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Friday, August 26, 2005

Stop Complaining About Gas Prices. Please.

Lately it's become way too common to hear people whine about how high gas prices are. It's a conversation topic on the level of the weather -- it affects everyone but there really isn't much to say beyond that. Let me explain.

Gas is composed of rotting dead animals. We're running out of them and no new gas is being made. Hence, prices will continue to rise no matter how much you bitch about it.

Folks, prices will be $5 within 2 years so get used to it. As is, we aren't paying very much at all for gas compared to the rest of the world. The national average in Sweden is $5.66 per gallon; in the Netherlands its $6.56. Turkey pays $7.50 per gallon. The reason we pay so much less is because we hardly tax gas at all. This discourages people from taking public transportation and hence makes the environment worse. The benefit from our low tax strategy goes exclusively to the huge oil corporations who see profits rise when consumption rises. The common man in Sweden feels a hit when he pays twice as much for gas, but he also has free healthcare. Further, each of us individually benefits when society benefits. Society unquestionably benefits from fewer people burning fossil fuels and destroying the ozone layer.

High gas prices should make us realize that the price we are paying for gas really isn't the actual cost associated with using gas. The problem with gas prices is that no one is considering the social cost of using gas. The corporations don't need to -- they've passed that cost onto us. And far too often, normal people like you and I don't consider the social costs of using gas because we don't feel it as immediately and directly. High gas prices are the corporations' way of cashing out on the oil market while it still exists. They are getting ridiculously rich at our expense. Once the oil's gone, they'll all be dead anyways. But we can't expect anything less or more from soulless, unregulated corporations -- they will always do anything to help their bottom line. We need to be the agents of change. We need to stop driving gas guzzlers. One way to do this is to attach social stigmas to owning inefficient cars like SUVs. Ridicule your friends for destroying the environment. Mock their gas bill and compare it to yours. Joke about how their giant car portends a small something else. Another, more serious, way of saving money on gas is using less. Take public transportation to work and school. Don't drive 2 blocks; walk.

Of course, we all want to prevent the day where no one can drive because gas is $20 per gallon and the corporations give us no other options for energy. We need to conserve gas drastically while simultaneously developing a detailed action plan for weaning our dependence on it. President Gore likely would have made significant progress in this area; George Bush certainly hasn't.

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