Although the cooler weather that has pushed into the area over the past week is a definite reminder that the autumn season has arrived, it is somewhat disappointing that this year's season is basically one without much color.

The near drought of the late summer resulted in the usual yellow, orange and red leaves that signify this season to turn an ugly brown and fall off the trees this year rather than the colorburst that normally marks southeastern Kentucky.

But the colorless leaves this year is just a minute spot on the overall scope of the dry weather throughout the land. Heavy rains in the Midwest destroyed many crops with flooding, only to be coupled with a drought as the harvest season began. Those farmers who attempted to reset their crops faced a dual challenge - from destruction by rain to sunburnt crops throughout the entire growing season.

The effects of that can be easily seen with a visit to any grocery store. Milk has skyrocketed from its all-summer price of $1.19 per gallon to $1.69 in the late summer and now posts a hefty price of $2.99 per gallon. Eggs, which were cheaply priced over the summer have crested at $1.39 per dozen and will undoubtedly rise higher on the paying scale before winter arrives.

It is understandable that produce is higher during the winter months and cheaper in summer when the abundance is more accessible. It is understandable that smaller crops necessitate higher prices because those tending the crops have to survive like any other consumer. It just gives a tighter pinch at the cash register and limits many on the quality and quantity of their food choices and consumption.

What is not as easily understood is the consistent rise and fall of gasoline prices - which is another hard jab at the cash register.

While the one concept of college economics that I recall is the law of supply and demand, I still cannot fathom how an uprising in Syria or Iraq today can cause a swift jump of 30 to 40 cents per gallon in gasoline tomorrow. Businesses selling gasoline usually have their tanks mostly full - meaning they have already paid the price or made a credit agreement for that product at a specific price. Unless there is a dire shortage of gasoline already in the United States, it should be illegal for gas prices to jump up unless the business has had to pay more for the gasoline.

Although most legislators or business owners would argue the free enterprise system allows that, most of the consumers would readily argue that such practices should be considered price gouging. Hiking prices up "just because" is wrong - with examples such as holiday weekends and summertime price hikes because many are enjoying vacations requiring travel.

But jacking up gas prices here in America today because there was an outbreak of violence in the Middle East yesterday is simply taking advantage of a good situation that our legislators obviously choose to ignore. For those in the federal government levels, it is no problem - their transportation is furnished by the taxpayers through travel allowances. These roller coaster gas prices have no effect on them because their costs are already budgeted and supplied by the people who drive less expensive vehicles and cannot afford to travel for vacations.

We have become a society so dependent on our enemies for products and services that we have enslaved ourselves to their whims. The latest warning of Halloween makeup and colored contact lens is just another example of how we have sold our own selves out to other countries. We import thousands of products from China, where we have sent thousands of jobs on the excuse of cheaper labor costs.

What we don't realize is that cheaper labor costs create cheaper quality. A few years ago, we had the "bubblegum machine toy" scare, in which some children became ill after putting toys in their mouths. It was then discovered that the lead in those imported products exceeded the American standards while still meeting the Chinese production standards.

Ditto now with the makeup and decorated contact lenses. News outlets dealing with the issue warn consumers to use caution when purchasing those items that can cause infections in the eyes. That situation arises because these Chinese made products - once again - have lower standards than American products. While those news reports state that the most suspect products are those that are ordered online, it is almost a positive that any eye specialist would warn against the use of any such product, regardless of its production origin.

Although economics was my least favorite course in college, the ridiculous actions of our government and the business world keep bringing sections of that dreaded class back to my memory. It seems now that the law of supply and demand should have an additional warning of "Let the Buyer Beware."

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