Petrol tanker strike muses

The government ask that people shouldn’t ‘panic buy’.  I’m not sure that that is a panic action, it’s entirely rational.  Many motorists rely on their car and need it to work.  So, the prospect of not being able to get fuel, or having to queue for ages at a time that does not suit them, makes tanking the car a smart idea.    Moreover, clearly the act of asking people NOT to panic will make some do exactly that.  There is a common land dilemma here – not tanking up will benefit everyone, but will disadvantage you much more, so for no person is it rational to hold back, even if it would be helpful if everyone did.  Even then the drivers can pick the duration of their strike in any case, so if everyone did lay off fuelling up then they would just have to go for 5 days instead and get the same effect.

Also, the tanker drivers claim that their pay of £32,000 hasn’t risen in real terms since 1992.  Why should it rise in real terms?  I’m not clear that they are earning any more of the GDP, or the job has got more demanding.  There is a claim that the danger is undervalued, but since a fireman earns about £27,000, it’s hard to see this as conclusive social reason for a much higher level of pay.  They seem to miss that in the end a rise in real terms without a rise in GDP means that everyone else (on average) loses a bit.

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