Gas prices are the lowest they have been in years, if not a decade. People are rejoicing and it’s easy to understand why they are happy about the lower prices. But there’s a cost to these lower prices that few are seeing. For every buck or two saved at the pump, thousands of families are losing one, and possibly the only, wage earner to lay-offs.
How do I know? My husband was laid off. Friday is his final day at work.
My husband has worked in the oil and gas industry for the past 11 years. Every weekday, and some weekends, he’s rode the commuter bus 40 minutes to downtown Houston. There he goes up one escalator and two elevators to the 67th floor where he works in the IT department.
He’s the most ethical worker I’ve ever met. When his boss says that no one can go home until a project is done, he will be the last one out the door. When his boss calls Saturday night and tells him to get on a plane to North Dakota on Sunday, he goes. 60-70 hour work weeks are normal because that’s what his boss expects. If a company executive needs computer help at his house two hours away, my husband gets in the car and makes the drive to help him. Why does he do these things? Because it was his job and he had pride in it.
His integrity is made of steel and has stayed strong through extreme trials.
Yet every summer Saturday morning he was at the pool, cheering his kids on during the swim meets. When that was done he’d change the brake pads on the car, mow the yard, tickle the kids until they screamed and work hard at making a good life at home.
It’s not just the screw ups that are being laid off. It’s the people that carry a family on their shoulders.
The people that are being laid off are the ones that work hard with the faith that their hard work will pay off.
The true price of gas is the faces of the women and men that no longer have a job to pay their bills or health insurance to help take care of themselves.
As the job market in the Houston area is becoming more and more saturated with the 7,000 people laid off this week and the 9,000 laid off last week, open jobs are becoming scarce.
The other day a comment on a news article said that it was a good thing that the millionaire CEO’s pocketbooks are finally being emptied.
The people with million dollar pocketbooks are not the ones that are hurting in this. They have money set aside to make it for years with no income but they will draw an income this year. If it gets really hard, they’ll sell one of their houses or maybe cut back on travel. The ones that care will feel the emotional effect of laying off so many great workers, and I believe that many in Houston do care. But the plummeting gas prices won’t destroy their personal finances.
It will however effect the charities that they support and give to freely.
Gas can only fall this much because of OPEC in the Middle East drastically lowering their prices. It’s not low because the gas industry was over charging by a few dollars a gallon. OPEC has set their prices so low that they are not profiting on the barrels of oil. Many believe that the purpose of OPEC lowering their prices so much is to bankrupt the U.S. oil companies. Before this is over, some United States owned gas and oil companies will go bankrupt and close. Most likely the small U.S. owned gas companies that were built from the ground up with the owner’s own hands will be the ones that take the fall.
These low gas prices aren’t worthy of celebration.
For every dime saved, picture someone having to go home to their family to tell them that they’ve been laid off.
For every dollar saved remember that there’s small U.S. Companies that will not exist if this continues for much longer.
For every ten dollars saved think of the oil boom towns that companies are shutting down production in to cut costs, thus destroying the town. Think of the entire families there that relocated or that depend on the oil industry business to survive.
It’s not just savings right now, it’s real people that are dealing with the effects of these prices.
There are people that will lose so much while others are rejoicing on the small amount that they are saving.
I’m not writing this to make you feel bad if you are happy about the lower prices. I simply want people to think about the consequences that unless you live in a town shaped by oil and gas, such as Houston, you might never see.