Everybody knows the dice are loaded. Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed. Everybody knows the war is over. Everybody knows the good guys lost. Everybody knows the fight was fixed. The poor stay poor, the rich get rich. That’s how it goes. Everybody knows.Leonard Cohen & Sharon Robinson
Would you rather read about sex, oil or oil and sex? If you chose number three, please continue.
It’s not what you think, as the wife said to her husband when he walked in on her and her boyfriend.
The big news this week is neither bloody war nor truck convoys protesting non-existent mask mandates.
It’s gasoline. I’d like to say I’ve never witnessed worse reportage in many decades of news addiction, but this one scrapes bottom.
The price of gasoline is rigged by a small number of oil companies with smart lawyers. I’ve been reporting on it for decades. (See the Barbwire Oilogopoly Archives at NevadaLabor.com/)
Alas and alack, as national news departments long ago realized, the public just doesn’t much care. The powerful plead helplessness. Kinda like local officials saying they can’t do much about homelessness. (See below.)
PASSING THE BUCKS. Just as our local bus system overlords say the collapse of the system on their watch is somebody else’s fault, few government regulators decry the fixing of gas prices.
When the cost of a barrel of oil from somewhere on the sands of Araby rises at 9:00 a.m., why does the price at the pump go up by 9:15?
Because the old con works. Very few media organizations (back when they could afford investigative journalism) would touch the story. Oil just isn’t sexy unless applied by a big-breasted “masseuse” to the back of a powerful politician with cameras rolling. (In lobbyist terms, that’s called greasing the skids.)
Just about everything you get at a supermarket works that way, especially prescription drugs whether developed with taxpayer money or not.
BigOil long ago found the obvious hole in antitrust law. You can fix prices as long as you never talk to each other about it. For more than four decades, one “discount” chain sets the price on its road signs in the morning and area “competitors” price accordingly within minutes.
Technically, no communication — just drive-bys assassinating your wallet.
Think about it. Your corner gas station has a few thousand gallons underground to start the day. At 8:00 a.m., war breaks out between the Saudis and Yemen. Or Ukraine and Russia. Oil futures spike worldwide.
The gas already at local stations, acquired much cheaper, immediately skyrockets in price. The oil on the sands of Araby will not reach refineries for days or weeks. Same thing happens every time there’s a refinery fire somewhere or a forest fire near a refinery.
If they thought the public would swallow a price hike because Tom Brady loses a Super Bowl, they would do so.
RENO CITY COUNCIL PASSES RENT CONTROL. They actually did, in 1978. Then big money forced city hall to renege. At least it sparked the election of Reno’s greatest mayor, the late Barbara Bennett, the following year.
The legit media have ignored history but the Barbwire never forgets. (Nevada Press Association firstplace winner, 7-17-2019).
I was thus bemused last week when Reno City Hall threw up its collective hands. No less than former Nevada Assembly Speaker, D-LV, and current Clark County Commission Chair Marilyn Fitzpatrick raised the issue.
It’s really simple. Rent regulation should trigger when availability drops below five percent and switch off above that level.
All them conservatives crying socialism miss the point. Socialism, defined as anything that helps people, is all around us: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public education, parks, roads, police, fire and other first responders.
Capitalism without regulation is tyranny. As is Leninism as practiced by Czar Vladimir the last. Eric Hofer, the longshoreman-philosopher, noted in the 1950s that taken to their logical conclusions of one big outfit having swallowed up all the smaller ones, Leninism and capitalism take us to the same exploitive place.
But that ain’t sexy.
TWO CZARS DON’T MAKE A RIGHT. Were Trump still president, he’d invite Putin to the White House for a testimonial dinner, a presidential medal of freedom and a blow job. Not necessarily in that order.
GAZETTE BURGERS, ANYONE? I feel sorry for Reno GazetteJournal executive editor Brian Duggin. He had to send a letter to subscribers this week notifying them that the Saturday paper would no longer be printed.
Internet clients could find a Saturday edition on the newspaper’s website.
What about longtime subscribers like some of my neighbors who have no web access? They will continue to pay for seven papers a week but get only six.
Not Mr. Duggan’s fault. That’s what happens when soulless corporations take over companies then bleed, skin, butcher and dump the carcass roadside. The current owners scored $7 million selling the former Kazoo-Journal building to the City of Reno to be converted to a new police station but still canned reporters.
The RGJ marketing department has never been one to miss sales opportunities, but they’ve blown this one big time. They should at least offer a Burger King coupon to all their screwed subscribers for a free 10-pack of chicken nuggets, which BK just downsized to eight for the same price.
A perfect pairing of junk food kiss-offs. An Orwellian match made in heaven: Less is more in an “eedition.” (Eek.)
Yeah, sure, and war is actually a “special military operation.”
THE ROLLING LOGANS. Sparks transit operator Michael Lansborough is home recovering from major heart surgery. The longtime RTCRide driver is sole support of his wife and son, Logan, who has no lower legs due to a genetic flaw but still took to his wheelchair and joined dad on downtown Reno picket lines during last year’s Hat Trick Strikes. (Photos at the front page of NevadaLabor.com/)
Friends set up GoFundMe page.
Be generous. If you’d prefer to mail a check, make it payable to Michael Lansborough and send to his attention at Teamsters Local 533, 1190 Selmi Drive, Suite 100, Reno NV 89512.
Thanks to all the Barbwire readers and union members who have continue to send support. Join me in donating. Please. And tell your friends.
Take care of each other and be careful out there.
Be well. Raise hell. / Esté bien. Haga infierno.
Andrew Quarantino Barbano is a 53-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com/ Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.