Minnesota Farmer

How soon we forget
March 8, 2011, 9:37 am
Filed under: cars, history, Politics, time | Tags: , , , , , ,

One advantage of getting older is we get to remember just the things we want to, and pretend the rest did not happen.  That may be what is happening as people consider gas prices today.  We are all upset because they are going up, we remember how good we had it yesterday, but forget how it was 50 years ago.

Truth be told, the low gas price we were used to are only a product of the last twenty years.  I’m not talking about the dollars per gallon, I’m talking about the percent of our income that goes to pay for fuel.

I’m old enough to remember gas prices at 19 to 25 cents per gallon, that was a long time ago.  I was not driving in those days.  My driving started more in the dollar plus per gallon era.  Back then filling your tank was a big deal.  People were paying out up to 30% of their income for transportation fuel when my dad was born, and more like 15% of their income by the time I started driving.  For the last 20 years we’ve been paying about 3% of our annual average income for transportation.  No wonder Americans have fallen in love with the automobile.

When compared to the last 50 years we are only at an average cost for fuel as a percent of average income.  We’ll need to go much higher to get back to the price levels of the 60’s.  Remember those glory years of the auto?  Those big, high powered cars were expensive to keep on the road compared to today.

So go ahead, moan and groan about the high price of fuel at the pump.  Some of us are going to remember that we have seen worse and survived it.  The price of transportation fuels is going to get worse before it gets better.  That is something you can depend on.


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