Sunday, April 17, 2011

Gas Prices

We’ve been buying gas since the early 1960s when it was about 25¢ per gallon.  As we have all seen during the ensuing years, gas has grown more costly, but in general unless you’ve had to run a fleet or commute long distances the cost impact on our personal budgets has been relatively inconsequential.  In fact, that 25¢ gallon of gas would only cost an inflation adjusted $2.10 if the market weren’t skewed as it is now.

Perhaps the most troublesome periods were during the 1973-4 Arab Oil Embargoes and the 1978 Carter Administration cock-up when there were periods we couldn’t buy as much gas as we wanted at any price.  I was pretty lucky to be driving a small displacement sports car with a big gas tank during those periods so the impact on me personally was minimal.  Additionally, I was traveling a great deal on company business during the Embargo, so it was more the rental car agencies problem than mine. 

As a result of those experiences, many of us started paying attention to gas mileage when purchasing cars.  The Japanese smartly filled the good gas mileage void that, for some odd reason, Detroit automakers largely ignored.  The result of that dopey corporate decision lost them a huge market share which they never recovered. 

The gas price signs in the accompanying picture are a reasonably good illustration of the prices we’ve paid over the past 50-years or so.  Seems to me we paid about $1/gallon or a bit more for almost 20-years during the 1980s and 1990s.  That provided enough time for folks to forget what it was like to have troubles with our gas supplies and for the FBG people to buy all those gas-guzzling SUVs.  Things really didn’t start getting out of hand until the late nineties or a bit later.

Since the arrival of my family I’ve been driving sports sedans, usually foreign made, which are also thrifty fuel users.  And now after a lifetime of lots of travel, I’m content to stay close to home….so, once again fuel market upsets are of little consequence.  An electric car might do, but not one of those dumb things they’re building now.

Thank you God.

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