Happy about high gasoline prices?

May 21, 2008

A California Highway Patrol officer travels south with commuters on Interstate 5 as they make their way through heavy morning fog near San DiegoI have a confession to make — I’m glad gas prices in the United States, as elsewhere, are rising. And I’m quietly hoping they’ll keep going higher because there may possibly be no more effective way to promote conservation and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
 
Higher pump prices might be the only way that we Americans will ever even begin adjusting our driving habits and reducing fuel consumption — when it hits you in the pocketbook. The price of gas in the United States may be cresting at over the $4 per gallon level but it is still far lower than it many other countries where fuel taxes are much higher.

In Germany, gasoline is now up to about 6 euros ($9) per gallon. German think tanks have forecast that it would take prices of 10 euros ($15) per gallon to radically change driving habits.
 
Certainly there are fewer mass transit options in the United States than in Europe and elsewhere. And higher fuel prices are especially problematic for people with low or no income. What’s nevertheless disheartening in the United States is that any suggestion of alleviating the price squeeze in the United States through the conservation of fuel by driving less or by driving smaller, more fuel-efficient cars or by using public transportation seems to get drowned out by a strange political debate about temporarily suspending the federal fuel tax for a few months during the summer holiday season.

That seems to be sending the wrong message to Americans, who already use about one quarter of the world’s gas. It’s a wasted opportunity, in the age of climate change, to help a global campaign for conservation.
 
I spent an illuminating week recently driving around in California. It was amazing that so many people are still driving enormous SUVs even though fuel prices are high and rising. It was also amazing that people drive their enormous SUVs and other gas-guzzling cars at such high speeds and with such jack-rabbit acceleration.

I was in my mother’s 10-year-old sub-compact and tried to keep to the 60 mph speed limits on the freeways. It sometimes felt like I was standing still. Speeding cars, trucks and busses were passing on the left, on the right and some wanted to run right over me (it seemed). Even at 60 mph I was evidently a traffic nuisance. An attendant fills a car up with gasoline at the petrol kiosk in Manila May 14, 2008. Asian stocks struggled to make gains on Wednesday as the benefits of a firm dollar were offset by weakness in the financial sector, oil prices near $126 a barrel and dashed expectations of more U.S. interest rate cuts. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco (PHILIPPINES)
 
Some especially fast cars can go from zero to 60 in 10 seconds or less. Admittedly I’m a bit obsessed with saving fuel. It takes me about 40 seconds to get to 60 mph. Even getting to 30 mph takes about 20 seconds. To save fuel, I try to avoid braking and never step hard on the gas. I got nearly 50 miles per gallon with that car.

A relative who lent me her mid-sized car was amazed when I went twice as far (600 miles) on a tank as she does. She wanted to know the secret. It’s no secret. It’s just common sense. But with political leaders tripping over themselves with promises of a summer fuel tax holiday, few in America seems to be getting that message. 

What do you think about high gas prices? 
 
 

65 comments

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I’ve started cycling to work a number of times a week. I live close to work, so the cost of fuel doesn’t affect me all that much, but I thought if I was driving up demand by wastefully driving I was part of the problem for people who depend on gas. Where I live in Orange County has a great setup for cycling fortunately.

On the one hand a part of me is upset that the higher price of fuel is aggravating many, but on the other hand the high price is the only thing that will get us thinking about real and positive (and economical) solutions like mass transit.

I lived in Germany for a year in a city called Karlsruhe, a very tram and bike centered city. Getting around was a breeze, the trams were comfortable, efficient and clean, and cycling in the area was fun. One of the only times I was in a car, it got into an accident.

I truly think a similar light rail system could work in Southern California, much to its economic benefit. Imagine people going to work and not worrying about traffic, even doing work on the way there. Corporations would get on board and you could listen to Sirius Satellite Radio, enjoy AT&T wi-fi, watch TV on an super-thin OLED Sony screen etc while you get to work.

I really, really hate driving in Southern California. I’m not the only one either.

So you’re the nice guy that doesn’t keep with the flow of traffic on the highway. Good way to cause an accident.

A few days ago a fellow student told me that he was riding his bike again to school due to the rising oil prices. I am also very happy that the oil prices are going up because it seems to create great habits! Also, in comparison to Europe, the price in the US is still very low. At the same time, if the prices keep going up, it will be harder/more expensive to transport goods, hence, we will start going more local too!

Posted by Patty from Boulder | Report as abusive

Many people must use the car to work! They will breathe better but will die hungry.

Posted by giovanni | Report as abusive

This comment box is not large enough for the way I feel about the gas prices and all that it is tied to. We will never see the price of gas lower than 4 bucks ever again and people have not the slightest reason why. People need to get educated and learn about what our government has done in the past decades to bring us to this point. Look up Lindsey Williams and listen to what he has to tell you about the oil situation. Why are more people not aware of this and why is nothing said about it? I am truly confused and getting more upset everyday. It’s time I started being more vocal and I don’t care about the people who think I’m a goofball or a conspiracy type. It’s time to wake up people and listen to what is going on. Alaska has more oil available to us than anywhere else in the world and yet we will never see a drop of it.
Thank you Henry Kissinger! google Linsdey Williams and learn something.

Posted by prospin | Report as abusive

I’m all for conservation and preservation, but for God’s sake DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT THIS IS DOING TO MIDDLE AND LOWER CLASS PEOPLE? I invite you to move to the Midwest, where mass transit DOES NOT EXIST. There are no busses, there are no trains, subways…etc. There is nothing but miles and miles of CORN and good jobs are few and far between. I work for a manufacturing company in an engineering department of 20 people. 15 of us drive a minimum of 45 miles to work ONE WAY EACH DAY. We are somewhat forced to. The housing market won’t allow any of us to sell our homes and move closer. The job market won’t allow any of us to find good jobs in our home towns ( some of which are only 400-500 people! ) ….so we drive every day. My car gets 34mpg and I still spend $350 a month in fuel.

