Gasoline Wake-Up Call: It's ON, Southeast Missouri!

Jun 26, 2008

Do we Americans still have what it takes to seize control in the heat of misfortune? Recent developments would suggest that we do!

Folks everywhere have begun putting away the smelling salts. We’re starting to reshape our lives around the new reality of high gas costs, and in the process, benefiting ourselves in ways we had not anticipated back when the panic first hit.

I don’t know from economic “bubbles”, a term experts have used to describe our harrowing housing-market situation, and the earlier explosion/bust. I’m no shrewd economic mind. But you don’t have to have a Nobel medal hanging from your neck to know that what goes up, in fact, is under no obligation to come down where the law of gravity has no bearing. What goes up can stay up for ages. Even until the end of the earth.

Even until the end of the remaining oil that lies beneath it.

It hasn’t taken us long to grasp that it makes no sense to languish, any more than it would if our house were aflame, and we stubbornly took up a position in our favorite recliner to bemoan our “mistreatment” as the walls came tumbling down.

I say I’m no economist, but it is easy to note that what’s taking shape in the wake of our recent woes is a textbook example of free-market principles in action: In relation to recent consumer behavior, truck and SUV sales have plunged; automakers are now placing greater emphasis on their smaller, more fuel-efficient offerings, toward which buyers are moving in increasing numbers.

More people are looking at automotive hybrids, though initial outlays will not be a picnic. Folks are selling off their gas guzzlers—at a gut-wrenching loss—and beginning to experiment with strategic planning, using the more cost-efficient vehicle or vehicles remaining at home.

More of us are putting hard-earned resources toward mass transit and carpooling. People are shelling out for bikes, and agitating for cycling paths. And I was truly surprised to discover how many people were taking up the time-honored, “born to be wild” art of motorcycle riding in response to The Ghastly Horror at the Pump. Apparently it’s no longer simply a “freedom” thing, but an astoundingly cost-effective way to bring high gas costs to heel.

The most dramatic change in the lives of a growing number of people? Linking home purchase or rental to the rising cost of gas, with an eye toward moving closer to work, schools, shopping, and family.

It’s great that we’re getting into battle mode on this thing. But admittedly, there’s a limit or two on how much the average working stiff can hope to change, solo.

That’s why next time we’ll get a feel for how employers are beginning to respond to The Great American Petrol Predicament! 

(Note: The first link above leads to over 30 candid profiles of Americans sharing coping strategies in response to high gas prices. CNN seems to be adding to the list periodically. Definitely worth a look!

You’ll eventually notice two things about the people featured: One is that many of them have a number of clever ideas for cutting costs, and the “can-do” attitude to back them up; and the other is that several seem never, ever, ever to have suffered the slightest inconvenience in their entire lives, and at least initially to have taken our national dilemma as something of a personal insult. I’m not so sure how this last group is going to fare in all this…

May we all learn—and do—what is needed now, so that we might move our families, our communities, and our nation forward with as much grace as we can muster!)

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