Will U$A $urvive The Energy $queeze?

With gasoline prices jumping up and utility rates going through the roof, what will happen to the USA rather carefree lifestyle? Can we expect runaway inflation as fall-out? Will investments bottom out as budgets consume every last dollar to keep the home fires (and A/C) burning? (And/or as people tap into their life savings…)?

If you think it’s not so bad now…let’s see what the month of May has in store once the first new energy bills come rolling in…and May rolls out with summertime gasoline prices!

What are your predictions? Plans? Sacrifices? - Jinx :mad:

We have already been through worse before in the recent past so I expect little except a surge in bullshit or obvious tips from nightly newscasts. People have shown that gas prices up to the $3 mark or a little above just aren’t a huge crisis in the short-term. Summer driving season is upon us but the winter heating season is almost over so we are just trading one thing for the other.

Long-term is anyone’s guess but I hear that SUV and other large vehicle sales are still extremely strong.

Forecast - a whole bunch of bitching and little else.

I ran into an old acquaintance at the motorcycle shop today. He said he was thinking of buying a 100 mpg scooter for his wife, since gas prices are rising.

The real sign of bad times is when you have to start thinking seriously about biting the bullet and making your wife ride a moped to work.

For his wife, r-i-i-i-ght. :wink:

Here in the US we have been blessed will really cheap energy for a really long time. (I’m old enough to remember when regular gas was 89 cents a gallon). People in Europe have been paying 4 times what we’ve been paying and have somehow managed to survive all these years… so it’s certainly possible.

So what will happen? Who knows? I think it depends on how quickly prices go up and how far they go. If gas were to go up to $5.00 a gallon over the next 12 months then we would see a lot more people taking public transportation and buying smaller and more hybrid cars. If it only goes up to $3.50 in a year a gallon I don’t think you will see much of a change at all.

Will we all run the A/C less in the summer and the heater less in the winter? I would hope so.

This summer? Not much. Plenty of news stories about high gas prices, some of the paycheck-to-paycheck and fixed-income folk are gonna get squeezed and hurt. But nothing will fundamentally change, barring an external catastrophe that has a substantial impact on our oil supply (like, say, nuking Iran).

Some future summer, 5-25 years down the road? Gonna suck hard.

I remember when gasoline was 15 cents a gallon and Nixon was in the White House.


The squawking has already begun in the media about high fuel prices. The fact is that most Americans will bitch about it, but won’t change much in their lifestyles or spending habits. There may be increases in prices for some goods shipped in, and delivery services and that type of thing, but it will be a nickel here, a dime there and for most people, it won’t seem to make much of a difference in their budget.
Those of us in the, shall we say, lower income brackets, are getting squeezed hard. I’m lucky in that I’ve got a fuel efficient car and only work a mile from home, so I can ride my bike on nice days. I know some people who make about what I make, but commute 40 miles each way in non-fuel efficient cars. Between the price of gas going up and their home heating costs, they had some problems making ends meet.
Inflation isn’t as much of a problem now as before. More competition in the marketplace has kept consumer goods prices fairly steady compared to wages. Some companies will absorb higher fuel costs rather than raise prices so they can remain competitive. The others will find it difficult to raise prices.
As a member of the media (newspaper), I will run stories about saving fuel tips and that type of thing, but won’t give it excessive coverage. But I would do that with or without higher fuel prices.

That’s the problem. Most of our country is organized entirely around the concept of cheap gasoline, while most of Europe is not. If you couldn’t afford to drive and maintain a car, would you rather live in Paris or Phoenix? London or Los Angeles? The answers are pretty obvious.

Actually, I mean beyond the gasoline price hikes: Hasn’t the rest of the US been plagued by these pending price hikes in electric rates? Many power companies in the Mid-Atlantic are talking 70% increases! In some cases, it may be phased-in over 3 years, but (a) the consumer may be expected to pay the interest and/or (b) by the third year, you can bet the power comapnies will come to squeeze us for more. This is from deregulation gone bad not to mention (I assume) a quiet attempt to reclaim lost investments from the Enron fiasco.

Just wondering what others have to say…

Your points are so suspect that I will simply cry one little “cite” for all of them rather than running down point by point. They all sound like word of the street legends and I doubt any are accurate at all. A huge event could occur but those are neither the causes or effects that would characterize such a thing.

Rising energy rates in general will have an effect. There is no doubt about that. The question is how both the causes and effects are distributed.

What most of us in this thread are saying is that a 50% increase in everyone’s electric bill, heating bill, and gasoline bill in the short term will be smaller than news stories will lead you to believe. Energy bills are a significant portion of every household’s budget but they aren’t the whole thing and most people have some room to move money around and allocate spending. Those types of energy bill increases won’t instantly bankrupt most households. It will simply cause them to move money around and maybe conserve on food and clothes. Those effects are much slower and more complicated to work out. You will see a decrease in luxury goods purchases and an increase in credit card balances before you see the change in overall living habits.

My wife and I have a 200 mile round trip a DAY commute combined and I drive an SUV. We also drive some on the weekends so let’s say we drive a total of 1200 miles a week for our household. Gas is currently at about $2.70 a gallon. Let’s say gas went up to $4.00 a gallon next week. Our average gas mileage is about 20 mpg.

(1200 / 20 ) * ($1.30 difference in today’s prices) = $78 a week or about $11 a day for both of us.

That is for a fairly extreme amount of driving for a household but it shouldn’t be much of an issue. I realize that all other prices will rise as well and it will cause major changes over the long term but this isn’t the same as your question.

I have never figured out where the news stations find people that say they aren’t willing to make the 1000 mile drive to Disney World, rent rooms for the week, eat out, and buy tacky souvenirs for the extended family because it now costs $50 more in gas to get there and back.

You also have to figure out what is a real money saver and what isn’t. Running out to buy a new hybrid car or the newest eco-friendly thing could cost you huge bucks over simply fueling that old but stable sedan. Likewise, if you get your family to diligently turn off room lights every single time someone doesn’t need them for a whole month, one person may be able to buy a cup of truck stop coffee.

Energy use is pretty integral to lifestyle for most Americans so it will be one of the last things to get seriously conserved. Look for cutting in other areas first followed by slower adoption of true energy saving measures.