Make it Stop!: Gas crisis rages on is a news article from the Act of War: Direct Action manual.
These days, Allison McCabe of Dallas can’t believe her eyes. “Is this thing broken?” she asks, tapping the gas gauge at the pump. “That can’t be right.” But it is: the total comes to $147. And that’s for one tank of gas. Allison shakes her head and laughs. “At this rate, my car’s going to cost me more than my mortgage!”
Americans across the country are facing the same shocking news at the pump, and they aren’t laughing. The price of gasoline continues to skyrocket. Drivers sit in their cars for hours, waiting for to fill up their tanks, and that’s on days when they can even buy gas; 65% of gas stations report that their tanks have run dry at least once in the past week.
No doubt about it, America is facing the worst energy crisis it’s seen since the 1970’s. And those really were the good old days. During the Carter administration, prices did rise dramatically.
Eventually, though, they leveled out. The international community worked together to resolve the crisis. Within a few short years, the 70’s crisis was a distant memory, and Americans quickly returned to their expansive way of life.
Today, no such solution seems likely – or even possible. Prices continue to climb, and there’s no end in sight.
The crisis is having a ripple effect across all sectors of the economy. Trucking companies can’t afford to send their fleet out as often as they once did. That, in turn, is limiting the flow of goods to retail stores, especially big-box stores like Costco and Sam’s Club. Perishable goods in particular, like produce, are impacted by the change. Business owners say they have no choice but to pass the cost increase on to their customers. That would explain why red peppers are now selling for an average of $8 a pound.
To accommodate this new reality, Americans are making some serious changes to their lifestyles and spending patterns. Summer car trips are a thing of the past. People have cut back dramatically on their household expenses. Gone are the weekend movies and impulse purchases. Couples like Scott and Kristin Laing of San Diego no longer treat themselves to ‘date night’ away from their two young sons, Jake and Elroy. “We can’t even afford the babysitter, much less the dinner tab!” says Scott.
Anecdotal stories like these are backed up by government statistics. The Federal Reserve reports that discretionary spending is down 42% in the last 12 months. Analysts worry that this dramatic drop in consumer spending will send the American economy, already in a precarious position, into a tailspin from which it may never recover.
Other observers are more optimistic. Environmentalists, in particular, see a large silver lining to today’s black cloud. With fewer vehicles on the road, less harmful pollutants are entering the atmosphere. Some consumers are making the switch to electric cars. Lailee Mendelson, a spokeswoman for Honda, says the auto company has seen a huge spike in consumer interest for their hybrid vehicles. More importantly, some say, Americans are changing some long-standing, and, some say, destructive habits. Carpooling is back in vogue. So is public transportation. Washington DC’s metro system has seen a 73% jump in occupancy in the last six months. Buses are filled to capacity during peak hours. And bicycle sales are at an all-time high.
Some people, like Brad Miller of Atlanta, GA, see an added benefit to his new lifestyle. He now uses his bike to commute to work, a 15-mile round trip he makes each workday. And he’s lost 10 pounds since June. “How about that?” he says. “I never lost that much weight when I worked out at the gym!”
Mr. Miller no longer belongs to his neighborhood gym. He can’t afford it.