Bless the Charlotte Business Journal. The folks over there do a great job. One of their tasks is keeping us abreast of the rise and fall of gas prices, which is critical information for a lot of area businesses. According to them and AAA, you can expect to pay $3.13 per gallon, on average, for gas in the Q.C. right now.
A couple years ago, we would have lost our minds if gas prices were $3.13 ... especially sans major hurricane, oil spill or some other serious disruption. Now? Meh. We've become desensitized to rising gas prices. Which, despite some predictions that gas prices will level out in 2011, is probably for the best, since gas prices will never return to where they were a few years ago. Ever.
And, this is why everyone needs to take economics classes in school. Gas prices are a great example of the supply and demand cycle. How's that? Simple: People worldwide are demanding more petroleum products than ever before. The companies and people that fill that demand the supply-siders can either drain their wells trying to meet that demand, or they can try to temper the market by only supplying so much. Either way, when you have more demand than you have supply prices rise.
Why is there so much demand? Look around. Who do you know that only walks or bikes? And, look outside of our country. While we've enjoyed a cushy life here in the U.S. for decades, many other countries are just now catching up and their people want all of the trappings of the American lifestyle that we now take for granted. In addition to gas and oil for their new cars, they want consumer products many of which are plastic and/or packaged in plastic. Plastic is a petroleum product, one we can't seem to get enough of.
So while prices may ebb and flow a little, the trajectory is straight up because our hunger for petroleum products knows no limits. Drop your expectations that prices at the pump will go down in any significant way without a major paradigm shift ... and I don't see that happening any time soon.
Rhiannon Fionn-Bowman is an independent journalist who contributes commentary on Creative Loafing's CLog blog four days a week in addition to writing for several other local media organizations. To learn more, click the links or follow Rhi on Twitter.