Friday, May 11, 2007

Laughingstock Wisconsin: Thanks, Gov. Doyle!

It's not only national, it's now satire: (Stolen, whole, from Planet Moron)

It should come as no surprise that in these days of rising gasoline prices, some disreputable service station owners would attempt to take advantage of the situation by engaging in a practice long deplored by all fair-minded people:

Discount gouging.

In a vile attempt to attract customers by reducing prices, Wisconsin BP station owner Raj Bhandari was caught red-handed offering senior citizens two-cents-per-gallon discounts on the price of gasoline.

That might not sound like much now but where would it all end?

Today it’s two cents a gallon. Tomorrow it’s four. The next thing you know, gasoline stations all over the state would be competing based on a chaotic mix of price, convenience, service and location.

Stepping in to put an end to Mr. Bhandari’s brazen attempt to skirt Wisconsin’s Unfair Sales Act and in doing so, surely rescuing us from a future of anarchy and bedlam, are the vigilant watchdogs of the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection which sent a letter to the renegade discounter demanding that he raise his prices or face thousands of dollars in fines and penalties.

The state of Wisconsin: Keeping prices high so you don’t have to.

The state's Unfair Sales Act was originally passed during the Depression and prohibits anyone from selling gasoline at less than a 3% markup over wholesale costs. The law is intended to ensure that large retailers such as Wal-Mart can’t undercut the small mom and pop outfits that have so become a familiar and charming part of our urban landscape. Sure, you wouldn’t mind saving a few bucks a tank but then you’d miss out on the down-home feel of your locally owned ExxonMobile franchise with its authentically mud-caked complimentary window squeegees and the delightful $6-an-hour high school senior dozing off behind a pane of half-inch thick bulletproof glass.

Besides, being able to fill up while you shop for food and other household items at Wal-Mart would save you an extra trip to go get gas.

The state of Wisconsin: Helping to warm up the earth so Al Gore has something to do.

As the presidential elections heat up, the episode has national implications as well.

“In case you missed it this week,” presidential candidate Barack Obama told those assembled for a campaign rally in Richmond, Virginia, “There was a tragedy in Wisconsin. Gasoline was discounted and ten thousand people died — an entire town destroyed.” (A spokesperson for the Illinois senator later explained that the candidate may have gotten a little carried away speaking in front of such a large crowd, estimated by the Senator to be “over 75 million.”)

Also weighing in on the matter was Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani who, in keeping with his decisive, post-9/11 demeanor,
said in no uncertain terms that enforcement of the Unfair Sales Act “Would be, you know, OK. Either or. Six of one half a dozen of another. Whatever.”

This is but one small battle won,
but there will be more, whether it’s outright price cuts or nefarious schemes to offer “free” coffee with a fill up. (Come on, how stupid do they think we are? That’s a discount, and we’ll have none of those shenanigans here.)

If, as Wendell Phillips once said, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” then just as surely “Liberty is the price of eternal 3% wholesale markups.”

Which is probably what he meant to say anyway.


The Asian Badger said...

Nice catch.

It'll continue as long as Pol Pot is in the gov's mansion.

Al said...

After hearing this on Rush Wed am I was wondering how long it would take for you to get to it.

If I wasn't driving in a car I would have called him & told him to check out your blog to understand Darth Doyle's mindset about this.