I have to submit a post about oil. Because it's been in the news. And I'm something of an expert.
Well, not an expert, exactly. But I did watch "The Beverly Hillbillies" when I was a kid, and I listened to the "Ballad of Jed Clampett" and discovered that if you're out shootin' for food and you find oil instead ... black gold ... Texas tea ... then the first thing you know you're a millionaire -- so rich you could move to Beverly ... Hills, that is ... swimming pools, movie stars ...
So even as a kid I knew that oil was a valuable commodity. It's better to have some than to need some.
I also lived through the 1970s. I remember it was the fall of 1973 when I first heard of OPEC. This group of oil-rich countries proudly proclaimed an oil embargo in reaction to U.S. support of Israel during the Yom Kippur War. The price of a barrel of oil quadrupled from about $3 barrel to over $12 a barrel. A gallon of gas jumped from around 30 cents to ... (gasp!) a dollar. The oil embargo lasted six months or so; it made the stock market crumble, dragged the world economy into recession, and scared Americans into rethinking their dependence on foreign oil.
Well, I'm joking about that last part. Because again in 1979 the Iranian Revolution resulted in a disruption of oil supplies, and the next year Iraq invaded Iran, causing further cuts in the flow of oil. The price of crude rose from about $16 a barrel to $40 a barrel, and a gallon of gas went back up over a dollar and higher. There were lines at the gas pumps. There was talk of gas rationing. Coupons were printed. President Carter said the oil crisis was the "moral equivalent of war." And Detroit responded by inventing the gas-guzzling SUV.
Now we all know what happened in 2008, with a barrel of oil soaring over $100, and gas prices bubbling up to $4 a gallon. But the point is, if you're over the age of 50, you were probably prepared this time -- because you remember those oil-starved days of the 1970s and you're not surprised to see them come around again, and so now you won't be feeling the pinch of the current surging oil prices.
You're probably driving a Prius or Honda or Ford Focus, not a Ford Expedition or Hummer. You're probably living in a place where you don't have to drive 40 miles to work, or log in 200 miles a week just to gather your groceries and do your errands. You have also probably insulated your house, and keep the thermostat low in the winter, and go easy on the a/c in the summer. You might even own one of those famous Jimmy Carter cardigan sweaters. And if you're really prescient, you've invested part of your IRA money in a low-cost energy mutual fund or ETF.
Damn. I wish I had done all those things! Well, I've done some of them, and now I'm resolved to do the rest, because (as Jed Clampett might say) it's sure as shootin' that there will come another time when we have to pay $4, and then $5, for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline.
And by the way, that song ain't a bad little piece of Bluegrass music. Enjoy ...