Technology with attitude

Gas Is Getting Out Of Hand

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Call it reality. Call it a hidden tax. Call it whatever you’d like, but with such a sharp increase in the price lately, many low and middle income families are really being hit hard.

More gas blues from USA Today.

The average price for all three grades rose nearly 20 cents to $2.53 in the three weeks ending Aug. 12, said Trilby Lundberg, who publishes the semimonthly Lundberg Survey of 7,000 gas stations around the country. The figures were not adjusted for inflation.

In the same three-week period, crude oil price futures rose about $8.21. A barrel of oil produces about 42 gallons of gasoline, resulting in a price increase of 19.6 cents per gallon � nearly identical to the 19.8 cent rise in the price of gas at the pumps, Lundberg said.

Now, many poo-poo comments like mine by pointing to the price of gas when adjusted for inflation. That’s true, but you also have to look at the average American workers wage when adjusted for inflation. The fact of the matter is, the average wage has actually gone down. That means more people are having to pay, on average, more of their take home income for gas.

Gas prices in March 1981 would be $3.03 per gallon expressed in today’s dollars, Lundberg said, while a barrel of oil would be about $90.

“I’m feeling it,” said driver Adolfo Fernandez, a Los Angeles resident who was filling his BMW Sunday with premium unleaded at a cost of $2.97 per gallon. “I feel sorry for the people who really feel it and can’t afford it.”

According to the survey, self-serve regular averaged $2.50 a gallon nationwide. Midgrade was pegged at $2.59, with premium-grade was at $2.69.

So what’s the solution? How can we fix this? I don’t see many solutions except hybrid car technology. I wish the fuel-cell technology were more viable, but the infrastructure for delivering hydrogen isn’t even close to being there.

Would more spending on viable public transportation be a workable solution? That’s probably a non-starter for many since they’d oppose raising taxes to fund them.

And what about opening up the strategic oil reserves? Personally, I’ve never seen any evidence that this would actually help. It always felt more like political pandering than anything.

In any event, how can we solve this problem? Educate me because I am certainly no expert on this issue.