By Jeff Girod
Round up the kids and grab the keys to the Vanagon: It’s time for a summer road trip! Gas prices have dipped 4 percent recently—nearly 18 cents, plummeting to a rock bottom $3.80 per gallon. Somebody turn on the blue light special. They’re practically giving it away!
It’s sad when $3.80 per gallon is considered a “bargain.” Why, I’m old enough to remember April 2009—a simpler time when Oprah still had a talk show, the Lakers could dribble a basketball and gas was a measly $2.76 a gallon. Since then, households are spending an average of $168 more for gas, for a total of $369 per month.
Think of it, $369 for gas. Every month. Just to make your car leave the driveway. That’s not counting car payments, car insurance, car registration, car maintenance, car washes—all of which are getting more expensive as inflation continues to rise. Doesn’t that just drill a black sticky gash into your innermost soul, like a BP oilrig slurping out your will to live?
Not to mention every 50-cent spike in the cost of gasoline drains another $70 billion annually from the U.S. economy. Did you get a raise last year? No, of course not. Employment is hovering at 12 percent in California and most of us are lucky just to have jobs. In 2011, not getting fired is the new raise.
Couple that with steadily increasing fuel prices since 2005 (a penny here, a nickel there), and for the last few years we’ve all been taking pays cuts. Some estimates have gas jumping to $5 per gallon by August. That’s a whopping increase of $1.20 per gallon. Here’s betting you don’t receive a $1.20 per gallon raise from your boss by August, which means another cut to your budget. Or maybe we can all just start taking hot air balloons to work. How much does helium cost per gallon?
Asked by a magazine recently what he would like for his 50th birthday on August 4, President Obama said, “A much lower unemployment rate. And lower gas prices. Those would be perfect gifts.” Gee, if only there was some kind of powerful figurehead elected to run this country that could do something about unemployment and gas prices. Because I’d hate to see Obama’s birthday wish spoiled.
I’m not saying the president of the United States should be able to control gas prices and unemployment, but the president of the United States should be able to control gas prices and unemployment. He’s the most powerful man on the planet. What else has he been doing for three years? Our military seems to be invading countries all the time. Why not invade something I care about for once, like a Chevron or an Arco?
We have a country with a population of more than 300 million. You’re telling me between all of our scientists, inventors and captains of industry, not one person can come up with a solution for $3.80 per gallon? A solar-powered jetpack? A wind-aided hovercraft? C’mon people, work with me!
Apparently the problem is we’re not screaming loud enough. We go about our daily lives like this is no big deal. Turn on the news and there are stories about non-gas related things. How am I supposed to care about the crappy Dodgers or some third-grader who wins a spelling bee when gas, which used to cost $1.65 a gallon, now costs more than double?
It’s the same gas, right? My car can’t fly or go back in time like Michael J. Fox’s DeLorean? My house is worth less. My 401k is worthless. But somehow gas has gone up 115 percent? You want to see the economy turn around, President Obama? Stop forcing your citizens to empty their wallets into an unleaded tank.
Every other problem we have is secondary to gas prices. Healthcare, social security, drugs, crime, obesity—all of them will be solved if you lower gas prices. Don’t believe me? If gas is affordable, I will be less likely to get high and mug an elderly fat person.
Lower gas prices and the whole world gets brighter. Bet your solar-powered jetpack on it.
Contact Jeff Girod at firstname.lastname@example.org.