James Earl Jones, playing the evil snake cult leader Thulsa Doom, explains to Conan the Barbarian the meaning of the Riddle of Steel:
He beckons a disciple standing on a ledge, high above, to “come to him.” She does – and jumps to her death.
“That is power!” Doom exults. “What is steel, boy, compared with the power of the hand that wields it?”
Gasoline is like that.
The power it contains is so remarkable it has become taken for granted – like food in the ‘fridge.
A single gallon contains enough power to propel a typical car more than 30 miles, at a cost of around $1.50 (the actual cost of the fuel itself, before the extortionate and regressive taxes are added to the price).
It can be easily and quickly transferred from pump to tank – or jug – without need of special apparatus or expensive technology. It can be stored for long periods of time without depending on anything more involved than a physical container that can be kept air-tight.
That is power.
The power of mobility. Of inexpensive mobility.
Gasoline – and the internal combustion engine – has made it possible for almost anyone to easily and cheaply travel Megallanic distances. To live in an area where houses are affordable – and drive to work in an area where they are not. To be able to visit friends and family in another state in just a few hours and then come back home the same day, if they like.