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August 26, 2005


Some comments I'd like to transplant from the Daily Kos diary version of this post:

This diary was originally supposed to be about schools.

In a story first mentioned here by DHinMI, Fairfax County, Virginia, incorporting some of the wealthiest zip codes around, and boasting a public school system that's consistently top-rated nationally, may be considering teacher layoffs this year to pay for fuel for their buses!

I mean, that's just goddamn ridiculous.

That was actually going to be the point of the piece, at first. That is, that it wasn't just working class folks who were feeling the pinch at the pump. The wealthier classes, though they can afford the higher prices, are going to start feeling the pinch indirectly. In the case of Fairfax, their prize school system will be able to offer their children less and less as the cost of fuel continues to rise. And that problem, if you look at the linked stories, is also replicating itself across the country. Everywhere, school bus fleets are feeling it.

But in the end, I went with the impact on "first responders," because I thought it resonated even more deeply. For people of conscience, that is. Which excludes the guiltiest parties pretty much right out of the box.

And in the coming days, as Florida prepares to recover from yet another hurricane, the president's brother's constituents will feel it, too. As fuel surcharges inflate the cost of truckloads of plywood, and rising rates at the pump make it preferable to sit in the dark and let the food in the fridge rot, rather than pay what it would cost to run that generator you bought after the last hurricane season.

In response to a comment asking where the private sector outrage was:

Check some of those links.

Many of them incorporate the complaints of the private sector, from trucking companies, to pizza delivery guys, to plumbers and exterminators with truck fleets.

Speaking of trucking companies, with fuel prices eating into profits, and in some cases erasing them altogether, how much shipping container security do you think they're going to put up with, even if there actually was any to speak of.

And finally, in response to another comment noting an apparent increase in bus ridership:

Interesting point here...

One of the above links takes you to a story that mentions that the Milwaukee and Madison, WI areas have actually had to raise their mass transit fares to cope with rising fuel costs, which in turn has reduced ridership, which, of course, is exactly the opposite of what you want in this situation.

From the article:

Kelly Ratliff, who hopped off a Madison bus on her way to work Thursday, said she can't afford monthly passes any more and switched to buying 10-day ones. "I think they are going to get less money from me than they would have," she said.

See what's happening? People on tight budgets can't afford the monthly passes. I don't know about Madison, but in most cities, the longer term passes actually cost less per ride than the shorter term ones. So the people who can least afford to forego the economy of long term passes are forced to do so anyway, simply because they can't manage the cash outlay necessary to save money.


Talk amongst yourselves. No big whoop.

my local paper has a gas gauge and a price list posted every am.

National, CT, NY prices.


W&Friends is turning the US into a third world country, and the middle class into the lumpenproles of this century, only with showers and shampoo. (Wonder how long we will have hot water?) Jorge is running this country just like he ran Arbusto. Which crony of Pappy Bush does he have lined up to buy the ruined US at an inflated price?

Is it ok that there's a part of me wondering if this isn't the best thing that could have happened to the country? The U.S. was not going to mend its gas-guzzling ways out of moral concern for our great-grandchildren's forests. It takes a dollar crunch.

The administration set out to drain so much of our budget that there'd be no money left for social security, medicaid, or other Big Government programs.

What they ended up doing was draining so much of our gas that there's none left for our SUVs, single-occupant commuters, and other gas wasters.

The real question is, will we continue to cut off police and nurses to fill our gas tanks; or will American innovation and free markets prevail and solve the problem by developing (and buying and selling) better fuels and more efficient vehicles?

Those who were paying attention during the gas crisis of the 70s, your perspective would be welcome: why didn't the economics then lead us to develop less wasteful habits, and are things any different now?

The problem with the 70's crisis was that it was treated as a temporary crisis -- caused by the Arab-Israeli conflict. Because Jimmy Carter was successful in the Camp David agreements, all too many people saw it as settled, and forgot the conservation measures they actually began to adopt earlier in the 70's. But we did begin to shift to lighter and smaller more fuel efficient cars in the mid 70's, we insulated houses, we put in more accurate thermostats, we did lots of little things -- including the 50 MPH speed limit.

What we didn't do was stick with the program once the crisis was relieved. To understand why not, you have to review why Carter failed to get Congress to address a serious energy policy, including conservation and alternatives, and then what happened during the Reagan years to the reforms that had already begum.

I believe the real story is contained in the first months of the Carter administration when the Energy Companies put the hammer to congress in a very heavy way, and derailed what Carter wanted to make his signature issue. Carter was smart -- be he did not know how to fight back.

How exactly is this Bush's fault? I mean, wouldnt we be facing higher gas prices regardless of who is in the White House?

Higher? Maybe. As high as we're seeing with an out-of-control war in the Middle East that has no end in sight, and in fact only threatens to grow bigger and engulf more oil-producing states? Probably not.

And of course, I can't think of anyone else who had a shot at the White House who ran on the promise that if prices got to high, he could just "tell 'em to turn on the spigots."

I was not surprise with the increase of gasoline, as were many Democrats. It is the buisness of oilmen to make money. When you have an energy policy that is influenced by Enron and Haliburton, and the two top leaders of our country (Bush and Chaney) are oilmen, what do you expect? If gas gets $3 by the end of this year, it will be over $4 with three more years of Bush/Chaney

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