Gannett offered the beaten-down newspaper industry a reason for cheer on Wednesday when it reported a second-quarter profit.
Bill’s take: It’s just postponing the inevitable. I don’t know who’s dumber: The music, movie, or newspaper industry. Radio seems to have weathered the storm and have adapted to changing circumstances. What do you think? Add your COMMENTS.
In case you hadn’t noticed, gas prices are rising again. (Is it the dreaded “Father’s Day weekend?”) In my neck of the woods, the price of regular-grade gasoline is hovering right around $3. Here are some miscellaneous ramblings about gas, oil, alternative energy, and what I believe the only answer to our long-term energy needs (find out what I think that is below).
When I was a kid, my grandparent, with whom my mom and I lived, owned a gas station. Back then, they were called “service stations.” For 27 cents a gallon, you got your windows washed, your tires checked and even filled, your oil checked, other under-the-hood fluids checked and topped off…
Service was emphasized then. Gasoline (with lead!) was almost an after thought. Oh, it was “full service” too. You didn’t even have to get out of your car. And when you were ready to pay? The service station attendant took your money, went into the office, got your change and a receipt, and returned to offer you a heart-felt “Good-bye.”
And get this: If you paid by credit card, the price was the same! And the attendant would bring out a little machine that would take an impression of your credit card, ask for your signature, tear out a copy for you, and then — you were done!
My, have things changed. But unlike a lot of things, my gut tells me that things have gotten worse. There is no such thing as “full service.” (Even in states like Oregon, where an employee of the gas station has to pump your gas.)
Did you catch my reference to the price of a gallon of gasoline? 27 cents! With a lot of labor behind it.
Today, you pump your own gas and pretty much carry out the entire transaction without any other humans intervening. You wash your windows. Maybe.
Check the oil? Huh? Dipstick? What?!
Then, 1973 happened. My grandparents sold the station and set off on a journey across the USA. They got to Arizona (they lived in Northern California). My grandmothers kidneys failed, they came back, and she spent the next 5 years of her life tied to a dialysis machine 3 days a week, 4 hours at a pop. With numerous trips to the hospital.
I grew up, literally, inside and around a hospital. My grandparents, who had amassed a good sum of money the “old-fashioned” way (by the sweat of their brow and VERY frugal spending habits born out of the Great Depression), blew through their entire life savings in less than a year.
Anyway, the oil embargo should have been a sign of things to come. OPEC was, and still is, too powerful and ought to be illegal. Cartels are illegal here, but we, as a country, allow it and even embrace it.
Anybody ever tell you that the US and you in particular don’t support terrorists…you’re in denial.
You, out of necessity, give money to entities that really don’t have your interests at heart. Know what I mean? But I digress.
Nearly 40 years ago, we should have come up with a game plan to untether ourselves from black gold (aka oil). But we didn’t. Oil and gas prices declined and we started buying big American cars again. The late 70s saw the same thing recur.
Then again in the 80s. Now, it’s not so much OPEC as it is overwhelming demand coupled with a supply that is ever-dwindling. By the way, mining in Alaska may help. By less than 1 percent. Do the math: Gas is $3. You’ll save 3 cents, max. At the expense of spoiling yet another pristine part of the world.
Rising demand + Declining supply = Rising prices forever (all other things being equal)
It’s this “all other things being equal” part that is intriguing. By the way, this is how economists take really complex marketplace issues and boil them down into neat, easily-digestible “models” that work on paper but almost never in practice.
We can must change the “all other things being equal” part. There are substitutes in the marketplace for fuel. They’re right before our eyes. (Solar, wind, water, natural gas)
In addition, we’re using 100-year-old technology in gasoline-powered automobiles. The underlying construction of the gasoline engine is exactly the same as when Henry Ford revolutionized the auto industry in the early 1900s. Nothing, really, has changed.
Electric cars are far more “fuel-efficient” than gasoline-powered cars. After all, to charge your electric car battery, you have to plug it in to the power grid (a true solar-powered car most-likely will never occur, due to basic principles of physics — I cannot explain it here, but pick up a copy of Physics for Future Presidents).
Here’s a graphic illustrating the point:
As oil prices rise, so, too, does the disparity.
