You can only blame yourself

It’s often said, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

With gas prices setting records (at least as far as the not-adjusted-for-inflation prices go), it may be time to get to the root of the high cost of transportation.

It’s possible to name a few of the factors in the high cost of fuel: lack of government oversight, elected officials’ conflicts of interest, market manipulation and occasional production issues. But the real reason gas prices hurt the average individual is simpler: too much use.

Very often, cutting use is as simple as planning a more direct route to work. Since SUVs average about 17.5 miles per gallon, if you cut two miles off your trips to and from work every day, gas-hog owners can save $3 per week. That’s $156 per year. Think about it. Did you really need that Hummer? Think of the gas prices as instant karma.

But most of us don’t just drive to and from work. Are you eating lunch out rather than bringing lunch in a brown bag? Tack on a conservative five miles per day, that’s another 25 miles.

Are you planning a week’s worth of grocery shopping or going to the store two or three times a week? How about consolidating the trip to the doctor’s office with the trip to the video store?

How about turning that car off at railroad crossings? You can save gas and preserve air quality. How often did you actually engage that four-wheel drive last winter?

Are you beginning to get the drift? The biggest reason gas prices seem so high is because Americans use gasoline at their convenience and refuse to modify their own behaviors, particularly in the area of complaining without working to change the thing Americans are complaining about.

Not to point out the obvious, but if Americans actually wanted to bring down the price of gas, they would band together to either force legislation to cap fuel prices or they would organize gas strikes, in which large numbers of people refuse to drive or buy gas on certain days. Make supply and demand work for the consumer.

Those solutions would be awfully proactive in these days of handwringing and whining, though. They’d require people to turn off The Simpsons and American Idol for a day or two.

What about car pooling and public transportation? Take a look at the driver-only cars in the fast, medium and slow lanes. Chances are you can look at an empty passenger seat in your own car.

The bottom line is that much of the gasoline used by the average consumer is wasteful, and it’s nobody’s fault except the people who won’t get their fat behinds out from behind the wheel.

Do you want to spend less money on gas?

Ride your bike to work.