Gas, Alas!

If you haven’t been to the filling station lately, I’ve got some bad news for you:  gas prices are spiking, again.

At our local Duke gas station, the price for a gallon of regular is creeping ever closer to the dreaded $4.00 mark.  And even if you go to Giant Eagle and get your advantage card discount, $60.00 fill-ups have become distressingly commonplace.

Increasing gas prices are a powerful downer, because there’s no realistic way to avoid them — unless, like the Bus-Riding Conservative, you live close to a bus line and are willing to conform your schedule to the timetable for the no. 4 bus, or the predictability of your work schedule allows you to car pool.  For most of us suburbanites, those aren’t realistic options.  Driving our car in to work and back every day is a necessary part of the daily routine, and the price of gas hits us directly in the pocketbook.  If, like me, you need to gas up about once a week, the difference between $2.50 a gallon gas and $4.00 a gallon gas quickly becomes more than chump change.  Add to that the increases in prices of groceries and other commodities that are delivered by gas-guzzling trucks, and the impact becomes even worse.

As far as the politics go — and in a presidential election year, everything has to be viewed through a political lens, doesn’t it? — President Obama’s allies will argue that greedy, gouging oil companies are to blame, and Republicans will contend that if President Obama had allowed more aggressive oil exploration and domestic production, the increased supply would have materially lowered the price by now.  And those who live in large urban areas and don’t use cars, anyway, probably aren’t go to feel much of a pinch.

But those of us in the heartland, where many of the “battleground” states are found, are feeling the pain.  It’s aggravating to go to the pump, see those numbers whiz by in a blur, and realize another $60 has flown out of your wallet.  My guess is that angry, frustrated voters aren’t a good thing for the incumbent.

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