Diesel, Propane, and Survivalist Small Ball: Part III

Finally! Just last month it all worked out. I attained personal fuel delivery independence. How glorious! It was harder than it sounds but it’s sweet now that I’ve reached my goal.

With my handy dandy tank I can buy fuel for my furnace on my own terms. I can get it at any one of a zillion gas stations. The supply is deep because every tractor, dozer, log skidder, and backhoe in creation needs the same fuel. I can pay cash or (ugh) use credit. I can do it any time (pay at the pump 24/7!). I can purchase as much or as little as I want. I can comparison shop. I can haul it around safely. Thanks to the extra long hose it’s not a big hassle and thanks to the pump it doesn’t take long. Plus, and I think this is fabulous, I can remove the tank from my truck to free up the cargo area.

Of course, this is all a secondary heat source. I’ve already proven I can go one full year with nothing but firewood. (This winter may be an exception.) I wanted independent, redundant, reliable, dirt simple systems and I got ’em.

Meanwhile the world keeps re-proving the laws of economics. While I was fiddling around with tanks and pumps the stampede to “cheaper” propane furnaces ran its course. Everyone mainlined into a delivery system that requires elaborate equipment which only a few local companies own.

As predictably as night follows day, what happened this winter? Propane shortage! Just exactly the sort of thing I wanted to avoid. As soon as everyone bought into a single source they got (or felt) hosed. Politicians started braying because… well what else can they do?

Meanwhile I can get all the fuel I want, when I want, in whatever quantity I desire. A stupid redneck with simple tank bypasses the whole parade. How cool is that?

Previously my fuel supply was more expensive than “way cheap” propane. I accepted that as the operating cost of being able to buy any time in any quantity. I was willing to pay more for redundancy. For the moment I’m not “overpaying”. Once everyone was locked into a single supply chain, consumption rose (duh!). Combined with pre-existing customers (like agriculture) this meant the price of propane soared (or perhaps adjusted to meet the new equilibrium?). Everyone is grumpy about it. Propane (a gas) is measured differently than furnace oil (a liquid) but the price gap between the two narrowed and may have crossed paths. That’s assuming you can get propane, which is apparently not the case.

As expected, clueless phrases like “price gouging” and “hurting people with limited incomes” are being spoken by people who should know better. Here’s a news flash; anyone who voluntarily pays for something was not “gouged” and nobody thinks their income is “unlimited”.

Furthermore, politicians cannot create propane. (They can’t make a physical object any more than they can they create free healthcare, impose peace, cause happiness, mandate self esteem, or “fix” human variability; but that’s a different discussion.) Unless you stack them and light them on fire (which isn’t a bad idea) the combined force of all politicians on earth can’t make a single BTU. Nor will their bullshit and false hope keep your pipes thawed. Adults know that.

While I’m on the subject, “big oil” is just a phrase designed to justify the weak of character as they indulge themselves in bad behavior. There are two parts to my anger over this:

First, “big” is a size and nothing more. There is nothing inherently evil about “big” any more than “small” is somehow a mark of nobility. Calling a corporation “big” doesn’t justify acting like a jackass and calling a corporation “svelte” doesn’t mean they’ll deliver your propane any faster.

Second there’s nothing more pathetic than someone opposed to “big oil” loudly bitching that “oil” isn’t cheap and plentiful enough to their tastes. Nobody should be forced to live on a planet that incorporates the dissonance of Moonflower Goldenglow and her pet eunuch Betadweeb McUseless “protesting” that there’s not enough cheap propane. Don’t like “big oil”? Don’t buy their shit. Want more propane? Buy a bigger tank and stock up well in advance. Want it cheaper? Fuck off. It’s as simple as that.

Who didn’t see this coming? Why not?

Competition, supply chains, monopolies… All that shit exists. Right here, right now. It’s not a theoretical construct. It’s life. Meanwhile I’m extra happy about my silly little tank because it kept me out of the mishmash!

About Adaptive Curmudgeon

I will neither confirm nor deny that I actually exist.
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6 Responses to Diesel, Propane, and Survivalist Small Ball: Part III

  1. NEO says:

    I love commonsense, especially when expressed so the average eighth grader can understand it. It’s just too bad that so many (so-called) adults can’t but, reality is like that.

    I think using politicians for heat would be like ethanol, too much energy input to get the fire going, better to just utilize the hot air output (turn the volume control down though).

  2. Tim says:

    It always amuses me when people rant about how the price of gasoline is so high and big oil is profiteering or price gouging or acting as a cartel or whatever and the government ought to do something. The lion’s share of the global oil economy is owned by national governments, who like the current arrangements just fine thank you. I also tell them that if they think a gallon of gas from the pump is too expensive they could try producing their own.

  3. cspschofield says:

    Unfortunately “Big Oil” has been a big part of the national narrative since Ida Tarbell wrote THE HISTORY OF THE STANDARD OIL COMPANY, in which she bitched about how Rockefeller took an industry where most people were losing money and figured out how to run it profitably. It’s significant to remember that Standard Oil came into existence when the biggest use for oil was refining it into kerosine and gasoline was a nuisance byproduct that was poured into the local streams to get rid of it.

    I don’t know the specifics of Tarbell’s situation, but her father had been driven out of business by Standard Oil, and Rockefeller dealt with rivals in one of three ways; buy out for cash, buy out for stock, or war to the knife. My mother (who was a history teacher) always maintained that the people who hated Rockefeller the most were the ones who took cash, because they had to live with the knowledge that they were cowards too afraid to bet either way.

  4. MaxDamage says:

    Given that you have to dig a viable well (and there are as many dry ones as there are usable), pump the sludge from the ground or sea floor, transport it to a multi-billion dollar refinery, crack it into the several distillates and then recombine them into one of between 45 and 70 blends required by law for a particular location, and only *after* you have made this product can you ship it by pipeline to a region and then finally pump it into a 9000 gallon tanker truck and have *that* haul it to the gas station, I don’t wonder why gas is $3.25 a gallon. I wonder why it’s not more.

    Further, given the Fed policy of injecting $85 billion per month into the economy by basically printing money and then using that to buy bonds, and given this makes for more dollars chasing the same goods and thus causes the costs of goods to rise due to inflation, at this point I’m wondering why gasoline is so cheap.

    – Max

  5. PJ says:

    I once got a “tote” and had 200 gallons of biodiesel delivered. It was cool until I got to the bottom of the tank, which took a long time because my car got 45mpg and I didn’t drive a heck of a lot. The little microbes turned it into an evil-looking slush. I kept using it far longer than I should have, reasoning that my car was old and long in tooth and I didn’t care. I did care a bit more later, when I needed to have my injection pump rebuilt.

    Microbes aren’t quite as much problem with ordinary dino diesel, but you might look at a biocide anyway…

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