cross posted at The Dream Antilles
Is lack of any US energy policy designed to drive the poorest Americans even deeper into poverty? To drive them to the cities? To drive them off their land? To drive their wages lower? It sure looks like it, and that rising gas prices are the means to those ends.
This morning’s NY Times, focusing on the Mississippi Delta, finally reveals the problem all of us suspected as soon as gas prices started to spike. The bleak news:
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.
The disparity between rural America and the rest of the country is a matter of simple home economics. 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.
As a result, gasoline expenses are rivaling what families spend on food and housing.
“This crisis really impacts those who are at the economic margins of society, mostly in the rural areas and particularly parts of the Southeast,” said Fred Rozell, retail pricing director at the Oil Price Information Service, a fuel analysis firm. “These are people who have to decide between food and transportation.”
Put simply, gas at $4 a gallon and more means that the poor, who go without on a good day, are forced to go without even more. It’s not a pretty picture. It means that paying for gas competes with the utilities, food, health care, clothing, school supplies, and every other household item.