Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Capitalism and Gasoline

I don't "get" it! I haven't "gotten" it for some time, but just today realized I need to post about it so that all of you understand that I don't "get" it either.

We own a rather large vehicle to transport our growing family. The whopping 12mpg it gets is not its best selling point, but then when you divide that by the number of people being hauled it actually becomes economical. However, it still requires a lot of gas, rather regularly. And this is where my lack of "getting" it comes into play.

In order for me to fill my tank I must buy quite a bit. Somewhere, someone decided that it was evil, and against our capitalistic-supply-and-demand economy to allow people to buy the amount of gas they desire. I don't know if this is a national phenomenon, or only in the ever logical vicinity of Marina, but once you hit $50 your pump turns off. Stop. Done. Regardless of whether this has filled your tank your transaction is complete. Now, when this first happened I thought maybe my card was being declined the full amount. I went in to ask the ever intelligible foreign national proprietor why my pump turned off, and was told, "So that we make sure all people have enough gas." This is the case in all of the gas stations I now visit.

Huh. I thought we lived in a first-come-first-served-your-willing-to-pay-so-I-will-sell-it-to-you nation. Apparently not. We are actually living in a government-has-the-job-to-ensure-that-all-people-wishing-to-buy-gas-but-to-lazy-to-go-to-the-station-still-have-enough-gas-when-they-finally-show-up-to-get-$50-worth. Who knew.

I went back to my van, wondering what to do. I don't have gobs of extra time to be running to the gas station every day. But I figured if this was now the policy they must track your debit/credit/gas card number to make sure you don't cheat and just do two transactions in a row. I will try... just in case. You know what? You probably do. It worked!

So now you see why I just don't "get" it. The whole concept of capitalism is a FREE MARKET. That means you sell what you want, I buy how much I want, and everyone else minds their own business. Private ownership of capital. The government does not legally tell us how we are to spend our money. So here I am being told how much gas I am allowed to buy, based on some arbitrary explanation of maintaining enough gas for the next guy. BUT... there is no actual means of enforcing this absurd policy, so it only creates a headache because I now get the added bonus of buying gas in two transactions, one right after the other, every time I fill up.

Can someone fill me in on what it is I am missing? Because, as I said before, I just don't "get" it.

1 comment:

  1. It turns out that one of the major oil companies decided to limit its credit card transaction liabilities at the pump by limiting each purchase amount to $50.00. This is annoying and, as you pointed out, unenforceable. I guess it's mildly reassuring to know that it's not government inspired and that we can still go elsewhere to fill our tanks without interruption, but it does make me wonder about certain oil and banking executives. :)