Today during lunch, KCAL in Los Angeles presented some fuel industry pollster [sorry - no link on their site] who believes that $4/gal. gasoline isn't going to faze the American people. Instead, they will make adjustments in other spending categories to accommodate the higher pump prices. Indeed, he insists - they already have!
Let me explain something, being I make part of my living in the car business. People are hurting now. We've raised our prices for motor oil 18% in the past year, not that we want to, but as a small shop, we couldn't afford to absorb the increased price for long. It also affects our parts prices. The parts houses have added a fuel surcharge for deliveries, a service we can't do without because it's impossible for us to detail one guy to run all over Long Island chasing for stuff.
I see it in the neighborhood too. The soccer moms are carpooling now and the kids who are old enough are walking. No longer do you see a line of Explorers and Tahoes dropping off the kids for summer school. Now they cram as many kids as possible into one car and each mom has a day to drive. And we're talking about people who can afford it. Most of my customers are 'upper one percenters'; doctors, lawyers, Wall Street and corporate types.
That's not counting what it's doing to the older folks on fixed incomes who are 'house rich' (property values in the area have skyrocketed). Aside from the medcal profession and the pharmaceutical companies gouging them, the price of gas is forcing them to walk a very thin line between existence and destitution. I know the local senior citizens' transportation ridership has almost doubled in the past year and they've added another bus to the route.
The average price of regular gas on Long Island (via personal anecdote) is about $3.30/gal and people are hurting. Not that I'm hurting, yet, but the price of my commute has doubled and it torques my sphincter every time I have to put $65 in the tank to fill up the Mrs.' Explorer; it's $40 to fill my Ranger.
With the value of real wages going down every year, as the rich get richer in this 'booming economy', the pinch is being felt higher up the economic ladder. So you tell me, Mr. Oil Company Executive, how $4/gal gasoline 'isn't going to faze the American people'? It might not faze the members of the board and their friends, but it's sure fucking with the folks down here. I'm tired of making you motherfuckers rich and you telling me I can afford to pay more. A warning: Don't come to my shop talking that bullshit because one of us will hand you your ass.