As I write this, late June 2008, the cost of a gallon of regular gasoline in my neighborhood is four dollars and 79 cents (and 9/10 for whatever that's about). Six weeks ago, it was 3.99. That's a 17 percent hike, or 147 percent annually. If my math is accurate, at that rate, in 365 days, one gallon will set us back almost seven dollars.
Of course, the inflation in oil pricing has spawned a whole cyclone of side effects.
Airlines are raising fares faster than a 747 can climb to 40,000 feet. Capacity, the number of seats available, is being slashed. Unprofitable routes are being purged. Anything that gets rid of excess weight is being tossed. It is not totally out of the question that soon we could be charged not by the ticket but by the pound. Go on a diet, strip down to your skivvies, and attach helium balloons to your arms to get a good rate - if you can even find a seat.
The automobile industry is - no pun intended - crashing. It was once said, "As goes General Motors, so goes the country." Should that be the case, it's Annie bar the door and grab your guns because we're in a whole heap of a lot of trouble. On second thought, maybe it is the case.
Of course, even if stuck at home, we must eat; and that ain't getting less costly. Groceries, due to the energy needed to produce and transport them, have drastically increased in price, some staples as much as 30 percent.
It is indeed becoming such that take home pay cannot even survive the trip. Sadly, during stressful times, I don't care what chocolate costs. Eat plenty. Pay later. Who can diet during days like these?
I understand there is great pain; people are suffering, the planet is hurting. Personally, I'm none-too-pleased with what all this is doing to my finances. I won't venture into what's causing it right here but am I a Pollyanna if I raise my hand and timidly say, "I see a bright side"?
Addictions - and it can certainly be argued that indeed we are addicted to that black goo bubbling forth from underneath the sand - are only broken when the pain outweighs the pleasure. While oil was plentiful and (relatively) cheap, we sucked it up. Now, screaming all the way, we are being forced to wean ourselves drastically and quickly from it. A paradigm shift is mandatory.
However, if one looks, he can already spot the fresh greenery of new thought is reaching upward toward the light.
"Staycations," getaways in one's community are "the thing." Local farmers are making deeper inroads, strengthening neighborhood economies. Consciousness about everything, from types of light bulbs to product packaging is being rethought. We are riding bicycles, and walking more, and talking. Because of that, we meet our neighbors, redevelop a sense of community, and - possibly most important - become happier and healthier.
It is not a painless, swift, or smooth road we must travel. Yet we are upon it. And if the toll is only six dollars a gallon, the end result might be worth it.
One of my fondest memories is from fifteen years ago. An incident occured at the main power station in our small community and no one had electricity for two days. It was fall and the weather was comfortable. Everyone spend their time outside and visiting with neighbors. It was wonderful.
I remember, several years ago having a really long power outage and my wife and I had nothing to do. As the day turned to night, we lit candles and sat on the couch on talked. I was truly disappointed when the lights came back on.
Thanks again for the comments and for reading my post.