Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Perspective, Please

Outrage over gas prices is a recurring theme in the last 30 years of American history. Below is an essay I wrote in July 2001 for "The Writing Tree," a now-defunct website for aspiring writers. I remembered it amidst the current fuss over gas prices and decided to hunt it down in my archives.

Reading it, I had to laugh. Less than five years ago, $1.72 was an outrage. In 1979, 80 cents was an outrage. Prices won't settle down anytime soon, so let's all get a grip, shall we?

July 15, 2001 ~

The Price of Gas

We as a nation, our tough pioneering forebears notwithstanding, have apparently cracked at the cost of gasoline. Even the politicians are pounding their podiums in indignation over the intolerable rise in prices. Committees are forming, regulations are under scrutiny, experts are being interviewed, and constant media attention surrounds the whole process of solving this “crisis.”

I find it somewhat ironic that this particular necessity sparks such overwhelming outrage. Really, think about it. Let’s say that gas costs $1.72 a gallon today. Many oil sheiks and gas corporations are soaking up an excessive amount of American dollars. But people drop $3 a day for a cup of designer coffee on their way to work, which adds up to oh, about $20 per gallon every week. The coffee growers of Central America are raking in mountains of Yankee cash without so much as a “pass the sugar,” which isn’t cheap either, by the way. Where is the outrage? I know women who will pay $16 for a bottle of salon shampoo, which comes out to over $60 per gallon. Now, that’s exorbitant. It costs about $10 per gallon for beer at the bar during “Monday Night Football,” and that price has stood unchallenged for many years now. The beer corporations are drunk on our money, with not even a burp out of us. A gallon of milk is roughly $3.50…why can’t they lower that? Do it for the children! And don’t even start me on the cost of pantyhose--now there is a national crisis of boundless proportions. It’s also a clear case of sexual discrimination. Women’s nylon stockings should last at least as long as a pair of men’s socks. If men had to wear pantyhose, it would be designed with the durability of chain link fencing.

But I digress. Of course, gas prices are too high. Naturally, the fat cats are getting richer off the little guy’s Expeditions and Suburbans. Yet without a doubt, we are being fleeced at numerous other daily items that don’t cause us the slightest flutter. For some reason, the gas just rankles. Maybe our collective tank is so full from all the other overcharges we shell out every day that the price of gas just tops us off. We bubble right over the rim with the injustice of it all. So maybe the national flood of uproar over gas prices eventually will prove to be a revolutionary thing.

After all, that kind of spillage makes it very tough to get the cap back on.