Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Watching the Crude

I have a ticker here on my blog that shows the price of crude oil, and it's really interesting to watch it, because it will change throughout the day.

I noticed the other day that the price had dropped below $90/barrel (it was at, just over, $86), which is the lowest I've seen it in a while, but the price was like a basketball - it hit the floor at $86, and bounced right back up over $92/barrel.

I just think it's interesting. Here we are, four years after what was dubbed at the time a catastrophic price spike, where we were then, with gas prices hovering just under $4/gallon, but there are none of the headlines we saw back then. Back then, there was a lot wondering about how people would pay for the price of gasoline and still pay their other bills. How people could drive and eat, when they're dependent on their cars to get them to work where they earn the money they need to buy food.

Back then, truckers were striking in protest of the high price of gasoline. Many of them lost their livelihood, because they could not afford to fill their gas tanks. Store shelves in some parts of the world were bare, because deliveries hadn't been made.

And, yet, when Deus Ex Machina and I drove with our two daughters to Pennsylvania recently I noted that the trucking industry seemed to be going strong - in spite of the high price of gasoline. Living here where we do at the end of the road it's easy to forget that most of what we find in our retail stores is transported by eighteen-wheeler.

The price of gasoline is now at the same place it was, and there are no protests. There are no calls for the government to release strategic oil reserves in an attempt to reduce/control the prices. No blaring headlines. No strikes. No protests. Nothing.

And I can only assume that the difference is, this time, the change has been slow enough that we've just grown accustomed to paying more. Perhaps, when we're filling our tanks, we'll look at the price, and a brief thought about how expensive it seems will flit through our minds, but then, we fill up the tank, grab our receipt, and hop back into the car on our way to wherever we're going with not a backward glance.

Speculation in Prepper circles is a little like the Robert Frost poem, Fire and Ice, with debates about how the end will play out. Some favor a fast crash and can point to current events that support their theories. Some believe it will be a slow crash.

I don't know which, but my guess is that it will be like going down the side of a mountain. There will be points during which we're in an uncontrolled slide (as it was in 2008). Then, we'll get our footing and slowly make our way down, and then, there will be another uncontrolled slide.

Fire or Ice? Probably both, and won't that be fun.

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