In the wake of the most expensive gas in US history (even after adjusting for inflation), the Tacoma News Tribune has a stellar editorial that makes this point:
High oil and gas prices exact a terrible toll on the low-income. They eat into the grocery budget of those who must drive extensively as part of their livelihoods or education. For rich and poor alike, they drive up inflation both directly and indirectly.
Exactly. But I wish the editorial had gone a little further to spell out what this should mean for public policy. To my way of thinking, it means that it is unwise—and deeply unfair—to continue with business as usual for road planning. A transportation strategy that centers on roads, long distance driving, and single occupancy vehicles is like asking for economic pain.
Last weekend, when I filled up my tank, I paid $3.45 for the cheap stuff. And that could turn out to be a bargain. Nowadays, both the public and the experts believe that we may see $4.00 gas by summertime. As I’ve argued before, the cheapest and fairest thing is to get unhitched from oil now— before things really get ugly.