As a native New Yorker, I continually chuckle when I hear the term “sticker shock.”
My experience has been that it’s often uttered by incredulous out-of-towners who cannot fathom the concept of $9 toll bridges or a $50 porterhouse.
For nearly a year, however, I’ve become a recent convert to the sticker shock syndrome courtesy of the frighteningly high payment due totals on my monthly gas credit cards.
Along those same lines, I also refuse to calculate the shocking per gallon spike in my home heating oil. In an effort to remain solvent this winter, I have set aside an hour each weekend to practice chopping wood. If nothing else, I’ve developed forearms that would make Popeye envious.
Naturally, our presumptive Republican and Democratic presidential candidates have proffered proposals to help ease the pain at the pump and in the burner.
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has called for an "emergency energy rebate" of some $1,000, earmarked for families this fall.
According to Obama, the rebate will be enough to offset the cost of gas for a working family over the next four months, or for those who reside in colder areas (states like Minnesota and North Dakota come immediately to mind) it would be enough to cover the increase in their heating bills.
Since this came from the man who in a recent speech assured an audience that just keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure and getting regular tune-ups would eradicate the most of the need for additional drilling, I decided to perform some calculations.
It costs roughly $1,300 to fill my 275-gallon oil tank. In a typical New York winter — which is often underrated by the rest of the country as to its severity — I receive an average of four fill-ups.
Extrapolated out, that comes to on average between $5,200-$5,300.
By contrast, last winter I paid between $3,600-$3,700 to keep the tank full and my home at a temperature that didn’t resemble a meat locker. I can imagine that residents of Bismark or Minneapolis would require significantly more, although to be fair, the price per gallon would most certainly be lower.
My wife and I both drive Hondas — certainly not gas guzzlers by any stretch. My round trip to the train station is 14 miles per day and my wife’s is 32 miles. Last month our combined gas charges (not including small emergency cash fill-ups of $5 and $10) came to nearly $700 – more than double that of the prior year.
I’ll let the rest of you do the math.
Meanwhile, the GOP contender, Sen. John McCain’s proposals focus primarily on cutting. And by cutting that includes everything from the gasoline tax — which a number of economists have dismissed as impractical not to mention ineffective, to a 10-percent slash in the corporate tax, as well as extending the Bush cuts.
I’m not sure what will happen in the November election, but I shudder to think what’s going to happen in the winter months after that based on their energy proposals.
And by shudder I mean that literally.
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