If you drive a car, you've had to notice. Gasoline prices have been increasing. They've been rising by an obscene rate.

The national average for gasoline has shot up 45 cents within about a month.

Retail gasoline prices have climbed for 33 days in a row. A month ago, a gallon of regular gasoline cost $3.30; on Tuesday it stood at $3.75 nationwide.

Do our politicians even know this? Probably not since they have extravagant expense accounts that pay for their auto usage.

But the rest of us must fend for ourselves in paying for the higher fuel rates. And it's not just us individually. Businesses also have to somehow figure how to handle the rising gas costs without severely impacting their prices.

School districts and municipalities have to pay for their increased vehicle costs by raising taxes of the local residents.

Depending what publication you read, there are different reasons given for the escalating gas prices:

Ÿ Taxes on year-end inventories of some states have driven up the gas prices.

Ÿ The price of crude oil, which makes up about two-thirds of the price of gasoline, remains extremely high by historical standards.

Ÿ Oil prices are inflated by concern about potential oil supply disruption.

In Pennsylvania, there's concern that gas prices will rise even higher with a proposal in Governor Corbett's budget to lift a tax on fuel distributors. He would like this money to be used for road and bridge repairs.

These rising gas prices have a major negative impact on economic recovery.

Individuals paying more for gasoline have less cash to pay for other goods.

Businesses, especially those with vehicle fleets, have to pass their additional costs onto customers.

Then there's another concern. If gasoline prices increase, will home heating oil prices continue to rise? Already people are struggling financially to heat their homes.

How high will the gas prices go?

Gasoline, like food, heat, medicines, and mortgage, are a necessity in everyone's budget.

Hopefully, lawmakers will take a look at gas prices and make efforts to bring them down. Among the things politicians need to do is refrain from adding new taxes.

When President George W. Bush was in office, his opponents labeled him "the oil president" because of rising gas prices. They don't have him to blame anymore, and the gas prices keep going up.

The result is a serious threat to our national, state, and local economies.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com [1]