Ultimately, of course, we get all of our energy from the sun, either directly or indirectly. But when somebody says, “solar,” what they mean is power right now from the sun. We immediately think of the solar panels that were put on rooftops in the 70s and 80s (mostly as tax write-offs — they never really worked).
Now, however, the technology exists to extract a greater percentage of the sun’s energy and convert it to electricity. The sticking points are always energy storage (aka batteries).
Battery technology and the complex electrical switching that must occur in order to make this uber-power a viable source has lagged behind the rest of the solar industry. But that’s changing.
Of course, there’s wind and water or hydro power that is available. If we could harness a small fraction of the earth’s wind power we could have all the electricity we ever needed. Or harness the incredible power of the — get this — lunar power!
That’s right. The moon, which makes the tides, could be the source of our power! If only we could put giant turbines in the oceans…and reverse the power flow on opposite sides of the tides (generate power on rising and falling tides)…
I think we’re almost there, from a “can we do it” perspective. The rest is all political. Unfortunately, “the rest” is probably 90 percent of the problem; it’s most likely insurmountable.
Same goes for nuclear. It’s a phenomenal technology, considerably safer than it was in the 70s and 80s. But nobody here is willing to put a reactor in his backyard (NIMBY, or Not in My Back Yard).
So, I’ve said all that to say all this:
We need a new perspective.
What worked decades ago may not. Things change. So should we.
With any revolution, change doesn’t come in waves; rather, it comes slowly. It’s like the “Overnight Sensation” that took 20 years of blood, sweat, and tears to make it “over night.”
Problem is, we should have started taking the “baby steps” we needed to take several decades ago. I’m not going to suggest that “it’s too late,” but it is certainly disconcerting how we seem to have shown up to a party that dismantled years ago. The guest of honor has died, the cake is rancid, and the presents are all broken and used up.
Sorry, my “glass half-empty” persona sneaked out.
We can make this happen. I think we will — collectively — succeed. Our very survival depends on it.
Think about that for a moment.
If energy becomes truly in short-supply, wars bigger than all the wars put together will ensue (there’s “glass half-empty” again).
I hope we’re smarter than that. The alternative (making better choices now about how and where we get energy) is certainly a better option than kill or be killed.
And let’s not forget about fusion. We’re closer than ever. This supplants use of the sun for making our own. Sounds a little far-fetched, but we really are smart enough as a species to figure this out.
Welcome to the May 6, 2009 edition of kids and money.
The Smarter Wallet presents Amazon Kindle Review: Electronic Book Reader Pros and Cons posted at The Smarter Wallet, saying, “Is the Amazon Kindle worth buying for the family?”
Silicon Valley Blogger presents Best High Interest Savings Accounts In Online Banking posted at The Digerati Life, saying, “Show your kids how to pick the right savings account.”
Pinyo presents College Students Should Take Responsibility For Their Financial Situation posted at Moolanomy.
Mark Montgomery presents Choosing the Right College Curriculum–How Much Choice Is Right For You? posted at Great College Advice, saying, “College-bound students sometimes believe that all college academic programs are the same. Not so. This post and short video explain a couple of very different alternatives students have in selecting the right college for them.”
KCLau presents Do You Have a Wedding Debt? posted at KCLau’s Money Tips, saying, “Most couples want to begin their married life auspiciously and free from the problems. However, it is not uncommon to hear about married couples who go into debt just to get married. Article explores the reasons.”
Travis presents Money for Time, or Time for Money? | personalwebguide.com posted at Personal Web Guide.
John Russell presents In An Accident? posted at The Low Cost Auto Insurance Guru, saying, “You pay your premiums, but when your car is damaged, you balk because you fear a claim will mean higher insurance rates.”
Sonja Stewart presents How to Recession-Proof Your Family Life | Parenting Squad posted at Parenting Squad.
FIRE Getters presents Why do we get laid off? A complicated corporate work culture …. posted at FIRE Finance.
Jack Schmidt presents 10 Really Fun Things You Can Do Today on the Cheap posted at SectorMatic Money Journal, saying, “Personal Finance | Everything for the Big Spender on a Budget. Now you can live like a fat cat, even if you’re on a money diet.”
Jack Schmidt presents How To Pick A Profitable Mutual Fund.
