How is $3+ Per Gallon of Gas Affecting You?
As tens of thousands of people in North African countries and parts of the Middle East further their attempts to achieve self-rule, or at least gain basic democratic principles, gas prices continue to soar.
It’s exciting to witness these grass roots efforts to throw out these corrupt regimes but it’s also profoundly disturbing to read about lunatics such as Muammar al-Gaddafi unleashing his military on protesters. Freedom comes at a price it seems, both in human and economic terms.
Compared to what we’re seeing in Libya, and what we’ll likely see in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, the regime changes in Tunisia and Egypt were without fanfare. But any perceived lack of stability in these regions results in higher gas prices and it has nothing to do with supply and demand. In spite of the problems in Libya there is plenty of supply.
And there is much more to come. A “Day of Rage” is planned in the Saudi Kingdom for March 11th and 20th. Members of the Royal Family and the official clerics are scrambling to stop any and all acts of protest before they happen. On one hand they’re claiming public demonstrations are against the will of God (Allah) and therefore illegal. On the other they have swiftly created a 36 billion dollar “stimulus” package as a means of spreading the wealth around and quieten any thoughts of reform.
As we watch the citizens of the North Africa and parts of the Middle East attempt to seize some level of control over their own destiny, what we feel here are the affects of higher gas prices. And for better or worse we are all dependent upon gasoline in this country and as gas prices rise, so does inflation.
Crude is currently trading at about $105 per barrel. It could get far worse if the unrest in oil producing states continues to gain momentum. I’ve read several economists who are predicting we’ll see $200 per barrel sooner than later. This will translate not only to higher prices at the pumps, but virtually every business is dependent on transportation at some level, so as shipping/trucking rates go up so will the prices they charge their customers. In one way or another every business is touched by gas prices.
Speaking of business I sometime wonder where we would be today had we spent trillions of dollars on alternative energy research at American universities instead of pouring it into the regime change in Iraq. Had we done that 10 years ago it’s conceivable we’d be selling that new technology to other countries by now, and making a tidy profit from it. It’s also conceivable that had we invested that kind of money in energy research we’d be a little less dependent on oil by now too.
A few years ago Exxon invested $600 million in bio-algae research, and they’re not the only oil company to do so, but all those companies are competing with each other so they have a vested interest in not sharing information. Would we be using algae bio-fuels today had we invested tens of billions of dollars in research at American universities ten years ago?
Well as much as I would like to rely on cycling as my primary means of transportation, the distance from home to work makes it impossible for me. Given a choice of spending time with my children each evening or shrinking my carbon footprint (and saving money spent on gas), the kids are going to win every time.
My income is not tied to gas prices so something’s got to give which will likely mean I’ll spend less on eating out and less on travel and entertainment. Maybe fewer bike gadgets too. So some of the money I previously spent on quality of life pursuits will now go to Chevron, Exxon, Conoco, etc., instead. Bottom line is all I can do for now is take it in the shorts and root for those who are going up against dictators and monarchies a few continents over from us.
So do you find yourself commuting more when gas prices hit or surpass the $3 mark? And if you don’t commute already do you consider it more when gas prices get to absurd levels? And at what point do you consider DART bus or light rail?
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Tags: bike commuting