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Whoopee! Gas Prices Are Sky-High!
That's the extent of Andres Oppenheimer's Miami Herald column from Thursday:

Hurrah! Great news! When I filled up my car's gas tank yesterday, I paid an all-time record $3.41 a gallon, and experts are predicting that gasoline prices may soon reach $4 a gallon.

I can't wait!

I'm not kidding. I am more convinced than ever that unless gasoline prices rise above $4 a gallon, there won't be a nationwide uproar strong enough to force Washington to get serious about reducing the U.S. suicidal dependence on foreign oil.

...Judging from U.S. Energy Information Administration figures, the long-term picture is bleak: based on current trends, Americans will continue buying SUVs, Hummers and ever-growing cars, and U.S. dependence on foreign oil will increase. Consider:

• While light trucks and SUVs accounted for 19 percent of all vehicles sold in the United States in 1975, the percentage grew to 50 percent by 2005. By 2015, light trucks and SUVs are projected to account for 52 percent of all new U.S. car sales, according to EIA projections.

• U.S. imports of foreign oil have soared from 35 percent of total U.S. oil consumption in 1973 to 60 percent of total U.S. oil consumption in 2006, according to the EIA.

''Overall imports of oil are going to increase, as we consume more petroleum,'' Jonathan Cogan, a spokesman for the EIA, told me in a telephone interview Wednesday.

My opinion: This is insane! I have nothing against you buying a light truck or an SUV if you are a soccer mom with quintuplets, a concert bass player, or a rancher in Montana.

But when I see these ever-growing vehicles driving through Miami -- where I have yet to find a hill, let alone a mountain -- with just one person inside, carrying nothing, I can only conclude that America deserves the foreign oil-rich despots that are causing so much trouble.

As long as America doesn't get serious about reducing oil consumption, petro-dictators will grow stronger, and there will be more of them. So when I see $3.41 gas prices, I say: ''Bravo!'' The sooner we get to $4, the better!

I don't buy gas very often (I spent a total of $157 last year on gas for my hybrid Honda Insight), so I'm never too sure what the price is. Still, last week, when I bought gas, I was shocked to find it was $3.89!! at the Shell on Lincoln and Pico in Santa Monica...not the cheapest station, because it's near the freeway, but I was down to fumes (which in my car might get me 20 or so miles, but I didn't want to chance it).

via Drudge

Posted by aalkon at May 11, 2007 10:46 AM

Comments

I want a pickup truck just like my 1980 Toyota, with a 100HP turbodiesel. Too bad. They're making 300+HP Tundras for the country-club set. Small trucks can be exceptionally tough, but size matters!

Posted by: Radwaste at May 11, 2007 3:06 AM

A couple of other cultural shifts have aided the oil burning: the US has gone suburban, requiring more personal vehicles to do our stuff, and it seems like there is less car pooling now. I recall growing up that we seemed to share rides on a regular basis. Now it seems too inconvenient. A ghetto cruiser used to be 9 people in a beat up old car. Now a ghetto cruiser is a pimped out newer car with one person in it.

Posted by: doombuggy at May 11, 2007 3:52 AM

But when I see these ever-growing vehicles driving through Miami -- where I have yet to find a hill, let alone a mountain -- with just one person inside, carrying nothing, I can only conclude that America deserves the foreign oil-rich despots that are causing so much trouble.

America may deserve them, but I don't. I have driven 4 cylinder cars ever since the oil price shocks of the 1970s. I am also restructuring my life so that in 3 years I will be automobile free.

When I went to Scotland last year, where gas costs about 3 times as much, I did not see one SUV or inappropriately large vehicle. Their (quite comfortable) taxis are smaller than most of our private vehicles.

Gas prices will rise because of the economics of peak oil, whether we like it or not. I doubt if America is prepared for it; we are unable to govern or even manage ourselves in any sensible manner. I'm only responsible for myself and mine, and am planning appropriately. Are you?

Posted by: Machida at May 11, 2007 6:10 AM

I always think, good, I'm glad the prices are going up, too, because necessity is the mother of invention. But I don't say anything, because I don't have a car...I'm glad someone with a car agrees.

