What do you care? It’s not like gas is $3.50 per gallon

The school year for me, generally, is not a time where I do a lot of driving. In a town like Bowling Green, it’s very easy to get from A to B on foot. So, I rarely spend much time checking gas prices.

For the first time in a few months, I was quite surprised to learn that gas had gone up nearly a dollar per gallon. Part of me kept thinking, “Boy, I’m glad I don’t drive very much,” while the other part started to get a bit angry.

I started running through some scenarios in my head. I was curious how gas had been allowed to go up so high. After all, don’t consumers control the prices?

If that were the case, then I wondered why I had never seen much in the way of demonstration or protests. Looking around I couldn’t detect any difference in the number of cars driving on the streets.

Well heck. No wonder the gas companies can get away with it. Everyone is just eating the cost. It’s as if the American consumer just decided that he or she could stand to pay out two extra dollars per gallon. After all, what better does the consumer have to spend his or her money on?

I remember seeing a news story in the past few months regarding oil companies and their old reserves. Apparently, you can only drill out so much oil from an oil well because the rest of it sticks to the sides of the container. Now, it seems, they can gather the rest of that oil from old reserves and that would help unburden the American consumer. That article was a few months ago, and gas prices have increased since then.

So here I am, my car parked at my apartment and me roller blading back and forth to work. This does not bother me, but it upsets me in an unlikely way. I’m upset with the lack of response from the American consumers.

To tell the truth, I’m not really all that upset that gas prices have risen. The only driving that I really do is to maybe visit my parents on occasion. That is only a 2 hour trip that I take about every 3 months. Needless to say, I don’t drive that much.

Comparatively, American gas prices have always been much lower than Europe’s. There was some benefit in paying so little for gas. In fact, that’s how we’ve built our economy.

Europe has been a civilization for much longer than the United States. The nations of continental Europe have developed into small countries long before the advent of cars or train engines. In such a scenario, it is advantageous not to have provinces far from the center of power.

America, however, developed into the west with the coming of the train engine. Suddenly, wide expanses became only hour long trips due to locomotion. Eventually, the train would give way to highways and automobiles. Herein lies the problem. America, from its very start, has been accustomed to very large distances and wide expansions.

Thus, when you ask a college student what he or she is doing on the weekend, it’s not unlikely that a couple hundred-mile car trip to visit the folks is their response.

Similarly, the American businessman, forever living in the suburbs, can commute amazing distances just to go to the office each day. It seems that a lot of our economy is based on wide expanses and people to drive them.

As I said before, I’m not upset. Given the significant lack of response from consumers-their smiling faces at the pump,notwithstanding – I almost think we deserve the high gas prices. We live in a market system where consumers get to choose what their gas price is.

If everything is functioning properly, gas prices will fall because consumers want them to fall. By protest, or avoiding high-priced stations, the gas industry will be forced to respond with lower prices.

But we don’t seem to have the chutzpah to make a response. We’re being irresponsible capitalists, or maybe high gas prices is what we truly want. At the very least, if gas prices get too high, at least we will be helping the environment out some. I suppose, think of it as an alternative way to meet emission standards.