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Friday, May 6, 2016

Now & Again: Something has got to give

Monday, January 9, 2006

It finally happened. I received my natural gas bill and sure enough, my heat bill went up. Not only did it go up, it doubled!

The reason for the increase wasn't due to any of last year's natural disasters like the gasoline prices. What irritated me the most was that the Iowa Board of Utilities approved the increase based on capital improvements made to services.

What does that mean? Does that mean that I have to pay twice the amount for natural gas to pay for someone's fancy new office or did the company replace gas lines in order to maintain adequate services? Why did it have to double? Are the rates going to go back down once the improvements are paid for? I think not. More importantly why did it have to double in the middle of winter when people need it the most?

Something has got to give. Gasoline prices go up, the cost of transportation goes up, which causes the price of groceries to up. Now natural gas prices go up and who do I pass my increased expenses onto. I don't think my employer would go for a double increase in pay to cover my expenses.

The gap between the cost of just plain living (food, utilities, and shelter) and the amount of income families are receiving is quickly widening. More and more families are going to end up at the poverty level or pretty darn close to it.

Who do we blame for this unnecessary mess we are getting into. The government? Well, we elected them. They are the cause of legislation that forces business to have to comply with various rules and regulations, which cost them money.

Do we blame big businesses? To a point but they too are compensating for their own increased expenses. Most notably the increased cost of medical coverage for employees.

Do we blame ourselves? Maybe, because we put up with it. We throw up our hands and say, "Oh well, I can't do anything about it." Guess again. We and our employers have the power to shop around and refuse to put up with it.

Can you imagine if employers no longer willingly offered health coverage to their employees and passed the difference onto to their employees rate of pay? Insurance companies would be scrambling to lower their rates to retain the business.

What if every home in the country converted their furnaces to the new corn burning furnaces on the market. The farmers would love that, another renewable energy market for them to take advantage of. Can you see the corn delivery companies starting up now? You can bet the natural gas companies would roll their prices back in a hurry.

As individuals we can collectively start an economic revolution, of sorts. It would only take one individual or company with enough guts to put alternative energy vehicles on the open market, comparable in price or lower, to the gasoline powered cars. I would be one of the first in line.

It would only take one individual or company to open a series of chain stores across the country to support the alternative energy vehicles. I can see it now. Cars are powered by hydrogen, E85, biodiesel, and electric. The convenience stores across the country convert to selling the new energy sources. The gasoline hogs would be forced to lower their prices and get on the alternative fuel bandwagon.

Who gets rich? We all would because our disposable income would increase with the decrease in living expenses. Then we can actually afford the essentials and spend more money on the fun things, or save and plan for the future, or go on a real vacation. That's what really keeps the economy rolling along.

I hope the politicians wake up soon and start supporting renewable energy resources and alternative fuel sources. I dare them (no I triple dog dare them) to provide a multi million dollar grant for a company to mass produce hydrogen powered cars that would be affordable to everyone.