Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Gasoline: The Real Price of Freedom?

Iowa Junction
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
I'm awake at 2:28 a.m.—thinking about the semester coming to a close and George Bush's ideas of freedom.

It's an exciting time of the year. The school year draws to another close and it doesn't really matter if I get a good night's sleep or not. Classes are over and only exams remain.

If the calendar year were reduced to a week, it would be Friday at 4:00 p.m. right now. The full weekend is in front of me.

With the promise of summer's frolic ahead, I wonder about frolic's key ingredient—freedom. Where's my freedom as I consider the greatest symbol of freedom in the United States as the automobile, which now requires $3.50-plus per gallon to send me on my way to "freedom?" Who can afford that kind of freedom except the well-off, the privileged, the elite, the established and the upper crust of our society—basic code talk for rich White folks?

According to what I paid for petrol one year ago today, it now cost me 20 percent more to fill up my gas tank today—just in one year. My take home salary doesn't reflect the rising cost of fuel.

I don't know, maybe it's just me, but could a sitting president affect the price of gasoline during his/her office? Given George W. Bush is from an oil family, I doubt there's anyone that can honestly and without some form of shame say that he has nothing to do with the outrageous increase in gas prices.

Regular gas prices during the Clinton years:
1993: $1.10/gal
1994: $1.11/gal
1995: $1.14/gal
1996: $1.23/gal
1997: $1.23/gal
1998: $1.05/gal
1999: $1.16/gal
2000: $1.51/gal

Increased by 1.37 times from the time he started office until he ended

Regular gas prices during the Bush years:
2001: $1.46/gal
2002: $1.35/gal
2003: $1.59/gal
2004: $1.88/gal
2005: $2.27/gal
2006: $2.58/gal
2007: $2.81/gal
2008: $3.xx/gal

Increased by 2.39 times from the time he started office until he ended

What I do know is that my definition of "freedom" is becoming more and more "confined." There's a new oxymoron: "confined freedom." At one time, I considered my freedom to include the entire West and sometimes beyond. Now, it's only the county I call home and occasionally the surrounding Big Horn Basin of Wyoming and parts of Montana. If the strangle hold of high gas prices continues, my true freedom will be whittled down to the distance I can cover on my bicycle and my imagination's ability when reading a good book.

Perhaps I have it wrong. Freedom has nothing to do with how far you can go in your car—perhaps that is just an aging form of American decadence. For example, how do the "free" people of Germany do it—their gas prices translate to $8.63/gallon?

As a side note: Regarding Hillary Clinton and John McCain's proposal for a national gas tax holiday... I thought it was interesting when ABC News' George Stephanopolis (once a White House aid to her husband) asked Hillary Clinton to name one credible economist who sided with her and McCain on the summer gas tax suspension, she said everything but a name. Good question George.

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