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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"When the gas in my tank... feels like money in the bank"

I borrowed the title from lyrics by Eddie Vedder, who has always been able to integrate the issues we're all dealing with into his music without pushing an agenda.

I think the gas crisis is something that is affecting us all right now and I couldn't think of a better title for this post, even though it was written before gas reached the 4-dollar mark and people really started feeling it. I think back to when I got my IROC-Z back in 1995 and gas was less than a dollar. I could fill my tank for less than ten dollars, which was nice considering that car would burn a tank in a day or two. These days, with gas higher than ever and showing no signs of mercy, inconvenience doesn't even begin to summarize the effects on everyone.

Back in the 90's, when gas was barely more than a dollar per gallon, SUV's flooded the market and became the popular purchase for car buyers seeking a nice ride with extra space. During that surge, 20 mpg was considered "good" gas mileage since the fast cash option at the ATM would fill the tank with change leftover. Today, the cost to fill the tank of an SUV is getting closer than ever to the hundred dollar mark and they're being traded in for the fuel-efficient cars they were replacing less than a decade ago.

There are several theories as to why this is happening, and unfortunately I don't have the absolute answer to why gas costs more than 4 times what it did just 10 years ago. Financial experts claim that OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) is to blame, or that we rely far too much on foreign oil; I happen to agree with the latter statement. What happened to Texas oil? I thought we had a ton of refineries all over the US, pumping out tons of crude by the hour, but I guess I was wrong. What I do know is that if this trend continues, I'll be returning to my beloved mountain bike to get me where I need to go; at least locally. That may be a good thing, considering that I've been told my calves appear to be shrinking lately.

One idea that I read stated that "The price of gas has shot up because oil production from Iraq has been steadily dropping after being invaded and occupied by the US". That makes a lot of sense, but I think a simple Economics lesson would explain this paradox of ever-increasing gas prices. Currently, the demand for gas is higher than the supply so as long as that continues, the prices will remain high because the demand justifies the price. If the supply started to surpass the demand, the opposite would occur and prices would fall. We've seen this happen before and it could happen again if we start exploring alternative fuels and investing in local refineries. Our troops are in Iraq, trying to fulfill Bush's foolish quest to end terrorism, and destroying the country in the process. Meanwhile, we're still relying on Iraqi oil so there should be no real mystery why prices are soaring. I don't think anyone is prepared to accept what many are forecasting, that being a 10-dollar gallon of gas.

If our government put as much focus or money into anything as they are on the war, we would have avoided this long ago and would probably have a cure for Cancer. Perhaps, when the war is over, the people we put into office may start listening to us and start investing in our future rather than trying to take over another country and abandon the issues at home. Of course, that's another blog for another day.

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