost zero cars on the street, could top it. The 4-wheeler was for groceries, church, driving relatives to appointments, etc.

  16. Ranjan Bose
    March 6, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    When did Barack Insane Osama become a neo-con?

    • Toldev
      March 6, 2012 at 8:45 pm

      When he started dealing with the same lobby as the neo-cons.

    • March 6, 2012 at 9:50 pm

      They’re all neo-cons. The first step toward understanding what we are up against is coming to understand that there is no fundamental difference between either of the (cough) two parties or their front men. We have a single party with two wings; this gives the illusion of choice – and of consent.

      • March 7, 2012 at 4:33 am

        George Wallace made that same observation over 40 years ago. I think he got shot during that same campaign.

  17. proudgrampa
    March 6, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    If you have a completely-paid-for vehicle (I have two), you can probably handle increased gas prices. Why go into debt on a new (or even used) vehicle? It’s all about cash flow…

    • March 6, 2012 at 5:21 pm

      That’s true –

      On the other hand, here’s a personal anecdote:

      I have a number of bikes (all paid for). I bought one of them about two years ago for less than $2,000. It is capable of 60 MPG and usually gets at least 50 MPG. This is about twice the mileage either of my trucks gets, “best case.”

      If gas does go to $5 or more per gallon, just by not driving the truck half the time and riding the bike instead, the bike probably pays for itself in a year. It has probably already paid for itself (I ride a lot, whenever I can). In which case, every time I ride rather than drive, I am spending a lot less on fuel. Working the math (roughly doubling my mileage) can be looked at as reducing my cost per gallon by half. So at $5 per, my effective cost to travel is down to $2.50 or so per gallon.

      It’s not for everyone, of course.But it works for me!

  18. Karen
    March 6, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    It never ceases to amaze me how anyone can claim to pick out a “welfare recipient” just by looking at them. You don’t know them, or their struggles or stories-not that any of you care. Don’t you bother though, because very soon, all your money won’t matter at all.

    • dom
      March 6, 2012 at 4:52 pm

      “Don’t you bother though, because very soon, all your money won’t matter at all.” I agree to this!

    • March 6, 2012 at 4:52 pm

      Unfortunately, you’re right –

      About half the country is on the dole; probably more if you include the SS dole.

      Do I feel bad about the misfortune of others? Certainly. I hate to see anyone experience hard times. But do I think someone else’s misfortune entitles them to put a gun to my head and demand I “help” them – or else? No, of course not. Do you think one person’s misfortune gives them the moral right to impose misfortune on others by threatening them with violence?

      • Don
        March 6, 2012 at 5:04 pm

        Agreed! This is where liberal thinking stops: if someone needs help and you don’t support gov’t programs then you are a cold heartless bastard.

        The gov’t has sucessfully managed to divide us as a society. Nobody has any basic social skills anymore. If a neighbor is being too loud, they call the cops rather than just going over and talking to them. People sue at the drop of a hat. It’s become a litigation nation.

        People have been programmed to believe that the gov’t is the best solution to all social needs when there’s not a single logical, reasonable, economic or historical piece of evidence to support such a claim. In fact just the opposite.

        • March 6, 2012 at 5:15 pm

          We’ll see whether Karen replies. I hope she does.

          And of course (as you know as well as I) it’s not just liberals. “Conservatives” can be just as rabid (and compartmentalized) about government “help.” The best example being SS. I’ve had several conversations with “conservatives” who object to, say, EBT cards – but defend their “right” to SS. I ask them, patiently, whether they’re aware that every cent that was taken from them was immediately spent, that none of “their” money remains, that every cent they get comes via the extorted “contributions” of current workers and so is essentially the same as a mugging victim mugging the next guy to come along in order to make up for the fact of their being mugged… blank stare. Or, they change the subject. Or say it’s “different.” How? No answer. Or a non-answer non sequitur along the lines of “I paid in” … and so on.

          • Eric_G
            March 7, 2012 at 1:47 am

            The answer I’ve got over the years has been “Well, the trust fund buys T-Bills, which will be redeemed for cash when the time comes.”

            What cash?

            • March 7, 2012 at 10:43 am

              Except it doesn’t (of course, as you and I know). The essential fraud is proved by the fact that if a private insurer operated this way, it would be prosecuted criminally. Yet the government does what would be otherwise criminal and – presto – it’s not only ok legally, but sound ethically. I’ve talked with several Tea Party Republican types and explained to them: Your money, the money that was taken from you, is gone. A fact. The only way you can continue to receive “benefits” is for the government to take money by force from people working today. Another fact. If the government were unable to continue forcibly extracting money from today’s workers, your “benefits” would dry up. There is no Great Sum sitting in a vault somewhere. It’s an inter-generational wealth transfer scheme. Period. Then I ask them: Are you comfortable having the government threaten other people with violence in order to force them to hand over their money so that it can be given to you as a “benefit.”?

              Now, you can argue the pros and cons of that. But you can’t argue against “welfare” and be for SS. Not without committing gross hypocrisy.

              Of course, there is one difference: With welfare, the people collecting often never paid in anything (or much) whereas with SS many people paid a lot in. So the SS has real victims, while the only victims of welfare are those who are forced to subsidize it.

              I also accept that there are SS recipients who don’t understand the nature of the con – and so feel entitled to “their” SS money. And it’s a tragedy that this con has rendered so many older people dependent, with no realistic alternative to the dole.

              Therefore, I’d be ok with a gradual phasing out (whereas not so much with welfare for anyone who is not physically incapable of work). Continue paying benefits to oldsters over a certain age (70, say) who can’t be expected to go and get a job at this point. But dial back the benefits for the not-so-old while giving younger workers the option to opt out of FICA taxes in return for agreeing to forfeit any claim to future benefits. Make up the difference by ending all these idiot wars. Within 20 years, the whole SS system could be thrown in the woods.

          • Scott
            March 8, 2012 at 2:58 am

            I’ve used the “I paid in” claim myself. Part of it comes from not reading the fine print on SS to begin with (back when I was young enough to read fine print) and part of it is that I really did pay into it. For years I got a statement every so often telling me how much I’d paid in and how much I could expect to collect. It’s not like the SS folks didn’t actively *try* to represent the scam as a legit retirement plan; they lied intentionally and even folks of moderate intelligence were fooled.

            I’d just like them to give me my money back and disappear. That isn’t going to happen and it makes me angry. Yes, I’ve been robbed, no I don’t feel good about it, I think that’s asking too much.

            • March 8, 2012 at 6:51 am

              Same boat.

              If I could have back the money I’ve “contributed” (and my wife, too) over the past 20-25 years, I could very comfortably retire. At minimum, I could use the money to buy some real asset – additional acreage, say – and use it to generate a small but steady income for us for the rest of our lives. But it’s all gone… and I’m repelled by the idea of accepting a dole later in life. I hope to be in a position to say no thanks – keep your “benefits.” I’m working toward that end.

          • BrentP
            March 8, 2012 at 4:07 am

            Let’s say we can get rid of SS. What would be morally wrong to demand what was taken for the program to be used as tax credits that can be sold to others? How about to get ownership of federal government property? Maybe an F-18 or piece of desert land with minerals or some collectable? Maybe a tiny plot of land in Hawaii?

            The federal government has institutional assets that can be used to pay.

            • March 8, 2012 at 6:47 am

              You know, that’s a damn fine idea! I’d be very pleased to accept an old mothballed F8 Crusader or even an F4… just to have it my back yard…

          • Scott
            March 8, 2012 at 4:56 am

            @Brent

            Yeah. In 2000 I paid a little over 1.7 million in taxes when I had to liquidate my retirement fund. Now I can’t get SSI disability. At the time I told my friends I’d be happy if they just named an aircraft carrier after me or something.

            What I’d really like is an F5 “Talon”. Cheap to feed, supersonic, carries a passenger :)

            • March 8, 2012 at 6:46 am

              If I ever win the lottery, I’d like to get something along those lines, too!

          • Scott
            March 8, 2012 at 5:11 am

            @Brent

            BTW, if you’re into the Occupy thing, I’m a one percenter. I hope we can still be friends. I do like cars…

          • BrentP
            March 8, 2012 at 3:12 pm

            @Scott. Occupy is a misguided movement of people that figured out a little bit but haven’t figured out the whole thing and does not appear to have the desire to do so. They are easily misguided into wealth transfer ideas.

            1.7 million dollars? I assume you are talking more than 401K early withdrawal penalties, but savings outside such wall street benefiting law. At that sort of magnitude SSI is going to be like pocket change. Is SSI even worth the hassle? I’m talking time value of money. If I had that sort of income/savings the time cost of filling out the forms and going to the SS office and such compared to the benefits would probably be a negative return on investment. With a couple million to play with it a little computer time one could make more profit than a life time of SSI.

