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Article Archive >> Community

Daze of My Life: Lemmings to the Pump

Daze of My Life
Lemmings to the Pump
by Kenneth B. Lourie

In my most recent in-capacity as Joe Schmo, I have wondered yet again about a subject close to my heart, actually one closer to my rear end, specifically, my right rear pant's pocket. I refer, if you hadn't already guessed, to my wallet, and by that I don't mean the fact that it's leather; the fact that I mean to refer to is, its contents, or rather its lack of contents. Because every red cent and greenback, or so it seems, is going to pay for the unleaded gasoline that our two cars must have to commute my wife, Dina and me, to our respective jobs.
This column is not a rant against miles-per-gallon or why it is that the automobile manufacturer's haven't created a more wallet-friendly, less environmentally challenged fuel for our car's engines, however. No, this column is about the complacency that seems to exist both among those of us who drive gasoline-powered modes of transportation and the investigative journalists, consumer advocates, corporate watchdogs and the right- and left-wing-excitables, neither of whom have uttered a discouraging--or disparaging--word about the escalating price of both gasoline and home heating oil.
I'm not a complete nincompoop. I know there's a war going on in two countries that we know about, anyway, Iraq and Afghanistan. And certainly I realize that American soldiers, both men and women, are dying everyday to protect our freedoms. And I also understand that as our economy, and the world's economy, continues to expand, the demand for oil likewise increases, and when supply can't keep up with that demand, the price for the available supply increases.
That's the free market system but...
What bothers me most however, is how little public concern or awareness there appears to be among our politicians and pundits, as to the hardships that those of us working for a living and budgeting for a family are experiencing due to this nearly 100 percent increase in the price of a barrel of oil, an increase which has caused unleaded gasoline and home heating oil prices to reach approximately $2.50 per gallon, on average--in the last year alone!
Where does anybody think the extra money to pay for this oil and gas is coming from? Our strategic monetarium reserve? Hardly. Moreover, do you have any idea how much greater a percentage of my income is now required to fuel my car and heat my home? Neither do I but, do you think the increase has impacted the quality of my life? And oh by the way, do you think my income has risen or my taxes decreased to offset the higher energy costs?
So where's the uproar? Where's the hue and cry? Where's the questioning of the oil companies' procedures, policies or accounting practices? I realize $55 and up for a barrel of oil is a hardship for them but, I have news for you, it's a hardship for me, too, and I'm tired and poor because of it.
And if these oil/gasoline prices keep rising, I'll soon be among the huddled masses, just as my grandparents were when they immigrated to America in 1915.
Except when they arrived at Ellis Island, they had nothing to lose and everything to gain, whereas I feel the exact opposite: I feel as if I have everything to lose and nothing to gain. I may not know much, but I know that.

Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.

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