I’m pointing you to Newscoma again because she’s telling you how it is in rural America with the price of gas.
It’s scary, folks.
And it’s scary for me in two ways. It’s scary to know how many people, people in our community and our region are suffering, terribly, already, and gas isn’t coming down anytime soon. We’re going to hit five dollars a gallon. There’s just no way around that.
I’m already looking into taking the bus if we get the house and just leaving the car parked because, sweet Jesus, gas is expensive.
But I have a bus to take.
I keep thinking of the Butcher’s friends from high school who stopped farming because it got too expensive and so they now commute to work either into Muscatine or the Cities. How can they afford gas?
Shoot, closer to home, how can people who live out in Dickson and Fairview afford to commute into Nashville?
And, if they move to town, where are they going to go?
I tell you, I know what I make, which is pretty average for what the “secular” side of my employer pays and I know what kind of house I can afford and I can tell you that, for me to get a house in my price range, we had to go look at some shitholes. Beneath what I can afford? The pickings are slim.
So, say you’re an employee of my employer and you’re just making $30,000 a year and your wife is staying at home with your three kids. If you live out in Fairview or Dickson, you can get a house, with a yard and three bedrooms and you can make it work. Shoot, that’s why so many folks headed out to Smyrna and Murphreesboro and on down 24 or up to Gallatin.
You can live out there better for less than you can in the city. And when gas was $1.75, the distance wasn’t as much of a consideration.
But now? And soon in the future? Folks are going to have to move to town. And we didn’t spend the last five years putting up $100,000 housing stock. We spent it putting up $250,000+ condos. How are these folks supposed to move to town?
I don’t know. It bugged me to see them talking about how this affects folks on the fringes of society more than it affects “most” Americans. Maybe that’s just a fact of life of living in the South. Maybe what is so clear down here is that many of us might not yet be on the fringe, but the fabric is unraveling, and quick.
The other thing that pisses me off is that, in order for things to change, the folks above us are going to have to start suffering. It’s going to have to hurt them in their pocket books. But I think what that Times article shows is that they’re not yet, not really.
Which means, I think, that we’re going to have to suffer a lot worse. The ground has got to shift in a scary way beneath the people above us and the only way that can happen is if the ground slides out from under us.
So, yeah, when I see pundits like Andrew Sullivan basically cheering for the price of gas to continue to rise, I want to punch him in the face. Yes, I know we’ve got to be working on alternative fuels, immediately, if not sooner. Shoot, maybe y’all should have spent more time listening to Jimmy Carter instead of mocking him for being a wimp, back in the day. But the thing is that high gas prices in Washington D.C. is an inconvenience. High gas prices in rural America means that people don’t eat.
We have a problem. We need to fix it now. And maybe we can’t fix it now, but we need to be putting as much energy into it as we are putting into… oh, I don’t know… maybe a war?… and get busy figuring out what “next” is and how we’re going to transition to “next” as seemlessly as possible.
(Also on my list of people to punch in the face? People who are still claiming we’re not in a recession. Fine, by economic definitions, we’re not in a recession. Stop using economic definitions to argue against real people’s suffering.)