            I get the principle arguments, just saying on a dollars and cents POV.

          • Mike in Spotsy
            March 9, 2012 at 1:56 am

            Speaking of SS, I made some calculations a couple of years ago. If I had taken all of the money that I’ve “contributed” at the end of each year and used it to buy gold, at the end of 2008 I would have had almost 700 ounces of gold. At today’s spot price, that’s about $1.2 million. Not a bad nest egg, and it doesn’t even include how much I would have accumulated in the last three years.

            Instead, I have only the gummint’s promise to pay me depreciated dollars some time in the future. And if I had the gold, I could pass it along to my kids…not so with SS promises.

            And people wonder why I drink. lol

          • dom
            March 9, 2012 at 2:06 am

            Look at the bright side. Think of all the clover patches we financed the proliferation of. Between the “law” stealing it directly via taxes, and the “law” stealing indirectly via tax feeders, and the clovers asking for even more you can rest assured the shit won’t ever get better.

          • ekrampitzjr
            March 14, 2012 at 10:40 pm

            One possible approach is to ask these “conservative” Social Security defenders how much they actually paid in SS taxes vs, how much in benefits they received. Those who retired before, say, 1990 could not have paid more than about $20,000 into the system, but they got that all back within 2–3 years after starting to draw benefits. Everything after that is welfare, I mean, gravy. Also, on average most had lower withholding rates than today’s (approx.) 5-1/2%, imposed in the mid–1980s.

            An even better comparison is how much they paid into Medicare over their working lives (rate roughly 1-1/2% today) versus how much in medical bills Medicare has paid since retirement. For many in retirement, the bills we taxpayers covered are easily in the six–figure range.

            Finally, for an even more interesting discussion, ask them if they think Medicaid for covering their long-term nursing home care should be abolished. No one has money withheld for Medicaid, which comes from general coffers—that is, it’s welfare pure and simple. But plenty of people still game the system to make themselves look poor on paper to qualify for Medicaid to pay the nursing home, all so that their children can continue to inherit their money. Despite attempts over the past 20 years to end this gaming, it continues with the help of elder-law attorneys… And the rest of us pay for this abuse.

            • March 14, 2012 at 10:50 pm

              I’ve tried this – so far, I get The Blank Stare or (worse) “Well, I paid in.” (Repeat.)

              They’re the worst sort of hypocrites. An unabashed collectivist is more honest – at least, in terms of his ideology. But I can’t abide “conservatives” who (like some religious zealots) pick and choose the portions of their ideology that serve their interests or confirm their beliefs – and ignore/deny/denounce any obvious contradictions or things they just aren’t comfortable accepting.

        • BrentP
          March 6, 2012 at 6:28 pm

          It is not just the programming and conditioning. The entire ass-backwardness of the culture plays a big role.

          The noise making example is clear. I’ve encountered these people who know they are making a ton of noise at an inappropriate time. What do they want? They want the neighbors to go beg them to turn it down. It is a power thing. They act rudely and want courtesy in return.

          By beg, I mean beg. If the language isn’t to their liking they will get upset. This is even true of people who intrude on the property of others. I got one who didn’t like it I told him to ‘get out of here’ instead of using language more to his liking.

          Other people have to respond to their rudeness with courtesy. Just like the road going clovers. They will pull out in front of you but you have to show them courtesy.

          Put the clover on the noise disturbed end… and here comes the cops. A clover is as a clover does and they know it is a power play. The disturbed then one-up’s the noise maker.

          • March 6, 2012 at 6:48 pm

            “I’ve encountered these people who know they are making a ton of noise at an inappropriate time. What do they want? They want the neighbors to go beg them to turn it down. It is a power thing. They act rudely and want courtesy in return. ”

            True story:

            A couple of years back, we got into a tussle with our neighbors. Now, when I say “neighbors,” I mean the people 1/4 mile across road from us. Despite the distance, the ghetto noise (cRap) coming from their teenaged kid’s stereo could literally be felt (as well as heard) at our place. Boom Boom Boom Bix Noood… over and over again.

            This was not a one-time teen party. It was every night. Late into the night. I tried being nice. I told them, in a very non-confrontational way, that maybe they didn’t realize it but we can hear their (cough) “music” over here and could they please turn it down. They did – for awhile. On came the dull, repetitive boom boom boom cRap noise again. My father in law happened to be with us the night I lost my cool. I was awakened after 10 p.m. by the cRap. I launched out of bed and went to my shed, fired up my diesel tractor, and drove it right to the edge of our property line, high beams pointed at their house and idle turned up high. I went back inside, after making sure the tank was full so it could run all night long, if need be. I only had to wait about 10 minutes. They shut the 70 IQ thug moo-sak off. I therefore turned off the tractor. Detente.

            I was fully prepared to make their life as much a living hell as they had been making mine. If the tractor had been insufficient, my next step would have been to climb two of the big trees in our front yard and hang a pair of loud speakers from them. These would lead back to the house. Inside, would be a powerful stereo, with hours of either Polka music or Hitler speeches, which I would commence to playing at top volume at around 3 or so in the morning, just as our neighbors retired for the evening.

            Gnomesayin’?

          • BrentP
            March 6, 2012 at 9:02 pm

            I know…. surprised they actually responded. Last apartment I had an upstairs neighbor started with the loud rap music. I didn’t feel like getting dressed or something or the other and go up there… or maybe that was after the time I did and nobody answered the door… in any case I started bouncing a rubber ball off the ceiling. He didn’t turn it down. A few days later I got a letter from the management company that he was upset I didn’t come up and ask him to turn it down. So he knew his music was loud, he got the message I sent loud and clear and chose to ignore it and was offended that I didn’t go up there and ask him to behave properly the way he wanted. Petty power trips, same as we see on the road. No wonder the government is as it is.

          • Scott
            March 8, 2012 at 3:05 am

            Polka music. Now that’s good :)

            • March 8, 2012 at 6:48 am

              Polka music is the antidote to cRappers… it drives them away like rabbits before flamethrower!

          • mithrandir
            March 8, 2012 at 12:02 pm

            @eric on March 8, 2012 at 6:48 am

            Flame broiled rabbit sounds good. :)

          • Boothe
            March 8, 2012 at 4:05 pm

            Now there’s an odd vision: A Polka band marching across a flowered meadow hosing the pastoral setting down with flame throwers as terrified little bunnies flee for their lives. Wow!

            On that note, one of my childhood friends had neighbors move in next door to them that started a puppy mill. The subdivision they lived in had generous lots, but nothing over half an acre. The yapping was incessant. My friend’s dad tried the neighborly approach to get them to quell the noise, but they remained unresponssive.

            So….he spliced a tape into a loop of that gawdawful rendition of Jingle Bells sung by barking dogs. He then set up a PA speaker in his workshop window aimed at the neighbors’ house, hooked his reel-to-reel tape deck up to it and just let it run. Within 2 days all the dogs were gone! Imagine that.

            • March 8, 2012 at 6:16 pm

              Sometimes, that’s what it takes! Sucks that people (a) behave like schmucks to begin with and (b) force us to “go to the mattresses” to get them to not behave like schmucks.

      • Blake
        March 6, 2012 at 9:53 pm

        I think a big part of the issue is the word “entitlement” itself. Charity needs to come from those closest to the ones asking for it.

        Since the money is “free” from the “government,” the entitled person doesn’t feel they are actually stealing anything when they buy an 80″ TV with their welfare checks. Let’s say somebody on hard times asked their uncle (who’s name is NOT Sam) to lend them some money to get them through some hard times. Had this person on “hard times” went out and bought an 80″ TV, uncle would not be happy, and “charity” would be over.

        If someone has no friends, no family, no neighbors, no church, to ask for help, you might want to ask yourself WHY they have none of these. Shame is a GOOD thing. People SHOULD feel guilty about accepting charity and do everything they can to pay the donors back. With Uncle Sam, there’s no shame – it’s a “right.”

        As for the exception to the government defined welfare rule that really DO fall on hard times, government is still not the answer. Family, friends, or neighbors closest to them should be providing the charity (and still – only if it is justified), not strangers robbed at gunpoint.

        True story: A man, who may or may not be my father, fell on some hard times when the investment properties he purchased between 2003-2005 went sour. A kind woman, who may or may not be my aunt, gave him a big chunk of change to get him out of trouble. This man went out and bought a brand new 2007 BMW Z3 roadster within a month.

        This is after kind woman suggested this man apply at Home Depot since they were hiring and he was qualified. His response: “That job wont even come close to paying my bills.” Apparently – ZERO dollars a week comes closer????? I HOPE this kind woman, who may or may not be a liberal, does not still give him money. I suspect that she does.

