Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Price of Gas

I received a call from a friend yesterday, and for the third time this week, I found myself listening to someone who bitched long and loud about the high price of gas, the greed of the oil companies, and the latest bumbling in Washington. I’ve heard so many friends parrot this same spiel that I’d like to throw my $0.02 out there.

Yes, the price of gas is taking a huge bite out of everyone’s pocketbook. Not only at the pumps, but goods on the store shelves are escalating in price because it is more expensive to transport those goods. Whether you blame the White House, the oil companies, or the American consumer, the result is the same: the price of gas is not coming down until you, the consumer, force the price of gas down. How? Stop driving!

I don’t need my B.S. in Economics to understand this issue is a simple problem of supply and demand. Neither the oil rich nations nor the oil companies will lower the price as long as they can sell their entire inventory at these inflated prices. That’s simple business. As long as consumers guzzle expensive gas as fast as the oil companies can produce it, the price will remain high.

Think about it, if everyone in America cut their driving in half, what would the results be? When demand goes down, supply goes up. Elementary. Within a week, oil inventories would double, causing the price to fall. If consumers are smart, and continue on half-ration driving, within a month, the oil companies would be drowning in too much supply. The cost per gallon would free fall to half of today’s prices.

The real problem, of course, is that no body wants to cut back on driving. No one wants to be unconvinced. We want life in the fast lane and we want it for pennies. Well guess what, those days are long gone. If you want gas prices to drop, then you, everyone, must be inconvenienced to some degree. We can’t bring prices down without a little pain. Cutting your driving in half could be as simple as taking the bus or carpooling to work, rather than driving. Or just sitting down at the beginning of the week to plan the week’s driving, examining where tasks can be combined to two or three tasks in one trip. Perhaps postponing that driving trip and spending more time close to home. And by all means, park that humongous gas guzzling SUV until hell freezes over.

People in America as well as other countries are suffering because consumers continue to drive without a thought, no matter what it costs, thus driving the price so high that poor people have to go without basic needs.

How long will people continue to suffer before we stop rewarding the oil companies with windfall profits? How painful must it get before you, the consumer, cuts back, to actually deprive yourself of that night out on the town or the Sunday drive to your mother’s house? How many families will suffer before we, as a society, say enough, and revert to more conservative driving habits?

This is an issue that involves us all, and it will take all of us to solve it.

At the risk of sounding superior, which is certainly not my intention, I can say that over the past year, my lover and I have indeed cut our driving in half. We never drive the car for just one errand, choosing instead to combine two or three errands each trip we make in our car. And where we use to drive into the city -- a 60 mile round trip -- three or more times a week, we now limit ourselves to once a week.

If you agree with me, please, let people know, get people talking about it. It’s time for our nation to act, each and every one of us. We, individually, can make a difference. It’s good for the poor, it’s good for our own pocketbook, it’s good for the country, it’s good for the planet.….

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