June 18, 2022

Forecasters at Triple A (American Automobile Association, aka AAA) made a bunch of predictions for travel during the 2022 Memorial Day weekend. This writer has not been able to verify whether the final travel stats support their forecasts, but AAA predicted that travel would increase over the holiday, and get closer to pre-pandemic levels — despite sky-high gas prices.

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In “Record Gas Prices Hit Americans’ Start to Summer Travel Season” on June 1 at the Wall Street Journal, one reads:

Analysts said gasoline prices so far haven’t changed many motorists’ summer travel plans, in part because of pent-up demand for travel after Covid 19-related restrictions. “Folks have decided, ‘Look, I’ve been good. I’ve been hunkering down for two years. I’m gonna go, and I’m gonna go big,’ ” said AAA spokesman Andrew Gross. The organization said in May that 34.9 million Americans were expected to travel by automobile during the Memorial Day weekend, up 4.5% from 2021.

The 2022 Memorial Day weekend may have demonstrated something fundamental about many Americans, at least the lucky ones who traveled. It’s understandable that after two years of lockdown, sheltering in place, and mask mandates, that folks would want to get up and go. But with gasoline prices at all-time highs, hitting a national average of more than $5 a gallon in June, what would an increase in travel at this time say about the American character?

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It says that when it comes to the time-honored strategy of delaying gratification, a lot of Americans have a difficult time denying themselves much of anything. We want what we want, and we expect to get it right now. If the Joneses are going to the beach, then by gum so are we. That such an attitude might lead to even higher fuel prices is beyond some folks.

Many Americans seem to agree with the position put forth by President George H. W. Bush that the U.S. lifestyle is not up for negotiation:

Just before the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, some of the industrial nations, and specifically the United States, were lambasted for their obscenely high consumption of the world’s finite resources, including food, water and energy.

The world was being gradually destroyed, environmentalists warned, by unsustainable consumption.

Hitting back at critics, then U.S. president George H.W. Bush famously declared: “The American way of life is not up for negotiations. Period.”

Since the 1992 Rio summit, America has fallen into such a state of dysfunction, disrepair, decadence, and decline, and has been led so atrociously by the frauds and crooks in D.C., that one might wonder whether other nations, like China, are much concerned about negotiating with us. We’ve gone from being the largest creditor nation to the largest debtor nation.