Economics 101: Gas Prices Are Crippling the Working Class

by Kerry Dougherty

Don’t you just love it when the sneering class responds to a serious problem with a glib solution?

When I wrote earlier this week about soaring gas prices one reader pointed out that her husband bought an electric bike and rides that everywhere. The fact that I prefer to commute to work — on the interstate — in an automobile is somehow proof that I want to “kill kids.”

Oh, please.

Does she believe milk and bread can be delivered to the grocery store by electric bike? Does she think farmers can plow their fields with electric bikes? Does she believe rescue squads can get heart attack patients to the hospital by electric bikes? What utter nonsense.

One thing is clear. America is in need of an economics lesson.

For those who think the problem with astronomical gas prices is that spoiled suburbanites have to pay more to get their nails done WHILE UKRAINIANS ARE BEING BOMBED, please stop embarrassing yourselves.

That sort of false equivalency is stupid. Do better.

The price of gas has ripple effects that will be felt everywhere. Expensive fuel is causing the price of goods to spike. If it’s on the supermarket or Best Buy shelves, it got there by truck. Will Coca-Cola or Kraft Foods absorb the increased cost of getting their products to market?

Not a chance. Price hikes will be passed onto the consumer.

Here’s a prediction: In a month — perhaps before the end of the day — we’ll look back on Biden’s runaway January inflation — 7.5% — with nostalgia.

Pause for a moment and think of what it means for most Americans when gas prices go up sharply. I’m not talking about the leisure class. Or the people fretting over their IRAs and 401ks. I’m talking about the working class. The people who busted their humps all through COVID to keep the country running while the laptop tappers sat home.

I’m talking about the folks with nothing left at the end of the week after they pay their bills.

CNBC reports that 64% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Go ahead and mock folks who have no savings, who spend every dime they earn trying to keep their families fed, housed and clothed if it makes you feel superior.

But many of us have been in their shoes at some point. The stress is indescribable. It’s something you never forget and something that most politicians never experienced.

How do millions of struggling Americans handle a sudden explosion in the cost of gas?

They cut, cut and cut spending. But as an enlisted Army wife told me this week, “Eventually you run out of places to cut.”

What then?

Next, they run up their credit cards if that’s the only way to buy gas and groceries for the kids. They figure they’ll catch up next month, but of course, things will only be worse by then.

A lot worse.

Forget student debt. Credit card debt is going to be off the charts if the Biden administration doesn’t immediately clear the way for more oil and gas production. This administration has never disguised its hostility to fossil fuels. Biden’s policies drove up the price of gas by 40% in Tidewater — according to AAA figures — before Putin invaded Ukraine.

We are now in a hideous cycle of inflation. If sharply higher gas prices don’t affect you, hit your knees and thank the Lord for your good fortune.

But don’t be a jerk.

The people who fetched things for you through Covid, who drive the trucks to bring goods to you now, who stock the supermarket shelves, who work the convenience store cash registers and collect your trash, are suffering.

Those without a safety net are in danger of ruin.

Everyone ridiculing folks who gripe about $5 a gallon gas should be sure to share their thoughts on the topic when these same workers show up on their doorsteps to fix their plumbing or get the cable TV working.

Remember, two things can be true at once: Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine is an atrocity.

And soaring gas prices are crushing America’s working class.

And no, electric bikes won’t do a dang thing to fix any of this.

This column has been republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.