We were driving back from my daughter’s soccer game in Wake Forest and I remarked to Kelly how I just don’t like to drive anymore.
“You know those kids who are avoiding buying cars? “I said. “I know how they feel.”
Kelly apparently doesn’t read my blog (see how influential I am?) so I had to bring her up to speed about the Millennials’ trend of waiting a few years or more to get their first drivers licenses (and I’m not talking about DMV being that slow).
I don’t know how anyone working at minimum wage can afford to buy a tank of gas. I really don’t. I’ve also read some opinion pieces that say that gas is bound to get sharply more expensive in the not-so-distant future.
One of the great equalizers in American society has been the near-universal availability of affordable transportation (thank you, Henry Ford). For most of the 20th century in America, nearly anyone could afford to drive wherever they wanted to.
We Americans love our automobiles and we cherish the freedom to travel. It’s part of who we are. We’d better come up with Plan B soon, though, because our good times behind the wheel are coming to an abrupt end. We’re quickly reaching the point where oil supply cannot keep up with surging demand. Prices will skyrocket and this will drive many drivers right off the road.
Sure, there will be oil available. It just won’t be a price that anyone can afford. Most experts say that all the “easy” oil has already been exploited.
And that’s the biggest shift we’ll be seeing: those who can afford to drive and those who can’t. Now that our country has shifted from a manufacturing economy to a service economy, where does that leave us? When the blue collar workers whose hard work keeps this country going each day can no longer get to their jobs, where does that leave us? In a world of hurt, maybe?
Let’s not even get into infrastructure costs. I saw today that state politicians are balking at the cost of building a toll road. A toll road, for crying out loud! Yes, even a road designed to pay for itself is deemed too expensive! In light of this how does anyone expect to come up with the $12 billion needed to keep our crumbling I-95 interstate patched together for the next 40 years?
My post about keeping China down the other day was a lesson for this country. Every day America hitches its wagon to a dying oil-fueled and car-centric economy it puts us at a competitive disadvantage against those countries who have invested in greener, more fuel-efficient transportation infrastructure. Conservatives may poke fun at trains all the want but oil ain’t getting any cheaper. Or more abundant, for that matter. I, for one, don’t want to see America become any less economically competitive than it is today.
America’s good old days of driving everywhere cheaply are in the rear-view mirror. If we’re smart we’ll take the next detour.