Is the use of Propane an indicator for Corrupt Government?
For years I’ve watched news reports from various corrupt governments around the world. Presently many Arab / Middle Eastern. Inevitably you see images of people rolling propane tanks down the street to get them refilled, or loading trucks with propane tanks to get them filled. THE fuel of choice for household cooking in many M.E. areas seems to be Propane.
I’d often wondered “What is wrong with them that they don’t have electric kitchens or plumbed natural gas?” Like “we do in the modern world”.
Then yesterday I was loading MY propane tank into the Subaru to get it filled… I don’t use a lot of propane (or at least historically have not). One tank lasts a lot of the BBQ season. But recently I decided that the abusive electricity rates in California meant it was “worth it” to use my camping gear for cooking instead of my All Electric Kitchen (AEK).
For the last few weeks I’ve been alternating between using up one old 1 lb propane canister (it had sat outside for a ‘few years’ and the paint was bubbling indicating some rust started around the base, so time to use it up), using methanol, and using up some old Coleman White Gas (similar rusty can issue). All with an eye to deciding what to make my “daily cooker”.
Methanol is fast, clean, and easy. Silent. But it costs $10 / gallon at the local stores and even racing methanol is now $7 / gallon. Then you need to double that to allow for the 1/2 fuel value per gallon.
Gasoline, here, is running about $3.40 / gallon (of which something like $0.43 is California Gasoline Tax, then you get to pay sales tax on the gas and on the tax… yes, we get to pay sales tax on a tax…). It is the cheapest fuel, but not by much. In Europe the taxes are even more abusive.
Then Propane. It is running about $4 / gallon here, bought at the supplier. Most folks just do a ‘tank exchange’ at the local grocery store or hardware store for about $20. BUT, the hidden cost there is they only load 15 lbs into the 20 lb tank… so it’s about $7 / gallon.
So with just a bit more taxes on Gasoline, Propane would be the cheapest. Then, it is just a whole lot easier to use. Turn the knob and click, you are at full power. The gasoline stoves need various pumping and starting / warm up setting, then after 60 seconds, a shift to regular operating mode. Not only is this a bit of a PITA (especially pumping if you are cooking something like beans that take an hour), but it also means wasted fuel on things like making a cup of coffee. That 1 minute warm-up is either wasted fuel (out of a 3 minute burn), or you risk soot on your pot if the adjustment isn’t right.
Sidebar on Gasoline Coleman Lighting: The directions on the 2 burner stove say to move the lever up to light (limiting liquid use while the generator warms, and requiring lots of pumping) then wait a minute and turn it down to run (letting liquid rush into the generator and boil). I’ve learned that in very cold weather, or when low on fuel, to not put the lever all the way up. Slowly move it to about 30 degrees and then 45 as things warm up. IF it starts to yellow the flame, back off about 5 degrees. This gives a rapid warming, a more stable flame (especially if very cold or windy) during warm up, and it is reasonable to start the pot on that flame instead of wasting the fuel.
Still, it’s a bother and a bit more wasteful of fuel at cold starts. With just a bit more (abusive) gasoline taxes, propane would even be cheaper too. Even with the higher costs, you can see at Walmart that they sell propane canisters by the pallet load, while white gasoline is just one row on the shelf. (Though big users will be running on unleaded gasoline).
It’s The Taxes & The Stupid
So why am I looking to get my propane tank filled now? Because once I’ve used up the “old fuels”, it is the most comfortable to use, clearly cheap enough, fuel. Government stupidity and Global Warming Corruption have driven the cost of electricity too high to be worth using in my AEK. Government taxes are slowly (not so slowly?) driving up the price of Unleaded Gasoline to be similarly priced, and in much of the world, higher priced, as fuel. Propane is the fuel that isn’t so abused while being very comfortable to use.
So as I join the 2nd and 3rd world cooks in converting to cooking on Propane, on my patio, it caused me to pause and wonder for just a minute. I’m doing this as our government has joined the parade of places abusing their citizens with high taxes and regulatory burden on electricity and gasoline. As California implements this 3rd World POV, I find myself adopting the same 3rd World strategies.
Which has lead me to conclude that cooking (not just the summer BBQ remote from the house – your daily cooking chosen by cost basis) and in particular, cooking using tanks of propane, looks like a decent indicator of the degree of Government Abuse Of Citizens and of Government Corruption.
Effective governments with a libertarian bent set up low tax regimes and have a profit driven growth of Utility Companies delivering cheap and reliable electricity and gas services to homes; resulting in little propane use for primary cooking fuel. (Mostly remote farms and areas where installing a pipeline is very expensive). Governments that see Utilities as a profit center and tax them heavily, then regulate to strangulation; they cause price rises that make it cheaper and easier to just take your propane tank to the truck and get it filled. Then you see lots of home kitchens running on small propane tanks.
Are there other such Sentinel Fuels?
I don’t know, but I suspect kerosene might be similar. Still widely used by the Amish in America, and available at modest cost in drums or as jet fuel. The stoves are relatively easy to operate and work very well, especially in larger burner sizes. I bought one for use in running a fuel driven oven and it worked well for baking bread on the patio. Perhaps it is used in other countries to bypass government abuse of utilities as well, but just without seeing folks rolling kerosene tanks down the street. I do know that it is widely used in India. Unfortunately, in California, it is now difficult to get low cost kerosene that is not full of red die.
In any case, the iconic images of large stacks of Propane Tanks waiting to be filled, or of a kid rolling it down the street to the station; those show where Governments are ineffective, and abuse their citizens. To me, it looks like a fair indicator. As the Warmistas proceed to hike electricity costs to crazy levels (via solar and wind mandates & taxes), and as gasoline gets similarly abusive treatment, watch for wider adoption of propane as cooking fuel of choice in much of the world. Here, in the USA, natural gas is cheap and many homes have that option. I’m looking into installing a natural gas stove in my kitchen, once the outdoor kitchen is up and running on propane and I can shut off the kitchen stove for a while. So for the USA, the proportion of gas vs electric kitchens ought to be an alternative indicator.
Well, with that, I need to go get my propane tank filled…