Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ice Cream or Oil?

CNBC has posted a helpful slideshow that helps concerned consumers to become better informed -- in a certain sense -- about the price of oil. Its title is revealing: "More Expensive by the Barrel: Ice Cream or Oil?"

As you click through the slides, you learn that Coca-Cola is currently a bit less expensive than light sweet crude, while Perrier comes in at a shocking $300 per barrel.

"Who would have thought water would burn a hole in your pocket?" the caption asks...a sobering question indeed, for those whose vehicles are powered by imported soda water.

Still, it's nothing compared to the horror of the Starbucks latte, at $954.24 per barrel. If our society used these lattes to manufacture and distribute and sell oil, instead of the other way around, we'd really have something to complain about.

And get this: Those hippies Ben and Jerry are always talking about saving the planet...but their ice cream costs $1609 per barrel! Typical liberals, eh? It turns out that perfume is much more expensive than oil, too. You have to admit, it kind of puts things in perspective.

In a better world, a slideshow like this one might ask readers to think about oil's role in creating and transporting and setting the prices of the nonessential goods to which it's being compared. It might even manage to discuss interesting issues like external costs and goverment subsidies. But things being as they are, the slideshow is simply a propaganda piece for Big Oil, and it absolutely drips with contempt for its readers.

It also fails to acknowledge the "mileage" you get from a barrel of, say, Tabasco sauce. Sure, it costs $6155...but that adds up to about 2,789 bottles, which I'd say is an ample, if not generous, supply for most households. I love Tabasco and use it in almost everything I cook; even so, I doubt I've gone through 20 bottles of it in my entire life.

By contrast, $6155 will get you about 1,540 gallons of gasoline at current prices. That's 110 full tanks if you've got a 14-gallon tank, or roughly a year's supply if you're filling up twice a week, as so many drivers do. Perhaps this would be a better basis for comparison, since more Americans buy gasoline by the gallon than crude oil by the barrel?

Then again, doing it that way wouldn't be nearly as much fun. You know what else costs more than oil? Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 1945. So quit complaining, ya goddamn schmendriks, and fill 'er up!

Incidentally, the figures in this slideshow come from John S. Herold, Inc., whose "client base is comprised of virtually every major oil company."

(Photo by Steve Brandon, from his set Nepean, Ottawa suburb of infinite excitement!)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

it's like that famous story of the lobbyist for a contractor that built nuke plants, who said you could sprinkle plutonium on your breakfast cereal and suffer no ill effects. when invited to do so publicly and with television cameras rolling, however, he backpedaled quickly. those were the days.....