Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Kicking It at 55 mph

Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal

Special to The Village News

Do you recall “service stations”? What I clearly remember is when I’d drive in alongside a gas pump, an attendant would sprint out as I lowered the driver’s window and ask, ever so politely, what grade of fuel I wanted?

After removing the gas cap to insert the nozzle he’d bop around to raise the hood and check the oil. And then he’d wash all of the car windows. Every service station, everywhere, offered that service.

But in the mid-1970’s, the oil crisis caused service station attendants to lose their jobs. Why? Well, for one thing Americans were mad. We had to wait in long lines to fill our tanks and the stations were closed on Sundays.

Interesting though, as the gas shortage continued, oil companies made sky-high-over-the-top record-breaking profits. Does any of this sound familiar?

In the seventies, consumers enjoyed the luxurious comfort afforded by a V8 engine simply because it could haul the weight. Our cars were quiet, smooth riding, and very comfortable.

It is my theory that a national economic cycle started then. Here are my thoughts on the topic. In the seventies, American car sales had fallen drastically. One reason was that they were well built. And then, the Datsun arrived.

Bang, another oil crisis. In mass, again Americans turned to Michigan, demanding smaller cars with smaller engines in order to economize on fuel.

By the eighties, fuel prices were steadily rising about a dime per year except over the three summer months when it jumped up 30 cents a gallon. We all looked forward to the fall when prices took the winter dip.

That was until, lo and behold, another ‘shortage’ was about. In 2005, gas was $1.59 a gallon for unleaded. I recall because for $12 a week, I could fill my Miata convertible.

Bang. The government stepped in to save Chrysler or was it Chevrolet? Whatever.

Too many union jobs known as Democratic voters relied on the auto industry. Therefore, to revitalize the industry, D.C. required new EPA standards along with new mileage requirements. Again, whatever. Democrats had to save those votes in Michigan by keeping the American auto industry intact. But this is just a portion of my conspiracy theory.

Does anyone else find it odd that, since the last election, our fuel prices have rapidly surged toward $7 per gallon, twice what they were less than a year and a half ago? Yet all of our current leaders are silent both in this state and D.C.

The auto industry is struggling. Therefore, by allowing gas prices to soar, it inspires consumers to dump their huge gas guzzling trucks, SUVs, and four-door luxury high-octane-gas guzzling autos for another vehicle with better mileage.

But one wonders how many $7 gallons of gas does it take to pay for a Tesla? Was this the conversation The Gov had with them to keep the factory in California?

And here is the rub. Since we no longer have nuclear power, electricity is made from fossil fuel (with the exception of Texas – as long as the wind blades don’t freeze over).

So, really, what are the savings of buying an all-electric vehicle when the cost of kilowatts climbs at home and they cost over $60,000 plus the charging mechanism and the cost of recharging the 200-300-mile range somewhere along your trip?

$60,000 divided by $7 per gallons is 8,751gallons of gas divided by a 20 gallon-tank equals 4,285 tanks of gas at $140 per or eight plus years of $7 gas at a tank per week, not counting the extra expense of owning a heavy hybrid. After all, by the time you hit even, the hybrid will need new batteries and who knows what that will cost.

Then, like Europe we will have a battery disposal problem. Additionally, because of the weight of the batteries, the tires need to be replaced more frequently than with fuel vehicles which will create a tire disposal situation. And the government is already improvising mileage highway taxes to offset gasoline taxes that pay for the highway systems.

Death and taxes. No one can avoid them. Meanwhile, it is my observation that drivers are racing along every freeway, highway, and paved road with Tesla drivers always in the front of the line. It’s insane. What’s the hurry?

I’ve done my own study. Yes, you probably groaned when you passed me because I set my cruise control on 55 mph. By doing that my last tank of gas finally reached the manufacturer's suggested mpg (miles per gallon) rating.

Actually, by driving 55 miles per hour I feel like a seal in a pod of Orcas. Cars, pickups, SUV’s, and even semi’s scream past at the speed of light. Admittedly, I would fall victim to keeping up with the chase were it not for cruise control. Which is why I averaged, for the first time ever, an amazing 21 miles per gallon in my V8.

The last time I bought gas, I still had over 100 miles of distance with a quarter tank of gas left when I filled up. I figure by driving 55mph, every 5th tank of gas will be free.

Let’s use cruise control. Slow down. And vote in November to throw these bums out of office. What say you?

Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal can be reached at [email protected].


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