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Gas Rant

June 1, 2008

Gas is making me anxious. I won’t say I can’t afford it. My gas budget probably will have to increase $10 or $15 this month, which won’t break the bank. Still, it makes me very nervous to watch the price jump so much every day. Each day I consider how I’d get along without a car. Each day I conclude it would be too difficult for T and I to see each other regularly. One of us needs a car, and I guess it is me. I’m constantly rethinking taking the bus to work. It costs me less than $2 in gas to get to and from work, but 2*5*4 is 40 dollars. Busing would take $15, so I’d save $25. Is it worth the extra time?

In a way, I think higher gas prices make some sense, considering the impact driving has on the environment. It makes people seriously consider whether they need to be driving, if public transportation makes sense, if carpooling makes sense. This is a good thing. We have been driving without thinking for so many years. However, it is really painful.

When people compare US gas prices to how expensive gas is elsewhere in the world, I think it is an unfair comparison. Most (all?) of these other countries tax their gas heavily, and that’s what makes it expensive. Those taxes are put back into the country, the roads, the public transportation, and services for the people. Our gas may be cheaper, but we pay the price for cheap gas in other ways.

It makes me mad how little the fuel economy of cars has improved over the years. If standards had been raised, little by little, over time, we would have a lot more cars on the road that got much better mileage. Instead, our cars just became more powerful. I don’t need a powerful car, I need a car more like me: small, efficient and practical.

It also annoys me to hear big-wigs in my company talk about their hybrids, as if they are so environmentally friendly because they drive a Prius. (There was some sort of all-hands meeting, and three higher ups in the company were bragging about their hybrids to each other. How classy.) I don’t hate hybrids, but I still see them as somewhat of a luxury item. Green shouldn’t be luxury. If they told me they took the bus to work each day, then I’d be impressed. Telling me you bought a Prius doesn’t impress me (though it may make me a little jealous).

Will gas prices go down? Will they continue to climb, no end in sight? I don’t know. All I know is this is painful. I hope it pushes the country and the auto industry in the right direction.

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. June 2, 2008 4:33 am

    Another thing, so many European cities have incredible public transportation systems!! So they don’t all need to drive. (I swoon at the thought). Since we’re so dependent on cars and gas, our govts haven’t bothered to develop mass transit because “no one uses it” I’d love to use ours, but it would take me a couple of hours just to get to work (a 20 minute drive)! And thats assuming the bus arrives somewhat on time! It sounds selfish, but at this point I’d rather pay a premium to drive to work. Now, if I move closer to our rail line (when I move out) things should be different…(although still unreliable, I trust the rail to get me there more than a bus that might never show up)

    So for those of you living in cities with good public transportation…use it! A lot of us are majorly jealous! πŸ™‚

  2. June 2, 2008 5:19 am

    I live in a city with great public transportation. Plus, I have a free pass (through work) to take it whenever I want. Luckily, I live close enough to work that I walk or ride my bike.

    When I lived further away, it was totally awesome to take the bus. I would read a book or do a puzzle…it was very relaxing.

  3. June 2, 2008 6:14 am

    I live 50 miles from the nearest grocery store! Hey, I’d love someone to bus me there. Too bad we’ve ripped out all the train tracks that used to run through this country (less than a 1/2 mile from me) Would have been useful right about now.

    You guys should try being a farmer — do you have any idea how much diesel it takes to run a tractor? You want to know why grain/hay and thus food costs are so high? We’ll be feeling the pinch even worse this year.

    Our county is talking about not doing maintenance on any of the roads this year because diesel costs alone will be $160K plus.

    Our big Ford F250 pick up is parked unless we are hauling animals or picking up feed. We now buy several tons of feed at a time to be able to make fewer trips. We use the little Nissan pickup to do most of our driving, and we just bought a ’66 VW Bug. Not fancy, but the Farmer can do all the repairs on them without having to have them hooked to a computer.

  4. June 2, 2008 6:22 am

    I live close to work and also could easily bike to work (if I bought a bike, which I’d probably have to store IN my apartment), or take public trans for $15 with work subsidy.

    I think it really helps that I have a very short commute.

    But it is all the other driving that really adds up, and that public transportation takes so long to get anywhere. I’ve taken the buses here, and I don’t find it relaxing at all. I find it annoying.

