Akin to putting the Iraq war in perspective as to just how much gas costs us, I like to calculate what percent of our income we spend on gas. The reason you do this is because when people say, "the Iraq war is costing us hundreds of billions of dollars" it fails to account for two things;
1. Inflation and
2. Economic or population growth.
And when you adjust for GDP it puts things in perspective;
Thus, I've done the same with gas;
So while I'm sure it's hurting at the pump, it still isn't technically "as bad" as it was during the Carter days (though I'm sure we'll be hitting that point soon).
Regardless, this is not the worst of all worlds and is more of a testament to how coddled Americans have become in terms of their standards of living. Currently we spent about 3% of our income on gas and energy. That's in line with the halcyon days of the 1940's and the 1950's. And it behooves the question, just how bad would a recession be (if we ever enter one).
Understand a Great Depression level of a recession is very unlikely, if for any other reason technology would prevent such a dire standard of living ever occurring (a real recession would have to be created by a massive redistribution of wealth on par with the Bolshevik revolution or social security - har har har) . Thus, a "modern day recession" would be mean (heaven forbid) you have to get the sedan instead of the Escillade.
You have to (heaven forbid) wait two weeks before you buy that new X-Box video game.
You have to (heaven forbid) post pone your family vacation till next month.
You have to (heaven forbid) get a second job.
Or you have to (heaven forbid) quit drinking. And maybe not even quit drinking, just quit drinking at bars and instead drink at home.
Still, It think this is a pretty grand country where these are our major problems.