        The man still lives in a very nice house that he had built new, still wears fancy duds, and “only” golfs once a week now.

        I relish he day this man on “hard times” asks me for money.

        • That One Guy
          March 6, 2012 at 10:26 pm

          Great anecdote. And this:

          If someone has no friends, no family, no neighbors, no church, to ask for help, you might want to ask yourself WHY they have none of these.

          I have been saying this nearly verbatim for years. My first instinct was to ask for royalties! But I guess you can’t copyright common sense.

          • SojournerMoon
            March 7, 2012 at 1:22 am

            Love it.

          • clark
            March 7, 2012 at 6:36 pm

            “If someone has no friends, no family, no neighbors, no church, to ask for help, you might want to ask yourself WHY they have none of these.”

            I thought of this quote after seeing the election results. I imagine there’s quite a few People who have given up on being friends with warmongering fascists, or interacting with family who are warmongering fascists, and probably don’t want anything to do with neighbors who are warmongering fascists, and likely would rather eat bugs than accept anything from warmongering fascists churches.
            Can’t say as I blame them.

          • liberranter
            April 20, 2012 at 11:41 pm

            If someone has no friends, no family, no neighbors, no church, to ask for help, you might want to ask yourself WHY they have none of these.

            Beautiful! I’d never seen or heard that before, but it’s spot-on!

            I’d only modify one part of it. I’d change the “yourself” to “them.”

        • Douglas
          March 10, 2012 at 11:20 pm

          Ah, the essence of the welfare state. It seems lately that everytime some fancy athletic shoe comes out, there’s a riot perpetrated by “Ghetto” types, many seeking to turn a quick profit on Craigslist or EBay. If only they strove with such ardor to secure employment and/or run a business…

      • Mike Stahl
        March 10, 2012 at 5:27 pm

        Though I mostly agree with you, Eric, I wonder where you get the “half the country is on the dole” bit? That sounds quite a bit like the Republican trope about half the country not paying income taxes…which is a pointless statistic if you really look at it.

        What I’ve always found to be the best response to comments like Karen’s is that it is very easy to spot a welfare recipient in the US, just look for a farmer.

        As far as the small amount of bennies that actually go to the truly poor, it seems to me important to remember that our delightful government on all levels has regulated an awful lot of people out of simple money making markets. For instance, in most of the “unfree” world, poor people can cook and sell food from their own kitchens, or any way they want-that is totally illegal here…want to start a restaurant, you better have tens of thousands of dollars upfront. That’s just one example.

        Seems to me the solution ought to be making it legal for people to make a living rather than being shocked that they take a handout, or build a black market.

        • March 10, 2012 at 6:47 pm

          Hi Mike,

          I think if you count SS it’s easily 50 percent of the country.

          Agree on the rest – it’s outrageous that it’s illegal to do things such as cook/sell food from their own kitchens, or meat and milk, for that matter. If someone has concerns about the “safety” of such things, well,they’re free to not buy those things – which is how America used to work.

          A shame that it doesn’t work that way any longer!

          • BrentP
            March 10, 2012 at 7:52 pm

            What’s so nuts about the whole food regulation system is it was designed as reaction to what meat packers were doing to cheat their customers. So we get all this regulation which only has institutionalized the big food companies cheating their customers. (pink slime, GMO, various chemicals, and so on) Meanwhile a farmer selling raw milk to willing customers gets a raided by fully armed militarized cops.

        • Absinthe
          March 10, 2012 at 7:21 pm

          Mike,

          Regarding the half the country on the dole comment, see this WSJ article:

          http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2011/10/05/nearly-half-of-households-receive-some-government-benefit/

          The article clarifies the headline by stating at the very bottom “Nearly half of the population lives in a household that has at least one member who receives some kind of government benefit.”

    • Don
      March 6, 2012 at 4:59 pm

      If they can afford to sit all morning at a gas station waiting for the gas truck AND have the money to fill their 1975 Cadillac Deville, what else could they be?

    • BrentP
      March 6, 2012 at 5:46 pm

      It’s easy for me to pick them out. They are better dressed than me, often speak english as foreign language, and pull out a link card to pay for their groceries. Then they’ll often get into a new or fairly new car, sometimes even a nice luxury import.

      Not difficult to spot at all.

      • Don
        March 6, 2012 at 6:18 pm

        Growing up we used to joke about how many people in public housing drove Cadillacs. We had friends who lived there so we saw it with our own eyes.

        Who wouldn’t finance a car for you if you’re on welfare? The income in guaranteed every month.

        Speaking of welfare, I dated a girl who’s ex-husband is on welfare; his live-in girlfriend is also on welfare and they both do odd jobs for cash off the books.

        They live in Pittsburgh and in Pennsylvania, the state pays for heat, electric, rent and food. They’ve been on the welfare now for almost 5 years like that.

        How about them apples?

        • That One Guy
          March 6, 2012 at 10:31 pm

          Washington State is full of people from across the fruited plain who came here because it’s just about the easiest state in the country to be declared “disabled” and therefore unable to support yourself. The DSHS checks don’t come too much later.

          A buddy of mine’s brother was deemed “disabled” right out of high school. Not long after he dislocated his shoulder playing the Wii.

          If you can get into videogaming that’s strenuous enough to dislocate your shoulder, you are not disabled.

          • Scott
            March 8, 2012 at 3:44 am

            Guy, that strikes close to home for me, I just found out that I *don’t* qualify for disability. You see, I’m 55 and about 20 years ago I had a training accident while I was working as a volunteer rescue diver in Monterey. We were doing body recovery exercises and my hands slipped while I was pulling a 200 lb. “victim” out of the surf. I went strait up in the air and landed flat on my butt wearing 36 lbs of lead, dressed in a dry suit and wearing a 120 cubic foot tank. I ruptured a disk at L4/S1.

            I recovered from that injury after about 6 months of physical therapy, but in 2007, while training for mounted search and rescue, I fell off my horse and did it again. This time I lost the use of my right leg. It took 4 years to diagnose the problem and lots of radiation exposure. By the time it was finally figured out, I’d been out of work for 8 years (the last accident happened 4 years after I lost my job in 2004). Turns out there’s a magic five year period for SS disability claims; if you haven’t been paying into the system for more than five years you can’t make a claim. Doesn’t matter at all that I paid over $100,000 into the “insurance” program, or that both accidents happened while I was insured, I waited too long to make a claim.

            Now, I’m not a big fan of SS and I never have been, but I never had a choice about participating in the plan. The people running it had guns and they were willing to throw my butt in prison if I didn’t contribute. It wasn’t voluntary if you get my drift.

            So just remember that the next time you decide to badmouth someone on disability. The real problem is the entire program is run by liars and thieves.

          • That One Guy
            March 8, 2012 at 4:47 am

            I should have placed a comma in one sentence. It looks a lot better like this:

            Not long after, he dislocated his shoulder playing the Wii

            Now beyond my missed punctuation, it perplexes me how you feel a kinship with 18-year-olds too disabled to work, but not too disabled to get into videogaming that dislocates limbs.

            There are deadbeats out there. They are legion, and most of our local deadbeats aren’t from here. They come here because the climate is mild and the heart of the local government bleeds like a stuck pig. Makes it easy to live a minimalist lifestyle at the expense of the taxpayers.

            Your single anecdote doesn’t change that fact. You ought to know I’m not talking about you.

          • Scott
            March 8, 2012 at 6:12 am

            Guy, I know you aren’t talking about me and I assure you no offense was taken. OK, maybe I wanted to vent a little spleen and maybe your comment gave me the opportunity. I hope you’ll accept that I have no issues at all with your basic position.

            It’s just that I got screwed and I expect a few others like me got screwed too. We really did put money (labor) into that godforsaken excuse for an insurance plan and it sees fit to pay that money out to some 23 year old Wii injury. The irony is Epic.

            No offense taken. I hope none was given.

            Regards,
            Scott.

          • That One Guy
            March 8, 2012 at 4:36 pm

            Hey Scott-

            None taken my friend. Sometimes this medium of communication makes it too easy for a hot-head like me to interpret things that aren’t actually there. The loss of the nonverbal element and all…

            I’m 29 years old; I just don’t assume I’ll ever get anything out of Social Security. The sickest thing about it is I know a baby-factory who has been able to claim the SS payouts of a dead sperm donor that her child never knew, but someone like you who volunteered to save others and sacrificed his body in the process is hung out to dry.

            If that doesn’t sum up the pervasive rot in our society, I don’t know what does.

    • Toldev
      March 6, 2012 at 8:19 pm

      I can often tell a welfare or SSI recipient just by looking at a person. I just look for needle tracks, rotten teeth, and open sores.

