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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Economy
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It's easy to find people who say gas prices will keep them from driving. They're on the roads.

That is an early hint that the "crisis" of high prices at the pump is less dramatic than the testimonials make it. And if history is any guide, it is temporary.

Florida is seeing a record number of tourists. They are driving, and they are flying in, having bought air tickets made extra expensive by the high cost of jet fuel. The Transportation Security Administration, which oversees airport security, expects travel this season to match or even exceed the pre-pandemic levels.

And Florida is surely not alone. Las Vegas tourism is reportedly back to near pre-pandemic levels. In Colorado, the Automobile Association of America expects driving over the Fourth of July weekend to be up about 8% over a year before. Never mind that the national average for a gallon of regular is $1.86 higher than it was in July 2021.

A recent Longwoods International Travel Sentiment study has two-thirds of American drivers saying that higher gas prices would factor into their decision about traveling the next six months. But only 6% of those surveyed said they are actually canceling trips because of it.


And so what gives? It could be that Americans, driven by pent-up demand for post-pandemic travel, are just willing to dig deeper into their funds to keep the tank filled. It could it be that they are driving more fuel-efficient vehicles and thus buying fewer gallons of gas to begin with. It could be that the "record-high price of gas" we keep hearing about is not actually a record high.

It could be all the above.

To some extent, consumers make choices as to how much gasoline they buy. Consider the woman in Reno, Nevada, who worried on CNN that high gas prices might deprive her 3-year-old daughter of a visit with family.

"There's so much my daughter has lost out on," she said, referring to the COVID-19 shutdowns. "And there's a feeling again as a parent that I'm going to have to be limited about what I can offer."

It's true that pump prices in Nevada are among the highest, but we do decide how far to live from family. The Reno woman has a car, unlike the very poor, and looked solidly middle-class. She ought to know that cheap gas is not an entitlement. And living far from family is ultimately her decision.

During the COVID-19 lockdowns, many workers moved away from metro areas for bigger houses and more land. Their choice. If that meant they had to drive more, well, that belonged in their calculations. For many, the ability to work from home saved on commuting costs. But also for many, there was the strong possibility that they may have to return to an office. And it's never wise to assume that those travel expenses won't go up at times.

We should not underestimate the power of more fuel-efficient vehicles to relieve "pain at the pump." Mileage has been improving for decades, with electric vehicles an absolute game changer. Ford's current high-class problem is keeping up with calls for its electric vehicles, particularly the Mustang Mach-E EV and the electric version of its F-series trucks.

A sophisticated analysis of today's gas prices would note that the national average for a gallon of regular now stands at about $5.01. Adjusted for inflation, the price for that gallon in 2008 (then $4.11) would have been $5.37.

Demand for gasoline keeps rising. But so apparently is demand for space on the roads. Moan about high gas prices, if you must. The traffic doesn't seem to have noticed.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

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Marjorie Taylor Greene

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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) is pushing a new conspiracy theory centered around the food and baby formula shortage currently plaguing the United States.

During a recent appearance on the far-right broadcast InfoWars, the Republican lawmaker echoed the bizarre claims of conspiracy theorists as she suggested that Democratic lawmakers are responsible for torching food facilities to create shortages. According to Rolling Stone, the latest theories appear to be based on ordinary fires that actually do occur.

Greene suggested: "Democrats are starting the fires on purpose in order to deprive the nation of food, which would be advantageous for them because they’re playing some sort of globalist long game and don’t want anything to be manufactured in America … or something like that. It’s not totally clear."

Citing a report from the National Fire Protection Association, Rolling Stone noted: "Nearly two dozen food processing plants have gone up in flames this year. This isn’t out of the ordinary — there are thousands of fires at manufacturing facilities every year." But in true conspiracy fashion, Greene and other far-right extremists have misconstrued facts to fit into a disturbing narrative they appear to have created.

When Greene appeared on InfoWars, she ranted about the current issue with host Alex Jones.

"The Biden administration and the Democrats … are destroying the very important, most critical part of the fabric of America, and that is our farmers,” Greene ranted. “They’re doing it on purpose. They want to be the global economy. They want to be completely involved. And here we have these ‘random,’ supposedly accidental fires at food processing plants.”

Jones also signaled in agreement with Greene. Claiming to have spoken with "mathematicians," Jones said, it seems “'mathematically impossible' for processing plants to be catching fire like they have been so far this year."

He added, “Everything the globalists are doing is about destroying real sustainability and making things collapse to bring in their new world order."

Greene's latest conspiracy theory follows criticism for a multitude of previously debunked claims.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.