This is the new reality, and it's changing things as we know them. Truck production lines are shutting down, people are driving less, and everything costs more. The effects are felt differently in different parts of the country, as this article in today's NY Times illustrates.
With the exception of rural Maine, the Northeast appears least affected by gasoline prices because people there make more money and drive shorter distances, or they take a bus or train to work.
But across Mississippi and the rural South, little public transit is available and people have no choice but to drive to work. Since jobs are scarce, commutes are frequently 20 miles or more. Many of the vehicles on the roads here are old rundown trucks, some getting 10 or fewer miles to the gallon.This article goes on to say
They warn that the high cost of driving makes low-wage labor even less attractive to workers, especially those who also have to pay for child care and can live off welfare and food stamps.
“As gas prices rise, working less could be the economically rational choice,” said Tim Slack, a sociologist at Louisiana State University who studies rural poverty. “That would mean lower incomes for the poor and greater distance from the mainstream.”It can also mean more crime, as some people do what they have to do to survive, and others take advantage of the current situation, as evidenced by what happened here in Houston last night.
A gasoline tanker driver was fatally shot while delivering fuel at a north Houston convenience store late Sunday night during what police believe was an attempted robbery.
The truck driver, who was approximately 30 years old, was delivering fuel to a Mobil gas station in the 9000 block of North Freeway near West Gulf Bank around 10:45 p.m. when his girlfriend came by to deliver his dinner, said Houston Police Department Homicide Division Sgt. Patrick LeBlanc.
It's understandable that an armored truck needs armed guards, but we're rapidly approaching the point where these fuel truck drivers are going to need the same type of protection. They present too tempting of a target with gas prices as high as they are right now.
I don't know how this situation is going to turn out, but I know the next President will have a huge mess on his hands to clean up. The silver lining is that maybe, just maybe, Americans are slowly warming up to ideas that will break this gasoline addiction, like alternative energy sources, and mass transit.
Did I just say mass transit in Houston, the city built with the pickup truck in mind? Well, if informal surveys of my SUV driving friends are any indication, the idea not only has merit, but some are already implementing it by using van pools. What they are all doing is driving a lot less, and trying to dump their now worthless SUV's for whatever they can get that doesn't leave them in debt. People are also buying small cars and hybrids, or scooters, or riding the bus, all anathema just a few short months ago.
It is truly amazing how fast things have changed, but I have the feeling it's going to get worse before it gets better. After all, summer's just arriving with it's sky high cooling bills for our part of the world. Wait till you see those bills.
So hang on.