Thursday, February 08, 2007


There is a strike of every possible type here in Italy and right now all the gas stations in the entire country are on strike (yes there’s even no self service!) from Wednesday night to Friday morning. Could you imagine this in the US? They are upset because the government is now allowing “hypermarkets” to sell gas. I don’t understand this hostility. Gas stations are all owned by the oil companies, aren’t they? Even if they say otherwise there are only a few oil companies that sell all the gas to all the stations, it doesn't matter if they are in a supermarket or not. So I look to my country of birth where this change has already happened long agao and then I try to explain to myself why the oil companies may fear it. The result in the US is that Kroger started selling gas cheaper than BP. Now Kroger is just buying gas from someone else and BP owns the whole supply chain, so it doesn’t seem possible that Kroger can sell it for less. I believe Kroger sells the gas at a slight loss (or a little less profit) to get people in the parking lot and then they shop at the store after filling up. I wonder if the supermarket then starts selling large amounts of an oil company’s gas and then the oil company can be pressured into giving up a little of their profit to stay in good graces with the supermarket. Of course, Kroger can’t afford to loose money so then they go off and charge a little more for a lot of little things. This seems like no real benefit for the customer, but I’m no economist. Although I did take Economics 101 about 15 years ago! Well, all my Italian coworkers are talking endlessly about the pension reforms that were also passed along with the new gas station policy. I could care less about that so I’m looking at this part of the reform that may or may not affect me.

The strike itself doesn’t affect me as even when I do drive to work I can easily go 2 weeks without filling up. It’s only if I take a weekend drive that I even think about getting gas. Yesterday I walked to work just because the weather is nice. Today I couldn’t because I have to run Mara to vet right after work (she’ll get “the operation”). Tomorrow I’ll walk to work again.
What will the next strike be? Sorry about how dark the photo is but that's the only station nearby and it's still get dark early.

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