      There is a perverse irony in the way the government fights a drug war with one hand and fuels the self destructive lifestyles it is trying to prevent with the other.

      • Don
        March 6, 2012 at 8:34 pm

        You’ll never convince people that welfare recipients spend our money on drugs, booze and butts. No sir, they are just “unfortunate” and need some “temporary” help until they can get back on their feet.

        Delusion is a warm little blanket.

        • March 6, 2012 at 9:32 pm

          Well then, they ought to be ok with limiting what can be bought wif welfare to the basic staples: cheese, milk, etc. But of course, they do object. Hence, these welfare maggots eat steak with all the grape soda and potato chips they desire – wif ice cream for dessert.

          Gnonemsayin’?

          • dom
            March 6, 2012 at 9:36 pm

            I don’t see them (recipients) often, but the ones I do notice are noticeably drug addicts and blowing the money on crap. I only encounter them at upper scale grocery stores holding up the lines! I guess it’s hard to concentrate on purchasing stuff when high off your ass.

          • Eric_G
            March 7, 2012 at 1:54 am

            Easy enough to trade food stamps for cash and/or drugs. Of course you’ll only get 10 cents on the dollar, but a few buck will buy a bottle of rot-gut.

            Even with the cards (welfare for MasterCard and Visa, I think), they still trade for cash.

            • March 7, 2012 at 10:29 am

              Sure. If EBT lets you buy, say, steaks or lobsters, there are plenty of people who would buy them (paying cash) for half the store price. So the EBT “buyer” goes to the store and “buys” a load of groceries, takes them to the ‘hood, converts some to cash and then buys some dope or maybe tickets to the Giants game.

          • Don
            March 7, 2012 at 6:51 pm

            They know all the tricks. They’ll buy food, bring it back and get a cash refund for it so they can buy crack wif it.

          • UncleSim
            March 11, 2012 at 3:41 am

            I’ve been getting food and cash assistance for almost 2 years now, since my swollen painful joints started crippling me. I worked for over 20 years, sometimes at 2 or even 3 jobs at a time. I get $200/mo for food, and $200/mo cash. About the same as I got paid during my first year in the Air Force.

            My family provides me with a place to live. My car was a gift from the family of a dear friend, after she passed away. Out of my ‘benefits’, I pay for insurance, drive to buy food and medicine, and sometimes, about once a month, I play poker for $20. I won the tournament 2 months ago, and have won more back than playing has cost me. So I could argue that my poker game is self-sustaining, and doesn’t actually cost me money, on average. I don’t think one night out a month is excessive, and besides, I probably couldn’t physically handle a much greater effort.

            My SS disability claim is still pending. It takes almost 2 years to get approved where I live. And when/if I do get SS approved, I will have to pay the state back what they have paid me so far.

            When I managed a store, I had an employee with 8 kids and no motivation. She got paid twice as much every month from the govt as I earned as her manager in an average month! I couldn’t count on her to do anything but show up. Nice enough woman, don’t get me wrong, but wtf?

            It seems those who have paid in and then become disabled, the ones who I thought were the primary beneficiaries, are actually outnumbered by those who have never paid anything in, and worse, get paid for a luxury many responsible people like myself have yet to indulge… procreation. Will people like my old employee teach their 8 kids to work hard and be productive, or to apply for the right benefits, and avoid productivity, multiplying this one problem 8x per generation?

            Anyway… Eric, I also look for sales on frozen shrimp, one of my favorite indulgences. In 2 years, the price has been right for me to buy it one time. I used to eat steak 3x a week when I worked. The last 2 beef steaks I had were my last 2 birthday dinners. I do buy cheap pork steaks now, but they’re not as good, and I have them infrequently. I mostly eat ramen, chicken, pasta, and tacos, now… all homemade. I almost never eat out anymore, whereas I used to eat out 2x a day.

            And, I do feel shame when I pay with my EBT card. I know there is a better way. Ideally, I could abstain and accept only voluntary charity. But my abstaining will not end the program, and I did pay in, so I have few qualms about getting back a little of what was taken from me over the years. However, when a more voluntary alternative replaces this corrupt system, I will welcome it.

          • clark
            March 11, 2012 at 9:05 am

            Several times on this thread or on others I’ve been reminded of setting out food in the night on the back porch for the animals of the night.

            A lot of People want to blame the animals for coming for the food, for taking advantage of the situation, be it EBT welfare People, or illegal aliens,… or even legal Americans (or even goberment workers) when the obvious problem is the laying out of the food in the first place.

            I find it odd that so many People refuse to see the problem is the laying out of the food and not those who come to feed from what is laid out for them.

            Of course, I’m one of those crazy fuckers who thinks that taking money – at the point of a gun – from others in order to be able to pay for the feed that is set out is the root of the problem,… but why bother with cause and effect when it is so much easier to demonize others?

            I mean, dang, if you were hungry and someone handed you a hundred Dollar bill and a freshly grilled steak, would you say, no thank you?
            The premise is though, the goberment has brainwashed you into thinking this is A-ok and you have no clue theft is involved. Afterall, breaking through the Matrix ain’t easy.

            However, some of us should know better and just say, no. Those People probably deserve a hard time.

            Bottom line is though, I try not to blame the ignorant animals who come in the night to feed on the leftovers i leave on the back porch. But that’s just me, YMMV I guess.

            Keyword: ignorant.

            Not that I expect this rant to change the minds of those old men who make the rules in every county in America,… but it’s a start on those young People who might decide for their local group in the future?

            What’s that you say, Throw it in the woods?

            • March 11, 2012 at 9:28 am

              Clark,

              I agree –

              It is the “offering” that is at the root of the problem more so than the “animals” accepting it.

              Generations have gown up conditioned to believe that government just “has” money – and its role is to “help.” Many probably haven’t even gotten that far and just know they need something and well, here it is, so I’m taking it. Both attitudes are encouraged by the politicians and other parasites who benefit from it, in the form of power.

          • Boothe
            March 11, 2012 at 10:19 am

            Back when I was still paying the tobacco tax, I was outside in a “designated smoking area” at my work place indulging in a little nicotine. Two young women who had hired in as labor temps came strolling by discussing all of the perks and bennies one of their sisters was receiving from the state. The other gal responded “Dats her right!”.

            I politely interjected “Excuse me ladies, but can either of tell me what a right is?” I got a blank look from both of them. So I said “A right is anything you can do that does not cost someone else something.” I went to explain the basic concept of rights vs. the welfare state. Then I pointed out that while they were mopping floors and taking out the trash, part of the money they earned, taken in taxes, was going to her sister who was sitting at home watching tee-vee.

            Now maybe both them quit shortly thereafter, got pregnant and climbed on board the welfare wagon. Who knows? But I did have the satisfaction of hearing my efforts bear fruit as they walked away when one of them said “Dat bitch…”

            • March 11, 2012 at 10:41 am

              It may be that the biggest single problem we face is the existence of a large American proletariat. There have always been poor people, of course. But the proletariat is distinct from people who are merely lower down on the economic totem pole.

              I am just now finishing up a book about the Dust Bowl, The Worst Hard Time. In it, you read of people who endured real poverty – as in, starvation poverty, living in a sod “dugout” in Oklahoma. And of how reluctant – how ashamed – these people (most of them) were to even ask for assistance. And when they did ask, in their utter desperation, all they wanted was enough help to keep them from literally dying – and to help them get back to work.

              The gibs muh mentality was nonexistent. Or when it showed itself, heaped with scorn. People who could work but didn’t – and lived off those who worked – were viewed as pariahs, as maggots.

              Communism didn’t take root here for that reason. Today, socialism (communism taking its time) is all around us.

              Because we now have a proletariat. Millions who want what you have because you have it and they don’t. And who will use any means available to take it from you.

              These people cannot be reasoned with. And when they get a leader – a latter-day Lenin or Hitler – they will become as a swarm of locusts, destroying everything in their path.

              The proletariat really worries me – more than any other single thing. Because it will require a police state to contain it – or it will become the state.

              We’re headed for one of two outcomes: A Latin American-style strongarm government, in which the proletariat is kept in check (and chained) by extreme brutality. Or the proletariat will sweep away the current order and we end with an American Soviet Union or Cuba.

      • March 7, 2012 at 4:02 am

        It’s a way to keep themselves employed. Look at Opium production in Afghanistan in 2001 versus now. Then look at legal painkiller usage and abuse over that same time period.

        • March 7, 2012 at 10:24 am

          Yup. You’ve probably heard of (or read) “War is a Racket,” by Smedley Butler. It’s old, of course – but he was one of the first insiders to reveal the true nature of the system and his observations are as valid today as they were 80 years ago.

