On Monday morning I put $50 worth of gas in my car. Monday was the cheapest gas has been all week. While I’m thankful for that good fortune, and while I feel the pinch on my pocketbook just like everyone else, I still think whining about gas prices is pretty egocentric as Americans. In most of Europe, gas tops $8/gallon. In Turkey, they’re paying more than $10/gallon and in Sierra Leone (in West Africa) gas prices reach almost $20/gallon.
The presidential candidates have all used gas prices as a talking point in the last few weeks, but the fact of the matter is, none of their “solutions” will actually do a whole lot. The problem isn’t with our gas prices, it’s the fact that we’ve trained our nation to depend on cheap gasoline. There are plenty of civilized nations who haven’t paid less than $4 a gallon in living memory, and their economies are all making it just fine.
Maybe paying more at the pump will force us to look at public transportation (an impossibility for me and the rest of us living in the largest city in the US without it), at carpooling, at biking, at walking. In addition to the environmental effects therein, those things also facilitate community. What would life start looking like if we interacted with other human beings on our suburban commutes? We might find the result is worth more than the extra cash we’re shelling out to fuel our busy lives.