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    Posted April 23, 2008 by
    Gas, Kansas
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Pain at the pump

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    Gas Prices in Gas, Kansas


    As a gas station clerk in a small, rural town in a forgotten corner of Kansas, I hear and see the effects of the rising gas prices every day.  While I'm reading articles about people who have to make sacrifices such as giving up their SUV's and moving closer to work, I'm seeing in my day-to-day life more and more people whose very livelihoods are put at risk.  Never mind telecommuting or investing in a hybrid--these are people with no other options, cornered by the rising gas prices, and left to fend for themselves.


      In a part of the world were people are already living on the bare essentials, how can one make greater sacrifices in a time of crisis?  There is no mass transit in a rural community, and one can't very well telecommute to a factory or farm job.  You have no choice but to buy that $3.50-a-gallon gas if you want to get your kids to school, yourself to work, and food to your table.  In the city, one could take a bus, walk, or carpool, but in a rural community there are fewer options, and more and more people are finding themselves put in a difficult position.  Families must choose between a full tank of gas or a full fridge of food, and farmers are allowing their fields to go fallow because they simply can't afford to plant their crops anymore.  With a food crisis already projected on the horizon, can we really afford to allow our source of food to be driven under by rising gas prices?


      In the city, an individual hit by high gas prices might give up their SUV or their vacation.  Here, people are giving up their livelihoods.  There is just something fundamentally and painfully wrong with our country when the people we depend on for food can longer afford to feed us.  Every day, I have some poor, weary farmer trying to make ends meat, pumping $500+ of non-taxed diesel into his farm equipment.  If he's lucky, he might break even at the end of the season, but for most, it doesn't work that way.  Driven to debt or desperation by the rising fuel costs and bad weather, more and more farmers are turning their backs on the life they have always known, struggling to survive in this strife-wracked economy through some means other than farming.

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