Fueling frustration at the pumps

I remember my dad glibly declaring back in the 1950s: "When the price of a pack of cigarettes hits 50 cents, I'm quitting."

My beloved father died in the 1990s from a heart attack, so he's not witness to the current price of his cigarettes at $5 per pack or more! Knowing him, he'd have continued to pay the pension-busting budget cost.

Many smokers made similar personal promises but are still smoking and paying the astronomical price of $50 per carton. Furthermore, no manufacturer of the cancer-causing cigarettes have gone bankrupt from mass stoppage of smoking. The analogous moral of this anecdote is the present global concern over the price of gasoline.

Didn't many people utter similar ultimatums in the 1970s, and even just a couple of years ago, when $2 a gallon gave us collective spasms. The media was all over the story, and what did that accomplish? Nothing.

Concomitantly, few of the world's top car manufacturers have stepped forward with any firm plans to eliminate gasoline-dependent cars. Did we stop driving our automobiles? Heck no.

And we'll never stop driving them, no matter what the price of gas becomes. We'll continue to pay whatever it costs to operate our valued personality extension of ourselves.

Even the Hawaiian island, Maui, abandoned their experiments with wind power for energy. And they have the permanent trade winds for fuel!

A dozen or so years ago, a Seattle columnist wrote extensively on mass transportation and energy issues in the Puget Sound. This column was widely read and accepted as good, solid reporting about our regional transportation and gasoline problems.

His documented research showed that only 3 percent of the region used mass transportation. His simple, pragmatic challenge of hoping that our citizens could double the rate of carpooling would still leave 94 percent driving their own cars-alone.

Current statistics on mass transportation haven't budged significantly past those antique figures. We continue to be car-bound. The status-quo prevails.

You think not? When was the last time you rode a Metro bus or car-pooled?

The media these past weeks have been reporting almost hourly about the price increases for a gallon of OPEC gasoline; however, car dealers of the hybrid "green" automobiles have not seen any mad rush to their showrooms to purchase their exotic, gas-saving cars.

In the April issue of Scientific American magazine, you'll find the best information regarding these type of vehicles. The article cogently describes the various hybrid vehicles and how they work. My wish is that car CEOs read this report and take appropriate action.

Perhaps all this contemporary fuss is just random motion. Well-to-do citizens demand to show the world that they have arrived, and they do it with status cars.

Just look around Magnolia streets and avenues. Have you sipped a latte on a nice day in the Village and car-watched? What you see are significant numbers of Cadillac Escalades and Lincoln Navigators. A fill-up at the pumps must cost the owners of these cars nearly a hundred bucks.

I confess I'm one of those come-of-age retired seniors who drives a lovely, older-model Cadillac. I don't care what the price of gas becomes. I'll pay it.

But I guess I could start buying gasoline at our Magnolia Texaco station. They advertise a discount to senior citizens if you gas up on weekdays. However, I've been a life-long, loyal customer of Unocal, and habits are indeed difficult to break.

Meanwhile, I shall plan my shopping trips with a slide rule to eliminate wasted mileage and do my civic bit to help save fuel.

The Seattle Times edition of April 26 printed an interesting story regarding the sale of million-dollar homes in the United States. The writer noted that the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that one million people own homes worth a million dollars or more. The Seattle-Metropolitan Region lays claim to about 60,000 of them.

I suggest that owners of those classy homes also will pay whatever price gasoline pumps require. I cannot see the heads of those households selling off the Lexus or BMW and substituting an economy car.

A pragmatic, statewide law may begin to solve our dependence on foreign oil. How about tacking on a surtax to the annual car registration, based upon the inability of a vehicle to meet a specified miles per gallon (mpg)?

For instance, for every mpg below the figure, the owner would pay a penalty of $125. And this specified mileage standard would increase yearly by 1 mpg until it hits 55. Cars that exceed the target would receive a rebate.

The huge revenue deriving from this regulation could fund the research, development and implementation of renewable energy sources.

See you at the pumps.

Bernie Sadowski is a freelance writer living and driving in Magnolia. He can be reached at mageditor@nwlink.com.[[In-content Ad]]