Three dollar gas is impacting the American psyche, but in ways you’d never have expected. You might think we’d see dramatic changes in the way we live and drive, yet the opposite is true. Instead of market price slowing consumption, the price must still not be high enough to make anyone second guess their driving habits.
Despite almost four thousand dead US servicemen and women, despite rising gas prices, despite the world economic climate, the price of gas does not seem to be openly effecting us. And drivers where I live aren’t slowing down.
Outwardly, recent events do not seem to be impacting us. I fear that bubbling beneath the surface forces are working that threaten to undermine the whole economy. Inflation rears its ugly head as gas prices effect almost every good and service. Rising gas prices affect the price of most products.
Aren’t we at war?
During World War Two, the American public knew it was in a war. People felt it and responded in kind, because they had to, because they wanted to do their part. We rationed gas, food, metal and rubber. We installed dark drapes over the windows to keep the light in, fearing bombers and submarines on the prowl. We bought war bonds and volunteered to help, as need arose. Do you feel like we’re in a war?
This past Memorial Day, we loaded up the minivan and drove to the in-laws, a 45 minute drive on I-95 into Orlando. Ever conscious of the price to fill up, I set the cruise control on 70 and eased into the right lane. It was like painting a target on my car. As each and every vehicle sped past us their drivers showered me with death rays from angry eyes. As traffic built up behind me, glares of hatred increased in ferocity. Am I the only person who can see the insanity of it all?
Memorial Day is set apart to honor those who have given of their lives in the service of their country. Do we remember sacrifice for country by burning more gas in bigger cars and trucks? How many more lives must be lost so we can commute so cheaply? But I digress.
The concept of conservation, of saving gas is completely alien to the American psyche. Perhaps connecting a war for oil and our driving habits is too much of a stretch for us. The laws of supply and demand tell us that when you reduce the demand of a product, the cost will come down. Buy less, prices fall. Yet, we just can’t seem to drive less or even slow down.
I can’t drive 55
I titled this article a Simple Step, but taking an idea and making it a reality simply isn’t that simple. If we can not collectively see the need to change, then how can we ever get past this? You’re going to hate my solution. Here it is. First, reduce highway speeds back to 55. Then enforce them.
If we’re at war then remind drivers every day of the fact, by setting highway speeds to 55mph. Maybe then, we’d demand answers from elected representatives. Maybe then we wouldn’t be so cavalier in sending our sons into harms way.
The concept of government making me do something is incredibly foreign to me. I cringe as I put it forward, but we’re just not willing to change of our own. Even just enforcing current speed limits would save a ton of gas. The amount of fuel you burn doing 80 as opposed to 70 is huge.
When the state of Florida raised the speed limit to 65, then 70, I rejoiced. I thought I had been freed. The time it took to get to the beach and back was reduced. Today, I think the cost is just too high to bear. The dollars, sure, but the lives… the loss of even one more American soldier… is just too much.
Our beloved elected representatives however, just do not have the will to do anything hard. You can choose though, to drive a little less. To drive a little slower.