With gasoline prices at the highest level on record — which, after adjusting for inflation, turns out to be not so high after all — rather a lot of people are doing the usual "What are we going to do?" wail.

I am a person of relatively modest means, so I'm supposed to be really, truly upset about how these gasoline prices are destroying my budget. There's just one problem: they aren't doing that much damage. I drove 668 miles last month, close to my normal average for a month in which I'm not on vacation, which means I used about 27 gallons of gas. (Sandy, my 2000 Mazda 626 sedan — four-cylinder, automatic transmission, 30k miles — is lately averaging a shade under 25 mpg.) Prices during this period went up about nine cents, meaning a maximum $2.50 hit to my pocketbook, or about a Sunday newspaper and two-thirds. Sure, I'd rather have kept the two-fifty, but it's not like it's the difference between franks and beans, say, and beans without franks. The Feds managed to add almost that much to my phone and cell bills last month without even trying.

Herewith a disclosure: My life is marginally more organized than some. I am past master at the fine art of grouping trips, and my daily commute (22 miles round trip) is timed almost to the minute. Admittedly, twenty-two miles, while close to the local average, is next to nothing compared to the arduous crawling performed by some folks across really large metropolitan areas, but hey, it's not like I told you to live there.

Nor am I worried about running out of the stuff. One particularly cogent comment on consumption:

In America, to face a dwindling natural resource supply, we don't ask the government to spank us every time we fill up the tank, we consume the resource until its gone and find new and better energy alternatives. It's not the government's job to punish us into obedience through taxes and regulations, it's the market's job to consume what we have and find new sources for what we don't have.

We'll have all those wonderful alternative fuels soon enough — when they're cheaper than the stuff we have now. In the meantime, I think it's pretty darn spiffy that I can still drive from here to Tulsa and back on $15 worth of fuel. Those guys wailing about the price? Let 'em wail.

The Vent

#383
1 April 2004

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