Monday, November 29, 2010

What Have We Learned?

Americans are smart people. We have the ability to learn from history and our mistakes. When the first energy shocks arrived in the 1970's I remember distinctly how Americans rolled with the punches.

As you can see from the graph to the right American drivers cut back on our driving during the 1973-74 and the 1979-81 recessions. We showed the "Oil Barrons" of OPEC we had enought of their grip on our gasoline prices.

Because of this 4-fold increase in the price of gas, from $0.28 a gallon to a stifling $1.00 a gallon, 2 critically important things happened.

First, American's learned to put gasoline into their own cars! Imagine that. Filling stations were magically transformed into 24 hour "gas and go's." The huge price increases caused filling stations to shutter and those who survived scaled back their staff to a bare minimum. The second culture shaking change was the elimination of that sweet bell which sang out as every galllon of gas poured into our ever thirsty automobiles, trucks and motorcycles.

During those early years American's were shocked to learn that the once gasoline exporter of the world, imported almost 25% of our gas from other countries from around the world. But those days are long gone. Now as we rack up just over 3,000,000,000,000 miles every year (that's trillion folks)  we have certainly learned our lessions. For the most recent calendar year we have only imported 76% of our gasoline from outside this great country with average oil prices at $84 per barrel and average national pump prices for regular gas selling $2.85 a gallon.

I can't wait to see what we learn next!

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