Thursday, May 03, 2007


Two years ago for the first time the average price of gasoline topped out at $2 per gallon. Gas had been selling for about $1.70 and then within a few hours spiked to above $2. I remember the time when it happened rather vividly because I was living in Edwardsville, IL at the time and doing my teaching observation in Bethalto. For about two weeks whenever I needed gas I would drive across the bridge in Alton, IL into Missouri so I could get gas that was still less than $2 a gallon. Once that station went over $2 a gallon I knew that I would probably never see gasoline that inexpensive ever again. The usual b.s. was spinned through the media about why things were so high. Everyone knew it was a bunch of b.s., but we couldn't do anything but complain. Talking heads and bad writers kept trying to tell everyone that we should keep things in perspective because in terms of inflation, gas really wasn't that expensive and it would have to go above $3 a gallon to reach the prices in terms of inflation of what gasoline cost in the early 1980s.

Five months later gasoline did spike above $3 a gallon after Hurricane Katrina hit. It stayed that way for a couple of weeks and then hovered around $2.80-$2.90 for the next six weeks. We were told that was just temporary, too, and that once the refineries ravaged by the hurricanes were once again fully operational prices would drop to their pre-Katrina rates. I knew that was a crock. It was and prices never did drop to their pre-Katrina levels. That hurricane was just an excuse because the oil companies had already busted the $2 a gallon bubble and were just itching to get prices above $3 a gallon. Oil companies posted recorded profits for the next two years. Not just one oil company, either. They all had record profits.

Now, those companies have gotten what they want again. Prices across the country are above $3 per gallon and the talking heads and spinning columnists are telling us that it's only going to get worse as summer approaches. In some parts of California and New York prices are already almost $4 per gallon.

For some people in the country this might not be much of an issue, but I believe those people are few and rare. Every time I pass a gas station, whether I'm driving, walking, or riding a bike, I check out the price of gas. Everyone I know does the same thing. I wish I lived in a culture and society where it wasn't necessary that one has to own a car to get around, but unfortunately I do. I don't live in a city or metropolitan area. I can't just hop on a train or ride the bus. Those things aren't an option for me and as appealing as certain aspects of a metropolitan lifestyle might be, I really don't want to live in a large city. Throughout time cities have been the downfall of civilizations. Therefore, I and millions of others like me or forced to drive places. Most people I know would take a different form of transportation or drive a vehicle that didn't run on gasoline if it was possible, but neither of those things are available. The gatekeepers don't think public transportation in rural areas is worth building and the few forms of alternative vehicles are way too expensive for poor hicks like me to afford.

What's more frustrating is that there really isn't much I can do about it. I've written some letters, but have heard nothing from them. I haven't been gifted with a mechanical mind, so I haven't been able to invent anything that I could use and even if I did I have no rich friends who would be able to fund the original production of such a revolutionary device. So all I can do is grit my teeth every time I pull up to the pump. Quite frankly, it's really pissing me off.

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