In the past few days, I've had to fill up both cars as Christian and I have been driving a great deal. Both of us commute to work, me to two jobs and Christian a long way to his one. We also drove to Bellingham to visit the in-laws. Because I felt as though GWB had personally slapped me across the face when I saw the obscene total for filling the Corolla yesterday, which has never cost more than $35 before mid-last year, I thought I would take a little looksee at historical gas prices as reported by the Energy Information Administration.
What I found was that, averaged over all US regions and all formulations of the regular grade of gas, the price between the beginning of the current wretched administration to four days ago has increased 166.93%. We cannot use regular gas because it makes our Corolla engine ping, so this does not quite reflect the increase in price for our useable grade, but the increases are fairly consistent across grades. Because I wanted to be fair and accurately reflect what a oil-control interest can do to an administration, I compared this rate in inflation to the rate of inflation during the Clinton administration, who, as far as we know, had no familial interest in oil price fixation. From 1992-2000 (including the election year, which could have impacted the price because of public perception of impending change), the price of gas increased 22.12%. Yep, a 144.81% difference between the two periods.
Interestingly, the rate of inflation during the Clinton administration was 22%, as well, so the rate of inflation kept pace with the gas prices. Now, the rate of inflation during the current administration is 25%, and we are currently in a period of slow growth. We are watching oil barrel prices increase at a rate that will prevent many Americans from being able to get to work, consequently leading to an even greater reduction in the workforce. Ironically, this hasn't seemed to decrease gas consumption in the largest, most polluting vehicles, as those who can afford SUVs and the like can afford to fill up, so pollution will not be decreased significantly by this change. And reducing car traffic would be fine if the gas prices had increased because of gas taxation where the taxes could be funnelled back into the community and directed towards bettering public transportation. However, because gas-burning public transportation will cost more to operate, using this transportation could become prohibitively expensive for the marginal population in the US who have to budget strictly to survive.
That a president who is so utterly disconnected from his public was elected by people who thought he seemed like a good guy with whom to drink a beer, it seems somehow tragically appropriate that those people can no longer afford to drive to the bar.