Octane Unlimited

      Two days ago I put a little more than ten gallons of 87 Octane in my Civic, at a cost of just over $40. In February 1999 the same amount of gas would have cost around $10. It’s about time the price of gasoline reflected its true value.
      Make no mistake, this country could not operate without gas. Americans need gas. Without it our economy would be crippled and our standard of living would plummet. So why does it come as any shock that gas is finally starting to approach what it should have cost all along?
     Before Henry Ford invented the Model T in 1908, humans had to rely on steam power, horses, donkeys, the wind or their own feet for transportation. But 100 years after Ford’s invention, the idea of never leaving the county of your birth seems about as foreign to most Americans as the idea of eating haggis for Thanksgiving supper.
     Today most Americans take it for granted that you can wake up on one coast and go to sleep across the continent later that day. Think about how amazing that ability would seem to people even 70 years ago. Mark Twain was astonished in “Roughing It” that the train he was riding could go 30 miles in one hour. That’s about the residential speed limit most places these days.
     But being Americans, we’ve somehow come to think that access to cheap gas is our right, never mind that gas currently costs much less in the United States than it does in the majority of developed countries. Turkish drivers are paying $10.14 a gallon, Swedes are forking over $8.71 and Canadians are paying $5.49. By comparison the U.S. is paying $4.06, less than half what the British are paying ($8.74).
     That doesn’t stop people from bitching on the nightly news though. Nothing says irony like listening to some guy complain about the cost of gas while filling his up his Hummer.
     Make no mistake about it, you don’t have a right to cheap gas. None whatsoever. If Saudi Arabia and the rest of the OPEC nations wanted to horde all the oil they drilled for themselves starting tomorrow, the U.S., China, India, Europe and the rest of the world has no right to it. Most likely that would start a world war, one worth fighting I might add, but Middle Eastern nations would be fully within their rights to keep their oil for themselves.
     People can protest the price of gas all they want. They can clamor for offshore drilling (which wouldn’t make a penny dent in the price of gas for at least a decade) all they want. They can blame the oil companies all they want. But the fact is, oil has become, by far, the most precious natural resource in the world ten times over.
     That reality is just now starting to make itself evident. Welcome to the 21st Century.

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