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The Cost Of Getting There
Editorial by
Keith Smith

Was sittin' on the porch the other evening, sippin' Jack Daniels with our neighbor Bubba. The topics of conversation just kinda' ebbed and flowed around us when pretty soon the high price of vehicle fuel came up.

It didn't start out that way - it took us a while to get there. We were discussing sports in general and the effect the athletes have on society. Performance enhancing drugs came up and I quite innocently joked that pretty soon NASCAR drivers would be accused of taking them. Well, that set Bubba off. He's an avid NASCAR fan and can't stand to miss a race at the Texas Motor Speedway just up I-35 from us.

Seems that Bubba, Thelma Jean, and their 7 kids vacationed in Corpus Christi last year. They had a great six days relaxing on the beach and sightseeing. Well, Thelma Jean and the kids had a great six days - Bubba got to drive 420 miles down there, got a sunburn, and got to drive 420 miles back. Missing two great NASCAR races while they were gone.
He said that Thelma Jean really had wanted to go down there for a week this year but he'd told her that it was dang near to impossible to afford a vacation now-a-days on account of the way gasoline prices had gone up.
"Heck", he told me. "Itsh bout eight hunnert milessh round trip n bout a hunnert drivin round down there - figur an even thousundh drivin mileshh fur the vacas....ion. We jesss cant afford that no more".
You can probably tell that the bottle of Jack was about empty at this point.

We jawed on about this and that, gravitating back to the cost of gasoline every now and then. We finished the Jack so Bubba ambled on home and I was left to ruminate on my own.
My thoughts kept coming back to what he'd said about how the high cost of gasoline was impacting families and small business owners (small businesses, not necessarily small owners). His voice had gone louder and his eyes had showed more fire every time he said, "The oil companies are j'st gettin' rich off'en us little folks". He must have said that twenty times that evening.

Now, I like Bubba. He's not the sharpest plow in the field but I've developed a fatherly kind of fondness for the boy and I agree with him on most things. I certainly took my verbal shots at the oil barons that evening on the porch. I seem to recall commenting on the fact that every one of the major oil and gas producers had record-setting profits last year.

I figured, though, that I needed to think the subject over a bit more soberly before I wrote an editorial attacking the oil companies for their high prices.

Well... I've thought it over. I'm Sober. Here's my observations:

    Who's the bad guy here?
  • Bubba receives royalty checks every month from oil & gas leases.
    The cost of gasoline hasn't gone up much since 1964 when compared to some other important things.
  • Up 1667%; Cigarettes from $0.21/pk to $3.50/pk.
  • Up 1259%; Top-of-the-line Ford Mustang from $2,495 to $31,412.
  • Up 1147%; Housing costs from $15,000 to $175,000.
  • Up 914%; Jack Daniels from $3.60 to $32.95.
  • Up 855%; Median family income from $6,590 to $56,377.
  • Up 836%; Gasoline prices from $0.25 to $2.09.
    Other interesting things:
  • This time last year gasoline was about $1.98 per gallon.
  • The price now is 5% more at around $2.09 per gallon.
  • The average vehicle gets 22 miles per gallon.
  • Said vehicle is driven 12,000 miles per year (1,000 miles per month)
  • The gasoline cost per month last year was $89.
  • This year it's $95
  • That's $6.00 per month (1000 miles) more.
  • Bubba's vacation gasoline would have cost him $6 more than last year.
  • And, my final observation... I hope Thelma Jean doesn't read this.


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