I started driving in the early 1970’s when gasoline was always “Full Serv”, a full tank often came with a piece of dishware, and complaints were heavy when prices reached the sky at 47 cents per gallon. There was talk that by the end of the century, prices might be as high as a dollar a gallon, but that mostly sounded like alarmist speculation. Today’s prices have people talking about the ups and downs of gas prices as we do every time there’s a significant spike, and I’ve seen variation from $3.55 to $4.17 within the past week.
Yes, it seems outrageous to pay over $4.00 for a gallon, but Greg Beato’s article puts things in perspective:
Indeed, while the gas that cost 36 cents per gallon in 1970 would only cost $2 per gallon today, the average fuel economy for cars in that era was approximately 13.5 miles per gallon. In contrast, a 2011 Ford Fiesta gets 28 miles per gallon in the city and 37 miles per gallon on the highway — so until gas prices top $4 per gallon, Fiesta drivers are actually paying less per mile for gas than the drivers of the 1970s did. And they’re not paying a premium to achieve such efficiencies — the Fiesta starts at $13,320 (that’s just $2312.72 in 1970 dollars).
Best of all would be to wean ourselves from oil dependency, but alas, the right balance of technology and market pricing is not there yet.