Posted by Michael Brainard | Report as abusive

At the Island Press blog, Terry Tamminen (policy consultant and adviser to the Governor of California, Canadian Premiers, and other state leaders on climate and energy policy) has some interesting items to say about the proposed “gas tax holiday,” why higher gas/oil prices are not necessarily bad, and why we can reign in greenhouse gases by leaving things as they are: http://www.islandpress.org/blog/index.ph p

I have a confession to make. I live in New York City. I take the train, subway, bus, bike and my own two feet to get around. I couldn’t care less about gas prices being double again. I feel really sorry for those people being squeezed, who now realize the savings at Walmart are being offset by the fuel needed to drive there now the smaller stores have all shut down from the competition. (Yes, no Walmart in NYC, just Fairways at probably twice the price).

Posted by Careful non-driver | Report as abusive

Economic realities be damned,huh? If you bike to work, congratulations. But if you’re one of the vast majority of commuters who depend very much on your gas-burning vehicle, the increasing prices of fuel really hurts.

Kirschbaum,you’re just a snobbish elitist.

Posted by Soya | Report as abusive

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Reader…

Shouldn’t the questions really be:

“Are the privileged class (PC) and super privileged class (SPC) happy about high gasoline prices?”

and

“Are the middle class (MC) and working class (WC) unhappy about high gasoline prices?”

The answers to both questions ought to be reasonably obvious at this point.

Best Regards (to my fellow MC’s and WC’s),
Oklahoma Jack

P.S. The PC’s and SPC’s must be oblivious to the fact that they are sitting atop the lid of a MC/WC powder keg that is about to blow their gluttonous and greedy lifestyles sky high.

P.S. #2 The only way to clean up the environment and keep the economy humming along simultaneously is to pursue alternative forms of energy (and fast!)…and do an even faster upgrade of our public transportation (i.e., rail) systems. Economies and environments everywhere are like Jacks & Jills. What good is a clean environment if one cannot afford to live in it?

Posted by Oklahoma Jack | Report as abusive

Why are you purposfully exaggerating the prices in other countries?

Gas used to be 2x in most of Europe not is only 1.25 to 1.5 times as American prices..

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

I live in the midwest, I recently took a vacation with my wife to the east coast and back. It cost $500 for gas, not a problem since we just take 1 vacation.

I was surprised to notice how many gas stations and truck stops have closed down now, before that it was steel and manufacturing plants.

If we don’t find alternatives- and I am sure they are out there, we (the USA) are in for some very bad times ahead.

Our whole economy is based on cheap energy – if that gets turned upside down, it’s pretty much the end of the world as we know it!

I don’t care where you invest your money or where you work – everyone’s job and money are in danger now.

Posted by Chuck Olson | Report as abusive

Gas prices going up will help the economy, but what will people really do. Cars are some peoples only way to work, yeah I hear take a bus, but there is no bus where I am from. People really need to car pool or something to help but when you don’t have the money for the gas anyway what are you really going to do.

Posted by Lindsey | Report as abusive

I wonder when our elected officials will decide to come up with plans to work on the infrastructure of this country….now is the time. How about working on creating new alternatives to transportation such us subway lines, better and new transit systems,etc. Maybe if more people had better alternatives to transportation they will realize that it is okay to leave the car at home, this will lower their expenses and in the process will this not create new job opportunities

Posted by MC | Report as abusive

Michael Brainard:
Move closer to work or get a job in city with public transportation. I’m a middle-class midwesterner who makes less than you do, I take a train or a bus to work.

And get a smaller house

Posted by Ed | Report as abusive

Erik- People act that the only fuel being consumed is in private vehicles. That’s not the case however. Nearly everything that we consume as human beings is transported by some sort of fuel burning mode, be it ship, truck, train or aircraft. Everything will increase in cost especially items made from petroleum based products such as plastic. While you smile blowing your green horn a lot of unsuspecting average folk are going to get hurt bad in this mess.

Posted by Vince | Report as abusive

Soya:

I think you’re the snobbisdh elitist if you think the US should pay half the price of gas that most of the rest of the civilized world does.

Get a freakin compact or walk to the corner store.

The suburbs are the blight of this country. Live close to work and don’t buy a McMansion.

Posted by Ed | Report as abusive

Well Erik, aren’t you all special and green. American’s do get the message and are resentful that their country, economy and ecology have been hijacked by the fear-mongering of green neo-fascist extremists. I don’t want to be beholden to other countries for our energy needs. When I look at rising gas prices I don’t blame ordinary Americans, I instead vent my frustration and anger at the likes of you (Erik Kirschbaum) Al Gore et al. because of your sneering superiorty and dismal lack of foresight regarding our country’s current and future needs.

I want our country to dig in ANWR, Gulf of Mexico, wherever, to get out of the mess you have all steered us into. You are all big on green talk but have yet to provide us with any kind of satisfactory alternative, despite years of research and billions of dollars wasted to sate your higher than averagely sensitive consciences.

You don’t speak for me or the majority of ordinary Americans. Why don’t YOU rethink YOUR life and the cost to normal Americans and the damage to our environment that YOU and YOUR ilk have caused.

Think seriously about your cliched piece of robotic greenspeak you have just published in Reuters and what it has cost us over the years in terms of jobs and economy, because your particular brand of evangelical and ecological narrowness refuses to work with big business. Many jobs have been located overseas because people in the green industry like you have been difficult to work with. Big business didn’t leave the United States because they wanted to work in countries with less restrictive environental laws and make lots of pollution and poison the water, but they simply couldn’t afford to work in an America with a bunch of immoveable idiots like yourself who chant the same mantras every day, whilst tying their hands behind their back.

Basically Erik I know you think me an idiot and a luddite as soon as you read my response to your article and indeed you are entitled to your opinion. But listen, I care about my environment as much and if not more than you do but I am also rooted in daily realities. Being kind to the environment involves being kind also to the economy and those dependent upon it. You all seem to forget that in your rush to be Green Phariseers.

