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Frank Gray

Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Gas prices have surged in recent weeks. The Speedway and BP stations at Time Corners reflect these rising prices on their signs.

Gas hikes once stirred fury; now, silence

A few years ago, I dropped by a crime scene and tried to talk to a neighbor to learn something about the guy who lived in the apartment where the crime occurred.

But all the guy wanted to talk about was his electric car and go on a short tirade against oil companies.

Then, last week, as I was driving to work, I drove past several of what could be called multiple crime scenes.

Gas prices, which had dipped into the range of $3.56 a couple of weeks before, had crept up to $3.61, $3.71, then $3.77, and finally topped out at $3.89.

The gas station operators don’t have any control over the price. Gas is delivered to their stations, and they are told what to charge.

Still, I thought, I’m being robbed, by someone, and no one cares.

It wasn’t that long ago that speculators drove the price of oil to $150 a barrel, and gas prices spiked at nearly $4 a gallon, and America was in an uproar.

Prices eventually fell, but then they crept back up. Oil prices have fluctuated between $90 and $100 a barrel, a lot less than $150 a few years ago, but gas prices are nearly as high as they’ve ever been.

I went to a government website that predicted that prices for regular gas would probably average about $3.60 a gallon through the summer, a price that not long ago would have left people steaming.

Now the price is 29 cents a gallon higher, and I don’t hear a peep from anyone, not even a hint of complaint, and that mystifies me.

Have we surrendered, given up?

There are people who think that sky-high gas prices are a good thing. People won’t burn as much gas. They won’t do as much driving. They’ll combine multiple trips into one. That’s good for the environment.

People will buy cars that get better gas mileage. They’ll buy hybrids that get 45 miles a gallon, or electric cars that don’t burn any gas at all. That’s also good for the environment.

If only people would behave the way they are supposed to and buy electric cars, we’d all be in paradise, and the price of gas wouldn’t really matter, right?

But I’m not going to buy an electric car. They cost too much, and their range is too limited.

People remind me that I can get a tax credit of up to $7,500 if I buy one, but I don’t want to have to spend $35,000 or more to get a tax credit, and I don’t want an electric car that makes it impossible for me to travel more than 40 miles.

I’m just tired of sky-high gas prices that stress a lot of people financially and a world that seems to have accepted it.

Too bad we still don’t have fuel-cell cars. Last week, we ran a photo of a model fuel-cell car that had been built at Ivy Tech Community College. It runs on water. That’s what I want.

But by the time cars like that are on the road, how much will water cost?

In the break room at the newspaper, they sell bottled water in vending machines. It costs a dollar and a quarter for a little more than a pint, or about $8 a gallon.

And no one complains.

Frank Gray reflects on his and others’ experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, by fax at 461-8893, or by email at You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.