Having received this QuickNotes from John G. Miller, the content fits my article on what to do about the high rise of gasoline prices. Part Three
QBQ! (The Question Behind the Question) QuickNote
QBQ! QuickNotes™ may be forwarded by email to others or printed in their entirety for personal and group use. © QBQ, Inc. 2008. All rights reserved.
The ultimate system of personal accountability? A supply and demand based economy. What a great place to live and prosper.
And the crowd said AMEN!
Have you ever voted with your feet? Sure, we all have. Tough steak? Pass up that restaurant next time. Uncomfortable, lumpy bed? Skip that hotel chain. Clothes that shrink 30% with the first wash? Drop that brand. Gasoline at $4/gallon???
Drive less. Drive differently. Drive something different.
Yep, we can whine and complain about the price of gas and blame those "greedy, evil oil company executives" with their ginormous compensation packages and corporate profits. Or we can have the heated political debate of "to drill or not to drill" in the pristine areas of our land. Or—if we dare—we can recognize our personal accountability in it all.
Let's see, remembering my Economics 101 class at Cornell University 30 year ago, it went something like this: When demand is higher than supply, prices go up. When demand slacks, sellers everywhere, not wanting to miss business, lose customers, and see revenues drop, lower their prices.
And no matter the product, this truth applies. Ever complained about the culture-destroying garbage put out by Hollywood?
Well, someone's buying it. Wonder why an iPhone costs so darn much? Someone's buying it. Feeling angry over gasoline prices rising every single day for a month? Guess what? You and I are buying it.
You might say, "But, John, I have no choice but to buy gas." For the most part, true. But the accountability piece is all about me asking myself, "How do my choices affect the current situation and what can I do to change my choices?" Recently a favorite neighbor pulled up along my wife and I while we were taking a Tuesday morning walk. Her SUV looked great. Shiny, clean—like new! We asked, "Where've you been, Susan?" She responded, "I needed my Starbucks!!!"
Well, I'm sure Starbucks is pleased with their powerful draw—the ability to suck people out of their homes on a weekday morning for an 8 mile round trip for a caramel frappachino—but multiply our nice neighbor's choice a million-fold and—excuse me!?—who do we blame??? Oh, yes, those bad, bad oil company execs, our legislators, and the man in the Oval Office.
The truth is, by their very nature, economies are cyclical. They are monstrous, dynamic organisms comprised of hundreds of millions of consumer choices—people everywhere living a life of volition, or said differently, exercising their free will in a free country built on a fantastic idea called capitalism. Very rarely is anyone "at fault." Unless maybe, just maybe, we are responsible. You see, our choices are often cyclical. For many, it's excess followed by belt tightening followed by excess followed by budget cutting, and so on. And somewhere in the cycle things get out of hand—both for the economy and in our personal world—and we start buying the lie that's it's not about us and our personal decisions. So we blame, play victim, point fingers, whine and complain.
But we don't have to travel that route. We can take the high road where citizens everywhere demand of themselves ownership of individual choices, because it's through our own choices that we—you and I—are actually in control of it all. The power of personal choice is simply amazing. So, today, let's vote with our feet and walk the accountable path. It could make all the difference.
P.S. You know what? I think today, I just might park my truck and choose to go on eBay to re-purchase the neon orange 49cc Honda Express scooter I rode to those Cornell classes in the late 1970s. Looking back, a zillion miles per gallon was a good thing.
John G. Miller
Author of QBQ! and Flipping the Switch