Making Choices

Today I had a great comment on my $4 Gasoline post by Joy at Joy’s Victory Garden and Our Friendly Earth, that got me to pondering an issue that I have addressed here before. With the inevitable $4 gasoline, and the possibility of the rising cost not taking a downward turn anytime soon, what are average Americans going to do? Choices will be made…choices born out of fear and exasperation.

My concern with $5 gasoline is that people will have to choose between buying a gallon of milk or loaf of bread and buying a gallon of gasoline. Without fuel, people will not be able to afford to drive to work. If a person doesn’t work, then what? There are assistance programs, but I am certain it is not enough.

DH drives 36 miles round trip for work everyday. He drives an older vehicle with terrible fuel economy…but that is our only choice at the moment. Just cipherin’ in my head, I come up with a monthly expenditure of around $200 for him to drive back and forth to work. It is not proper form to tell you what percentage of his net income that actually respresents, but let’s just say….I would much rather that be going into a college savings fund instead pouring out into the environment. There is no choice for us for now, we will keep paying the amount, whatever it is, so that DH can earn his paycheck.

What about other’s who do not have other resources to offset this enormous budget buster? For a minimum wage employee, almost one hour work will pay for a gallon of gasoline. I am thinking that most minimum wage workers drive older less fuel efficient vehicles. Using the same scenario as DH’s, except on minimum wage, the percentage of net income spent on fuel is approximately 25%, a percentage that was once reserved for the most important issue of your budget…housing. Rising fuel costs added to a fixed rent figure could skyrocket to a 60-70% of a minimum wage earners net salary. So that puts us at 85-90% of salary….hmmmm….what about child care (I am thankful I do not have to worry about this expense), medical, and ummmm…let’s say FOOD? There’s another hit below the belt. Milk is as much as gasoline and bread/eggs not to far from it.

I am not an economist….and there is much I do not understand about inflation, recession, supply and demand, but one thing that I recognize with our current situation and where it is headed is that we are in deep stuff here. I think I could ramble on and on here with what ifs. It seems…and I realize that I will most likely be corrected in the comments section….that we have a full viscious cycle building larger and larger….like a thunderhead in the distance. If people are put into a position of making choices of whether to purchase gas to drive to work, or to feed a hungry family, what will that choice be and what are the ramifications of the choice? No work? No paycheck! No paycheck? No food or housing! Then what? Subsidies are available, but will they continue if a the need becomes greater? Certain jobs are filled with minimum wage workers (right or wrong) that will otherwise not be filled by anyone else. What will happen if the need for employees is not met? What if, what if?

I don’t know the answer. Do you? One thing I do know, it that I am watching the lightning strikes…..1….2….3…..and counting the moments…1…..2…..before I hear the thunder…..1……and I believe it to be a prudent time to take cover! There is a different kind of storm a-comin’!

$4.00 Gasoline

Gasoline averages around $3.85 a gallon here in Southwest Kansas, but this past weekend we bought our first $4 a gallon gasoline. Okay, let me be exact, we paid $3.999 a gallon in Gardiner, Kansas.

I read somewhere that by July 4th weekend, fuel would be $5, but I am hoping that is all just hogwash. Even paying $4 is HOGWASH!

Driving Mileage Down

Just found this on yahoo….

According to the Government March Driving Down for the First Time since 1979~~

….. In a sign that Americans are curbing their driving in the face of record-high gasoline prices, data released on Friday showed highway miles driven in March fell 4.3 percent from a year earlier, the first March decline since the last major oil shock in the late 1970s.

According to the Department of Transportation, Americans drove 11 billion miles less in March 2008 than a year earlier, the first time estimated travel on public roads fell in March since 1979.

The data marks the sharpest year-on-year drop for any month in the history of the agency’s reporting, which dates back to 1942.

Complete Story

Fueling the Economy

Tomorrow we do our part for fueling the economy. As much as it pains me, we have to travel to Oklahoma City to get DD to the airport. She is traveling to Texas to see the other half of her family for a few weeks. We live 2.5 hours from the Wichita airport, but we have to drive to OKC because ~ 1. it is half way between the divorced parents’ homes add ~ 2. Who in the world can afford a ticket out of Wichita to anywhere?

I am very worried that Southwest Airlines will follow suit with other airlines and change their checked baggage policy between today and tomorrow, before we arrive. DD wishes that she could get everything into one carry on baggage, but because she has a basketball tournament while she is with her dad, she has every bit of her athletic gear that has to travel as well. When you wear women’s size 13 shoes, they tend to take up a lot of space in the suitcase….especially athletic shoes.

As I mentioned in a comment on Anita’s Prairie Dreams Blog, I have put off going to the grocery store until this trip. In keeping of the truth here, I mistakenly quoted the trip as being 600 miles, but I do believe it is a little less than 500 miles round trip.  I do not normally do my grocery/supply shopping in another state, but it just keeps me from having to make a 70 mile round to Dodge City when I return.

I, myself,  have not driven one place this past week. Hmmm. is that correct? Well, I guess I should say that I am a bit ashamed that I rode with DD to the Athletic Awards Banquet on Monday night, but we were running somewhat late and had to carry a couple of dishes of food with us. It was only six long blocks, but juggling a hot dish (which, by the way, included mass amounts of barbeque sauce) and a very large heavy bowl of potato salad, while wearing less than casual clothes, combined with walking those long blocks of uneven sidewalks, just did not seem the prudent thing to do. NOW….here’s the real reason I should be ahamed….we had DH drive DD’s car up a bit early to save a great seat to view the highlights video that DD was presenting. So, we drove TWO vehicles to the Banquet. Guess we will have to sit in the dark for all of next week to make up for that one.