A front page story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper today said gas prices may go as high as $3.25 a gallon this summer. Good. That will mean some people will drive less. And if they drive less, there will be less global warming gases. And in all this, we might also move a step (excuse the pun) or two toward a more “decentralized” society. A vignette from our Back Road to the White House book about Campaign 2000: In tiny Sea Level on North Carolina’s east coast, I talked with James Styron, 61. When he grew up here, there were several oyster factories, a couple restaurants, a General Store where the “old guys” played checkers around a pot belly stove and the youth in the town listened to their life stories. “Everyone was close,” Styron said. Then Styron’s grandfather became the first in town to get a Model T., the first affordable car for the “average Joe” in America. The grandfather started to drive out of town a bit, then a bit more. Others in town followed suit in their new Model Ts. With this increased mobility, not only was there more global warming gases, but bigger stores started to go up in more central locations (read: “centralism”) between these small towns. Because the stores were bigger, they could carry items at bigger volume. And because of this volume, the stores could also sell at cheaper prices. This meant that the small downtown establishments in towns like Sea Level started going out of business. (At the far end of the continuum these days, read: Wal Mart, K-Mart, Home Depot…) As the small stores started going out of business, the downtown shopping and gathering places started to evaporate, in kind, leaving only a trace, if that, of an echo of the ‘old guys’ voices. Mr. Styron told me about the grandfather’s Model T. with a touch of pride. Then in the next breath said he was at a loss for what went wrong in the town — and why people “weren’t that close” anymore… I take what I said back at the beginning of this entry. Maybe it would be better if gasoline went to $6.25 a gallon this summer… There goes a few more votes, huh.