Posted by James MacCrossan | Report as abusive

The gentleman from Brainard is correct on all points. Many of us who live in the Midwest DO NOT have access to mass transit as it DOES NOT exist, bike lanes DO NOT exist because many of us live on rural highways and in rural communities which are too far away from well-paying employment – so we need to drive; homes are starting to sit empty because people can no longer afford to pay the mortgage or a stale housing market won’t allow people to sell their homes. In this state we are beginning to experience a rise in gas-related crime: siphoning gas from any parked vehicle: cars, boats, trucks – you name it; drive-offs. Couple that with one of the highest gas taxes in the country, as well as a mandated reformulated gas that the EPA says must be used in our area – our gas more expensive than in most parts of the country. Our family has been more cautious for the past couple years as to the driving we do and combine shopping trips into one day. There are many people here having to make decisions as to what to eat and what is cost-effective for them to eat because they need the extra dollars for their gas tanks. Many go without and elderly balance food budgets, medicine and daily living on Social Security. Unfortunately, high-priced gas isn’t the only piece in this puzzle and this nation has only just begun this adventure. I will continue to teach my children to be as independent as they can be, wherever they may end up one day, and still function in our digital age of technology, as they will not know the world as many of us have.

Maybe some people live have the luxury of public transportation, but other people do not. I don’t drive a gas guzzling car nor do I speed well beyond the limit. I live NOWHERE near public transportation. The nearest bus is 15-20 minutes in driving and over three hours of walking. I cannot afford to move closer to the city. I have a good job that pays well, but it is 40 miles one way. If I could find one closer to home, I would do it, but if I find a job near home, that is a 50% cut in my pay. So I save on gas for less money made? With healthcare and basic living, people need to make more tham minimum wage, more than one job and more than 10 dollars an hour. If you do not have health insurance at work, it costs 378 dollars for one person, up to a thousand for a family for a private plan add rent, car insurance and car payment- how much do you think that is? Now add food and necessary medical prescriptions. Without insurance, my inhalers cost over 350 per month. With insurance, at 378, it costs still 100 more. These gas prices are making it difficult to live without the cost of living increase to compensate. By the time that comes for some people, they would have it at a cost of their health, basic living needs or family needs. Most people do not have the luxury or the pay to spend more on gas JUST TO GET TO WORK. To get to work only and I drove no where else in the meantime, I still fill my tank twice a week. That is 120 dollars a week or 480 dollars a month- just shy of 35% of a two week take home pay. Imagine the person who does not make 20 bucks an hour. Spending more for gas means sacrificing health care, food and basic living. Gas and oil companies made 300 billion dollars the first year when they almost doubled the prices- imagine now. That is obscene and down right greedy. You cannot tell me that most of that money goes to the supply of the demand. Most of that goes into their pockets. People are not going to be able to pay their bills on time to have good credit for a hybrid car that costs 20-30 grand. We have resources, they are just not accessing it or making it available or affordable. And that is the worst you can do. There is no reason for this other than the opportunity of world politics and greed.

Posted by shante | Report as abusive

Please don’t get me wrong — my heart does go out to anyone feeling the squeeze because of higher prices who doesn’t have alternative ways of getting to work (but I do also wonder: aren’t smaller cars available or car pools?). It’s also not ‘Schadenfreude’ that makes me glad that fuel prices are rising. It’s the bigger peril of climate change. I’ve got 4 kids and wonder what they or their children are going to be thinking 50 or 100 years down the road when they look back at our generations — “What those people knew in 2008 about the dangers of global warming and yet you kept driving your big gas guzzling cars at high speeds?” Believe me, I’ve felt the squeeze of higher fuel prices too. But I’ve tried to negate that by cutting my fuel use (and CO2 emissions) — by biking to work (40 km per day), selling our second car, driving slower and driving less, taking the train and public transit on business trips, using the fireplace most evenings instead of the natural gas heating, taking fewer and shorter (and colder) showers, and putting solar panels on my roof. In short, I’ve turned into a zealot about avoiding emissions. It’s a personal obsession and I wouldn’t dream of forcing it upon anyone else. But after seeing so little change in the way Americans use fuel despite the growing evidence of global warming, I’m just hoping that the higher gas prices might finally encourage a change in sentiment about the use of fossil fuels.

Posted by Erik Kirschbaum | Report as abusive

Oh and by the way, if I were to pay for my health care outright without any insurance, it would cost me over a thousand dollars a month. I have resorted to better resources for my medications, as some has been proven to cost less, so it is not like people like me are not looking for alternatives. I certainly don’t drive anywhere I do not have to, combine as many errands as possible, use coupons for food whenever I can and make cuts where I can. The high rise in gas prices came at a time of world politics and as an opportunity for people to do it saying it is justified. Someone made the demand the way it is- it is not that the supply is not there- No, this is not a case where the resources are not there- no one is rationing gas or saying we can only fill up once as week as in the late 70′s. The gas prices of today are not out of need, but greed.

Posted by shante | Report as abusive

Believe me, if I could car pool or take the city transit, I would. Public transportation is in the next state; the closest bus station is 15-20 minutes away or three hours of walking. The tranisits do not run at the time I need to be at work- it does not run all night long or continually (begins at 6 am and ends at 1145 pm). I have a small car and I don’t have a choice but to drive. Most of my miles are highway and I try to ensure all the maintenance is done so it does not eat up gas. No speeding tickets, my driving record is excellent. Work is over 64 kilometers away, and it would be 30 km more if I rode a bike(cannot ride bicycles on the highway). It is not practical for me to car pool, use public transit or ride a bike to work. I’m doing all I can here, but what is being done about the gas prices that is availble to be implemented now?

Posted by shante | Report as abusive

I am reading a lot of complaints here that in most parts of this country we lack decent public transportation, so driving is the only option. Why do you suppose this isn’t the case in most European countries? Partly because Europe is more dense as a whole, but partly because the citizens there have promoted, largely by voting for elected officials, investment in mass transit. The cult of the car in this country feels like a birthright for most of us, and the realization that it has put us in this bind is clearly hard to swallow. There are lots of solutions here, but no quick fixes. Changes in infrastructure take time, and political will, which starts with the people, which is all of us. It’s only through feeling the pain of high prices that a lot of us are going to act to push our leaders, and our business communities, to promote greater efficiency, including improvements in mass transit infrastructure. Complaining about the predicament we are in, pretending that we can drill our way out of this situation and continue consuming oil at the rate we are going, and calling the messengers of this reality “elitist”, is a waste of time.

Posted by Jon Wetherbee | Report as abusive

what I find interesting is that we still pay about HALF of what the Europeans pay for gas…I mean if it bothers you so much…buy a car that’s easier on gas..if you can’t afford it…carpool…walk..get off your butt, buy a bicycle. I’m a college masters student…I have a car to drive to far away places to, but I still walk and bicycle to work and class, and neither of those two destinations are close….all it really means is pack some deodorant and wake up earlier to get where you’re going..click my link, you’ll enjoy my piece on gas prices.

