With the price of gas soaring sky-high, "economic murder" is committed at the gas pump, according to poor helpless consumers who cried their heart out in protest but can do nothing to prevent this perceived pricing anomaly as oil companies and retailers dominating the market cabal in jacking up the prices of gasoline at will.
An old-timer named Jack, a dismayed gas consumer, complained about his agony in coping with the rising prices of fuel. He confided to me right after he barely filled up the tank of his 2007 Toyota Matrix car with $56 worth of premium gasoline at a nearby Shell gas station paying $4.71 a gallon. He estimated that this full gas tank would hardly last a week if he will use his car every day on a regular basis.
As of the day this article is written, gas prices per gallon in El Cajon City, Southern California, where Jack and I live, are as follows: Average, $4.44; Lowest, $4.31, and the Highest at $4.71 is almost reaching the $5.00 a gallon mark this early part of the year. This highest retail price of gasoline tells it all.
Since prices of gasoline per gallon are unlikely to go down for at least a month from now -- and could still even go up -- I did the numbers for Jack and his wife Eunice so that they could see clearly the reason for their budgetary torment: The couple, who live alone by themselves in a rented two-bedroom apartment, would pay a total of $224 [$56 x 4] for their gasoline consumption this month if they would just drive around town for errands and/or driving to and from work.
However, I assured Jack and his wife, and put their doubts to rest that they would still pay more than just $224 at the gas pump this month when he and his wife visit friends out of town and spend a weekend with their families as they normally do. Their gasoline consumption would rise in tandem with the price of gas per gallon as this continues to gallop sky high and create an ugly gaping hole in their pocket.
Thus Jack moaned with frustration as he tells his friends of his encounter with the third kind [a shocker] at the gas pump " that this sore experience in the gas pump had "killed" their regular household budget at least for this month of February. If Jack and his wife have to literally stay alive for this month of February as they screamed "economic murder" at the gas pump, out of desperation, my guess is that in fact they might not survive at all.
There's a strong possibility that this admirable and friendly, soft-spoken, elderly and in poor health couple -- they are now physically weak at their late 80s, sickly and barely surviving just a little bit above this country's poverty line-- may not make it.
"With our meager income and medical problems to attend to, we have to live on a very tight budget,"
Jack, a jobless retired engineer, bellyached his predicament. His elderly spouse has a menial job that pays a minimum daily wage, with a little social security to boot but still not enough to pay the monthly rent.
"When our total income is summed up, those standard Federal and State aid requirements do not make us eligible to receive any housing benefits and food stamps," Jack griped.
They are just an iota over and above the Poverty Guidelines for food stamps. For example, the poverty guideline starting from the year 2009, was $903 per month ($10,830 per year) for a single person, plus $312 per month for Jack's wife. To be eligible for food stamp, their monthly income should not be more than $1,215 [See SNAP -- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ], although obviously it doesn't make any difference at all if their monthly gross income is only a couple of hundred dollars more over the poverty line.
In our conversation, I did not press this income issue on Jack to avoid the ignominy of further embarrassment, but my suspicion is that in spite of their financial difficulties, Jack and his wife are too proud to beg the government for any pecuniary assistance gratis et amore.
But other than pride, there could also be some political reasons behind this mulishness or resistance to receive charity or to be subjected to public entreaty like those economically disadvantaged are under Obama's controversial social amelioration program for the underprivileged. I know that Jack and Eunice are both die-hard Republicans who did not vote for Obama. As a matter of principles, like Jack and his wife, there are also millions of poor Americans who believe that they have no reason to thank Obama for his socialistic welfare program of redistributing the wealth of the rich to all the suffering poor across the country.
In effect, this senior couple, like millions of their kind, has barely enough for their basic necessities; the little money they have mostly goes to pay for their elongated list of medicines they can't survive without. To them the medications that their primary care physician had prescribed for their advance age so that they may live longer, are no doubt just as important as their basic need of a roof over their head, clothing on their back, and food in their stomach.