Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Week Without Gas

Last Friday, September 12th, people rushed the gas stations in Tallahassee after hearing news that gas prices would jump up to $5/gal due to Hurricane Ike. I was riding bikes with Tri people when I saw the first station like this. It was on a corner and there was a line coming from both roads. I thought they must be selling gas for $1/gal or something like that. I was confused when I saw that the price was $3.729/gal. My riding buddies informed me of the situation. It was the same scene at every gas station in town that day. There was no gas on the following day or Sunday. During the past week, there've been stations getting gas then rapidly selling out. I think that we're finally getting to the point where stations are starting to be able to not sell out, but there's a bunch of stations still closed down.

I'm really surprised both at how much traffic I saw on the road this past week and at how many bike I've seen popping up lately. I guess it sucks if you don't have gas and there's not a good way to go on a long trip that you need to make. However, I hope that this situation introduced a bunch of people to the bus system or carpooling or alternative modes to the personal auto.

You expect me to go on a rant now about how price gouging laws are bad and they're what caused this shortage of gas in Tallahassee. I guess I'll be brief. If the market price was allowed to be charged, then people with 3/4 of a tank wouldn't flip out and fill up. People also wouldn't be wasting valuable gas by sitting in lines that are 20 minutes long while they let their car idle. Also, it's not like gas stations could charge whatever they want. At $100/gallon, I doubt they'd get anyone to buy any gas, let alone fill up their tanks. People will not pay more for a gallon of gas than it is worth to them. Hence, the price cannot be too high. Higher prices will reallocate the gas to the people who value it the most (instead of the people with the most amount of disposable leisure time that they can afford to wait in line).
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