    • That One Guy
      March 6, 2012 at 10:20 pm

      Don’t you bother though, because very soon, all your money won’t matter at all.

      Only Karen is free to make assumptions about people. It’s ok for her, because she holds the moral high ground defending the poor unfortunates from all the rich pricks that frequent EPAutos.

      You’re right about one thing though: I don’t care about their “struggles.” I missed where it was made an amendment to the Constitution that we all must wring our hands over all the “struggles” so many people go through. When they walk a mile in the shoes of a person who has to give 40 percent of his business back to the government in taxes maybe I’ll come around.

      There’s been much talk about the “struggles” of the poor waitresses and lube technicians who bought McMansions with ARMs, then took out home equity loans to buy Escalades in 2006. Brent will play the world’s smallest fiddle with you on this one. Just ask him. Seriously. Have no fear.

      Poverty is a self-inflicted condition, Karen. It comes almost completely down to time preference.

      People hate you for holding a mirror up to them because they can’t stand what’s reflected. That’s their problem, not mine.

      • BrentP
        March 6, 2012 at 11:59 pm

        TOG: why you bait? You like ‘help for the hapless’? :)

        • That One Guy
          March 7, 2012 at 3:05 am

          Your smackdown of those who wouldn’t let you borrow the Ferrari when they were flush was so delicious I was hoping for another serving.

    • Boothe
      March 7, 2012 at 1:30 am

      Well now, all wise and knowing Karen you just picked a scab on one of my oldest sores: Here in the small Midwest town that I live near, many of our “welfare queens” are easily identified. They walk up to you in your own front yard, with a cigarette hanging out of their mouth and say something like “Howdy neighbor! Would you like to buy some groceries for 50 cents on the dollar?” This is an actual event experienced by one of my co-workers. When he inquired “how that worked”, she explained: “I just got my EBT card refilled. You take me down to Wal-Mart and give me a list and I’ll buy what you want. Then I bring you the groceries and the receipt and you pay me half the total.” His response was somewhat less than cordial. He informed her that he’d already paid for those groceries once and to be fair, she should just go get them and bring them to him. She stomped off in a huff of course.

      I have some young acquaintances that inform me that this goes on all the time around here. They see it as a kind of “free market” transaction: Lower income working people get discount groceries, the welfare recipient gets beer, pot and cigarette money. It’s “win-win” for everyone…except those of us whose paycheck it comes out of (sorry sweetie, Warren Buffet and George Soros don’t pay those taxes, their secretaries do though, just like the rest of us working class stiffs). Is this a great country or what? Many of these welfare moms aren’t skanks either. A lot of the young women in “Section 8″ housing around here actually keep themselves up pretty well; they’re fairly slim, usually made up and apparently eager to get “knocked up” one more time for the additional “benefits”. That’s according to another of my coworkers that lives at the end of a street that is primarily “government subsidized” housing where he gets to see he’s paying for, it in all of its glory.

      Then we have the disability crowd. I lived next door to a “disabled” man that “hurt his back” as a grocery store bag boy at 23 years old and he’s in his forties now. His monthly SSDI check is buying 30 acres wooded acres, with a spring fed pond, a live creek and a house at our expense. He makes his spending money by growing reefer and making meth, all tax free of course. After 8 years of being stolen from, having my wife stalked and being threatened by this meth addled moron, we finally had to sell our house and move. The cops wouldn’t do anything about him. But they did come up and tell me I had to fence, gate and post my property to keep him out. Then they informed me that they thought my gate and posted signs might be illegal and they might have to arrest me since there was a question about whether my other neighbor’s easement through my property was a “county road” or not (even though they couldn’t find a single document to back that up). Guess who brought that up…the thief of course.

      He turned out to be a “CI” (confidential informant) for the local drug task force. What that means is he could traffic in stolen goods, manufacture methamphetamine, sneak around on my property, steal my gas and collect a government check, all with police sanction and protection. I offered the Social Security Administration video tapes of this snake climbing a tree with a running chainsaw, running a crawler-loader, riding a four-wheeler, bush-hogging with a tractor, running up hill on a gravel road and operating a bulldozer. I was informed that the SSA didn’t have the manpower to enforce the fraud laws. We even watched him push mow a 5 acre field in July (meth is wonderful stuff, huh?). Disabled he ain’t.

      I’ve seen case after case of fat, well dressed, dolled up women with three or four rug-rats in the grocery store in the Tri-Cities and Tidewater areas of Virginia. Their carts loaded with food I couldn’t afford and I had to watch them pay for it with food stamps and WIC checks that were extracted from my pay. More than one would go out and get in a Cadillac or a Lincoln. It’s not something someone told me Karen, I’ve seen it with my own eyes numerous times. That’s one of the reasons I moved out of the Communist-wealth of Virginia. Food stamps were used around the community I’m from as a kind of scrip or black market money when I was a young man. The states thought they’d be smart and stop all this food stamp fraud with the EBT cards. But where there’s a will there’s a way and deadbeats, grifters and dopers can be very resourceful. Welfare is no longer a “safety net” darlin’, it’s a way of life for many. Maybe it’s your way of life and that’s why you can’t stand it when the productive people that are forced to pay for all this, under threat of government violence no less, call it like they see it.

      You’re right about the money not mattering soon. You can’t keep socialism going forever Karen; sooner or later you run out of other people’s money. What will matter is how much ammunition you have. When the welfare money runs out and they start to loot, a lot of folks will shoot.

      • March 7, 2012 at 10:56 am

        Hey Boothe, I’m gonna have to put you on the payroll one of these days!

        Thanks for yet another magnificent hurricane of righteousness!

        • Boothe
          March 7, 2012 at 11:30 am

          My pleasure Eric. If I can just help wake a few people up to what’s really going on these days, that’s more than enough pay for me. If I manage to piss off a Clover or a welfare queen along the way…that’s a bonus!

        • dom
          March 11, 2012 at 3:17 am

          That is a crazy collection of stories. I believe every word it. This is not rare either. It’s the New America. I could easily count into double digits the people I’ve come across that scam the system as a profession. Shit, I have relatives that do it.

      • Scott
        March 8, 2012 at 4:15 am

        Now that was truly exceptional. I agree, Eric ought to put you on the payroll :)

      • Douglas
        March 10, 2012 at 11:49 pm

        Whoa! Sorry to hear about your experiences with the SSI cheat and his “employment” with law enforcement (what a pathetic joke they seem to be) and the so-called DEA. NOW I know why if anyone admits working for or otherwise being connected with the ‘Gubmint’, you go “grr…..”. Can’t blame you there.
        I’ve said work within’ the system, and somehow I still believe that there’s a possibility. However, if there isn’t, or more importantly, if you’ve lost faith that the situation can be remedied through the normal political process, then forget anything that I’ve said on the subject. Formulate a SHTF plan, be well-armed and well-trained in their use (I certainly am!), hunker down and wait for the end….let these fools that think the gravy train can roll in perpetuity and those that profit from same crash and burn.

        • That One Guy
          March 11, 2012 at 4:11 am

          The veneer of civilization is only about 18 hours deep. Once events are set in motion they will snowball very quickly. Thanks to the wonder of just-in-time inventory there’s only about a three-day supply of food in the city at any given time. That’ll go fast.

          As long as you’re situated to avoid the bank and especially the grocery store for about one month, and keep the wolves at bay and out of your pantry, mother nature will do the rest. You won’t have to wait long.

  19. clark
    March 6, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Some interesting gasoline charts on this one, if you’re into this kind of stuff:

    http://www.financialsense.com/contributors/charles-hugh-smith/it-is-not-just-gasoline-consumption-that-is-tanking-it-is-all-energy

    Man, I ordered the Bug book, it should be here on Thursday, it’ll take me a day or so to read it… I hope People don’t read this article for awhile – just ignore this webpage – and Don’t go out and buy my Bug out from under me. Heh, Just move along.

    • Eric_G
      March 7, 2012 at 1:43 am

      Those are some interesting charts. I wonder though if technology has something to do with reduced electricity consumption. No, not solar panels and light bulbs (but CF bulbs really do have a measurable influence), but television sets. Old tube TVs are fewer and fewer, Laptops are the #1 selling computer, and desktops are all fitted with flat panels. Even plasmas use a fraction of the power required to run an old 25″ TV.

      • clark
        March 7, 2012 at 6:29 pm

        If that were the case I think we would have seen that show up sooner on the charts.

        I suspect computer and TV use has gone up overall, and more households own more of them, meaning the same total electrical draw as before? Especially combined with less gasoline consumption, People staying home instead of going out.

        Hard to say.

  20. Eric_G
    March 6, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    It’s an election year. Unless Obama WANTS to loose (some are thinking he does), there’s no way he’ll let gas go up to $5/gal. Look for emergency price controls or some other crazy scheme.

