Photo: Flickr – Kansas Poetry
High oil prices are leading to the nation’s biggest gas bill ever: a projected $500 billion dollars will be spent this year on gasoline alone, according to the Falls Church News-Press (via Oil Drum).The price of a barrel of oil has been above $100 dollars on the London futures exchange since January, which is $25 dollars more than the same time last year.
And yet, unlike previous spikes in oil prices that led to a big drop in demand, American demand for gas has fallen just three per cent since 2008.
The Energy Trap, from non-partisan think tank New America, put out a study that found cases of American families putting half their income into paying for their car, between gassing it up, insurance, tolls and other fees.
The study showed that differences in income and geographic location play a huge role in who pays the brunt of the gas bill. Lower class Americans typically can’t take advantage of government subsidies for efficient cars, and usually drive farther to work their lower-paying jobs. And people in rural areas have to drive farther to get where they’re going, as opposed to the urban masses than can take public transportation or drive lesser distances.
For example, the average Connecticut family spent eight per cent of their income on their cars, while in Montana it was over 19 per cent.
Americans have a love-hate relationship with their vehicles. On the one hand, we depend on the car to bring us to work, school and our grandmother’s house. But this lifestyle costs a ton of money and we become trapped in an endless cycle of driving to work and working to drive.
This issue will probably get worse before it gets better. Solutions like implementing more public transportation or implementing low-cost auto loans are costly and will take time — meaning that Americans will spend plenty more time and money commuting in private vehicles in the coming years.