18 April, 2008

Petrol Powered Economic Sky Rocket

In early 2003 my secretary was wincing over the price of petrol. There would be no trips to pay to enter attraction while on holiday because the money set aside for that had to be used for the petrol to get there. It was $1.079/litre.

In 2006 my secretary again announced that this would be possibly be the last holiday involving long day trips using the van due to the price of petrol. It was $1.439/litre and rose to $1.48.9/litre during the week away. The $1.50/litre "barrier" was breached shortly afterwards.

Looking at those figures now her concern seems a little laughable.

Yes the "magic" $2/litre is now in sight or will be next week or next month in the main centres the way things are going. The drivers of Coromandel, National Park, Stewart Island and a few other more remote spots have already had to shell out that much.

Today in my neck of the woods 98 octane is up to $1.949 but who the heck runs their car on that? 91 octane is at $1.829. You can check it out here.

OK so at some point if you haven't already you are going to start having to use your car less.

Many are touting public transport as the way of the future and are quick to point out how using public transport instead of a car will save you money and thus makes sense or should that be cents? I have my doubts.

First of all no bus driver is going to let me, a small admittedly loud mouthed white cat on for a ride ticket or no ticket. So a car is going to be needed for trips to the vet and a few other places as well that I can think of . Nobody is going to get me on a bicycle with or without a cat carrier.

So I can reasonable assume that selling the car out right is not an option right now.
That means that some of the costs of owning a car, like warrant of fitness, registration, insurance, and some maintenance are going to remain regardless.

If you just compare the price of a bus ticket with the cost of petrol to run a small car the car wins. If you have to pay for parking that changes so the the real incentive to use the bus/train or ferry to get to work are the parking charges not the price of fuel.

I have watched this sort of discussion going on in earnest at home between she who spends money and he who earns it. She who spends pointed out the cost of hiring the parking space for he who earns was more than the price of the bus fare so he should catch the bus. He who earns came up with another solution. He started picking up a workmate who given that a weeks worth of petrol cost just over half what his bus ticket did was more than happy to pay for a tank of petrol once a fortnight. An occasion second passenger has cut the cost of the hiring the parking space as well.

The cost of using the bus just doesn't stack up against the economies of putting a passenger or two in a car which is why bus travel isn't a family friendly option for now. Trains are cheaper than buses if you live and work near a rail line with a service. Ferries are dearer still but that maybe due to a lack of subsidies.

As for bicycles - I will seriously consider that when the death and injury rate drops and a fat lady can pedal one up a hill laden with shopping. Riding a bicycle still needs fuel in the form of food, shoes, raincoats as does Shank's pony.

Of course all this may change when petrol reaches $3/litre (which at this rate will be sometime next year) or more but then so will the price of just about everything else as a result. Hello inflation!

Ultimately paying less for fuel will come down to just using less.

02 April, 2008

Promises - political enlightenment or just more toxic honey?

For the last fortnight I have be watching the flow of election promises coming from both Labour and National.
For awhile there it looked like we had only one political party the promises were so alike. Even the big news of a budget deficit didn't slow the flow of promised tax cuts which makes me wonder if our politicians were either ignoring the bad news or had spotted the Inland Revenues $600million error (in which case why wasn't it spotted earlier?).

Then at last some light relief in the shape of National promising that every person convicted by a court would have to pay a tax of $50 to fund victim costs. Did the significance of the 31 March press release escape the National Party spin doctors or did they thing that Joe Bloggs would miss the possibility that this was a hoax when this was reported in the daily papers a day later, on April Fools Day?

We really must thank that inept Coromandel bee keeper and his honey from Tutu honey dew for inadvertently providing the idea for a new metaphor to describe questionable promises coming from the Beehive.

Toxic honey indeed.

The fun part is going to be trying to detect the safe honey from the poison before voting the new bees into the Beehive.