No one has yet mentioned how messed up Nascar is and how much the sport of auto racing is wrong for a country trying to conserve fuel. Maybe Nascar is sacred and I am the antiChrist for suggesting such a notion.

Posted by Tim Liao | Report as abusive

Ha! How interesting.

Many people are living in a dream world where they evidently think that reduced carbon dioxide emissions and conservation actually matter to folks out there in the USA who are struggling just to get back and forth to a job right now.

Wake up please and realize that even though all of that is quite noble and necessary to some extent, it isn’t helping middle-class America keep food on the table and it SURE isn’t keeping Big Oil from making record profits.

As for Europe, they have much higher salaries than we do and their taxes are used for many public transportation projects and a host of other things like socialized health care so thats bull as well.

High gasoline prices are NOTHING to rejoice about and when people in US cities start riots over food and fuel in the future please…come back and read this post.

Good luck sheeple. Its disgusting what I see America concerned about when your mothers are sleeping in parking lots after losing their homes to variable rate mortgages.

Abolish the Fed, tax Big Oil HARD, curb futures trading with higher trading fees, prosecute banks for predatory lending practices, and impeach that joke of a president we have in office if you want to help the world.

This article hit the nail on the head. For those of you not realising that life as you know it is coming to an end, please consult websites like:
http://www.energybulletin.net
http://www.theoildrum.com
We can still turn the ship around. But time is getting preciously short.

Posted by Poul Andreasen | Report as abusive

I am not happy about high gas prices, nor was I happy about them when they hit $2.50 per gallon. That is why for the past year I have been driving a Plug-In Hybrid that gets over 100mpg. I plug-in using just 4kwh (60cents) of Clean Domestic Wind Energy to offset the amount of Dirty Foreign Oil I have to use.
What I am trying to do is to take myself and my family out of the Oil industries “Consumer for Life” program as much as possible.
I now enjoy gas free weekends while driving my family around in a five passenger car.
When are you going to join me?

Are you crazy? Some folks cannot make it now, and you want gas prices to go higher?

Posted by David Wade | Report as abusive

I couldn’t agree more with James MacCrossman.
Every time this subject comes up with these environmentalists, Europe always somehow gets into the story line whether its gas or politics. This country was started to get away from the Europe mentality and now they want us to go back to it, what elitist snobs.
The American spirit was born of the ability to move about the country in an economical way when and where we wanted. It’s what has made us unique in the world. We have cut pollution dramatically in the last 20 years but other countries have not (India, China, Russia etc.) could it possibly have more to do with anti-capitalism than with the environment, me thinks so.
We don’t have to get off oil because of co2 (greatest hoax ever pulled on the world) but because we can’t be dependent on countries who want to see us dead.
Maybe it is time for the West Coast and East Coast to give our country back and move to their heaven on earth Europe.
A fellow luddite.

Posted by B. Miller | Report as abusive

The price of gas keeps going up and up. Now we see that food prices are also going up because it costs money to produce and haul food to it”s destination. Food staples like wheat, rice and corn are getting expensive and fuel costs are partly to blame for this. It”s a vicious circle. Do the gas companies really think this will not come back to bite them. As public trust of oil companies continues to diminish, they may find they could be facing a strong consumer backlash. It”s true they hold the oil and gas but we hold the dollar and remember, it ain”t called the almighty dollar for nothing.

Oil companies sell gas and carmakers sell cars that use gas so it’s a mutually beneficial situation for both of them. The solution is to stop buying new cars for a year until carmakers start building 100% electric or hydrogen powered cars, not hybrids. This would send a message to both the carmakers and oil companies that they understand. Sorry carmakers but you brought this on yourself by not speeding up the conversion. No pain no gain. Problem solved. Visit our website and take our gas price poll at http://www.nbtv.ca

The results of the poll on NBTV indicate 76% of the public believe that the gas companies are fixing gas prices. 93% believe they are price gouging. 68% believe the gas companies and carmakers conspired to prolong our dependence on gas powered cars. 53% believe the gas companies and government conspired to keep the price higher than normal and sofar our new trust poll it shows that 100% of respondence DO NOT TRUST the oil companies. These are all the results up till now 12:49 pm Sunday May 18, 2008 You can check out the results yourself on http://www.nbtv.ca if you like

This is a big SCAM…tell me something..how can price of something could increase by 400% in 3 years….you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to tell that some people are making big money and noboby can point why….they blame developing world for increase in consumption but if you see the numbers, world consumption has not increased by big margin….
This is what I think is happening…when price of oil is high these big refenires reduce production to help the price go even more highr…when the price is lower they increase the production to make more profit…I might be wrong but I would be happy if someone can bring things to normal….

Posted by HP | Report as abusive

It is distressing that people are essentially having propriety hit them in the pocket books to tell them that the american dream is a sham. This is going to cause a lot of grief all over the world before it is finished.

There are three reasons why gas prices are going up so fast:

-Supply: The world is running out of cheap oil. Peak oil is part myth and part reality. There will be oil for a very long time, but we have tapped all the easy-to-use stuff. The rest is in hard-to-access locations. Oil shale, Tarsands, deep sea, wildlife refuges, and the like. Oil is getting harder to make: price goes up.

-Demand: 6.666 billion people now want to have 2 cars, 2.5 kinds, a 4 bedroom ranch, a picket fence and all the fixings. The natural resources to supply this to the worlds population simply do not exist. And then we keep having more babies… More people bid for oil: price goes up.

-Inflation: We have been outsourcing our jobs to foriegn countries for years, then sending those countries our money to buy the things we used to make at home. Now those countries have lots of american dollars to buy oil with, and well paid workers who want it. At the same time, we’re printing more money to pay them. This decreases the value of the dollar on the world market because the USA is not making anything (besides weapons, video games, and movies) that the rest of the world wants. A dollar buys less oil: price goes up.

The price of oil is going up because your money is increasingly worthless and there are ever more people who want an ever decreasing resource.

Things will never be as they were before.

Gas will never again be cheap.

