Friday, March 4, 2011

Bob, The Evil Gas Station Owner

OK, so I'll simply bypass the dichotomy of "people are basically good" and "Bobs everywhere are looking for any opportunity to gouge the poor ol hardworking American at their gas pumps". This post is in defense of Bob. Well... not exactly. It is in the hopes of helping people who unwittingly show themselves to be economic morons in their vocal bemoaning of Bob.

Bob owns a gas station with three $10,000* gallon tanks in the ground. He has to refill those tanks on an average of once a month. It cost him $90,000 dollars to put fill those tanks at $3.00 a gallon. He hopes to sell it with a dime a gallon profit after overhead, taxes, lawsuit abuse insurance, and EPA compliance red tape, all of which effect the price we pay at the pump. That dime a gallon profit is part of his income and amounts to $3000.00. So far so good when we live in a stable world with relatively stable prices.

But Bob gets word that the cost of the gas he will be buying to refill his tanks next month will cost an additional twenty cents per gallon. So Bob is faced with a dilemma. He can raise the price of the gas in his tanks now by twenty cents a gallon and risk being called every name in the book because it cost the average person an additional $3.00 to fill his 15 gallon tank. Or he can leave the gas at the same price even though he would not only have no income that month, but he would also have to cough up another $3000.00 dollars out of pocket to refill his storage tanks.

But who cares about Bob. We all know that profit is evil. Bob should get up early and go to work every day, and he should risk the resources required to start a business, just so people can feel good about the fact that they are buying their gas for the same price that the person incurring the risk inherent in making it available to them is paying for it.

I am always amazed at the contempt and judgementalism that I see in many of the same people who are otherwise all about loving people where they are and raising the banner of grace in just about every other aspect of the world that they observe. The only difference seems to be that, even though it is only three dollars per refill, it is their three dollars. In other words, this is a case in which they are able to connect the sin of others, and the impact of that sin on themseleves... and they are indignant.

*Although I contend that the principals in this post are sound, all of the numbers are a product of my guestemations based on my distant experience working at more than one gas station in my youth back when buying gas was a matter of speaking the words "three dollars worth of regular" out the window.


Stan said...

I get the same thing from people about those evil oil companies and their huge profits. I wrote about it a couple years ago. Oil companies make a profit of about 4 cents a gallon. Seriously, that's all. If they were to forgo all profit (seriously, would anyone expect that at all?), our gas would cost us ... 4 cents a gallon less. No, it's not those evil oil companies that are the problem.

Z said...

The first two paragraphs sounded like a math problem was coming on and I was getting the same sick stomach I felt at the age of 15 at the dinner table with Dad as he tried SO HARD to get me to understand!! :-)
Bob...I guess some think it's gouging to want to feed his family?

Dan said...


4 cents a gallon? Wow. Of coarse considering all of the gallons that are sold that really adds up for the oil companies and their share holders. My feeling is that if they made no profit at all people would still complain. But then again if they made no profit there would be something to complain about because there would be no incentive to produce the stuff which would make it very scarce... and therefore expensive. Of coarse there wouldn't be much time for complaining given the amount of extra work we would all have to put forth just to eek out survival.


I noticed as I was writing this that it was looking like there might be a math question coming that was worth some points on the final grade. Gouging to waant to feed one's family? Apparently so for some. But that's one of the advantages of living at the center of the universe. Everything can be and is, always, all about me!