Friday, June 13, 2008

Random Rants

Item: Feeling lucky? Friday, June 13 from 5-10pm stop by to visit the "Artists of Front Street" space at 411A East Fifth Street in Dayton's Oregon District, next to Ned Pepper's. Dave Levingston will be there for part of the evening, and I'm planning to make an appearance a little later in the evening. Dave and I have photos on display among a variety of other artist's work. Stop by, take a look around, and spend that Economic Stimulus Check that's been burning a hole in your pocket.

Item: Enron Redux? Been hearing reports that the high price of oil has very little to do with the cost of production, but the price is being manipulated by speculators who are keeping plenty of available oil off the market, waiting for prices to rise before they sell, even to the point of taking physical delivery of the oil and storing it. This is the exact same thing that Enron did that resulted in the obscene electric prices and "rolling blackouts" in California -- artificial shortages to justify price gouging. In 2001, oil was about $28 per barrel, adjusted for inflation. Today, it's $140 a barrel, with $200 predicted for 2009. Is there a shortage? No... look at any gas station. Is domestic demand rising? Not substantially. The prices are simply being manipulated, Enron style, due to Republican-induced loopholes in the law. The Farm Bill that Bush so vehemently opposes is said to contain a provision that would close the loophole and rein in the speculators, which could be the real reason he's so opposed. (Removes tinfoil hat.)

Item: Exxon out? News was out today that Exxon will be getting out of the retail gasoline business very soon, shifting the ownership to distributors. Why? Well, there's no money in it. My mechanic, who pulled his gas pumps last year, explained the math to me. An independent station like his has to buy a truckload of gas and pay close to $40,000 in cash up front, and if the price stays stable, he might make $800 on his $40,000 investment. If the price goes down, he loses, if the price goes up a lot, he may make a little more, but it's simply not worth the risk and tying up cash. The tanks had to come out because they have to be insured and for environmental reasons, and he spent nearly $70,000 getting OUT of the gas pumping business. Of course, I imagine Exxon-owned stations were more profitable, but considering how much they can make on delivering the tanker to the station, operating the station must be more bother than it's worth.

Item: Fair Weather The semi-annual Yellow Springs Street Fair will be going on Saturday, June 14, from 9-5 or so. Food, arts, crafts, social causes, and random stuff will fill the main street of this sleepy little town, and it's always good for people watching, too. I shot these two entrepreneurs revolutionaries almost 3 years ago at the Fair. Should be good weather, so I'll probably go out and start getting used to sun and heat, just in case that kind of thing would be handy at some poing in the near future. One of these years, I'm going to get organized and set up a booth at the fair and try to sell some prints and books and stuff.

The model photos are Sara Swa shot during my Chicago trip. She was great to work with, and is definitely on my list of reasons to return to Chicago. More from her soon.


Lin said...

Thanks for the oil update. Very interesting. What else do you expect from Enron though? Ethics isn't exactly their strong point.
Incidentally, the projected figure for oil from senior figures in the UK oil industry is $250 USD per barrel "in the forseeable future."

bt said...

Hey...if this photo thing does'nt work out for you, you should try writing. ;-) Nice rant. Your dead nuts on!!

my best