Food will never again be cheap.

We need to change, or we will all be doomed.

I’m an American expat living in Tokyo. Things are getting a bit pricier and gloomier here as well, but what’s going on back in the U.S. is shocking.

Mass transit here so efficient that a lot of people (myself included) opt out of owning car. Not only that, it is *standard* for employers to reimburse travel costs to and from the office — I don’t spend a dime commuting to work. On weekends, all our shopping is at local stores within walking distance.

Someone above mentioned insurance; I pay less than half what I was in the U.S. to keep me and my family insured in the national insurance system *and* supplemental plans that even return a percentage of our premiums for the year. I’m not on some fat expat package either: I’m a penny-pinching, medium-income office worker.

The fact I had to move to a place as “expensive” as Tokyo because I couldn’t afford to raise my family in the U.S. anymore boggles my mind.

Somebody needs to fix America, because it looks to me like something is seriously broken.

Posted by Jack | Report as abusive

I do not believe that gas price increases will change many habits. The people who buy and drive SUVs, Hummers, and other gas guzzlers can generally afford the gas they put in. To afford such cars, one probably has enough to feed it and does not worry much about a budget. The price increase, instead, damages those who can’t afford gas. Yes, the increasing prices will affect those people who are tight for money, but the largest of the consumption problems come from those who are still unmoved by the rapid increase. What we need to start looking at is alternative fuels, more sustainable methods, and possibly some government regulation on what kinds of cars we have on the roads. I mean, who really needs a Hummer in a city?

Posted by Clay | Report as abusive

All the mess started by the baby boomers.The spoiled generation did not know how to use resources effectively.Its a domino effect you live in east ,west or midwest doesnot matter.We have been using all our natural resourses at a speed greater than nature can reproduce.Also all city county and government workers are abusing big time running around,ideling and not doing much work.Bush has done agreat job teaching Americans a lesson.Those who dont know how to walk will learn after few stumbles.If you dont know how to live within your means remember Bush He is the Master Teacher.Remember no child left behind no American either

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

This Erik Kirschbaum must be a person who is not in touch with reaity, or cares about his fellow man. If he cannot get out in rural America and see what these high gas prices are doing to our economy and businesses of America. Some air lines have already went out of business. These high fuel prices are cutting into most businesses revenue, except for the Big Oil Companies who are making BILLIONS of dollars in profits. This is a shame and disgrace to our working people of this nation, who are so many now getting laid off. Brazil about to come on line next year could be the next Saudia Arabia. Oil field in the midwest, Alaska, Gulf, and on the coast, that could be even bigger than Saudia Arabia, not to mention Canada, who is finding new oil fields. The price of oil is nothing but big oil companies and governments gouging the prices up. This nonsense has to come to a end very soon before our economy is destroyed more than it is right now. This is really hurting the average Americans.

Posted by Granny | Report as abusive

Well, Mr. Kirschbaum, as you travel along in your little car that gets stupendous gas mileage in your state of elation over gas prices I suggest that you think about something.

Many of the people being hurt the worst by high oil prices are the very ones who work from dawn until after dark to put food on your table.

We are the ones living in rural America where it’s often a necessity to drive 30 miles or more just to go to town for supplies. We are the ones who don’t have the options of public transportation, and even if we did how would we transport a week or a month’s worth of supplies on public transit?

Do you happen to have children, Mr. Kirschbaum? I do (although not very many at all), and it’s everything we can do just to keep a roof over their heads, nourishing food in their tummies and used clothes on their backs. We have no money for eating at restaurants or going to a movie. The only form of entertainment we haven’t cut yet is our internet service.

I agree, something must be done to conserve fuel and alternatives need to be found. However, in the meantime, there are many of us who still need to get from one paycheck to the next. A person can only cut back so far to make up the extra costs before there is no more to cut. We’ve already reached that point.

Posted by AgWife | Report as abusive

WHY AMERICA IS DEPENDENT ON FOREIGN

FOREIGN TAX CREDITS

In 1977 Representative Benjamin Rosenthal of New York produced secret Internal Revenue Service documents going back to 1950. They showed that the tax laws of Saudi Arabia were drafted with the help of Aramco to call the added price of oil not a “royalty” or “cost of doing business,” as was proper, but an income tax.” The Saudis did this knowing that income tax paid to a foreign country is deductible from the income taxes an oil company pays the United States on all income received in the United States by the parent firm. From Pgs 61-64 The Media Monopoly by Ben H. Bagdikian 5th edition

“Since that time the major multinational U.S. oil companies have paid hardly a penny of U.S. income tax on their foreign income.” page130 Banks Borrowers and the Establishment

INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENT

The United States agreed to transfer jobs and technology to developing countries under the Algiers Declaration in March of 1975:

A major portion of the planned or new petrochemical complexes, oil refineries and fertilizer plants be built in the territories of OPEC Member Countries with the co-operation of industrialized nations for export purposes to the developed countries with guaranteed access for such products to the markets of these countries. [sections 10-11]

HOW TO DECLARE INDEPENDENCE

SYNTHETIC FUEL FROM COAL

Oil was $127 a barrel recently.

Germany fought WWII with synthetic gas from coal. America, with 1/3rd of Earth’s coal, can be energy independent for an estimated $55 a barrel, including the infrastructure and labor force necessary to operate plants. It is proven technology. Visit http://governor.mt.gov/hottopics/faqsynt hetic.asp

Synfuels are cleaner burning than gasoline and they do not increase the cost of food by diverting corn to ethanol.

Furthermore, reducing our trade imbalance keeps jobs in America. Every billion of trade deficit costs 13,000 jobs. $400 billion for oil last year: do the math.

And we stop sending billions to countries that sponsor terrorism.

