In the past few days I have been given pause to ruminate on the current price of food, the price of gas, 401K’s and the so-called “Green” initiative that seems to be coming at us—as consumers—from every possible angle.
During my daily perusal of the USA Today, I found that even the “experts” can’t agree on why gas prices are so high. Some have speculated that the price is being driven artificially high due to stock market investments. Some say it is the simple economic forces of supply and demand that have pushed the price of regular to four dollars a gallon and above in many parts of the USA.
The Saudi’s (when interviewed) have said that they are producing enough crude and really don’t know why prices are so high. In a lunch-time conversation I had with a co-worker, he told me that China and India and other emerging industrial countries are buying all the oil they can get and that in his mind there is not enough supply. Yet there are no lines at the gas stations as I pass by them in my trips to a from town. They do seem to always have more cars pumping gas than I can ever remember.
However, all this speculation aside, just dealing with the price of gas is like scratching an itch and not ever getting to the point of what is causing it. And in my mind, what is causing the itch is hidden so deep as to be almost impossible to find.
My thoughts today are that as a culture of people, we have become used to having most anything that we have desired and this has brought us to a time in history where our options are about to be defined for us rather than us setting our own course.
As I write this, I remember a friend of mine had one of the first Honda Civic cars produced in 1973. It cost about $2,200 and got up to 40mpg on the highway according to Wikipedia. And I would have to say that since that day, we have gone backwards in gas mileage instead of forward—manufacturers are even telling the government that the mandated 35 mpg goal for 2010 cars is unrealistic and will put to much pressure on an industry already under the gun. And is it their greed or our need for bigger cars that got us here. Just asking.
Driving around town today, I thought about the Burger King motto of “Have It Your Way” begun in 1974. It was a great marketing idea that played upon our need to control our environment. Apple’s i Tunes and I pod have since redefined this very basic concept—have your own music when you want it—download a song or an album and turn on and tune out. I have to watch mingling my metaphors here since I was in San Francisco during the Timothy Leary days.
As I began this thoughtful journey a few days ago I realized that there are many directions this could take. If we were sitting face to face I think I could explain to you my thoughts in just a few minutes. Writing them down has become almost to labor intensive. Yet I know there is a thread of truth about where we are as a culture hiding just around the next paragraph—so I push on.
We are at a place in history, as least in my humble opinion where there is really no clear choice for president. What can either of these men, who desire the nation’s most prestigious job, really do about what needs to be taken care of.
Can they change the way we think—or at least modify what it is we think that we are entitled to as a group of people, one nation under God, etc.
Back in the day, I watched another presidential race being run on the television. I heard this 1976 era Jimmy Carter tell me and the rest of the viewing audience that he was all about giving us tax credits for equipping our houses with solar cells and that we should do all we can to develop other sources of energy—I think we all knew by this time that oil was not a renewable source of power and that to continue as a people group we would have to come up with something.
I had been raised a Republican and at that point decided to vote for Carter who was not. Long story short, 32 years later, where are all these practical ways of conserving what fuel we have left and discovering new energy sources.
Now-a-days, it is vogue for industrial types to talk about their “going green” efforts as if putting a bandage on the wound is something to be proud of—and don’t get me wrong—we need green initiatives. But how many lights do we have to turn off and how low do our thermostats have to go before we make a dent in the damage that we have already sustained during the past 50 years of growth economy. While the rich got richer and the poor got even more poor, industry has paid these same spokespeople millions and billions to make the bottom line look good for the annual stockholders meeting. Sports stars are getting rich while America gets heavier in front of their 42 and 52 inch, super high-def, wide screen, wall-mounted monitors that pass for televisions these days. (Wouldn’t it be great to have one too!)
We live with the fact that once prices go up, they rarely, if ever, go back down. Remember the sugar shortage of 1975. The price never went back down to what it was before the shortage. The same goes for coffee, tea and all that other good stuff we like to eat and drink. As I see it, it will take a long time for our paychecks to catch up with these rising prices and more than likely, they never will quite make it.
At some point we are told that social security (which I personally have paid into since my first real, $1.25 an hour janitorial job in the summer of 1965) won’t be enough to live on when we retire. So we invest (wisely I might add) in IRA’s and 401K’s only to see their value go kaput with the rest of the stock market. Yes we are buying more shares but please let me know when it is time to cash out and take the 10% penalty hit. I will be ready.
These are just a few thoughts on an otherwise thoughtless rainy day. I firmly believe that as a man thinks, so he is and that things are not beyond repair—that the liberal press will do all it can to post the most depressing news until the election is over. But I know this as well—four dollar a gallon gas is the least of the problems faced by this country and others. A holistic medical rule of thumb is that it will take twice as long to heal as it did to get sick in the first place. But if we don’t start today as a community to address some of what we face, we will never have the chance to get to where I believe it is we can really be environmentally and socially.
Lets ride this one together.