Gas Pump Solidarity

Ideas and Issues
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            Little Rock      The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a devastating and disheartening daily story.  Indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets is horrifying, not that this is unique in war, but we are seeing it virtually in real time without a filter.  Over 13,000 Russians have been arrested for antiwar protests inside their country over the war.  20,000 good ILWU dockworkers have refused to handle Russian cargo.  Somewhere between 1.5 and 2 million Ukrainians of their 40 million population are now refugees, while others are trapped in the cities being bombed and blockaded by Russian tanks.  Over 200 USA businesses of all descriptions from banks to tech to Starbucks and McDonalds have shut down and in the case of major oil companies and accounting firms along with others walked away permanently leaving tens of thousands of Russians jobless.  The news reports speculated on whether the sanctions are hitting ordinary Russians yet, and answer their own question by saying it’s just a matter of time.  With bipartisan agreement, an extra $13 billion has been passed so far in Congress to support the Ukrainians and President Biden has ordered an end to US importation of Russian oil and gas, which accounts for about 10% of our supply.

The comments I heard all over the radio studio when I arrived today were about how the sanctions would affect us as Americans.  Our part of the war effort might be summed up as “gas pump solidarity.”  Some were talking about cancelling trips.  Others were worried about availability of propane.

The real deal was the cost of gas at the pump.  Prices have risen about sixty-cents per galloon over the last week alone.  Driving from New Orleans to Little Rock, the lowest price I found was $3.94.  I got lucky with another at $3.99.  I hit a couple of $4.09s.  Mainly I saw $4.19, as I rolled by on the interstates.  I saw one over $5 per gallon.  One news report said the national average was $4.30ish.  Someone was interviewed who put $100 worth in his tank and wasn’t too happy about it.

Is there an upside?  We might be rethinking our view of Venezuela and their sanctions?  We may be wondering how good our so-called friends are in the Middle East since they are not responding to our needs and in some cases are offering cover for Russia?  Taking the bus or train to commute might be better in some cities?  Out in the rural America, it’s going to be a strain.

I think we’re about to see how far solidarity really goes after all of us have to fill up our gas tanks over a couple of trips.  I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t hurt.  I was pulling a trailer this trip to Little Rock behind my truck.  I filled up at 430 AM in New Orleans, close to $60 bucks then and my last fill-up was in Pine Bluff.  The total bills so far are around $200 one-way.  Normally, it’s less than that round trip.  It could be $350 to $400 for this ride.  I drive on my monthly tour because flying is too expensive.  I’ll continue to do so, because there are stops along the way, but it may not be the cheapest way to roll, depending on how long this goes on.

We’ll soon see if paying a price for freedom is something we really mean, or walk away from, when it turns out the price to support freedom is real money from our own pockets.