Monday, April 11, 2011

Open Letter to Gas Price Setters

Hey, you guys!  You know who you are!

Somebody, somewhere has decided that since either (a) the instability in the middle east  or (b) demand is going up as China and India begin using more of the oil that is being produced that it's time to raise gas prices again.  Making my and everyone else who drive's lives very difficult.

I was reading a story I did not understand in today's paper about some people called "speculators" who the columnist seemed to think were the reason gas is getting ready to top out at over $4 for a gallon for regular unleaded.  Who are these people and why are they messing with my fragile budget?

No fair jacking up the prices on things we have to have when I am supposed to be on a spending diet.  Yes, normally my cars spend the majority of their time enjoying the relative indoor comfort of the garage.  But just lately I find myself in need of transportation on a regular basis and damned if I don't have to fill up my nine year old, gas guzzling, behemoth of an SUV on a once a week basis.  Imagine my shock at the last fill up, after prices jumped 12 cents in one day and the total came to over $62!  I wanted to wring the station manager's neck, but I know he didn't make that decision and it's probably costing him more than it's costing me as people try to find their way around town on foot or by bicycle or maybe by horse-drawn carriage if this keeps up.

Which brings up a good point.  Exactly what would it take to keep you from driving your car?  Is your mileage good enough and your job stable enough that you fill up without thinking too much about it?  Or does your heart do that little clinch as you watch the top number rising a hell of a lot faster than the bottom number and you believe it's never going to actually fill the tank to the top?

I spent a lot of years not going very many places or using a lot of gas, which is why I could justify that nine year old gas guzzling machine in my garage.  It's clearly still cheaper for me to keep a car that is paid for already, has low taxes and low insurance, and an approximate once a year repair, even when gas prices are trying to strangle my cash flow.  But it does make me wonder.  At what point do I say, sorry.  If I can't walk there, I just can't go?  (Which will be a major problem since there is nothing within walking distance.)  I suspect that online shopping with free shipping and delivery will get quite a boost out of the whole gas crisis of 2011.

I wonder what else can go wrong this year when I let my guard down.  But I try to remember that there are way worse things than paying an extra 10, 20, 30, 40, 90 cents at the pump per gallon and have some perspective.  And cut back somewhere else.  Now if I could just figure out which kid not to buy clothes for this summer...

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