Friday, September 23, 2005


An Enlightening Experience

It's no secret that George Bush doesn't much care for poor people. In his own words, his "core" is "the Haves…and the Have-Mores." But I had a thought the other day--I wondered if Bush has ever worried about the price of gasoline, or the winter heating bill.

Most people in America are at least annoyed by those two things, and many are very worried indeed. This past Summer, I paid more than $20 for a single tank of gas for the first time in my life. Right after Katrina, putting gas in the car came pretty close to $30.

In Wisconsin, huge pickup trucks, SUVs, and, to a lesser extent, minivans are very popular. Those people are paying, in some extreme cases, upwards of $100 for a fill-up! And presumably they have to do it more often, too. I can get by on a single tank of gas for a month--can an SUV manage any significant commute for a whole month on a single tank of gas? I don't know for sure, but I doubt it.

And in Wisconsin, Wisconsin Energies is cautioning families whose monthly home heating bill was $350 last winter to expect monthly expenses northward of $500 this year. Maybe it's just my starving-artist perspective, but that seems like kind of a lot of money to me.

I just think that the experience of near-poverty--at least fleetingly--is a necessary experience for anyone, especially the very rich. Many otherwise continuously prosperous white people experience this during a short lull right after graduating from college. Many, however, don't even experience it then. I've never experienced anything close to real poverty, but I'm aware, at least, that it can be an enlightening experience to not have quite enough money. It's one reason why I have a little more trust in politicians like John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich--at least they know what that's like.

I just wonder if the cost of gas for the car or the cost of heating a house in the winter has ever even entered into the President's consciousness. Again, I don't know…but I have to doubt it.

The Quotidian Meander

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