Posted by: Brenda at May 11, 2007 6:14 AM

"Still, last week, when I bought gas, I was shocked to find it was $3.89!! at the Shell on Lincoln and Pico in Santa Monica...not the cheapest station, because it's near the freeway, but I was down to fumes"


In southern New England, prices were around $3.19 for regular, and $3.34 for plus, at Shell last week, down to $3.13 Tuesday night of this week, which is when I got gas. I don't let it get below 1/4 of a tank, usually, but lately have been topping off when I'm down to around 1/3. I don't travel all that far to work, but am seriously considering taking the train, if Metro-North could get their act together and promise relatively on-time trains! I do like having my car available, though, in case I have to leave early to get one of my girls from school, or run errands for work. I pay astronomically for parking though. Not as bad as if I were working in New York, but it ain't cheap in New Haven, either!

Posted by: Flynne at May 11, 2007 8:03 AM

Machida - suburban life is not going to go away. The price of gas won't go down either.

I'm not going to lecture anyone on an "inappropriate" vehicle, either.

But when people complain about the price of gas, I always respond with "it costs what it costs." And Peak Oil theorizing aside, demand is going to outstrip supply because we aren't looking for enough new reserves to develop sufficient capacity to feed the rapacious growth in China and India.

Although I'm certain that there are enviroweenies out there who would like nothing more than to halt that growth in its tracks.

Amy: what do you think is the likelihood of Pelosi's Congress passing some kind of price controls on gasoline and attaching it to the Iraq supplemental over and over again forcing Bush to destroy Iraq and the US in one sweep of the pen?

Posted by: brian at May 11, 2007 8:28 AM

Amy: what do you think is the likelihood of Pelosi's Congress passing some kind of price controls on gasoline and attaching it to the Iraq supplemental over and over again forcing Bush to destroy Iraq and the US in one sweep of the pen?

I'm not Amy, but this seems beyond far-fetched to me. Talk about political suicide. I think there's a good case to be made for raising the gas tax, though. But nobody will have the will to do that either.

Posted by: justin case at May 11, 2007 8:59 AM

Both my wife and I have 4-cylinder vehicles that are fairly gas-frugal. I have a short commute (about 7 minutes to work), so I don't use much gas anyhow (I also ride a recumbent trike to work at least a couple times a week when weather permits).

Even so, I still am eagerly anticipating either a e85 compatible hybrid, or a bio-diesel compatible hybrid. Neither are out yet. Japan's considering it, and Ford is supposed to have a model of the Focus that will be. Ideally, I'd like to have a plug-in capable hybrid as well, so short distances can be pure electric. Even if some of the alternative fuels have their own environmental issues, I'm not using that much and it's hopefully being produced domestically.

Posted by: Jamie at May 11, 2007 9:16 AM

Both my wife and I have 4-cylinder vehicles that are fairly gas-frugal. I have a short commute (about 7 minutes to work), so I don't use much gas anyhow (I also ride a recumbent trike to work at least a couple times a week when weather permits).

Even so, I still am eagerly anticipating either a e85 compatible hybrid, or a bio-diesel compatible hybrid. Neither are out yet. Japan's considering it, and Ford is supposed to have a model of the Focus that will be. Ideally, I'd like to have a plug-in capable hybrid as well, so short distances can be pure electric. Even if some of the alternative fuels have their own environmental issues, I'm not using that much and it's hopefully being produced domestically.

Posted by: Jamie at May 11, 2007 9:17 AM

I do think we need to be much more conservative about the amount of oil and gas we use. But I'm very skeptical that $4 per gallon will motivate large scale changes. First off, I heard the same arguments when gas broke $3. And $2. And $1. (Yeah, I'm old).

Second, although expensive gasoline gives people something to complain about, gasoline expenditures are just not *that* significant for most people. Sure, if you're a professional truck driver, it matters a lot. But for most people, its a question of whether you spend $1200 or $1500 in the course of a year - that just isn't enough to really change people's habits.

Posted by: Jensen at May 11, 2007 11:21 AM

Jamie, I'd be right behind you in a tiny hybrid, but I don't want to go up against a Hummer on the freeway. OK, here's a rule: From the top of the hour to forty-five past, everyone in a microhybrid can go as fast as they want, with the regular vehicles parked at the side. Then for 15 minutes the little guys have to park while the guzzlers go to town. At the top of the hour, it all starts over. What do you say? (We'd make exceptions for rural interstates.)