  5. June 2, 2008 7:56 pm

    I can relate with your feelings on gas, I guess we all can. And I agree with you to a certain extent that a hybrid is a luxury. For my next car (which I won’t be buying for a while), I would probably look at a used (say 3-6 year old) reliable compact or subcompact car, which would certainly be cheaper than any hybrid (at today’s prices), new or old. However, in their latest issue, Consumer Reports had a chart of cheapest new car mileage in terms of cost per 1 mpg. While I had thought a cheap, tiny compact car would be at the top, it was actually the Prius, followed by the Civic Hybrid, which gets similar mileage. In other words, hybrids are becoming quite a good value compared to other new cars.

  6. June 3, 2008 3:21 am

    I wasn’t really feeling the pain of gas prices until we cracked $4.10/gallon this week. Now it stinks but still is affordable.

    We have no choice but to use cars as well. R commutes to Buffalo (50 minutes away) and even though a LOT of people make the commutes back and forth there is no public transportation. I would take the bus but it would require two transfers and over an hour and a half commute to go 8 miles/12 minutes driving. Not worth it to me even with the gas prices so high.

    I am going home to CT this weekend and it will be about $80 each way in gas – it’s still cheaper than flying (especially since I will have other passengers) but not much…

  7. June 3, 2008 3:23 am

    “You guys should try being a farmer β€” do you have any idea how much diesel it takes to run a tractor?”

    Some farmers around here are switching BACK to mules. Go figure.

  8. wrothful permalink
    June 3, 2008 4:53 am

    A major shipping executive here in Sydney used to ride his motorcycle to work for the fuel economy, and then he’d park it in his office so he didn’t have to pay for parking. Unfortunately, my office isn’t big enough for the motorbike, and I’m not sure what the office policy is on oil leaks….

  9. June 3, 2008 6:52 am

    As a new driver I can relate very well to this post. I filled up my 15 gallon tank this Saturday, and it cost almost 60 bucks. I’m financially dependent on my parents still (I’m 24 and a half. Special needs too.), so they pay for everything basically. But, my eyes almost popped out at the price. I think part of the reason gas is so expensive, has something to do with the oil futures market…….something along that line. It also has much to do with supply……but the government (or some body……oil refineries maybe? not sure about that) pays about 40 bucks a barrel…….the rest is all one tax or another. I think my Econ prof told me that in class……..

  10. lieblingartcrafts permalink
    June 3, 2008 7:22 am

    I feel like one of the lucky ones, I live pretty close to work and already bus daily and bike home during nice days in the summer (we have bike racks on the bus, so I bring it with me and ride it home).

    I still feel the crunch, I use the car mainly on weekends and for visiting but it’s still painful at the pump!

    Jess

  11. June 3, 2008 7:35 am

    @L – It sucks because it feels like there is so little action we can take, other than sitting at home all the time

    @totaltransformation – seriously??? Mules?

    @wrothful – motorbikes scare me! πŸ™‚

    @The Integral – Yeah oil futures i think has a lot to do with it, and the refineries. Tax is roughly (i think) $.60 or so per gal, but don’t quote me. It isn’t that significant.

    I think a lot of it has to do with inflation and our dollar being weak in the international market. If I was an oil rich country, I’d rather hang onto my valuable oil than trade it for shaky dollars

  12. green4u permalink
    June 3, 2008 9:07 am

    If you are lucky enough to have public transportation available for you to get to work you should ask your company about Transit Checks, which are pretax dollars that you can use for your commute. Currently, I believe the federal monthly limit is $115 per month. If your company is committed at all to going green this might be cost effective way for both you and your company to achieve it.

    http://green4u.wordpress.com

  13. avilaw permalink
    June 3, 2008 10:48 am

    Your concern about gas prices is right .
    You will read a lot of commentaries about this topic . Many of them will not make sense but my point of view will come clear .
    I am going right to the point .The most important problem that we have to fix nawaday in the whole work is the lacking of good leaders .
    Also is essential to talk about the world economy is in hands of few people.

  14. truthseeker1234 permalink
    June 3, 2008 2:48 pm

    “………..Those taxes are put back into the country, the roads, the public transportation, and services for the people. Our gas may be cheaper, but we pay the price for cheap gas in other ways.”

