, Research Paper
Gas prices are up over 40 cents a gallon from this time last year (Stefanova). What impacts will that have on the overall economy? A recent USA Today poll showed that 55 percent of people who make under $20,000 a year consider gas hikes a financial hardship. Only 30 percent of people who make $50,000 a year called the increases a hardship (Regan). If the recent gas price increases reflect the state of the economy in the late 1970 s, with lines at the pump and inflation, do not worry too much. The United States is not as dependent on crude oil as it used to be in the 1970 s (Regan). As a result, the United States will not face such an economic shock as it did when gas prices skyrocketed in the late 1970 s. In the 1970 s, energy accounted for 8.7 percent of every dollar in the gross domestic product compared to 3 percent today. But, just because the United States lost some of its dependence on crude oil, does not mean that higher prices at the pump will not affect the country. The country is at an economic high, but high gasoline prices can dampen these boom times. Consumers pay more at the grocery store, the hardware store, and the taxi to get where they need to go. A certain taxi company in Texarkana, Ark. has not increased taxi fares in 13 years, but that will now change because of the huge dent in company profit (Associated Press 03 18, 2000). Taxicab companies, with approval, will start implementing a $1 surcharge to cover the abnormal gas prices. Airline industries are also implementing a $20 surcharge because of the artificially high fuel prices. Shipping companies are charging retail companies more for the shipping. As a result, the increased costs are passed on to the consumer. To make matters worse the higher gas prices cut into consumers’ spending budget. Consumers are skipping the whole shopping bit, to avoid driving. In 1997 Vice-President Al Gore negotiated a global warming treaty in Kyoto, Japan that would require the U.S. to cut its greenhouse emission to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. Since emissions are about 10 percent higher than they were in 1990, compliance with the Kyoto agreement would require massive reductions in fuel usage. If this becomes law the result would be astronomical gas prices (Sanders). These high prices can lead to inflation and inflation results in slow economic growth (Price).