Saturday, May 13, 2006

Full Tanks Put Squeeze on Working Class - New York Times

Full Tanks Put Squeeze on Working Class - New York Times: "'There is not enough money to spend for gas,' she said. 'You have to think about it: If I go to see my friend, I won't have enough gas to work tomorrow.'
As many drivers struggle to cope with soaring fuel prices, working-class people like Ms. Lopez who commute long distances to their jobs are suffering the most. In many cases, they had moved far away from major metropolitan areas to be able to afford decent houses. Now, paradoxically, the cost of gas is making the distance prohibitively expensive.

'If you're poor, you're forced to make choices,' said Stephen Cecchetti, a professor of economics at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. 'All of a sudden, when the price of something that you can't give up skyrockets, you still have to go from one place to another.'

The increase in gas prices comes at a time when many Americans of modest means are already finding themselves squeezed by increased insurance costs, wages that have not kept pace with inflation, and the rising pressure of adjustable rate mortgages. The latest New York Times/CBS News poll showed that 63 percent of respondents had cut back on their driving because of the gas price increase, and 56 percent had cut back on other household spending. Nearly half said they expected to change their summer vacation plans as a result."

The squeeze is on, forcing behavioral change, forcing cultural change. Outlying housing prices should begin to tank, in-town should begin to rise. Lenders will be largely upside-down. East Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights, Lakewood, and Cleveland proper will now revive because of their access to (1) rapid-transit lines and (2) bus lines. Downtown will be the most desirable place to work once again. The dynamic will be the same as it was post-WWII, 60 years ago. This will usher in a new era of civility as all social classes begin to get to know and appreciate and respect each other again, riding the public transit. I am beginning to see how the automobile has isolated each of us by cutting down on the amount we interact with our communities. I guess that the "auto-" should have been a tipoff. What other "auto" things are fully positive? Autoerotic? Auto da fe? Automatic, autonomous, autocratic? Automation. Automorphism.


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