Archive for Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Higher gasoline prices not all bad

May 15, 2007

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Well, perhaps there is still hope that Americans will do something about their suicidal love affair with gas-guzzling cars, the country will reduce its addiction to foreign oil, global warming will slow down and there will be peace on earth.

Judging from the unprecedented reader response to my earlier column, "Record gasoline prices great news for U.S.," (www.andresoppenheimer.blogspot.com) in which I said that gasoline prices should rise above $4 a gallon to trigger a nationwide uproar that will force Washington to get serious about reducing America's dependence on foreign oil, there are many more Americans than I thought who share this view.

I argued that unless gasoline prices cross the $4 a gallon barrier, and Americans get really mad about it, Washington will not get serious about reducing toxic emissions that worsen global warming, and the United States will continue financing Middle Eastern and South American petro-autocrats whose megalomania grows in direct proportion to the rise of oil prices.

I based my argument on the fact that, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration figures, the share of light trucks and SUVs has soared from 19 percent of all U.S. vehicles in 1975, to about 50 percent today, and are projected to reach 52 percent in 2015. If current trends continue, the United States will import 61 percent of the oil it consumes by 2030. And U.S.-funded petro-dictators will grow bolder, and there will be more of them.

The avalanche of e-mails started immediately after the column appeared. The first day, there were an unprecedented 119,908 page hits on The Miami Herald's Web site page and hundreds of e-mails.

According to The Miami Herald's Web site editor, Casey Frank, the column had already gotten the second largest number of page views this year on The Miami Herald's Web site, after a profile of Larry King, and it's likely to surpass it this weekend.

Most amazing, judging from those who sent e-mails or posted comments on my blog, was that most of the responses were positive. There were three groups of comments:

¢ Those who applauded the idea (more than 40 percent). Said reader Doug Sattler, "I couldn't agree ... more with your position. As long as we Americans insist on driving these gas hogs, we will never become energy independent." Added reader Barry Creed, "Outstanding article. As to who funds terrorism, all we need to do is look in the rear-view mirror."

¢ Those who said, "yes, but" (about 30 percent). Said reader Rick Leslie, "Interesting column - but definitely written by an elitist. I doubt that $4 a gallon gas will have any more of an uproarious effect than $3 gas did last summer - resulting in less than the desired effect you seek on lawmakers. In the meantime, average people, even if they drive Camrys, they will have far less money to spend on clothes and food for their families."

¢ Those who uttered insults not fit to print (nearly 30 percent). One of the most civilized ones said, "You are a stupid socialist bastard. Global warming, where?" Another one said, "What an idiot you are: Gas prices are high right now because we have a shortage of refineries - More U.S. offshore drilling will also reduce the price and the need of foreign oil."

A third critic wrote, "Did it ever occur to you that the environmental movement is responsible for such dependence on foreign oil and propping up of dictators? All that is needed is to abolish the U.S. government restrictions on domestic energy production inspired by the environmentalist movement."

My conclusion: Majority support for the idea that it may take higher gasoline prices for Americans to switch to more fuel-efficient cars - and stop poisoning the atmosphere and funding petro-dictators. It means that Americans are beginning to realize that many of the country's foreign policy problems are self-inflicted.

And, judging from the intensity of the responses, it means that presidential candidates for next year's election will have to listen. If gas prices reach $4 a gallon and stay there through Election Day, it will be one of the top campaign issues, and today's pain will be tomorrow's gain. There's hope!

- Andres Oppenheimer is a Latin America correspondent for the Miami Herald. His e-mail address is aoppenheimer@miamiherald.com.

Comments

prioress 8 years ago

Good point: Get it to $4 or so and keep it there. Tax the heck out of it to pay for the BS war Dumbya started to feed his macho genes. Use the income to pay down the debt after the war is over. The way we are going, our kids and grandkids may have to kill us to save the country and the world.

drederick_tatum 8 years ago

YEAH thats a great idea!!! Hell why not make it 5 dollars a gallon? Because those corpies need more and more of our precious hard-earned money they need to soak it all up like a sponge. Minimum wage is going up to 7.25, we gotta make sure the gas prices all go up a few dollars too so the 5 Families can keep beating all the normal people down.

