Andy Stone: A Stone’s Throw |

Andy Stone: A Stone’s Throw

Andy Stone
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

Oh sure, you got Osama bin Laden, but what have you done for me lately, Mr. Big-Shot President Guy? Huh?

Muslim terrorists? Who cares about Muslim terrorists? Don’t you know that I just paid four bucks a gallon to fill up my gas tank?

Four dollars! For every freaking gallon!

What kind of phony un-American fake president (and don’t give me that birth certificate nonsense – just ’cause you were “born in America” doesn’t mean you’re a real American) would screw around chasing old guys in Pakistan when gasoline is FOUR DOLLARS A DAMN GALLON!!!!

Sound familiar? It should.

We just got an email from a right-wing “think tank,” asking us to send them photos of local gas station prices for a “project” they’re working on.

“Think tank”? Oh yeah, those guys are doing a lot of “thinking” in that “tank” – they’re desperately thinking what they can do to make everyone forget about Osama bin Whatshisname.

And they’re figuring that gas prices will do the trick.

Did I mention … four dollars a gallon!!!

I saw a guy on Fox News declaring that gas prices are over $4 a gallon and “once they go up, they never come back down.”

Actually, I remember when gas prices were last over $4 a gallon – and I also remember that they went right back down to $2 a gallon pretty soon after that.

Wow! I have a better memory than a Fox News anchorman. My mom would be proud.

In fact, doing a little research on that Internet thingy, I confirmed that gas was over $4 a gallon back in June 2008 – and that it dropped back down to under $2 a gallon for the winter and spring of 2009.

Now let’s be clear: I hate paying $4 a gallon for gasoline. I just paid $60 to fill up my tank and that’s outrageous! That’s … well … that’s like a whole lot more than I paid last time.

And right there is the tricky part: It’s not how much gas costs, it’s how much more it costs.

You hear people on the news – not the anchormen and women, who make a whole lot of money, but just plain ordinary folks – saying things like, “Well, with gas up at four bucks a gallon, I just can’t do much of anything anymore except drive to work and drive home again. No movies. No vacations. No dinners out at restaurants. Just can’t afford it.”

That does sound pretty darn sad.

But it also sounds pretty darn unlikely.

Yes, I know there are people out there in desperate straits. But let’s take a look at the numbers, OK?

The average U.S. driver goes about 14,000 miles a year. The average U.S. car gets about 20 miles a gallon. That works out to 700 gallons per driver per year.

(Those are official government statistics – mostly complied in 2005, so don’t claim that it’s bad Obama Socialist/Democrat math. And if you’re driving an SUV that gets a painful 10 MPG, don’t come to me looking for sympathy – that was your choice and it’s not as if you didn’t know any better.)

So when gasoline goes up a dollar a gallon, that’s a difference of $700 a year. Less than $15 a week.

Is that really so much?

I remember once hearing Rush Limbaugh say that the average American household has three TV sets, so people who complain that they can’t afford a doctor because don’t have health insurance should stop whining and sell one of their TV sets next time they need medical help.

So in the spirit of the Great El Rushbo (or should that be Osama bin Rushbo?), I say, hey, next time you go to Mickey D’s, just don’t Super-Size your Big Mac Combo and you’ll save enough to pay for the gasoline.

And after all, at $2.50 for a 42-ounce drink, Coke costs a lot more than $4 a gallon. (Of course, Coke is sugar and water and secret ingredients, so naturally it’s a lot more expensive than something pumped up from thousands of feet underground, shipped halfway around the world and then run through a multi-billion-dollar refinery.)

What’s going on here?

Well, obviously those right-wing “thinkers” are doing their best to stir up rage in hopes that everyone will get mad and stay mad at that damned Democrat in the White House.

And, of course, they’re eager to argue that we need to “Drill, baby, drill!” to get those prices back down again – even though in reality U.S. oil reserves, no matter how much we’re willing to drill and no matter how much damage we’re will to accept in the process, are just not big enough to make any significant difference in the world supply. (And it’s the world supply that matters. Oil is priced globally and we can drill till we sink, but oil will not get any cheaper.)

So what’s keeping gas prices up there? Mostly China and India (with surging economies and surging demand for gas) and the glorious birth of democracy in the Middle East (which used to be considered a good idea by those same right-wing think tanks).

High demand and uncertain supply. Gosh, who could have thought that would have an effect on prices?

Meanwhile, most analysts are predicting that gas prices will drop by at least 50 cents a gallon over the coming months.

Unless, of course, they go up instead.

But whatever happens, the president – right-wing or left-wing – has pretty much no control over it whatsoever.

Or, just do the math: When I started driving, gas was 30 cents a gallon. That was 50 years ago. Multiply and you get 1,500 year/cents per gallon. (50×30=1,500.) But the car I was driving back then got 8 miles to the gallon and the one I’m driving now gets 25 MPG. Multiply again and divide and you get $3.75. (1,500/(8×25)=3.75)

So $4 a gallon works out just about right.

Happy motoring!

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