    Personally I’m glad our gas isn’t taxed. I don’t want to sound pessimistic and all but you should know those US tax dollars rarely go back to the benefit of the people. The tax goes to the rich and helps pay for our forays of spreading human suffering in the Middle East and beyond. I think if we took government out of the equation and had everyone pay for their own maintenance of everything (roads, parks, dams, etc…) we’d fine that the government has been shortchanging us since the dawn of time! Economics are only so complex to hide the extortion going on in front of our eyes. Currency and barter are NOT hard concepts – you want something, I want something. The fact that 1/3rd of my income continually goes to the government while the US deteriorates before my eyes DEMANDS truthful answers.

    As for the gas issue only a total rise of consciousness will put an end to it. This just doesn’t go for gas but everything in this world such as home foreclosures and 2 million dollar medical bills. Where does all that money go? If money is a physical manifestation of your energy and accomplishments where is it all going? I find it absurd that people don’t wake up and realize that every day on this world they are being taken advantage of by the higher ups. The whole system of capitalism itself can only lead to a dictatorship as the rich are in the best position of getting richer and swallowing the competition. For all the people having to “stretch the budget” for food and are losing their homes someone out there is winning. Win/Lose or Lose/Lose is the game here. Only when the people who are winning care enough about everyone else to face their fears and insecurities and become real conscious people will the world change. Otherwise we will play out the same old drama as we have done for centuries. We will rise to tragically fall once again.

    Gas mileage has been a lie for the last century. The automakers have had the technology to introduce 50 MPG+ cars back in the 40’s! There were early prototypes of cars making 80 MPG+ in the 60’s and 70’s. All of these were scrapped or suppressed due to costs or sadly collusion with big oil. As we speak today there is a technology called “zero point energy” which is the energy extracted from 2 opposite polarized magnets being placed close to each other. In the zone where the forces cancel each other out near the middle you can extract unlimited energy due to the inherent imbalance of the + and – side battling it out. It may LOOK balanced on the surface but beneath magnetic equalibrium is a chaotic infinite sea of energy going back and forth – never staying still. There are many inventors and companies who have put forth zero point energy but many of them have ended up getting killed, threatened, or suppresed. Nikola Tesla himself to JP Morgan’s dismay said he would create a tower to give all in the world free energy just by pointing their antaennaes at this main tower. JP Morgan summarily dismissed all funding for Tesla after he made that statement.

    Given all of that unless people become better and more conscious people suffering will always exist. There is no such thing as a gas shortage, gold shortage, diamond shortage, etc… Sufficient technology exists today to end all those problems – it is only the most powerful people who want to keep a grip on us who prevent it. These are the people who have never faced their fears or insecurities – who believe that they can only win by having others lose. They fear that if we lost our dependence on oil their empires would come crumbling down and they would not be able to cope.

    In conclusion I like to think that wealth stored up is a signifier of how fearful that person is. A person who stores tons of wealth tends to be the most fearful of people. The people with true confidence and courage with life never seem to save – they know that they don’t need savings – that they can cope no matter the situation thrown at them. Thus the biggest boys of capitalism like big oil, big industry, big politics, etc… are the most childish and fearful of all. Understanding this will help you understand ALL of their motives and actions.

    Once we conquer fear all the problems of our world will melt away.

  15. farmwife permalink
    June 9, 2008 6:10 am

    “Some farmers around here are switching BACK to mules. Go figure.”

    Not as easy for everyone as you might think. Locally, we figure if you own your own equipment, you have to farm at LEAST 3,500 acres to clear a profit. A very small farm could use mules — but there is absolutely no way on earth a big one could. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day — crops have a very short window of time to be put up. You can’t leave your hay laying in the field for weeks.

    The other problem is that horse (or mule) drawn farm equipment is not the easiest thing in the world to find anymore.

    AND — the sheer costs of keeping enough mules to work nonstop as would be required is mind boggling. The feed costs alone are probably higher than the diesel…

    The other BIG problem is — we don’t have enough farmers. Sons don’t stay on the farms and help anymore…I bet our average farmer age here on the prairie is probably close to 60 yrs old. What happens when they all die? I don’t know.

    Tracy

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