Actually $5 isn't nearly enough now that there's "tension" with Iran and Hugo closed the one Citgo in Lawrence. Even tho we haven't bought a drop of oil off Iran since 1979, even though the gas nazis don't even make excuses for ripping us off anymore, and all do it in unison, and even tho new technologies in the last 20 years allow us to extract 5-6 times MORE oil than we originally thought we could from most places, and even tho next to Saudi Arabia and Russia we have more oil then any other country on the planet INCLUDING Iraq Iran and all the other Arabs, the corporate gas nazis and their puppet politicians can raise the price to $20 a gallon if they want to. Why not?

drederick_tatum 8 years ago

It could STILL be under 2 dollars if they wanted it to. It could still be under a buck 50 even. There is NO REAL REASON for them to jack up the prices. Its all based on a bunch of confusing corporate crap that no one gets with "speculators" and "futures" and a whole bunch of other shenanigans that are part of their huge pyramid scheme. Why haven't we taken out Iran? Is Ahminejad somehow less dangerous than Saddam (who denied having nukes and didn't have them) when he wants to wipe out the Jews and says their nuke program is a runaway train, and subscribes to an apocalyptic form of Shia whose goal is to bring Doomsday so a 5-year old kid named the 12th imam will respawn and establish an Islamic world state? That should be GREAT for causing "tension" and giving the gas nazis an excuse to raise prices a few more bucks. Even the Saudis don't wanna keep up this scheme, their more worried about Iran than we are at this point.

drederick_tatum 8 years ago

If these so called Christian conservatives really were trying to follow Jesus's example, they wouldn't be swindling our whole country with this ridiculous bullsh!ite and infesting our government with rich corrupted lying white collar criminals. Jesus didn't simply die for your sins you know he was arrested for breaking merchandise of all things. The high rabbis were trying to turn the temple into a shopping mall, and Jesus didn't like rich people trying to control everything ESPECIALLY synagogues. Stop hiding behind your religion and start following it

cdc 8 years ago

when I bought my car about a year ago, my Number One consideration (beyond price, comfort, anything) was Miles Per Gallon. And although i am NOT happy nor satisfied with my 37 MPG, it was, literally, the best i could do within my price range.

When I decided where I lived, my NUMBER ONE consideration was distance from my work/downtown. And so, I can bike to work in under 15 minutes.

honestly, i'd love to see gas here in the USA as expensive as it is in Europe (i think $7 or $8 per gallon now).

Actually, I'd love to see gas TWICE as expensive as it is anywhere else in the world, considering how ridiculously car-happy we are in this country.

After all, a single American (in the USA) has a greater NEGATIVE impact on the world's ecosystem than a single person anywhere else in the ENTIRE world. We should have to pay for that. (And we will eventually, through not just higher gas prices, but eventually the world's destruction from global warming, etc). Or we just need to look for alternative ways to transport ourselves from place to place.

preebo 8 years ago

Did you know gas is only $.12/gallon in Venezula? My point? Well, the only nations where gasolene is truly cheap is either where it is extracted within that nations borders and/or nationalized. Another example is Iraq, where citizens are paying $.05/gallon. In Europe, you can't find petrol for under $4.24/gallon (Spain). The only reason we have been able to pay so little over the years is that the U.S. Gov't has been subsudizing oil prices for decades (ever since the 1970's). Eventually, if they raise prices enough, demand will wane.

(sidenote) I bought a electric scooter a few months ago, and now I commute to work for about $.10/day

drederick_tatum 8 years ago

Yes we need other fuel sources obviously. But why should all of us normal people have to suffer for the corpies own incompetence? They could have EASILY figured out another way to power a vehicle by now. If we can drive around on the moon and fly planes halfway around the world with a mouse and a joystick we can sure as hell figure out another way to power a vehicle. On Mythbusters they used french fry grease to power a diesel truck and even tho it was less efficient it still worked. But the corpies aren't going to change anything, why would they? They can just pull a price out of their ass and every single American with a vehicle will have to pay it to them at least once a week. Hopefully the Japanese will come up with something I trust them a lot more to move society forward than our five gas corporations, who make billions more every year than every player in the NFL combined and have bought out all our politicians.

drederick_tatum 8 years ago

If the government puts a leash on the gas companies, and says "No way in hell gas should cost this much, you billionaires have enough money now use it or lose it" Then the burden would be on the 5 gas companies to address the problem instead of running their shenanigans. If they couldn't exploit the situation anymore, because someone in gov finally steps up and puts a lid on the gas prices, they will HAVE to find alternate energy sources or eventually not make billions in record profits every year.

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