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Death by gas pump - Curt Yeomans

Well, thank goodness for the small miracle of my truck giving out on me last winter.

Given the drastic increases we've seen in the price of fuel over the last few months, I guess I should be glad I drive a subcompact these days.

That is, if a full tank of gas didn't cost over $50. Exact figures don't mean much these days, because the price of gas changes from day to day.

The fact that a tiny car, which only holds 13 gallons of gas is bleeding me dry does cause some alarm. The only solace I can find is that it would cost over $70 to fill up the 18-gallon tank which belonged to my truck.

At some point, government has to recognize that we are in an escalating energy crisis and do more than offer token remarks about how they are going to do something.

We have not only reached the point where talking is not enough -- we've gone sprinting past it. That point is now a tiny spec on the horizon as we look behind us.

You now need binoculars to see it.

Gone are the days when you could fill up your gas tank for only a few dollars. It's been nearly a decade since gas cost less than $1 per gallon in the Atlanta area.

There was a time when you could go to a gas station and pay 88 cents per gallon. That time was called 1999. We followed Prince's advice and partied, but it apparently came at a tremendous cost.

We should share some of the blame for the crisis we are now facing. We grumbled when the price of gas hit $1.50 per gallon. The grumbling temporarily rose to dissatisfaction when the price hit $2. We grew agitated when the cost got to $3 per gallon, and only now that the price has broken the $4 mark, are we really beginning to cause a true fuss.

Essentially, it took the gas prices driving up the cost of everything else, from food to air travel, to really get our attention.

We have begun to hit the breaking point, where we either forcefully demand that the oil companies drastically cut the price of gas, or we let these tycoons push us to the verge of an economic collapse.

It's hard to revive a struggling economy when the cost of one necessity drives us to forego many of the luxuries of life. Why get cable television, when you can pay a lot less for just the local channels and use the difference to pay for an extra tank of gas every month?

iPhone?

iPod?

iMac?

I don't think so.

Personally, I think a recent newspaper cartoon put our present situation in true perspective. It showed a gas pump in dominatrix gear whipping a naked, bent over Uncle Sam with an Indiana Jones-type bull whip.

What is inevitably going to happen is a growing gap between the haves and have-nots. Those who have the means to afford the rising gas prices for a little bit longer are going to continue living life more extravagantly than those who live pay check to pay check.

It is already hard enough to tolerate celebrities getting on MTV and talking about how they are so rich they can hire painted ladies, rent white tigers, and buy 100 bottles of $250 Cristal for lavish birthday bashes.

When the rest of the world is struggling to afford gas for their cars, someone is on "Cribs" talking about his or her $100,000 gold plated toilet.

If we're going to party, why not party like it's 1999?

Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247 or via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.