Sunday, March 2, 2008

god given

CNN asked readers to talk about how gas prices are affecting them. The following are excerpts from this article. I bolded a few phrases to pay attention to.

Kevin Smith of Tishomingo, Oklahoma
My family lives in a rural area and it is 30 miles to town to go shopping. So instead of going weekly we go once a month and stock up. Also church is 20 miles away. So instead of going 3 to 4 times a week we only go Sunday morning and Wednesday evening. And we are driving more fuel efficient cars.

Jenifer Lautenschlager of Lincoln, Nebraska
The thought of $4 a gallon definitely places a new burden on how we live. We currently have a mid-size SUV that is in great shape and we love, but only gets 17 miles to the gallon while the car I drive gets 30. This has caused us to look seriously as trading in the SUV for a much smaller and efficient car. Gas is currently $3.09 a gallon where we live, but continues to rise. We watch the gas gauge much more closely than before and try to run errands all together rather than spreading them out. Has it changed our lives? You bet, and we will never live the way we did 4 years ago.

Marcelina Malave of Rahway, New Jersey
Since the spike of the oil prices, I find myself more home often and spending less time enjoying myself with family and friends. I have a long commute as it is and adding more miles is more than I can afford because you need to drive everywhere in my area. It's definitely an impact on my love life since I am no longer able to see my significant other as often. Everything I do now revolves around "Can I go away for the weekend? I need to budget myself cash for gas" I don't feel it should have to be that way.

Bob Johnson of Houston, Texas
We unloaded two of our three SUVs for a high mileage sedan. We are driving less overall and going out less. Any extra cash is being stashed or paying down CC debt.

It's impossible to tell, but I would guess that these people are middle or upper class. Sob stories about gas prices from middle to upper class people are not sad. The sad stories are from those who live near the poverty line. Changes in gas prices can be a large fraction of a poor person's income and could sink people who are barely surviving. People need to drive to work. People don't need to drive one of their SUV's around their entire rural areas. This is important to remember when considering a carbon cap and trade or tax. When (or if) a tax or cap and trade system raises gas prices (and heating prices, and electricity prices, etc.), the government must make sure that the price increase doesn't disproportionately affect the poor who, per person, contribute far less to global climate change than the rich.

Lastly, articles like these must be laughable to two groups of people: the completely destitute and average western Europeans. Americans who think $4/gallon gas is expensive should ask themselves how they would explain their sorrows to Africans who live on a dollar a day or western Europeans who pay well above $5/gallon. I don't know why, but some of us act like guaranteed $2/gallon gasoline is either written in our constitution or a god-given right.

thanks to Dan Leahey for sending this article to me.

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