Posted by Michael Lewis | Report as abusive

I’m going to laugh once these high fuel prices prompt some new and cheap energy alternate that makes gasoline obsolete. The big oil companies are pricing themselves out of business. They had a good thing going, but they’ve gotten greedy. Where is the next “Bill Gates” of alternative energy? We’re waiting for you…

Posted by Danno | Report as abusive

I would like to point out a fundamental fact please. Oil is a finite commodity. The reality, is that by most estimations, the world will not be running out of economical oil reserves (given improving recovery technology and rising prices) for quite some time, it is not an inexaustible resource and as such, should be priced in a way that makes consumers understand that. The idea that oil, and gasoline (an refined product), should be abundant and cheap is not economically sound. The costs facing oil producers are rising as quickly and alarmingly as the price of Brent. Not to say that they are struggling in the current environment, but that the cost of oil must rise accordingly. Oil companies are not public services, and such, will not continue to operate in a world where the price of oil does not justify its extraction, plain and simple. What we, as consumers must do, is to take a long hard look at our consumption trends (yes, I’m speaking to you Mr. Three Hummers) and take proactive action to curb such excesses that pinch the market. Only in this fashion can we hope to normalize the oil markets, and yes, the P/bbl.

Posted by Chris Bellman | Report as abusive

What’s the big deal? A high fuel price is the best possible incentive to conserve. Necessity is the mother of invention.

Posted by Robert S | Report as abusive

I really don’t understand some of you rationalist environmentalists. You are constantly telling us that we need to reduce CO2 emmisions to save the earth, and saying that we can all see the effects of global warming. You ask me, I don’t see any changes at all with global warming. It’s just a big media thing to get some genius somewhere thinking of a magical solution to the problem, like air powered cars or something. I think that it’s just being rushed too much. The majority of the geniuses out there who might know what to do may be being forced out of their homes right now because of this. If you take that stand you realize that this may be damaging the environment more than it is “saving” it. Before you say that this is a good thing, show us some research that is making progress in our lifetime. I am going into the research field myself. If I knew what we were working on, I might have some ideas myself. The only problem is, I’ve only heard complaints. A solution, even one in progress is something worthwhile. Right now, we don’t have anything. The battery on the hydro-car causes tons of polution when it is made. Great solution there guys!

Posted by Daniel M | Report as abusive

I’ve just filled my car in Sweden where petrol costs SEK 13 a litre, or about $2.20. That’s $7.70 a US gallon.
The political and business reaction in the US and UK seems to be blame OPEC for not pumping enough to supply demand, and the public are latching on to that. But what if they can’t? Ask yourselves that question. Then ask government and business about their plans to handle THAT situation if it turns out to be true.

Posted by Paul | Report as abusive

Not to sound really stupid, but where is this mass public transportation? Seriously, the last bus I rode was in grade school. I am 23 years old getting married in two weeks, I admit, I have a half ton pick up truck that gets 20 miles to the gallon, where my fiance has a car that gets close to 30 mpg that I should be driving, but I have a job that requires a truck for the most part. I am already car pooling, and as for public transportation, I live in a rural area, there isn’t any jobs local, you have to drive an hour minimum. Yes I could move, whats the point, I couldn’t afford to sell my home and buy a new one, and no for those of you thinking dont buy a huge home, I dont have a big house, very small and cramped but who can afford to be happy and pay for what they really want. I wont lie I make very decent money for the area I live in, but the problem is what every middle to lower class folks face just like me, lets take a house payment, insurance, vehicle payment, vehicle insurance, doctors bills, groceries, gas, and utilities, hell who can afford to do anything else. No matter if I drive my truck or my fiance’s car I spend more money in a month driving back and forth to work while car pooling than I do on any payment I have or groceries. What about my upcoming marriage, it is almost to the point now that I worry about money, we both have great paying jobs, but what about people younger than me, what about when it is time for them to get married? How is anybody going to make it through life, even on a combined salary, gas will still be going up, oil changes will go up, intrest rates (lets not go there). I know we all bicker about what goes on today in society, but what about what happens in the future, what kinda life do we want to leave for the next generation. I know parents always worry for their children, but the U.S. is almost to the point where it is almost a crime against humanity to bring a newborn into the world. If you are single, or married and you are barely getting by, what about when you through children in the mix. With gas prices so high, who can afford to take families on vacation. Who can take children on those little weekend get aways where you go to a musuem or civil war site, or some historical site to better their knowledge of the world or theire heritage. I know I have complained about more than just gas prices here, but when you really think about it, doesnt everything relate around gas. Honestly, I heard gas could get to 6 dollars by the end of the summer, to be quite truthful, I would rather quit my job, and live off the government, (no offense to anyone), I mean what is going to happen when folks are working and not even making enough money to cover fuel. What happens to the rest of the bills in the households?

Posted by Jeremy | Report as abusive

Before all of you start comparing the price of gas in Europe to the U.S. you need to realize one thing. The price of raw gas in Europe is about the same as it is here. One reason it is so much higher at their pumps is because their governments tax it at a much higher rate than ours does. That money is then used to pay for things like health care, college, day care etc. things this country does not provide for its citizens. So to say a gallon of gas is $7.00 in Europe compared to $4.00 here is a misnomer as the extra money goes to pay for things their citizens don’t have to pay for but we do. So technically we pay about the same price, that is if you have health insurance, pay for college and have day care, etc.

Posted by Emily | Report as abusive

[...] in pain, high gas prices put smiles on the faces of environmentalists Share ItDiggdel.icio.usFacebookRedditStumbleUp on Email It gas prices • hybrids • [...]

HP,

“This is a big SCAM…tell me something..how can price of something could increase by 400% in 3 years….”

Ummmm…The cost of housing in California?

Posted by Nancy | Report as abusive

Alright.. I’m not understanding this guy.. for most of you people writing we are the United States we are not all the other countries so frankly I don’t believe that we are wrong for not wanting to pay high gas prices. I am also all about conserving I am one of those people who take forever to go from 0-60 but I live in the middle of no where in Pennsylvania because it’s the only place my family could afford. The only good jobs that pay over $8 an hour are in northern jersey, so my father commutes 72 miles to work each way. He leaves at 2 in the morning so I highly doubt there are a few buddies he can gather to carpool with and we selling our home and moving is easier said and done. Americans have bills, families and responsibilities. Our paychecks are not going up, but yet everything else is. I’m happy you can breath better while my family starves because we need to chose between fuel and food. Environmentalists need to push more on fuel alternatives then just rising gas prices, I’d love for them to take a step in the lower/middle class peoples lives. I’m happy they can all afford their Toyota prius’ .. while I drive my 1986 Chevy Caprice Classic… Consider other people.. it’s not that easy

Posted by Kimberly | Report as abusive

Europe uses oil not Gas $7 bucks less 30% for increased millage = 4.90 US and they get health care.

