2006-06-01 / View From the Middle

View From The Middle

Governor Still Has To Learn Capitalism Is Here To Stay
By Charles Rogers

"...Cancelling exclusivity contracts with (retail) service stations and in-stalling state-run renew-able fuel pumps would be like setting up a grill-ed cheese sandwich shop in the middle of Burger King ..."
"...Cancelling exclusivity contracts with (retail) service stations and in-stalling state-run renew-able fuel pumps would be like setting up a grill-ed cheese sandwich shop in the middle of Burger King ..."

The news release issued a few weeks ago from Governor George Pataki's press center in Albany said he had proposed legislation to increase the number of service stations that sell ethanol or other renewable fuels by having them available at regular, commercial service stations. If the plan goes through, it will make it easier for drivers in New York State to purchase these clean, homegrown fuels.

Now, in this capitalistic society, where money is king and oil companies make their own rules, how does Pataki expect to do this?

The governor and would-be contender for the Republican nomination for President in 2008 says it will be easy. If the bill is passed in the Assembly and Senate and is signed by him, it would exempt renewable fuels from the provisions of "exclusivity" contracts between fuel providers and retail service stations, which only allow the service stations to sell specific brands of gasoline.

Exxon-Mobil, Sunoco, Getty and the others are going to go right along with it, of course, despite the fact that they're in it for the money. "So we might make a little less money, George," they might say. "Hey, we're giving something to the country. So what if it puts us out of business...we'll feel good about ourselves, and, after all, that's what counts, right George?"

In a pig's ear!

Governor George is living in a world where he is scared to death to make a comment that might make the public think ill of him; anything that might offend his constituents and sway their proposed vote the other way; any other way. Obviously, he can't be thinking things out. Nor can his upstate advisors and energy moguls. Or they're all so nave they shouldn't be allowed to live in New York - city or state.

Now, the governor, to my knowledge, has never received an award for being smart, even from his parents. But he said that, to reduce our dependence on imported energy, "we must end the use of exclusivity agreements between fuel providers and service stations that prevent motorists from having access to renewable fuels."

I think it's only realistic to surmise that, if you were Mr. Exxon-Mobil or Mr. Getty or Mrs. Sunoco, wouldn't you say, "What's in it for me?" Or, "Get outta my house! I'm a businessperson, not a philanthropist!" I cannot fathom - for even a moment - that any of the high mucky-mucks in the fuel industry would allow another gas pump on the grounds of their facilities while they're selling the commercial brand. That would be like setting up a grilled cheese sandwich shop in the middle of Burger King, and I have a smidgen of an idea that Burger King wouldn't care too much for the idea.

Painful as it may be, the governor might be wise (?) if he had his energy czars look into spending some of the state's money to build service stations that will be retail outfits for ethanol or whatever on their own . That way the Exxon boys can't complain (or sue) and the wise drivers of cars that use renewable fuel won't wind up in the middle of a stupid dispute about the values of capitalism vs. altruism and will have a place to "gas" up.

On the other hand, Pataki could call for martial law and have the State Militia take over McDon-ald's, Burger King, Wendy's and White Castle so drivers could siphon vegetable oil as fuel for their cars.

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