Saturday, February 23, 2013

Are rising gas prices leading to more personal isolation?

As gas and other fuels continue to rise in cost, are Americans becoming more isolated?

I know a statement like that is bound to raise a questioning eyebrow or two. The year 2013 caps a string of years where technology has never made it easier to connect with others. Smart phones, the internet and social circles like Face Book have made staying in touch a snap! Every day, I get texted, called on the phone, poked and emailed just about to death. But, that’s not what I talking about…

An interesting phenomenon of the times has been the paradigm shift in the way people get around and even in how they shop. Not too long ago, I would think nothing about jumping into my car to run 15 miles over to a shopping center to buy something or maybe meet with friends at a popular eatery for a casual lunch. That was when gas cost $1.85 and it really didn’t figure into my thinking process. These days, with gas at $3.60 or more a gallon, it does! Now that trip of 30 miles round trip (assuming I only went from point A and then right back home), would cost me over $6 just to make the trip. So, yeah, I do think about it! And as a result, I’ve tended to group my errands, shopping trips and luncheons a little more carefully. Truth be told, when I need something now, I tend to jump online and order it (often free of taxes and shipping costs)! I also try and keep my trips to the grocery store down to a minimum and when I do shop; I tend to buy less as rising food prices have also had a bad effect on my budget. Luncheons? Yes, I still meet people on increasingly rarer occasions for a quick bite, but invariably the location we choose is close to everyone’s home.

So, now I’m told that our illustrious President has it in his mind to go around Congress (if needed) and pass a tax on industries that emit CO2 as a part of their manufacturing process. Uh oh! That would definitely include such ‘luxury’ items as heat from coal fired electric generators and gasoline from refineries. God only knows what long term effects that move would have on heating costs and oil prices. I’d personally have to face the fact that, at say $7 a gallon, I’d need to think seriously about investing in a motorcycle; because that’s the only way I could afford to get around!

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