Human Events Blog

Requiem for a milkman

 

The Heritage Foundation reports on a quaint appendage snipped away from America during its extreme “sustainability” makeover:

You don’t see too many milkmen out delivering bottled milk to peoples’ homes, and because of high gas prices, you might even see fewer.

Rockville Home Milk Delivery has been in operation for over 30 years, catering to the demands of nearly 5,000 homes in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Delivery service includes not just varieties of milk (soy, organic, chocolate) but also cheeses, eggs, cream, juices, water, cheesecake, baked goods, and even tamales. But high gas prices are forcing delivery cutbacks from twice a week to just once in an effort to save on expenses.

“It breaks my heart. Thirty-two years of driving, delivering milk early in the morning…to build this from nothing, to build this business with our bare hands, my wife and I, to just see it just disappear right in front of our eyes,” a discouraged Jim Pastor said to CBS last week.

I hope Mr. Pastor gets a personal call from Barack Obama to see if he’s okay.  Of course, lots of people are watching their businesses disappear right in front of their eyes because of this President’s policies.  He’d have to spend a lot of time on the phone, if he gave them the same kind of attention he gives professional leftist agitators exposed to ugly words.

Besides, when Pastor’s business collapses entirely, he’s got 99 weeks of unemployment waiting for him… and he will then be participating in the most efficient form of job-creating stimulus known to man, according to Democrat Party dogma.  Cashing those unemployment checks is sure to create more jobs than running some goofy old milk-delivery business.

As Nicolas Loris of the Heritage Foundation writes, the sad state of Pastor’s delivery service is the leading edge of the great low-energy “transformation” envelope settling over America:

Higher gas prices drive up production costs for all goods reliant on transportation, but larger industries are more easily able to pass those costs onto consumers. But as prices rise, it’s difficult for consumers to justify paying a premium when prices jump. Individual distributors, who operate on razor-thin margins, have a much more difficult time adjusting to higher gas prices.

Individuals adjust their behavior in response to rising gas prices, canceling vacations and adjusting their social lives to reflect the increased cost of transportation.  Heavily fuel-dependent delivery services will be even more dramatically and broadly affected.  Surcharges for delivery come first, which naturally prompt reduced demand for the service. 

Reporting on the melancholy fate of Pastor’s delivery service, the L.A. Times surveyed additional damage across the small-business landscape:

The toll is especially heavy on the small business owners who depend on their cars and trucks to bring goods and services to consumers. These enterprises — carpet cleaners, food truck drivers, cabbies, gardeners, traveling massage therapists, exterminators, plumbers and the like — say their profit or loss is inextricably linked to the price of gas.

They can’t easily raise their prices or impose fuel surcharges because their customers, like them, are feeling the pinch of higher prices at the pump. And unlike airlines or big delivery companies, they aren’t big enough to hedge fuel purchases in the futures market.

“It’s really the small-time delivery guys who are almost immediately affected by high gas prices,” said Bob van der Valk, a petroleum industry analyst. “The flower delivery guy, cab drivers, people who live from hand to mouth, end up having to take it out of their grocery money or rent to pay for gasoline.”

And, as the Times goes on to remind us, virtually everything is shipped or delivered several times during the life cycle of production and consumption, so everything is getting more expensive:

Rising gas prices have also boosted wholesale prices of food and other commodities, dealing a double whammy to mobile food businesses.

“Our whole culture is based on affordable, approachable, cheap food,” said chef Roy Choi of the mobile Kogi food trucks. He’s now paying $4 a pound for short ribs, up from less than $3; and a crate of green onions has shot up to $16 from $11. “That formula has worked for a long time, but the gas has affected the price of the food we buy.”

Thus far, President Obama’s suggestions to these people have included waiting 13 years for more fuel-efficient and expensive cars, or waiting even longer for algae-fueled transportation.  They could also consider shelling out fantastic amounts of money to purchase today’s unreliable and high-maintenance electric vehicles.  Remember last April, when a citizen complained about rising gas prices, and Obama’s response consisted of instructing the poor man to get rid of his gas-guzzling 8 mile-per-gallon SUV and buy an electric van that doesn’t exist, to haul his ten children around?

A follow-up piece in the L.A. Times offered a glimpse at the Obama future of low-energy decay:

Picture $1,000 cross-country flights, no school buses, more expensive mail. Homes concentrated around job centers, extensive train networks and far fewer things made out of plastic – which contains petroleum.

 “For us to avoid those types of prices, we’re going to have to dramatically change,” said Chris Steiner, author of “$20 Per Gallon, How the Inevitable Rise in Gasoline Prices Will Change Our Lives for the Better.”

Already, factories that made gas-guzzling vehicles such as the Hummer are kaput, as are urban food delivery services and even school buses in many rural locations. Down the line, people will fly much less often, which is bad news for places such as Disneyland and Las Vegas that depend on faraway tourists; they’ll live closer to cities, which could worry housing developers in far-flung suburbs; and they’ll have to pay more for many products that contain petroleum, Steiner said. They’ll also eat more local food and consumer products made close by.

The Times wonders if this could be embraced as “the new creative destruction” of capitalism… which is pretty rich, considering that we’re discussing a President who once blamed his grinding unemployment rates on the development of automated teller machines.

You are being transformed, Americans.  This is what it feels like.  Your personal and business lives are being rearranged, and you are being told you have no alternative but to accept it.  Your only hope for escape lies in the Obama 2012 campaign running out of gas before you do.

 


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