Friday, June 27, 2008

Running on Fumes

One thing that is good about being out at war is that I don't have to fork over a large pile of money to fill up my gas tank. That's all going to change before too long and I'll be back in the land of pumping gold into that tank. In fact, I'll be paying more then most because I drive a diesel.
I remember back in the early 90's, if I wanted to make a weekend road trip to Arizona, 20 bucks worth of gas would get me there and I would have enough gas to drive around for most of the weekend. Even being an E-3, it wasn't a strain on my budget, my biggest bill was the cost of insurance.
Fast forward to now, with the current gas prices, the same trip one way at 25 miles per gallon costs 68 dollars. While my wage has doubled since then, the price of gas has gone up 500 percent so road trips take up a larger piece of my financial pie and make me rethink taking those long road trips. My son from a prior marriage lives in Northern California and the cost of travel to see him has made a huge impact on my choices for my next duty station. I turned down some great orders to North Island to try getting orders to a place out in the middle of nowhere called Lemoore just so I didn't have to drive as far to see him.
Even so, I don't have it that bad, I make it a point to live as close to work as possible to avoid the commute but what about those people who live in the suburbs where they purchased a home because it was cheaper?
The popular place to buy a house if you live in San Diego is up the 15 freeway. Directly north lie the communities of Murrieta and Temecula which were at one time the secret place to get a good deal on a house. Traffic can be a bit heavy with the 55 mile drive but the bang for the home buying buck did make the drive worth it. Eventually, it wasn't a secret anymore and developers turned the entire area into new homes which many military people I know bought into the American dream of home ownership.
But now with the gas prices breaking records on a daily basis, when will that point come when they can't afford to make the drive home? Or how many Marines and Sailors have already hit that point? That's not even counting the 22 percent lost in home values for the San Diego area (taken from article titled "Four years of gains in home prices wiped out"). The economy in general is hitting the military right in the pocket book.

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