Posted by stan | Report as abusive

I only drive to work and to get groceries at the moment. Here in my southern city there is very little mass transportation and the Temps and humidity make traveling by Bicycle risky. Even if you arrive alive your soaking wet . Don’t think the boss would like that.

Posted by Brian | Report as abusive

If truckers stop delivering toilet paper to washinton &
wallstreet. You will see a change in oil prices.
sometimes you have to put the pressure where it belongs!

Posted by terence giblin | Report as abusive

What if diesel gets so expensive that no one can afford to ship toilet paper any more? OMG!!!

Posted by Darren | Report as abusive

Bottom line here is we all need to do whatever we
can to reduce our consumption. Some of the steps needed range are merely inconvenient (biking, carpooling, or taking mass transit, instead of driving, wherever possible). Others are difficult (moving closer to work, paying higher taxes for mass transit, trading in your gas guzzler for a smaller, more efficient car). Some people will not be able to make the adjustment, and I think it’s reasonable to find a safety net to help these people through the transition. What I think is not reasonable for us to focus our attentions on enabling ourselves to consume gas at anywhere close to the current rate. The problems with consuming oil at our current rate are in many of the posts above.

No one should have been blindsided by the eventual demise of our cheap-fuel culture/economy. Those of us who have left ourselves unprepared have a hard reality to face, and I support some sort of safety net during this transition. The longer we postpone moving to a more fuel-efficient society, though, the harder the adjustment is going to be for all of us. It’s never easy to change this ship’s course, but the sooner we bite the bullet on this, the better. If high gas prices finally spur us to action, then we’re all better off in the long run, because difficult as it is now, it would be even worse, or worse for more of us, if we wait even longer.

Posted by Jon Wetherbee | Report as abusive

You want a comment, I’l give you one. To steal a phrase from Dr. Savage “Liberalism is a mental disorder”. The NO bunch are stopping everything- Why can’t we progress? We need oil, gas nuclear energy, road and rail systems improved-the list goes on and on. The greatest country, is reduced to it’s citizens shivering in their houses at night and unable to afford the gas to get to work. Why? We are held hostage by the liberal extremist environmentalists, who are gleeful to see high gas prices such as the above article, who think we should try driving the clown cars as we navigate the super highways competing with trucks. Nothing wrong with pushing to change the technology but a crash program won’t work without destroying the economy. What is wrong with you people? We are certainly able to drill for oil in our own country and still be aware and caring of environmental concerns. If those that built America said no, where would we be. Here’s my comment : storm Washington tell them you have had enough. This is no time for a crash course in gasless cars. Last, all you bon vivant Europe lovers- go live there.

Posted by streetfighter | Report as abusive

I dive a 2007 Mini Cooper S. I just drove over 1100 miles @ 67/Mph and was able 2 get over 40mpg. as i was driving i noticed everyone even the Big Semi Trucks that have been complaining about gas prices, and threating to go on strike, blowing me off the highway. so until everyone decides to slow down and trade there grocery getting 4X4′s and there urban crawling SUV’s in for something smaller then i have no sympathy for them. -CoryB.

Posted by CoryB | Report as abusive

ok,

whoever loves high gas prices can walk to work!! unlike real people we have jobs and time issues. i agree that we are killing our earth by the pollution. But thats life. i am poor and well who’s rich nowdays living in san diego. due to the current gas prices i lost my place and was forced to live out my car. i have a 92 buick roadmaster 5.7 v-8 and i have a 88 civic dx hatch 1.5 liter v-6. i had to buy 2 cars due to rising gas prices. so when you think about it. now im burring twice as much gas because i cant afford the gas in my v8 but i still drive it too. if gas prices were reasonable people wouldnt be killing eachother. stealling gas from pumps and cars. less roberies and a more happy california. so im suppose to ride public transportation? why? to get stabbed and shot again? no thank you. there are a lot of wakos out there and i depend on myself. gas should be pre paid and well we should get discounts for low income falilies like myself and the other millions of people out here suffering cuz gas providers know that we HAVE to drive. they can raise it to 100 dollars a gallon and we would still pay. thats b/s!!!! I SAY NO TO HIGH GAS PRICES AND IT CAUSING MORE CRIME AND FRAUD. I dont drive! only to work and back BECAUSE THATS ALL I CAN AFFORD!! our nation will crumble soon and fall apart. oh yah ps. ITS BUSHES FAULT!!

I understand where Erik is coming from. I am from Germany and have lived here for almost 9 years. Although I love this country and love to live here, there are a few areas where I am struggling getting used to. I can’t just use my bicycle to run to the store 1.5 miles away to get some milk, as I am afraid for my life riding the bicycle without bike paths or sidewalks in my neighborhood. It also bums me out that I can’t just go for a stroll with my 4 year old without having to drive 4 miles to a park. It is almost impossible in certain areas to incorporate walking and have to pay a membership to a gym in order to exercise to fight obesity (also a huge problem in this country). I could go on and on, but thought I’d rather share this link http://www.storyofstuff.com – you don’t have to be a Liberal and still get a different perspective after seeing this. Best regards, Andrea Paulinelli, CEO

I see where you are coming from. But since the gas prices have gone higher its hard for my family to afford the food prices and make it to work and back everyday. I think that since they raised the gas prices they should raise workers salary so they will be able to provide for their families.

Posted by Ellie | Report as abusive

I love that gas prices are going up. Years ago I purposely moved to a neighborhood close to my work and stores. I’ve ridden a bike to work for over ten years (for economic reasons to begin w/ since we had to pay to park). The higher the prices go up the more we’re going to see a change in attitude in the way people commute, where they live (closer to cities, and give the country back to farmers), and a change in our infrastructure (more commuter trains for the midwest/south). Perhaps items being hauled go back on the trains instead of individual trucks tearing up our freeway and making it dangerous to drive our small cars. There really is a silver lining to all this, but change can be painful.

