Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Gas Prices

This is becoming a rugged winter.  No, it isn't any snow or ice or other type of lousy weather that's causing it;  it's the ever increasing price of gasoline and heating oil.  Sometimes it seems like it's more of an hourly rise rather than daily or weekly.  Yea, I know it's not as frequently as hourly, but there's been more than once that I've driven by a gas station near my home heading somewhere only to return an hour later to be greeted by a higher price.

We're told that the increases are due to many factors, not the least of which is unrest in the Middle East and Iran's shutting off England and France as their major supplier.  Others argue it's because of some technical problems here in the U.S.  Our good "friends" Saudi Arabia has slowed down its production of oil and caused the barrel price of crude to rise.

It's probably a combination of a these and other factors that is causing our rapid fall to the most expensive gasoline we've ever paid.  One of those factors, if one is to believe Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, is our own President.  In one of his campaign speeches recently, Gingrich pointed out that President Obama said a couple years ago that he would like our gas prices to be closer to five dollars a gallon like that of our European allies.

I'm not going to do the research I'd need to do to prove the candidate's accuracy, or lack of it, but I can point out that our last President opened up the nation's reserves to force prices down when they were on a similar meteoric ride a few years ago.  It worked.  I haven't heard any indications from our current President that he will release any reserves.  In fact, he has blocked our country from importing oil from Canada for refining.  Circumstancial proof?  Absolutely, but sometime circumstances can lead to real proof.

That five dollar/gallon price that our President allegedly covets has already been reached in California.  Can Maine be far behind?

One fact I honestly know concerns Gator Wife and me.  We have a vacation in Pennsylvania already planned and paid for this summer.  It is a trip we like to take each time a certain theater in Amish Country changes it offering.  We bought our tickets before Christmas so we could get the seats we wanted as the plays there are generallly sold out.  We also have our confirmed motel reservatons.  So we will be going.  Yes, we could cancel and get refunds, but we won't do that since the trip is the only one we have planned for this year.

But, had the gas prices been rising at the current rate, we may have given that trip second, third thoughts before we completed our plans.  We'll be going in GW's new car and based on her current gas mileage, we calculated an estimate of the cost of gas.  It is going to cost us about $150 for the round trip.  In previous years we've spent nearly a hundred dollars for the fuel.

(I can remember when I could drive around all evening for a quarter.)

Of course gas isn't the only thing with rising prices.  Concurrent with the rising gas price is the cost of food.  We'll probably spend more in restaurants than we have in the past.

Heading to my regular Tuesday visit at the senior fitness place, I was listening to a radio report that once again Americans will be faced with shorter or no vacations away from home.  That can't help our economy recover.  I recall a couple years ago when Gator Wife and I went to Branson, MO, for a vacation.  That was a spectacular place and I honestly would suggest to anyone that Branson should be on a vacation list.  But we were going through a similar economic downturn and people then were staying closer to home.  People in Branson were telling us that the number of visitors was well behind previous years, all due to the economy.

I suspect our vacation this year in Lancaster, PA, will see a similar downturn.  But we'll bite that proverbial bullet and go.

Meanwhile, I can only hope people convey the need to get our economy under control to our Congressional critters and summertime will bring some relief.


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