    Of course, no one is looking at the root cause: Inflation by the central banks. Gasoline use is still lower than 5 years ago, there’s plenty of supply. About the only reason other than inflation I see is because the refineries are ramping up for summer blends, but that’s not all of it.

    Pop the bubbles, kill the FED (and the EU banks).

    • Don
      March 6, 2012 at 2:10 pm

      Atlanta where I live put price controls on gas in 2009. Held the prices so low, all the welfare recipients camped out at the gas station waiting for the gas trucks then they’d fill up. By the time I got out of work, even though I had money in my pocket, there was no gas to be bought. I actually ran out and called AAA to bring me a gallon and they couldn’t get gas. I eventually had to huff it over to a friend’s house and get some from him.

      Inefficient, misallocation of a scarce resource.

    • BrentP
      March 6, 2012 at 2:14 pm

      Price controls would result in gas lines. Once price controls go in there will be a refusal to sell. Gasoline will become scarce.

      And to think, people believe that society would cease to exist without government to do these things to us.

      • Don
        March 6, 2012 at 2:46 pm

        Actually Brent, gas is already scarce. Price ceilings result in shortages ( excess demand ), which will result in lines only for those who value their time less than the gas, like welfare recipients. Those who earn a decent wage can’t afford to wait in line so they get the scraps if there are any.

        And correct: if the ceiling is too low, it could cut into the seller’s bottom line enough that he may just stop buying and selling gas.

        We live in a society of uneducated, uninformed, ignorant people.

        • BrentP
          March 6, 2012 at 3:21 pm

          I don’t mean in the sense that all things have a supply limit scarce. I mean as in practically not available.

          Gasoline supply right now is intentionally kept on the edge because government through regulation created a cartel like state of affairs for this manufactured product. Because of this state of affairs there is no excess capacity.

          Outside certain products where people must have just this one model of something no business I know of, let alone a commodity type business, gets rewarded with higher prices when production lines are idled. Why? Because competition exists in all those other businesses so they all maintain some excess capacity or ways of getting the job done so the competition doesn’t get market share while they do annual PM or whatever. In gasoline there’s no new players to come in. The independents have been bought up and shut down. Competition is essentially gone. It’s a club. They can now minimize their costs by keeping capacity on the edge. If something happens their lost profits from volume get made in margin so there’s no reason to care.

          • mikehell
            March 6, 2012 at 11:40 pm

            Nice analysis, Brent.

          • Eric_G
            March 7, 2012 at 1:25 am

            The major integrated producers (the cartels) know that the biggest single user of oil is the Pentagon. They’re just catering to their biggest customer.

          • BrentP
            March 7, 2012 at 2:28 am

            EG, you are correct. The pentagram as some call it is the elephant in the room that the media, environmentalists, and the political office holders refuse to mention in public. Considering that it consumes at least as much fuel as a european country it’s the number one thing to cut to drop fuel prices.

        • Bearslayer
          March 6, 2012 at 4:14 pm

          “We live in a society of uneducated, uninformed, ignorant people.”
          Thus it has always been, and shall ever be.

    • Mike in Spotsy
      March 6, 2012 at 3:25 pm

      “Of course, no one is looking at the root cause: Inflation by the central banks.” How right you are. Remember 25 cents a gallon gas in the early ’60s? You would have paid for the gas with a quarter containing about .17 ounces of silver. At the current spot price for silver, that would equate to a bit over $5.50 today: enough to buy about 1.5 gallons of gas. So, compared to something that has intrinsic value (unlike federal reserve notes), gas has actually gotten cheaper. It appears to be expensive only because the “money” we buy it with has lost so much purchasing power.

      • Dave-O
        March 7, 2012 at 3:48 am

        Iran’s figured that out, as well. So has Hugo Chavez.
        Qadaffi figured it out and it cost him his life. Chavez has cancer. Iran is next.

      • swamprat
        April 14, 2012 at 7:48 pm

        … and our wages haven’t kept up with inflation. A one earner family used to be able to afford a car, a house and the bills and still have money left over. Now, it takes two earners to really afford that same standard of living. Back in the early 1960’s when gas was 25 cents, the minimum wage was around 75 cents. Today, gas is 4 bucks and the minimum wage is 7.25. In real terms, gas has gone up relative to people’s purhcasing power. It is true that cars are more fuel efficient now, but who says they wouln’t have been more fuel efficient anyway if we had 1.) stayed on teh gold standard and 2) protected our manufacturing base so that people could actually buy stuff.

        • Boothe
          April 14, 2012 at 8:18 pm

          Hey swampy, don’t forget all the wage / income, property and sales taxes eroding household income too!

  21. Brandonjin
    March 6, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    Scary thoughts. Don’t want it to be true, but we’re a violent species. It probably will get bad, again, over in the middle east.
    I’ve been thinking about selling my Accord, which gets the mileage of a V8, for a compact. Found a 2000 Dodge Stratus with 50000 miles on it. 2.4 I4, 4-spd auto. Should I go for that? I feel like it could last me a while.
    It also seems that with all this inflation it wouldn’t be smart to try for my own appartment. Conservation! yaaaayyyyyy…

    • March 6, 2012 at 12:54 pm

      Amigo –

      Stay away from the Dodge! Buying a 12 year-old Stratus is like putting a “kick me” sign on your back. Epic POS. Keep the Accord!

      Better yet, buy a bike (or scooter). A 250 CC dual sport like the KLR 250 makes a great commuter and gets 60-plus MPGs. Pick one up used for less than $3k in very nice condition. Or buy a Scooter – also a good choice for knocking around town. 70-80 MPG. Pick one up used for $1,500 or less.

      • Dameyon
        March 11, 2012 at 1:01 am

        Hey Eric,

        You said that your friend has a dealership for those Chinese scooters. Any opinions on these? There isn’t a dealership around to go and look at one.

        Thanks

        • March 11, 2012 at 9:55 am

          I don’t have any direct experience with them; I’ve never even ridden one. But my buddy – the guy who owns the shop – who is a good dude, someone I trust – says they’re great little runabouts. He rides one himself, to work and back. For the money, it seems like they are. They cost next to nothing and some get close to 100 MPG. They’re not for the highway, but for knocking around in town, it’s hard to beat.

          That said, if it were me, I’d save a little more money and move up to a 250 cc dual sport motorcycle. Something along the lines of the Suzuki DR series or Kawasaki KLR. Reason? Much more power/capability. While I would not take such a bike out on the highway for a long road trip, you can jump on the highway for brief hops and keep up with traffic. They’ll cruise at 70 – and have tops speeds around 100 mph. Very quick (relative to most cars and all scooters) off the line, so they’re much more comfortable in ordinary traffic on secondary roads. They’re bigger and more substantial, too – but still very light and manageable, especially for a new rider. Probably, they’ll last longer and hold their value better, too (saving you money in the long term).

          The gas mileage is still superb. A 250 cc dual sport will typically give you at least 60 MPG, no matter how you ride it. With street tires (vs. knobbies or “off-road” capable tires) and ridden gently, many will get 70 or more.

          That’s my 50!

          • mikehell
            March 11, 2012 at 1:07 pm

            Eric,
            I think that like a lot of people, I have this perception that scooters are safer than real bikes. But the more I think about it, this is an absurd notion. If there is any difference between the two in terms of frequency of accidents, it has more to do with the operator and the places where scooters are driven, rather than the vehicle itself. Care to comment?

            • March 11, 2012 at 2:13 pm

              I’d say scooters are less safe – here’s why:

              Unless you get a big one (like the current Honda Silverwing, say), they’re underpowered and slow – so you’re constantly trying to keep up with (rather than keep pace with) traffic. The smaller scooters top out around 35-45 MPH or so. It’s not unlike being on a bicycle in traffic. Cars often don’t respect bicycles – or scooters – and there’s the inevitable tension that arises when a car is stuck behind a slow-moving scooter. etc.

              A motorcycle, on the other hand, is almost always quicker and more agile than a car. This gives you a real advantage in terms of avoiding problems, such as moving out of the way of a car edging into your “space envelope.” One twist of the throttle and you can usually pull quickly away from a cluster****.

              This assumes the rider is skilled. It’s probably true that there are more accidents involving scooters (I’d need to look this up to confirm) because almost anyone can ride a scooter (most are automatic, so no clutch work and much lighter and easier to balance) whereas it takes a certain amount of skill to competently ride a motorcycle. Of course, this may be counterbalanced by the tendency of motorcyclists – new, young, inexperienced – to “push it” and get in over their heads, whereas the typical scooter rider may be less inclined to do so. But all else being equal, more skill usually translates into safer.

