When you stand on the backs of your brothers.

Posted by Whit Barringer , Saturday, May 24, 2008 10:34 AM

I went to a dinner in Little Rock yesterday as a brief reunion with friends from school. On the way home, I did not drive above 70 miles per hour. Gas was $3.78 yesterday, and that was down from what it was. I was trying to make it home on what I had. I wasn't on a deadline. I didn't have a curfew. I wasn't in a hurry to go home.

I was passing a truck that was traveling around 65 when a car came up on my bumper and stayed there. All I could see was headlights. As soon as I passed the truck, I got into the right lane. The car was actually an SUV, and it passed me going at least 90 mph.

This got me thinking about the energy problem facing the United States, and who and what people believe the problem is.

Obviously, it's not us.

The house recently passed a bill allowing the U.S. to sue OPEC. Oil executives were "grilled on fuel prices." I'm sure you've heard about the gas tax holiday that McCain proposed and Clinton backed - despite the fact that economists all agree it would be a horrible idea. Oil speculators are making their money, too.

So who's the blame, according to our actions? OPEC, the oil companies, taxes, and speculators. While these all play their parts, there's still the one cog that no one is blaming too loudly, lest they lose their congressional seat: the consumer.

I understand what people are saying. They don't really have a choice when it comes to driving those long distances. My mother is one of them, as she drives an hour to work each way (and that's with good traffic). My college is an hour and a half away from my home. My grandmother works two jobs and drives to both. I get it. The people who need to drive are the ones getting hurt.

But not everyone is in this situation. Many people live in cities, where there is public transportation, but they refuse to take public transportation because they can still afford to drive their Hummers and their SUVs. But that's hardly the only problem. Remember the person in the SUV who was going 90? That person was willingly spending as much as $1.20 for gas, and wasting what he or she was paying more for.

Does anyone live in a vacuum? Why do people think, "Well, I can afford the gas today, so I'll go ahead and drive fast" only affects one wallet? It's disheartening to see people still use these attitudes. They believe in the power of their own money rather than the power of common sense.

I don't understand how people can still use this reasoning - that they're not the problem. Is the person who can only nickel and dime his gas tank the problem? Because I'm pretty sure they are lowering demand, not increasing it. Are the coworkers who carpool the problem? Because I'm also pretty sure that they're using as much as half of the gas they were before.

Every time you step on the gas, you're taking money out of your wallet and someone else's. I know, this kind of "help your brother" attitude is not very American, but our attitudes aren't the only thing that has to change if we're going to survive these tough times.

I hope people think about that as they lounge on their boats this Memorial Day weekend, commemorating what others sacrificed for them. Maybe they - we - will realize that it's our turn.

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