A multiple-choice question on this topic would be too easy, so we’ll make it fill-in-the-blank instead: Among the consequences of Hurricane Katrina, the one causing the most widespread distress among Americans is __________. And the answer, of course, is higher gasoline prices. Sure, people outside the Gulf Coast are sorry to see all the death and destruction, but it doesn’t affect most of them directly. Gas prices do. In a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, 79 percent of respondents gave a negative rating to the government’s handling of gasoline prices. That’s higher than the number who took a dim view of the government’s handling of looting (71 percent), evacuations (59 percent), delivery of food, water and medicines (56 percent) and search-and-rescue operations (39 percent). As for their own response, 38 percent of those polled said they’ll drive less in the weeks ahead due to higher gas prices; another 9 percent said they’ll drive less out of a desire to “conserve the country’s gasoline supply.” Meanwhile, 44 percent said they’ll drive as much as they usually do, and 3 percent said they don’t drive or don’t have a car anyway. Still, some folks have come through this ordeal with their spirits unbowed: A robust 3 percent said they’ll drive more in the weeks ahead.
—Posted by Mark Dolliver