              The disadvantage with both bikes and scooters, of course, is that you’re much more likely to be injured or killed if someone (a car) hits you.

              But this can be minimized by riding paranoid – by assuming that every other vehicle is trying to kill you; that all drivers are addled and/or reckless. Never accept that an intersection is clear because you have the green light. Never assume that car up ahead with its signal on, trying to turn into traffic, sees you and will yield for you. Etc.

          • dom
            March 11, 2012 at 2:28 pm

            I’d say scooters are less safe too. Including everything Eric said with emphasis on the fact that everyone on the road WILL be passing you! When on a bike, or in a car one can go with the flow (a particular pack of vehicles). On a scooter every vehicle and pack of vehicles will be going passed your ass. Which multiplies the amount of metal crossing your path starting at your 6 o’clock. Then again scooters can’t be driven on highways, but there are a bunch of big roads the can go on.

            Speaking of scooters, I just sold my sportster yesterday.

          • mikehell
            March 11, 2012 at 2:36 pm

            Eric
            didn’t you write an article about motorcycles being the ultimate escape vehicle if the SHTF? Maybe I dreamed it.

            • March 11, 2012 at 2:57 pm

              I did – a few months back!

              A larger dual sport (KLR650) or adventure-touring bike is ideal, because in addition to being able to thread is way around gridlocked traffic, it can go off-road (even into the woods, if need be). Also, superb fuel economy – far better than any hybrid or diesel car. (Though range will be limited by the small fuel tank, but that’s easily dealt with by strapping a pair of 5 gallon jugs to the side – now you’ve got 300-plus miles of range).

          • That One Guy
            March 11, 2012 at 2:43 pm

            Anything on two wheels has always scared me shitless but with gas going up and up it’s becoming a more attractive option for me. I used to ride ATVs a lot on the logging roads around my dad’s cabin when I was a kid. I’ve been thinking about a dual sport because I’ve always wanted to go back to knocking around in the woods and revisit some of my far-flung fishing holes, as well as get around town a little more cheaply.

            But stories from two-wheelers I know(there’s those that have gone down, and those that will) have always put me off. A friend’s mom went down off her Harley on I-5 in downtown Seattle right about when I was warming enough to the idea to give it a shot and broke both her hands. That cooled me off pretty quick.

            So my question for the experienced riders on here is: is it only retards who are guaranteed to hit the pavement? Do I need to just suck it up, take my skirt off, and give it a shot?(of course no offense meant to the ladies who are probably having a good-laugh at my cowardice)

            • March 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm

              Retards are more likely to hit the pavement – and that’s the key thing. Avoid being a retard!

              If you’re careful, if you ride within your abilities (and on a machine that matches your capabilities; not too much, too soon) you can eliminate most – though not all – of the factors that lead to going down.

              Here’s what I recommend to anyone thinking about riding:

              First, take the MSF New Rider Course (see here http://nm.msf-usa.org/msf/ridercourses.aspx ) It is inexpensive, no major commitment necessary. They provide the bikes and necessary equipment and the training is done in a safe environment (usually, a big parking lot). This will give you a taste, without you having to buy a bike (or even a helmet) first. The MSF course will also teach you some very important basic skills – it’s an excellent starting point.

              If you decide, after having taken the course, to proceed, I recommend looking for a used dual sport in the 250 CC range – something like the Kawasaki KL250 or its Suzuki/Honda/Yamaha equivalents. This will be big enough so that you won’t immediately grow out of it but light and forgiving enough to be a great bike to learn on. Then, down the road, when you want something bigger, you can keep the dual sport for off-road/trails riding.

              The main criteria are: Having decent balance/coordination; common sense judgment and the ability to keep yourself in check – and a willingness to listen and learn.

              Also, you’ll want to get proper gear – not just a helmet. A good (armored) jacket and gloves at minimum. Boots and – for an extra level of protection – riding pants with road-rash-resistance materials or armored inserts. This stuff will save your bacon in all but the worst wrecks.

              Riding is a lot of fun; I think you’d really enjoy it!

          • That One Guy
            March 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm

            Eric, thanks for ALL the info!

            Its true there’s no way to completely eliminate the chance of putting a bike down; when I rode three- and four-wheelers I ended up underneath them once or twice just on account of being careless so I should be able to draw from that experience.

            I’ve just been looking for a gas-miser lately and it looks like I could get a brand-new KLX250 for what I was looking to lay down for a high-mileage Corolla. Getting hard to shake a stick at this.

            I can’t imagine it’s too difficult to learn as long as I don’t let the thing scare me to death. A healthy fear is probably always good.

            Of course there was a period in my life where I could fly a plane but couldn’t drive a manual transmission car, so I don’t take anything for granted!

            • March 11, 2012 at 4:09 pm

              You bet!

              One final suggestion: Shop used. Dual sports with low mileage, in great mechanical condition, are abundant. You ought to be able to find a good one for less than $3,000 – maybe even $1,500- $2,000. Check Cycle Trader, eBay and your local area Craigs List.

              A quick look, found this:

              http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/DR200SE-DR-200-DR-200-Suzuki-dualsport-dual-sport-dual-purpose-/170798653225?pt=US_motorcycles&hash=item27c4649f29

              500-something miles; almost new – $2,900.

              These bikes are very simple and durable; it’s hard to hurt one. A used one will probably have a few scratches – but this in no way affects the functionality. Plus, as a new rider, you’re bound to drop it – and this will cause you a lot less psychic pain if the bike already has some scratches. PS on that: I agree with Dom about learning the ropes on the grass (after you learn the basics by taking the MSF course). It’s safer and you can drop the bike with much less worry about hurting anything – you included.

          • mikehell
            March 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm

            Nevermind the ‘tards. They are gonna die no matter what they drive. The problem with motorcycles, as I see it, is that the margin for error, compared to a car, is relatively small even for expert operators. Or put differently, if texting while driving is dumb in a car it is suicide on a bike.

            That said, I may take that driving course you mentioned, Eric, just to at least learn how bikes work.

          • dom
            March 11, 2012 at 3:51 pm

            My advice for the “Bike Curious” is to hop on a dirt bike and piddle around the woods for awhile to really get a good understanding of the dynamics. Don’t be scared to drop it, or put it down. Of course don’t go out of your way to do it though. It’s nice to learn the fundamentals in an environment where dropping/stopping won’t kill ya and real danger isn’t present. Then of course take the MSF too. Nothing like riding a 250cc two stroke down some trails doing a wheelie/burnout/and digging a trench at the same time!

          • Boothe
            March 11, 2012 at 3:53 pm

            Back when I was first riding street bikes (late 70’s), we were required to take a rider safety course on the AF base where I was stationed. I’ll never forget what one instructor told us “80% of motorcycle accidents during the first 6 months of riding are the riders fault. After 6 months, 80% of motorcycle accidents are another driver’s fault.” I don’t know if that’s statistically accurate or just an anecdote. But over the years, based on things that happened to me and my friends (usually near misses, sometimes collisions or lay downs) I’d say it’s pretty close. The one caveat to this would be that as one becomes more experienced on their bike, they may become too comfortable and hence, complacent. That’s bloody dangerous; literally (and road rash hurts like hell too)! Another big hazard is testosterone combined with two wheels. Whether members of the fairer sex are present or you’re just trying out do your buddy, remember this: just like a little fire-fly, if you’re flying along showing your ass, you may end up on somebody’s windshield. ;)

    • swamprat
      March 6, 2012 at 1:29 pm

      I agree with Eric. I used to tease one of the people I used to work with about his 1996 Stratus. That was back in 1997 or so. That POS was always in the shop. I drove him at least twice to the stealership. Chrysler 4 cylinder automatics were plain awful. STAY AWAY! Even with low miles, it is an extremely bad bet. I would try and find a low mileage L-Series Saturn. They are very solid cars and their mileage is pretty good 25 city/31 highway.

      • Gail
        March 6, 2012 at 1:50 pm

        Speaking of Chrysler, I recently saw a real clunkmobile parked next to my car. It called itself a Chrysler Hemi.

        ‘Course, being next to the Queen is always a disadvantage, but this beast looked like the Kommandant staff car in an SS motorcade. Fuuug-leee.

        • Brandonjin
          March 6, 2012 at 2:47 pm

          Well damn..
          It’s hard finding a car with low miles and a reasonable price nowadays. It must be a car, my parents would never approve of anything with less than 4 wheels. :/
          Thanks for the insight guys.

          • March 6, 2012 at 4:47 pm

            I have an idea:

            Look around (check Craigs, your local auto trader) for an early-mid 1980s econo-box. Something like a K-car. They’re slow and ugly – but compared with a modern car, very simple (easy to work on), dirt cheap (you should be able to find a solid “driver” for less than $2,000) and great on gas. Some, like the K-car, got 40 MPG – or more. On top of being cheap transpo, this would be a great car for you to learn wrenching with. Get a manual and dig in. You could definitely handle all the basic maintenance, provided you take your time, carefully read the procedures until you’re sure you know what to do before doing it, and use the right tools.

