Jeff Grant is an ER technician and a paramedic. He lives in Waldoboro, Maine. He works two jobs and his wife works one. Last month between them they spent $760 on gasoline, car payments (for two modest used cars) and car insurance. This month the 50 cent increase in the cost of fuel means they’ll spend about $828 for transportation. That means that Jeff is working one job just so he and his wife can get to their other two. This is astonishing, but there is nothing statistically unusual about his situation--and its implications for the American Dream (for lack of a better word) are stark and depressing.
The article is worth a read, though it does devolve into praising Jeff's "spiritual identity" towards the end. (Seriously, if spirituality is the only choice besides materialism, I am so screwed.) I do have to take issue with one of their statements, though: "Most Americans have no transportation options other than owning a car and buying gasoline, and when prices are high this burden imperils their financial stability and it dampens the entire US economy." Perhaps this is true for rural residents like Jeff, but APTA notes that roughly 51% of Americans have access to public transport. Of the remainder, a sizable percentage could probably bicycle to work or telecommute. Even Jeff, who commutes to two towns, 15 and 30 miles away respectively, could probably find freedom by quitting the more distant of his two jobs and bicycling to the other. (15 miles is admittedly a long ride, but many a cyclist plies the river trail between Davis and Sacramento every day, a 12-mile trip. It's possible.) I'd venture to say that most Americans have options other than owning a car and buying gasoline, but most are unwilling to endure the discomfort and inconvenience of pursuing them.
Anyway, I'll wrap this up with commentary from Canadian indie group Metric: