Secrets, Lies & Chat

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Is the price of fuel bringing you to your knees?

I read again my comments regarding fuel prices and manipulation by Governments and Oil Companies this morning. My thoughts then were spot on, as I certainly don’t recall being able to buy unleaded petrol for less than $1.20 a litre since I wrote that piece. The price range in Sydney Australia is now from close to $1.40 a litre, even up to $1.45 a litre down to around $1.34.9 at the cheaper end. It’s also interesting to note that when the price is up, it’s exactly the same at most of the service stations in any one area. Word is that prices will climb to $2.00 a litre by 2007.

If you go for a drive and pass by a number of service stations, you can see that there is obviously a decline in those purchasing fuel on any given day at the expensive end of the scale. Possibly those actually using those service stations have fuel cards from their companies or can afford fuel at any price. If you pass by a service station where fuel is around $1.34 a litre, the cars will be lining up. How well the manipulation is working! Now we think $1.34 is a bargain! I managed, on a trip south last week, to buy petrol for $1.27.9 a litre, with no discount dockets. I felt the manipulation inside me as I hastily made the stop to grab this ‘bargain’. I remarked to the man working the desk that his fuel was much cheaper than anywhere else that I had seen that day. His answer? The price would stay as it was until he received a phone call to change it. What price did the fuel cost to go into the underground tanks? How much profit would the owners of that one service station make once the decision was made to up the price in line with the rest of the service stations in the area?

More and more people will most likely begin shopping at those stores that provide discounts for fuel. If you spend over $20 or $30 or whatever their bottom line dollar value is, you are guaranteed a discount on fuel by producing your shopper docket at participating service stations. I purchased fuel yesterday at 4 cents a litre off by using a Woolworths’ docket. On a visit to Westfield Shoppingtown Penrith yesterday, to a chemist advertising my favourite brand of perfume for $26 instead of $74, I found that with my spend of $98, I am now entitled to 30 litres of fuel at 6 cents a litre off at participating service stations.

On a quick read of the brochure about this program, I was interested to see just how many businesses are involved in giving their customers the opportunity to save on fuel by shopping at their stores. It seems this is probably the way retail will go now to get people into the stores – the old ‘WIFM’ promotional manipulation – ‘What’s In It For Me’. It worked years ago when if you bought one item, you could get another one for free or a few dollars extra. As always, what goes around comes around. WIFM worked well in the 80’s and I see it coming to the forefront once again in 2006, predominately with discounted fuel. I will continue to do part of my shopping at Woolworths so that I when I need to purchase fuel, I can at least feel like I’m not being ripped off as badly, by receiving 4 cents a litre discount. I know that Coles and Woolworths have been offering these discounts for some time, and I for one, appreciate it and support those stores.

Yesterday’s fuel cost me $38.33 and for that I received 29 litres of fuel. My vehicle, a Hyundai Sonata Classique, holds 65 litres of petrol. So, a tank full at today’s prices will cost me around $100. Makes flying to destinations a distance from Sydney a much better option, that is if you don’t need a vehicle at the other end or have one you can borrow. The price of fuel will cripple people with more than one car in a family. I can see now the hundreds of ‘second’ cars being sold off for practically nothing in an effort to cut costs. The Oil Companies, and the Government, will cut their own throats, and everyone else’s in their greed. Businesses will fold; people will lose their homes because of escalating costs. Where will it end? For those of us who work in out of the way places that would necessitate three or more changes of public transport to get to work, and the same to get back home, will forego other things in life to pay for our fuel to get us to our work so we can pay the rest of our bills and feed ourselves and our families.

But remember, what goes around comes around. In what form this will appear is anyone’s guess, but I’m betting on another war, and probably a bigger one than we have seen since Vietnam. The big boys are getting toey; they want their servicemen out their seeing some action. They can taste the blood. The old men who will hide in their bunkers want some excitement in their lives, and what could excite them more than a game of chess with real men playing the parts of the pawns? And what better to fight over than food, water, and yes, oil. The anger boiling up in our societies will ensure that there won’t be a shortage of people willing to fight for what we once had, and they will all believe the propaganda that it’s everyone else’s fault but those in power in their own countries.

