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Gas-price crisis calls for improved energy-use solutions

Monday, June 9, 2008 | 10:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:27 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I never really believed that when full service gas stations became a business of the past that gas would become less expensive, but I remember that’s what gas station owners told us. That was the end of having a service attendant checking your oil, other fluids and tires and washing your windshield.

And I never believed that old hogwash that suggested pumping my own gas was a way of proving my feminine capabilities. I hate pumping gas because I hate the smell of it, and I am petrified that it will spill on my clothes.

The man who pumped my gas for years, checked my fluids and washed the windows of my car lost his job several years ago in the change. He still calls me every now and then because we developed a friendly relationship over time. Today, he has health issues that prevent him from leaving home, and I am one of the ways he keeps in touch with the outside world. And, of course, gas prices never went down.

As I watch gas prices climb and remember when the goods and services my family required were within walking distance, I’m amazed that people did not demand from their senators and representatives a plan for the development of alternative energy when automobiles became the principle method of travel and trucks became the major form of transportation.

I hear people complain about the destruction of downtown areas for the construction of parking facilities. Why didn’t they just buy out unused property as it became available and create parking lots if that was the problem? It seems to me that we are in the shape we are in because many people who should have been thinking ahead weren’t on the job.

What about the people in the home-heating business? When homeowners stopped using coal to heat their homes, these people were obviously not minding their stores either. Did they not realize that there would be a limit to the amount of oil that could be pumped out of the ground? Old timers had to stop mining gold and silver when the veins ran out. That should have been a clue that oil supplies needed to be measured.

As Americans, we have a tendency to take things for granted. We are guilty of believing that what has always been will always be. We think we should always be able to consume more than our fair share of the world’s commodities.

Now that countries such as China and India have become major consumers, our businesses and political leaders need to examine how supplying products to these additional countries will affect our quality of life and begin devising ways and means to deal with the situation.

After all, China and India are not underpopulated nations. Providing for the needs of all of these citizens as their ways of life become more sophisticated will require a substantial amount of goods, services and natural resources. Unfortunately, if the past is any indication of the future, I’m not sure we can depend on our leaders to stay on top of things. Thinking collectively for the benefit of all of us, instead of themselves, does not seem to be as deeply ingrained in the thinking of the younger generations as it was in generations past.

These days, some are so wedded to their technological toys that they consider the old-fashioned scholarship often required to investigate problems and find solutions too boring for their high-tech skills. The attitude today is if it doesn’t have a keyboard to use to find the needed information it can’t be worth much.

With prices continuing to rise and the economy remaining stagnant, this promises to be an abysmal summer for a lot of people. It’s a good time for long-range planning to consider the most effective way to improve one’s personal or family situation. With thinking caps on, perhaps some of us can rediscover the essence of the old adage of where there’s a will there’s a way.

Lots of luck.


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Comments

Mark Foecking June 9, 2008 | 11:37 a.m.

The market has traditionally provided sources of energy, and our elected representatives have, for the most part, assumed that it will be this way in the future.

Development of alternatives is proceeding, however, an alternative that is as concentrated and cheap as oil, even today, is nowhere in sight.

Our leaders would do far better to mandate conservation, as this is the only realistic way of handling our energy situation in the forseeable future.

DK

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