Monday, June 9, 2008


CLIFFORD KRAUSS, THE NEW YORK TIMES Across broad swaths of the South, Southwest and the upper Great Plains, the combination of low incomes, high gas prices and heavy dependence on pickup trucks and vans is putting an even tighter squeeze on family budgets. Here in the Mississippi Delta, some farm workers are borrowing money from their bosses so they can fill their tanks and get to work. Some are switching jobs for shorter commutes.

People are giving up meat so they can buy fuel. Gasoline theft is rising. And drivers are running out of gas more often, leaving their cars by the side of the road until they can scrape together gas money. . .

Nationwide, Americans are now spending about 4 percent of their take-home income on gasoline. By contrast, in some counties in the Mississippi Delta, that figure has surpassed 13 percent.

Across Mississippi and the rural South, little public transit is available and people have no choice but to drive to work. Since jobs are scarce, commutes are frequently 20 miles or more. Many of the vehicles on the roads here are old rundown trucks, some getting 10 or fewer miles to the gallon.


At June 9, 2008 5:07 PM, Anonymous m said...

This issue is plaguing rural areas in general, not just the South. The lack of functional public transportation, long travel distances, and inelastic low incomes, is causing a lot of pain.

At June 9, 2008 7:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to mention that "heavy dependence on pickup trucks and vans".

Next time you see one double check to see how many are, you know, actually hauling something.

Remember, gas guzzlers affect the price of gas for everyone.

At June 10, 2008 12:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up in Southern California. I remember gas at 19 cents a gallon. I also remember the first oil crisis of the early 1970's. I soon owned a Fiat 124 that regularly delivered 42 miles per gallon in the city and slightly better on the highway---this was the technology readily available in California 35 years ago. I state this so that it may be clear that I have understanding and experience with fuel efficient commuting vehicles.
Now to the crux of my comment.
For most of driving life fuel efficiency has been a high priority. That being the case and owing to their more efficient designs, the majority of vehicles I've owned and driven have been foreign. It has been interesting to note that with the passage of time fuel economy, even from the same manufactures, has been on an ever diminishing arc. Complaints to dealers had typically been responded to with the statement "folks don't care about that, they want more horse power." The net result being that the replacement of any of my vehicles would yield a loss in efficiency.
So, what does this have to do with red necks and pick-up trucks? I no longer live in a city. We have a small farm. The Honda Civic Dx doesn't quite own up to the tasks at hand. You can't haul a 900 pound round bale out to the pasture with one. I can barely get three 50 pound sacks of chick starter in the trunk...
Maybe some readers might begin to appreciate the dilemma.
If you live in the country, you are going to need some additional horse power in one form or another.
We have settled on some compromises. I have also owned a 2.3 liter Ranger that still gets 27 MPH after 18 years. My 56 year old Ford 8N still does all I need in the fields.
Dealing with older vintage stuff is not always that practical for most folks. Budgets can't always afford multiple vehicles. Mix in insurance costs, registration, et al and soon it becomes evident that the best course is to own a single compromise vehicle to service all needs. Maybe that is why you may not necessarily see someone hauling something in their pick-up. Spend a little time around my neck of the woods and you'd never make such a comment.

I concur with the initial post by m.
"The lack of functional public transportation, long travel distances, and inelastic low incomes, is causing a lot of pain." --- absolutely spot on.

At June 10, 2008 6:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just what the NASCAR voters need to spur more drive for their next oil war...

At June 10, 2008 12:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In rural areas, at sites with livestock, building a home methane composting and reclamation system would ease the rising cost of energy. Converting farm vehicals to bio gas fuel, would make for sustainable farm equipment without fuel costs.

At June 10, 2008 12:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems to me that it was in New England where I heard the continued taunts of "Kick their ass, take their gas."
The sentiments here in 'neckland' were a bit more somber---possibly because so many around these parts knew they'd be the ones who'd have to go and do the actual fighting.


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