My thoughts totally, as off the wall they may appear. Time will tell as the clock ticks away, seemingly faster every day, heading us all towards what probably will be inevitable. Let’s hope I am wrong and the ‘come around’ will be a return to sanity and peace for all of us. Oh and lower prices for fuel too. J

©Vena McGrath 2006

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Ban Ignites Long, Slow Death of the Smoko

I'm always interested to read the next chapter in the ban the cigarette campaign in Australia. Well it's not ban the cigarette, it's ban the cigarette smoker. The smoker, who was sucked into smoking years ago by the then legal advertising that was always in everyone's face, by the portrayal of smoking as being very 'in' on the wide screen, in magazines, newspapers etc., is now the lowest form of polluter on the face of the earth. Or so some would have us believe.

Slowly but surely the rights of the person who is now addicted thanks to all of the above and more, which I might add our Governments all backed and joined in by the members of each party smoking happily away wherever and whenever, have been eroded. Bit by bit the smoker has been forced out of almost everywhere and branded a killer.

Okay so let's assume smoking is bad for us and it would be better if we all gave it up. We would no longer sit at a table in a restaurant chafing at the bit to have a smoke after dinner, we would no longer need to get out of the office every now and then for a fix. We would be happy just doing whatever, whenever, without our trusty pack of ciggies and lighter close by for emergency exits. Those that now whine about the smoker going out of the office for a smoke forget that once upon a not so long time ago, they worked in offices with smokers and rarely did any of them say 'boo'. But then there are many sheep amongst us who jump on the nearest bandwagon so as to be seen finally.

In my humble opinion, if you were hired as a smoker, and your employer knew before they hired you that you were a smoker, then you have justifiable rights to take time out to smoke during the work day. I for one don't take morning or afternoon tea breaks. I don't go to work and cook my breakfast there and then sit and nibble contentedly on that breakfast while I read the morning papers or surf the internet or do my private business work. I have cigarette breaks where it takes me a minute to walk outside and a few minutes to smoke a cigarette. I am then back at my desk and into it. Today's cigarettes burn away very quickly so that we smoke more.

As I get off my soapbox, I paste under here a few words I just sent off to the SMH as a comment re their article this weekend, title above. I don't know about anyone else, but I am so tired of cigarette smoker bashing, and not just because I am a smoker. There are a lot of things bad in this world we live in and perhaps these people would be better off focusing on some of those issues instead of beating the same tired old drum. If the Governments of today are not willing to ban tobacco then leave the poor bloody addicted alone. After all, we are smoking a legal drug, the Government says so. Butt out - find another cause.

SMH Feedback - Saturday 1.4.06
If smoking is as bad for our health as those in the 'know' are constantly portraying, and if the do-gooders who tag along behind so as to be seen to be doing something were fair dinkum, they would all be lobbying for cigarettes and all forms of tobacco to be banned. So let's get real about the issue. We all know why they will never be banned - the cigarette smokers pay a high price to smoke and the Government receives the largest share of the dollar spent. Their greed feeds our habit.

It's a shame the same campaigns aren't mounted against alcohol. I have never heard of a cigarette smoker killing someone in his/her car after a tobacco fix, nor have I ever heard of a man bashing his wife after he has just smoked a few cigarettes, or his children.

Keeping smoking in the limelight as the polluter of the earth gives breathing space to the real polluters. Look up into the sky above you or, even better, go into the city and look out towards the mountains from a tall building. That's what is polluting our city, not cigarette smokers. Look around at the smoke stacks nicely placed amidst our homes and workplaces.

But to be fair, ban tobacco and its products and we will all have more money in our pockets. Then the do gooders will have to find another passion to pursue. In another lifetime perhaps, not this one where what is said is just for show.

Vena McGrath