Sunday, July 20, 2008

More on gas and gas prices


I realized my lack of sympathy for the common worker who believed that he could no longer afford to drive to work, but in thinking about the real effects of the overall gas price increase and the side effect of the increase in food prices, there are those who are really adversely affected. High food and gas prices inordinately affect the really poor, all those on fixed incomes, and those who live on meager incomes, like social security. A true measure of a society's worth is the manner in which it treats its poor. High gas and food prices grind the face of the poor. The poor have no recourse, they have no options, they cannot drive their other car instead of their truck. They cannot drive less on optional trips because they have no optional trips. They certainly cannot buy a car that gets better gas mileage. In our society, the poor already live without and an increase in food prices coupled with increased energy prices, mean less to spend on food and medicine. Many of our older citizens have seen falling housing prices eat into their only major asset. Now, with higher inflationary food and fuel prices, they may be forced to the limit of their ability to survive.

America is a land of opportunity, unless you are poor, old and infirm. Here is what we think about poverty:

Poverty Thresholds 2006

Poverty Thresholds for 2006 by Size of Family and Number of Related Children Under 18 Years






Size of family unit

Weighted











average











thresholds










One person (unrelated individual)....

10,294










Under 65 years.......................

10,488










65 years and over....................

9,669










Two people............................

13,167










Householder under 65 years...........

13,569










Householder 65 years and over......

12,201










Three people..........................

16,079










Four people...........................

20,614










Five people...........................

24,382










Six people............................

27,560










Seven people..........................

31,205










Eight people..........................

34,774










Nine people or more...................

41,499










Source: U.S. Census Bureau.


As you can see, it is literally impossible for anyone living at the poverty level, or below to afford to drive as much as I do each year. The cost of gas would literally be almost half of their annual income per person. This is a striking statistic. Poor people cannot afford to drive to work. What are we going to do about it?

Phoenix is a modern city in the desert. It is a clean, well run and progressive city. It is also almost impossible to live here without transportation. Although there are a lot of shopping centers, they are just that centers. I live in a neighborhood in east Mesa and the nearest store is more than a mile away, although you might get the impression that the city was full of stores. Phoenix has public transportation but who can stand or sit in the sun when it is 115 degrees in the shade waiting for a bus. Many other cities have the same problems, it may be impossible to sit or wait when the temperature in below zero. A car is not a convenience it is a necessity. Does that mean you cannot be poor and live in Phoenix? Maybe that is what it means.

More commentary later.

2 comments:

  1. Great post Dad! The other problem with rising fuel costs and rising food prices is that people without money will tend to purchase highly-processed foods or fast food because they often believe that it is the cheapest food (and some of it is) - you can eat healthy food for very cheaply but that pretty much means rice and beans and we aren't used to eating that en masse in our country.

    This means that people without money will probably eat more processed foods and foods with cheap fillers like fats and corn syrup (although corn syrup is increasing in price as demand for ethanol increases with the whole alternative fuel push). Combine this with more people possibly working 2 or more jobs and the obesity rates in our country will continue to blossom, resulting in more cardiovascular disease and cerebrovascular accidents. Medical costs and premiums will continue to increase and even fewer people will have insurance (it's one of the first things to go when people don't have money).

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  2. Here in Texas I have been exposed to quite few different people in a broad spectrum of income levels. The problem is so complex...you wish you could just fix everything and make things fair for everyone. Hum...

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