WHAT WE OBTAIN TOO CHEAP WE ESTEEM TOO LIGHTLY
--from a sign seen at a pro-war rally in Washington, D.C., March 1, 2003
"The price of gasoline has gone up very little compared to other consumer goods," said Bill Hickman, a spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based trade group [the American Petroleum Institute]....
When historic prices are adjusted for inflation, however, it turns out the average price for a gallon of gasoline in the United States was well above $1.80 per gallon for most of the 20th century.
For example, a gallon of gasoline cost just 25 cents in 1918. In 2002 dollars, that would be the equivalent of $3 a gallon, according to federal statistics cited by the American Petroleum Institute.
Until 1970, when the actual price for a gallon was 36 cents, the inflation-adjusted price never fell below $1.70.
As the gas crisis and rapid inflation both hit in the 1970s and early 1980s, prices at the pump took off. By 1981, a gallon of gasoline cost $1.35 -- or $2.69 in adjusted dollars before easing back below $2 in the mid-1980s.
The last decade has seen some of the lowest gasoline prices in U.S. history, when adjusted for inflation. They bottomed out in 1998, when the average price per gallon was $1.12, or $1.23 in adjusted dollars....