Changing the $4 Gas Equation

Changing the $4 Gas Equation

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Today on WCRN’s morning drive show, Peter Blute and Hank Stoltz talked about gas prices.

Stoltz talked about going to the grocery store and putting items back that they would normally buy because they could not afford them.  The calls poured in, people talked about paying $70+ to fill up a tank and their inability to afford small things, such as a lunch with co-workers.

In a world where the government owns a stake in car companies (that can’t keep their wheels attached), the advice to go and buy a more fuel efficient car might sound great. However, if you are putting back groceries from your shopping cart, it isn’t a sign of leadership.  (Host Peter Blute also pointed out the excise tax hit that such a purchase brings as well.)

In the real world, unemployment is still high and food and fuel inflation (conveniently left out of the government inflation figures) are slaughtering the consumer.  The price of Gasoline and heating oil are not theoretical constructs. Such a statement is cavalier to the point of insanity, particularly considering what he had to say two years ago when prices hit $4 a gallon and unemployment rose to a whopping 5.5%.

And, that is just on the consumer side. Every restaurant owner has to now deal with higher grain prices, higher transport prices, and higher heating prices.  Shipper has to tack on a fuel surcharge simply to keep the trucks rolling.  With people unable to afford to eat out and margins cut to the bone, the casualties will be those looking for work (who can’t be hired) and those currently employed, who will see their hours cut or eliminated.

This is a situation that can’t be sustained. The White House is just now starting to worry–they had better. Four dollar gas adds up to a defeat at the polls, unless you can change the equation.

And right on cue, here is Donald Trump:

Donald Trump will “probably” run as an independent candidate for U.S. President in 2012 if he does not receive the Republican party’s nomination, he told the Wall Street Journal in a video interview on Monday.

This will certainly relieve the pressure on the president, but not on the businessman or the consumer.