Patrick @ Cash Money Life presents Upromise Review posted at Cash Money Life, saying, “Earn free money for college savings with rebates from UPromise. The money can be used for college savings, current college expenses, or repaying student loans.”
Patrick @ Military Money presents Financial Planning For Military Families posted at Military Finance Network, saying, “Financial planning tips to help families prepare for emergencies and other life events.”
sherin presents My personal plan for creating investment portfolio for kid posted at THE MONEY MANIAC, saying, “Sharing my personal experience on creating a portfolio for my kid.”
Jack Schmidt presents Sign of the Times: “Going Out Of Business – Eat Fast!”
Jack Schmidt presents Starting Young: Teaching Teens to Save Money.
jim presents Citi Forward Credit Card Review: Rewarding Responsibility posted at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity.
Dan at Everydayfinance presents What I Learnd at the Park – An Easy $400 per Hour! posted at Everyday Finance, saying, “This article highlights a unique and easy way teenage kids can make Hundreds of Dollars per hour this summer!”
Bank Champ presents I Bond Fixed Rate Announcement (May – November 2009) posted at Bank Champ.
Patrick @ Cash Money Life presents How to Decide Whether to Be a Stay at Home Mom or Working Mom posted at Cash Money Life, saying, “These are some factors to consider when deciding between being a stay at home mom or returning to the work force.”
Jack Schmidt presents Home Improvement Loans – Transforming Brick and Mortar.
Jim DeSantis presents Divorce: What To Do About Medical, Life, Homeowners, and Auto Insurance! posted at On Line Tribune | Marriage Matters, saying, “Covering the insurance needs of yourself and your children after a divorce must be considered during pre-divorce settlement negotiations with your soon-to-be ex. This is largely a matter for lawyers but you need to think ahead to protect everyone who depends upon you.”
That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of kids and money using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.
5 years ago, in 2004, I bought my first iPod (I’m a big spender – I’ve bought two over the years – one for me and one for my wife). I got a really great deal – the photo/video iPod I bought was the newest model with 60GB of storage, and regularly retailed for $499 (or was it $449?).
I got mine for $349 with a one-year subscription to Audible.com ($14.95 a month, but I was going to spend that anyway)…
The family and I were out at Costco a week or so ago and I sauntered past their mountain of iPods. The newest model has a 120GB hard drive and costs…
$212 and change.
With a battery that lasts up to 36 hours on a charge (mine was good for 15 hours, but now it’s down to about an hour, so it’s time – Honey, can you read me?)
Double the capacity for half the price.
Gotta love tech. Better, cheaper, faster.
If I wait forever, everything will be free.
KCLau presents Learn Money Tips playing iMafia posted at KCLau’s Money Tips, saying, “About iMafia, an application for iPhone. How it is connected to real life in terms of personal finance and how to play the game.”
jim presents Teaching Kids About Money: Tessy and Tab Money Manager Kit posted at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity.
Julie Guarnizo presents Teaching Money Management Habits to Children posted at Beef Up Your Piggy, saying, “As a mother of two small children, teaching life lessons about money and personal finance is crucial is raising children.”
Steve Patterson presents ISMagazine.com – Blog – ATM Skimming Leads to 1 Billion in Losses for Consumers posted at ISMagazine.com, saying, “Great story about ATM safety and something to present to your bank to make sure their ATMs are safe.”
Debbie Ducker presents Your Children and Grandchildren Must Learn to Save Money posted at Ducker Promotion Ezine, saying, “Teach your children how to save money at an early age and you will save them a lifetime of heartache.”
Matt Sherberg presents Choosing the Best Debt Solution posted at Debt, saying, “When you have mountains of debt piling up and you have debt collectors waiting at your doorstep, it is time to get off the couch and find a debt solution that will work for you. The right debt solution can help you reduce your debt.”
Silicon Valley Blogger presents College Advantage: Ohio 529 Savings Plan Offers $25 Cash Bonus posted at The Digerati Life, saying, “529 plan for your kids!”
The Smarter Wallet presents Budget Your Money and Control Your Spending Using This Simple System posted at The Smarter Wallet, saying, “Thanks!”
That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of Kids and Money using our carnival submission form.
Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.