4$ a gallon gas?

I read an editorial the other day about the government raising the price of gas to 4 dollars a gallon.  I would link to it but I can not find it again.  The article was pure brilliance and put into words many thoughts I have had over recent years.

Right after Katrina and then again during late last summer gas prices were at all time highs.  So much so that the price of gas was actually beginning to have an impact on the way people lived their lives.  I remember hearing people around me say, “I would really like to go to the mall, downtown, for a drive, but I have to think about gas.”  And things such as mass transportation became an option for many.  I was stunned by this because it was one of the first time I remember things that only appeared on the TV screen (mid-east turmoil, Katrina) was having a profound impact on all of us in our daily lives.  Gas even became so pricey that Crystal and I thought twice about the road trip we took last summer up to Seattle and down the coast.  Gas prices even for a Honda Civic in San Fran and on the west coast averaged about 3.48$ a gallon.

Around this time also car makers completely retooled their advertising campaigns  to tout the fuel efficiency of the cars.  I remember that SUV’s were glutted on the car lots, and Trucks were about as popular as terrorists (except in the south, were it does not matter if gas reaches 23$ a gallon they are going to drive trucks).  Part of me was truly excited about all of this.  I was a bit ahead of the curve as both of our cars are decent with the gas consumption.  I saw new potential for the enviorment, mid-east relations, and transportation habits.  People began to list MPG as top three in the car purchase considerations.  I thought for a moment that we might have reach the fuel price threshold for much of America, and we could finally be turning a corner.  I know it would have been painful, but as Driscoll recently said, pain and progress are usually intertwined. We would have had to break bad habits, change our consumption mentalities, and not drive around in vehicles that could also double as military tools.  But in the long run we would have all been better off.

But things have calmed down since then.  Gas dropped in price.  We had mild winters across the nation.  and gas was back down around 2$ a gallon.  MPG was thrown out the window and horsepower and mini tanks were back in fashion.

So that brings me to the point of the article I read; lets raise the price of gas to 4$ a gallon.  Think about it before you dismiss it as being a horrible idea.  Sure it would hurt in the short term, but it would put the responsibility for taking care of this problem off of just car makers and telling them they must find alternative clean fuels, without affecting the standards and consumption habits Americans have grown accustom to.  If gas is around 2.50$ a gallon and we add another 1.50$ on it we could use this tax to pay off national debt, invest in research for alternative fuels, or environmental restoration programs.  The biggest impact though would come in people changing.  Changing the way they drive and waste so much of a finite resource, that comes at a greater cost politically, and environmentally than most of us ever  realize. Mass transportation might also receive some serious funding and not just be paid empty lip service.  Oil is a serious issue, and serious problem that should not just be placed on the backs of car makers, but should be something all of us role up our sleeves and help contribute to the solution.  If anyone thinks this idea is crazy just has to look at Europe and see that it is actually much more effective, and realistic than we could ever imagine, those guys pay over 5$ a gallon for gas.  So this might suck but I think the alternative sucks even more.

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7 Responses

  1. 15 years ago I advocated a petroleum orgy to use up all the oil so we could move on to alternatives…tongue in cheek of course.

    The problem with your idea is two fold – first, there is plenty of oil to be had, even in the US, Mexico, and Canada, enough for several hundred year’s worth of the entire current US economy. The tar shales in Alberta, just by themselves, can sustain surrent consumptive levels for 100 years or more. People just won’t go for such abusive taxation with such a readily available supply of domestic oil. (and as it is, less than half of our oil comes from the mideast – most comes from Canada, mexico, and Venezuela, itself a huge problem). Any government rep that draws up or votes for such a policy will be gone in no time, from his constituents.

    Second, to compare the US to Europe and thereby suggest viable alternatives simply won’t do. The US is alone is sooo much larger than all of Europe that comparison is fallacious. If Oregon was in England, Southern Cali would be in Spain, and Kentucky would sit right over Moscow. Their need for fuel is simply less than ours at a basic level of infrastructure. Their countries as a collective do not have to deal with the distances that we do.