Also, you-know-who had an interview at CharlieRose.com. (Special bonus for Caucasian web users: Pouting photo of Joan Didion!) The interview was the same ol' same ol', but Hitch took a second to sketch out what's going to happen in Iraq even if we do find the balls to care for the Kurds. That oil is going to fall into the hands of some of the shittiest people who ever lived. And the next-to-shittiest people, who happen to be living next door, are going to get even shittier.

In other words: The price of gas is not going to come down.

Posted by: Crid at May 11, 2007 11:24 AM

(I spent a total of $157 last year on gas for my hybrid Honda Insight),

Now there's a diligent quickbooks user. I can't tell you how much I spent on gas yesterday.

Posted by: smurfy at May 11, 2007 11:51 AM

Have to add everything up for my accountant...don't you? Gas is mostly not deductible (or so I think -- except for trips to and from business meetings, etc), but as long as I'm adding everything else up...!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 11, 2007 12:19 PM

Accountant is third, behind housekeeper and gardener on the list of professional services I would love to have.

For now it's swiffer, black and decker and quicken (which theoretically makes it very easy to account for my gas expenditures, so long as I don't pay cash.)
But, as Jensen said above, ten percent of a thousand dollar annual budget just isn't enough to move me.

Posted by: smurfy at May 11, 2007 2:30 PM

I am just hoping for gas to get to $5.00 a gallon. There are all sorts of neat numbers that show you spend much more on the price of your car/gas/insurance/maintenance over your life than you ever will on your house. Ever since medical school, I became a big believer that my time is worth more than the price of gas so I lived close to where I worked. However, the American Way is to live one or two or even three hours (each way) away from work (with all the attached cost). In California, many hours of commute is not uncommon. As I have predicted, there will begin a deluge of stories about how people cannot afford the high cost of gas (and so it begins):
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070511/ap_on_bi_go_ec_fi/economy;_ylt=AgIOS2s_7IcwOAkyuRhM.8Nu24cA
Outside of the US (for the most part) you live close to where you work. Spending multiple hours traveling to work each day is a ludicrous proposition. As for disclosure, I do own a car and love to go on long road trips instead of flying (great time to catch up on some books on tape and enjoy the scenery). However, for my usual life, I use my bike to ride to and from work. Unfortunately, many Americans feel that it is their right to live many miles from work and yet have someone subsidize their commute with cheap gasoline. But the good times, I believe, are coming to an end as we know it: like flying, it is something we do as we need to but not in extravagance.

Posted by: Doc Jensen at May 11, 2007 7:26 PM

Oh, I see there is another Jensen at this site! It is a great Danish name (I hope to visit Denmark soon and see all the things my father and grandfather talked about).

Posted by: Doc Jensen at May 11, 2007 7:30 PM

sorry, amy, but you and the majority of americans are apathetic at best and fricken crazy at worst. high oil prices are good and you can't wait until prices hit $4??? first of all, honey, they're already there, and soon they're climbing to $5. i agree with you about yankee wastefulness and the selfish stupidity of suvs, especially on flat surfaces like florida or where i live, illinois. auto manufacturers should stop making these hulking, wasteful, slow moving, idiotic status symbols. i drive a 4 cylinder honda hybrid, but it still costs me $35 weekly to fill up compared to $17, which i was paying before. nevertheless, high oil is going to hit us not just at the gas pump but at the post office, the grocery store, the retail sector, and yes, even public transit. an economy, especially one like ours, cannot survive and thrive with high oil prices. what's more, america is a sprawling mess of a place, with cities like new york, chicago or los angeles fanning out 100 miles or more in each direction. jobs are decentralized, economies are suburban and exurbanized. big business and government have been plotting this demographic for years, building massive highway projects in 8 million directions at the expense of public transit. europe, on the other hand, at least has magnificent trains and bus systems that do not require a person to own a car. on the other hand, here a car is a necessity, not a luxury. living in the central city is nice, but not all the jobs are there like they used to be and the costs of housing is outrageous and priced for the privileged few. so, just exactly what are common working americans supposed to do? your type of thinking is typical brainless spin found pervasively on websites, newspapers and on television. there is no serious discussion about how george bush and the corporate interests in this country are taking away our basic liberties and the pursuit of happiness. stop blaming liberals (what liberals??? in america??? you've got to be kidding!!!), jew bankers and creatures from outer space. we're in deep doo doo and the corporate states of america is shoving it right up our patooties. wake up, america and take action before we dissolve from a nation to an empire!

Posted by: mb at May 22, 2007 10:47 AM

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