          • Brandonjin
            March 6, 2012 at 6:44 pm

            See, they have me between a rock and a hard place with this. Not sure if you agree with thier parenting or not, but they wouldn’t approve of anything older than ’98 (Our oldest car), either… I thought the dodge would teach me the mechanics of it all ^.^

            (They’re crazy! Help!)

            • March 6, 2012 at 6:54 pm

              They’re not crazy – just trying to do what they think is right. My guess is they want you to have a car with air bags and other “modern” safety equipment.

              But, you’re 18. You can buy the car you want. Unless, of course, they’re buying the car for you. In that case, you’re stuck. If you accept their money, that is.

              Are you buying the car – or are they?

          • Brandonjin
            March 7, 2012 at 12:38 am

            If I were to get a different car, (They’re quite against me selling the accord) I would be paying for it, but they would be paying insurance, so they have a pretty big say in what happens.
            I would keep it, but it really is HORRIBLE on gas. I get 17-18 mpg. I think it’d be smart to get rid of before 5$/gallon.

          • SojournerMoon
            March 7, 2012 at 1:18 am

            What would your folks say about trading the (relatively) gas-guzzling Accord in for a higher-mileage 4-cylinder model or, perhaps, a Civic. I’m assuming they’re opposed to selling the Accord because they see it as “safe and reliable,” which isn’t untrue.

            If you could nearly break even on a 4-cylinder Accord or Camry, Civic or something else along those lines, they might be OK with it and even pitch in a couple of bucks. Kind of depends on what you have currently (year model, engine, mileage), but might be worth a look. It shouldn’t be hard to find a decent condition sedan that gets better than 30mpg on the highway depending on how hard you’re willing to look and where you live.

            Now is definitely the time to do it. The surge in gas prices have already jacked up the selling prices of fuel-sipping cars since 2008 by a few thousand dollars. Priuses (dang that’s a bad name) are selling like hotcakes. If you wait until May, though, gas prices will be climbing, regardless of what happens with wars, as it always does in the summer. Prices may go up and not come down for a year or more (maybe ever).

            Alternative, try and figure out what’s going on with your Accord. I don’t know what year/engine you have, but 18mpg seems a bit low for an Accord. You might be able to do a little wrenching on it, put a better air filter on, check the tire inflation, empty the trunk out of all that junk, etc. for very little money and time and get yourself several mpgs back in the process. There’s a buttload of Accord aftermarket bits and pieces that may be of some use in the mileage department, too.

          • Brandonjin
            March 7, 2012 at 1:30 am

            I made a thread about this in the past…
            “‘New’ car getting poor fuel economy”

            It’s a four cylinder, 1999, 4-spd auto.
            4 cylinder power, V8 economy…

            It’s been tuned up, all the filters are new, tire pressure is good, theres no extra weight in the car.
            The single thing that could be causing this is the 16″ rims the previous owner put on. 1 inch larger than the stock wheels.

            And this car hasn’t been reliable to us. They’re in denial. Spent 1500 on repairs in the past 5 months, which is more than a third of what I paid for it.
            Instead of spending another $500 on new rims and tires (which may not even be the problem), I just want to get rid of it! Why fight it?!

            Thanks for the response, this problem annoys me.

            • March 7, 2012 at 11:09 am

              Brandon,

              There’s something wrong with the car. EPA rated the ’99 Accord four cylinder/automatic at 20 city, 27 highway (see here http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/bymake/Honda1999.shtml ) so you ought to be averaging solidily in the low 20s – not the teens.

              Leaving that aside, the repair costs you mention are a real concern. Putting $1,500 into a car that’s probably not worth much more than about $3,500 or so on the upper end is questionable. Really questionable if such repairs are becoming a common thing.

              It might be a good idea to clean the car up so it looks as nice as possible, then sell it. Take the money and use it to buy something newer or better. One car I can personally vouch for is the mid-late ’90s Toyota Corolla. These cars seem to last forever with decent treatment. If you can find one with 60,000 or so miles on it, buy it.

              The Yaris also seems to be a good choice – and, if you can stand how it looks, the Echo.

              Stay away from the Chevy Cavalier and anything from Chrysler that wasn’t built within the past two years!

          • Ode Coyote
            March 7, 2012 at 12:19 pm

            An 86 Accord 2 liter 5 spd got 38 actual MPG HWY at 70 MPH. Auto trannys are gas guzzlers. A 94 Geo Metro 3cyl 5 spd gets 48-50+ MPG but an auto gets 35-38.
            The 80s cars had higher final drive ratios for much better MPG.
            Dads 87 Olds V6 with 4 spd lock up automatic got 35 HWY.

    • centurian
      March 6, 2012 at 3:45 pm

      My Harley gets worse gas mileage than a lot of cars – as little as 29 MPG and up to 43 MPG highway and it uses super premium gas to boot.

      • March 6, 2012 at 4:39 pm

        I’ve heard! Don’t take this as an assault on Harleys – because it’s not. They’re just not for me, because of things like poor mileage, weight – and price.

        I’ve got one of every type of bike, just about (off-road, touring, sport, antique) all Japanese. The most expensive one cost me less than $10k brand-new. The others weren’t even close to that. The worst of them gets 40-45 MPG. The best, 70. My middleweight touring bike (’83 Honda Silverwing GL650 Interstate) is always in the 50s, no matter how I ride it. This bike cost me less than $2,000 when I bought it, with 12k on the odometer and in close to perfect condition, with no mechanical issues at all.

        I just can’t see spending $15k on a Harley – then getting poor gas mileage on top of that!

        • March 10, 2012 at 1:39 pm

          Just for a moment your poor motorcycle m.p.g. figures puzzled me – until I remembered you use depreciated gallons.

      • dom
        March 6, 2012 at 4:42 pm

        I held my hog at 90 the other day for 14 miles and burned 0.6 gallons. 28mpg sounds right on the money to me. But on the high end I can only get about 38mpg. It’s older and carbureted.

        • Boothe
          March 6, 2012 at 11:54 pm

          My 72 TS-400 Suzuki got a whopping 18 MPG when I rode it like I stole it (but in it’s defense, it was an oil burner). More than once I had a buddy pull me to the nearest gas station with a strap because “reserve” didn’t quite get it. The safety commissars would have a fit nowadays over our towing one bike behind another “back in th’ day”. Of course the green commissar’s have already taken care of the low mileage, high fun two strokes for good apparently.

          My ’75 RD350 did marginally better at around 35 MPG; but still nothing to write home about (I get 30 with the Miata and it has a roof, a heater and AC). I’ve had both a CB360T Honda and later a little Kawasaki 400 4 stroke twin street bike (it was so bland I can’t even remember the model). Neither were really much fun to ride, but both got great fuel economy. I’ve been leaning towards a KLR-650 Kawi, but Eric may just about have me convinced to go with a bike in the 250 class if we’re going to be paying European gas prices soon. There was this little issue with raised blood vessels in my better half’s forehead when I said the “B word” over dinner last night though……

    • Scott
      March 8, 2012 at 2:29 am

      Stratus? Oh no, no, no! (palm on face, moans).

      There are lots of better choices, some are even fun to drive. One car that was overlooked for years but has unfortunately been “discovered” is the Datsun 510, if you run across some poor fool who doesn’t know what he has, buy it from him. Your chances aren’t real good but miracles do happen; yesterday one fellow mentioned picking up a Miata for $1800 on these very pages. Now those are words to conjure with :)

      I bought a Porsche 924 Turbo (aka 931) from a guy who didn’t know the difference between a 924 (about 180,000 built) and a 924 turbo (about 17,000 built). He got the car from somebody who owed him money and sold it to me for $3K back in 1991. Deals like that can happen! Keep a close watch on that list of Craig’s…

      • March 8, 2012 at 6:53 am

        The B210 is a great little classic econo-box! In fact, there are several cars from that period that would make for fun (and cheap) beaters. I’d even consider a solid Chevette because it’s so simple, RWD and probably could be maintained by a person with decent home mechanic skills for almost nothing, indefinitely.

    • getch36
      March 10, 2012 at 6:06 am

      Sell an Accord for a used Chrysler?God no,that would be a huge mistake.My friend just traded his 6 month old Challenger SRT-8 for a New toyota truck.He couldn’t believe what a shitbox the Challenger was,terrible build quality and full of rattles and sgueaks.He has 3 Shelby 2.2 turbo/GHLS cars and loves them ,never having a quality issue with them.

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