Six Bucks


Six bucks isn’t a whole lot of money. You can watch a matinee on the weekends for six bucks (no popcorn!), or buy a paperback book or two. Or, you could go to work.

Yup, the price of gas is up, and it now costs me six bucks a day to go to work and return home. The local news is reporting tonight that gas could cross $3/gal this weekend. That’d be another 20% increase in cost over the weekend, and about 50% over the last few weeks (from $2.069 on 7/26).

Bush tells us that we aren’t even paying a historical high, despite the price per barrel hitting record highs of over $66. His claim is that when the dollars are levelled to values equivalent to those during the gas crisis of the 70’s, it would take $100/barrel to equal the same price levels. If my math is right, that’d put a gallon of gas somewhere around $4.25/gallon. Or maybe more. After all, the barrel price went up 1.5% yesterday, and the price at the pump rose 15% — go figure.

So what’s making the dramatic rise this week of well over 15%? I’ve heard that the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is a factor, although I can’t figure out why. I’ve heard that the busy hurricane season is a contributor, which I really don’t understand. I’ve also heard that the refinery issues in Texas are a contributor. That one at least makes a little more sense.

The refinery issue is ludicrous however, as that’s a problem that can be solved, and for some reason isn’t. It’s my understanding that no new refinery has been built in the US in 30 years, and yet we’ve continued to grow our consumption. Were I the oil industry, I’d much rather have the capacity to make more of the product that I want to sell, sell it cheaper, and hope the public buys more, rather than make less of my product, sell it for higher prices, and suffer the public backlash and boycotts from that.

A talking head this morning indicated that the world is daily using just about exactly the amount of oil that’s being produced daily. That’s a problem, and I could certainly see where that could impact prices. But not overnight, and not 15% at one time.

So is there any answer? Probably, but not from me. So, what can I do?

Well, Beck and I will begin carpooling next week, probably taking her vehicle. It gets about twice the mileage as my truck, so that should help. We can save expensive “truck miles” for times when we need the extra capacity.

I’ll tell ya, part of me wants to run out and buy a new economy car just for running errands and going to and from work. I’ll have to do some spreadsheet work this weekend to figure out whether that’s worth it or not, but the numbers have got to be getting more in favor of that. Something that gets at least 30mpg, and is reasonable enough sized to be comfortable enough to commute in.

The real answer though is moving to some other fuel for vehicles that is cheap, renewable and non-polluting. Dunno what that is, as there are probably several fuels that could fit the bill, but I am so ready for one of those to happen. I’m sure that Detroit says that can’t be done in vehicles at prices folks are willing to pay. I would gladly pay $50k for a vehicle that got 45mpg from a fuel that was $1/gallon. It’d be worth it, I think.

I never thought I’d see prices like this (and climbing), as I thought the stigma of crossing $2/gallon would keep it from ever getting there. I thought certainly there’d be a stigma of it crossing $3/gallon, and yet now, it’s alleged to be imminent. Unbelievable.

It certainly makes the trip west in November start to look like an increasingly expensive proposition, and maybe the last of the big road trips for me for a while.