Nation needs challenge to get past gasoline crisis
Cutting back on gasoline consumption might shave a few cents off the gallon price but it will cost the overall economy.
Kathleen Roberts of York, Pa., is a good example. She drives 100 miles to work round trip so she is cutting back by staying at home after work. When people stay at home, malls suffer, restaurants have empty tables, movie theaters sell fewer tickets and ballparks don't fill. Tourists stop coming.
The shock waves continue throughout the economy. Putting fewer miles on a vehicle means buying fewer tires, changing oil less often, fewer trips to the mechanic and even putting off trading cars.
The pain of $3 gasoline is finally reaching into the ranks of middle-and higher-income drivers who say the increase is causing them serious financial problems. Along with problems come fear. And when people are afraid, they spend even less money.
The crisis calls for leadership, which President Bush or Congress isn't delivering. The answer isn't to cut back, impose price controls or tap the few oil reserves left in the United States.
The way to get America to kick the oil habit is to challenge the nation's best and brightest to perfect alternative energies the way President Kennedy challenged NASA to go to the moon within a decade.
Remember how people said that couldn't be done?
Conserving gasoline means the nation will simply take longer to run out of oil. That's no viable option.