    That said, I agree that alternative energies need to be developed…however, it needs to be *profitable*. Once the Greens get wise to capitalism rather than idealism, we will be on our way. The fact is, at $4 a gallon, automobiles and gasoline will still be far more cost-effective than any of the alternatives out there right now. Until that changes, nothing else will, as you said, but punishing the middle class and lower classes by shooting at one of the pillars of their livelihood is not a good way to do it.

    Oh, and anthropogenic global warming is nonsense, so it won’t inspire change very effectively either.

  2. “oil orgy.” Nice phrase Adam. I believe we part ways though, on the legitimacy of global warming. I see the evidence of the polar ice caps melting, ozone wasting away,and sea levels rising as pretty conclusive evidence that global warming is not just a sham. If it is though, by all means keep driving Hummers and giant SUV’s. If anything I think higher gas prices could pay down the national debt, or fund the war in Iraq.

  3. I like the fact that the words “oil orgy” and “tongue and cheek” were used in the same sentence. Other than that, I’m pissed at Ryan for turning our blog all emergent with his last two liberal/eco-friendly/social justice posts. The next thing you know I’m going to be writing posts about how learned something from Shane Claiborne, wait…

  4. For the record, I do not say that global temps aren’t rising, although to what degree and in what locations are still very much undecided. I am saying that the idea that CO2 is causing it is almost certainly untrue. And the idea that *human caused* CO2 is very far fetched. If you’d like, I can clarify later.

    I agree about the Hummers, motor coach RVs, etc. Even though a smaller percentage of our oil comes from barbaric a-holes than is popularly perceived, why give some sheik a steak dinner if we don’t have to?

    I am also VERY leery of the church in any form or fashion getting into bed with politicos on either side of the aisle, as well as anyone in the environmental movement. Enviormentalism is the new urban religion, and its principles are founded on very unbiblical philosophy. We need to exercise alot more care on these issues and learn waayy more about what’s going on than is popularly provided, including issues of economy, third world economic development, public transportation, alternative energies and their realities and viabilities, and the underpinning of the worldviews that sit behind all of this. I merely commented because, whereas your desire is a is very good one, the practical consequences of a simplistic solution of that nature will hurt poor people the most, now and in the long term, and no one wants that. The church should not rush to the front on this issue just yet, but should form its own conclusions and act on them with little fanfare.

    I enjoy reading your stuff, BTW. Thanks for not getting pissed if I speak up once in a while.

  5. Adam thanks so much for the comment. I always love with ex-poli sci students can talk about this stuff. Besides you I understand that you are live in a city that believes in “justification by recycling” to steal a quote from Driscoll.

    The church though does seem to be in a phase right now in which it is over compensating in its desire to care about the environment and social justice issues. Many emergents and pomo’s even think they are the first one’s to discover the justice element to the gospel when the liberal mainliners beat them two it seventy years ago.

    And matt, just read the first hundred or so pages of Shane’s book, after that it just starts to repeat itself, and beat a dead horse. Classic example of another book that could have been a lot shorter than it was. And I promise I will swing the pendulum back the other way and right something about God’s wrath and propitiation in the future to make up for my recent liberal leanings.

  6. Oh yeah, my whole point, is that a mother’s perception than an SUV is “safer” is going to have a much greater effect on her car choice than will computer model speculation of what may or may not happen 25 years from now. So, if the Greens want to make change, they need to make it profitable now, rather than speculate on the future. (I don’t think that is what they really want, but again, that is another issue).

  7. […] I wrote a post a long time ago about how gas would hit 4 dollars a gallon and some of the consequences I thought it would have on the driving habits of most Americans. Well courtesy of Adam’s blog here is a photo of 4 dollar gas as a reality in California. […]

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