To promote the Philadelphia 76ers making the NBA playoffs, a Philadelphia gas station offered gas for 76 cents a gallon. The promotion started at noon Friday, and cars lined the block as early as 6:30 a.m.
I like cheap gas as much as anybody else, but you know what I like more? Not being stuck in line for nearly six hours.
I won’t say what I drive, but its fuel tank holds 14 gallons if it’s bone dry. That promotion would save me $41.02 (gas was normally $3.69 at that station, a difference of $2.93 per gallon).
I wonder if that’s worth six hours. I’m just imagining two guys working an $8/hour job —one who got in line and one who didn’t.
I present the one-act play, “Why Are You So Tired?”
(Setting: STEVE and BILL are at the water cooler.)
STEVE: Hey, Bill, why are you so tired?
BILL: Got up at 6 a.m., then drove 20 minutes for 76-cent gas.
STEVE: Oh, so that’s why you didn’t want to hang out last night. Too bad, Stacy really wanted to see you. How much did you save?
BILL: I bought 12 gallons, so I figure I saved myself about $35.
STEVE: What did you do with your new-found wealth?
BILL: I felt kinda lucky, so I bought $20 in lottery tickets. Didn’t win, but I still made $15. What did you do today?
STEVE: Cleaned my apartment, did some reading, had a friend over for lunch. I’d pretty much ran out of things to do, but the boss called and asked me to come in two hours early. (Uncomfortable pause) Guess I made $15 too.
Act Two could feature Bill driving around the city for 30 minutes, then calling Steve to brag about finding a station that saved him 3¢ a gallon.
Yeah, it probably needs a rewrite. But so does our dialogue on gasoline costs. Nickel-and-dime savings keep Americans happy for a short time, but solve nothing.
The solution isn’t John McCain’s plan to eliminate the federal gas tax from Memorial Day to Labor Day. It would create a $10 billion gap in federal dollars, proving we’ve learned nothing from the Minneapolis bridge collapse and the role of underfunded infrastructure.
The solution isn’t Hillary Clinton’s plan, which calls for similar rebates, and taxing oil companies to make up the lost federal dollars. In Clinton’s world, oil companies would hold press conferences and smile as they sign billions over to Washington. In Clinton’s world, those companies wouldn’t instead spend millions on lobbyists who could get Congress to kill such measures and accuse Hillary the multimillionaire of “punishing success” and “risking American jobs.” But in Clinton’s world, she’s the most electable Democrat despite trailing Barack Obama in the popular vote, pledged delegates, superdelegates and states won.
I can’t tell you Obama’s solution, because he doesn’t have one regarding immediate relief.
My solution: You made your bed, you lie in it. When my friend chose his sport utility vehicle for its spacious interior, he also chose 14 miles per gallon in the city. Gasoline prices are based on supply and demand, and they’ll be high until Americans embrace the idea that buying fuel-efficient vehicles, carpooling and walking every so often will drive gas prices down more than career politicians ever will.
I bet I’ll be waiting a lot longer than six hours.
Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Freedom New Mexico. He can be contacted at 763-3431, ext. 316, or by e-mail: