The high price of mobility

It won’t be long before Americans scrutinize every gas-guzzling trip to the drug store, pet food store and Thai restaurant.

We ran a few errands this afternoon to such locations, burning up about three gallons of gasoline on our 60-mile round-trip jaunt. One of our stops: The gas station for a fill-up. It cost $70.30 to pump 17.2 gallons — $4.09 a gallon.

Three weeks ago, I paid $3.63 a gallon — almost $8 less to fill the tank.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I live in a household with an above average income, and I don’t commute to work. Eight bucks a tank (or twice that when you compare to gas prices just two months ago) adds up pretty fast when you’re filling your tank twice a week.

Be alerted: BP announces its first-quarter financial results on April 27.

It’s not just the price of the gasoline that’s painful. Of that $70.30 I paid today, $16.36 — more than 23% — went to various governments:

  • $6.78 to the state of Illinois in the form of gas tax and $3.88 in the form of sales tax.
  • $3.16 to the federal government.
  • $2.02 to the local government (Palatine, Ill., where we filled up, has one of the country’s highest sales tax rates thanks to Cook County).
  • $0.52 to the underground storage tank fund.

Gas prices at more than $4 a gallon will force me to think twice about superfluous trips and required ones, too.

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