Posted by Sandy | Report as abusive

People who think that one aswer fits all are being extremely short sighted. We need to take a broad approach to the problem starting with drilling our own oil. Those states that have prohibited drilling off of their shores should pay more for fuel than those that take on the burden for the country. If you take a real look at the cuase of rising pricies it has to do with speculation in investing. We should build up our own infastructure, find a better alternative than corn based ethanol, and divert some of the research money into energy storage. Batteries are the real limitation to solar and wind energy. Next time you are at the store take a look at the label. You will see some sort of corn based product in most processed food…a fact that is personal to me since my mother is allergic to corn. Next time you are at the resturant think about where that food comes from…in many cases, not only is it trucked in by Sisco but the containers it came in are lined with corn starch to keep it from sticking. I understand that people are both frustrated and passionate but let’s be logical. By the way, where is the frustration with the hypocrisy of the elites and their lifesytles?

Posted by Ted | Report as abusive

To all the people that say they are glad for prices to go up obviously you are living in a fantasy world. I live 30 to 40 minutes from work, according to traffic. I built my house 11 years ago for around 70, now a comparable house nearby is 100 to 170. If I move closer to work it is either apartment living or 250 to 350 for a house that may or may not be smaller than what we live in now. Trade off: $400 a month in gas or $1000+ a month to live closer to work. MMMMMMM…. Also who wants to live in the city? I would rather visit New York or LA than live there. Traffic, smog, crime. Who needs it. I also lease about 30 acres to raise farm animals on so not to lose perspective on where I came from. I make a small profit, but it sure would be nice to just be able to buy my own plot of land and raise livestock fulltime, but guess what who can afford 100 acres of land nowadays? Why can’t somebody come up with a happy median? Recently Al Gore was asked about driving his SUV and the eletric bill for his mansion and the jet he flies in since he is such the environmental man. He said he offsets by buying carbon credits. Oh that is fine and dandy for someone who has the money to do that. Guess that leaves a lot of the rest of us out in the cold, but buying credits doesn’t solve the problem one bit. My family owns 3 vehicles: a truck for work and farm use-20MPG, mini-van 24+MPG and a small car 35+MPG. What else do you idiots want me to do? Pay an extra 10 grand for a hybrid or eletric car. Enough today. People like the author just upset me since they obviously don’t have a clue about the majority of americans and the hardships we face. We turn off lights, we drive as little as possible, we recycle as we can.

Posted by Allen Durichek | Report as abusive

To be honest, global warming isn’t directly on my mind. There are two issues that concern me more.

First, just look at the picture posted and see the air. Now think about that, air is something that we should breathe, not see. Look at the increasing stats around child asthma rates and correlate that with the driving habits of Americans.

The second concern is that we are now living in an energy driven world economy. This has created a serious imbalance in the world and will further widen the gap between rich and poor. It will also push more middle class people into a category of working poor.

Yes I agree that conservation is important. I live on Long Island (where people say you need to drive alot for shopping, etc.) and I drive about 6,000 miles per year. I use every opportunity to take public transportation, including bus transport for my children in school (which is rare in my area since most kids are driven to school). I recycle, reuse as much as possible and quite frankly I believe that I am also saving money along the way.

People in the mid-west and other parts of the USA do not have the availablity of transport that I do.

My big issue here is that even if all of us do as much as we can, there will still be a gap and we will still have a serious imbalance.

The Federal government has dragged its feet on this for quite some time. We have no real leadership in this area and certainly no thought leadership in government.

Remember that the real story isn’t just about gasoline nor about driving, it is all about what I have termed “farmable energy”.

Let’s get this discussion going in a broader sense, but also there are so many things we can do to improve the situation.

And the Gore’s Carbon Credits. All carbon credits does is to move the problem around, it doesn’t go away just gets passed around.

Posted by Tom | Report as abusive

Yes, I also agree with most of what was posted by James McCrossman. However, their are solutions to the problem of high gasoline prices… that most of haven’t considered. Agreed, the green-heads’ control of the environment is an issue that could be dealt with in a straight-forward, simple, realistic approach. Raise hell with your governments, state and federal, who allow themselves to be pushed around by the fantasies of the greens. Most of us respect, and cherish, our environment… and accept reasonable, common-sense, regulations to preserve our natural surroundings.
What really bothers me, is the amount of control the oil companies are able to have over our lives, and on the behavior of our governments. Living on the southern border of western U.S.A., I’ve recently heard that we could cross the border, and fill our gas tanks, for a bit more than half of the cost that we pay in our own country. That tells me that the big oil price increase is a sham, and, quite simply, highway robbery.
I’m a long-time conservative who dislikes socialistic interferences in our economy, and in our free enterprise way of life. However, when private financial interests torture us with unreasonable control of our access to basic survival products… it is time for the government to take an interest in protecting the citizens whom they are supposed to represent. Such is the case with the oil industry that seems to have much more influence on our government, than we who are common citizens.
How about examining some options that we have available, here in the U.S.A.? Have you heard of the immense oil field in the north central states? There is, from information that has been recently revealed, a block of four states… North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and eastern Montana… with extensive oil, and gas, reserves in the oil shale beneath those states. That field extends to the north, into the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta. Some drilling has been going on there, for the past fifty years, but not a large-scale operation. One of the reasons for the minimal exploitation of that oil/gas field, is a shortage of refineries.
This morning, I called the governors’ offices in those four states, and asked to speak to someone in their ‘energy commissions’… regarding ways, through the potential for competition, to convince the oil companies that they should be more consumer-friendly. I never got beyond the receptionists and answering machines, to deliver my suggestion that each of those states should consider building a state-owned refinery, and make an effort to control the price of the products of those refineries. Maybe it would have been better to have used e-mail for communication. In response to my phone calls, each receptionist identified specific state employees who would respond to my calls… but not one of them has done so.
Next, I’ll try the state government websites… maybe that will work better. Do you suppose that it might have an effect… if thousands of people let those state employees know that common citizens do exist, and that we expect the support of our hired government employees?

Posted by Carl Nordwall | Report as abusive

What would happen if everyone in the USA did not drive for one day? Could it make a difference? Let’s say everyone who owns a car, truck or SUV not drive on 08/08/08. We could ride a bike, work from home, or at least carpool. If you had to drive, make sure you carpool and only go where you have to go such as work. I bet it would sent a message to oil companies that we are sick of $4.00 plus for a gallon of gasoline.

Posted by Lisa | Report as abusive