Monday, June 9, 2008

As usual, the poor get the worst of it

When it comes to rising gas prices, rural areas in the US seem to have been hit the hardest. Looks like the US southeast, the western plains states, and New Mexico seem to be getting the worst of it. Combine low median incomes with long driving distances and of course you're going to end up with plenty of folks who are spending around 10% of their income just filling up their gas tanks.

Looking at the interactive maps accompanying the article, it appears that the southeast and southwest corners of Oklahoma have been hit the hardest. In the panhandles and northwest Oklahoma, gas prices are eating up between seven and ten percent of residents' income. Since I happen to be at around the median income for my area, I can say that the graphic seemed pretty accurate - I'm spending about seven or eight percent of my income on gasoline.

One consequence of these rising prices for the US southeast? According the the NYT article:
...Sociologists and economists who study rural poverty say the gasoline crisis in the rural South, if it persists, could accelerate population loss and decrease the tax base in some areas as more people move closer to urban manufacturing jobs.
Jim Kunstler notices a little problem with that analysis:
Is it possible, nobody informed the reporters (and editors!) that A.) America has already hemorrhaged manufacturing jobs; and B.) That much of the little manufacturing that remains is not located in any cities per se?
Much more likely is that we end up with more displaced people left to drift in and out of homeless shelters, etc. The neoliberal birds are coming home to roost.

Consider us some of the canaries in the coal mine when it comes to economic hard times.

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