Pump Perspectives

May 21, 2008

The blogosphere is buzzing over the price of gas, which has hit $4 in some places ahead of the busy summer travel season, which kicks off this weekend. A sampling of the commentary:

"On Sunday, for the first time in my life, I paid over $4 for a gallon of gasoline. ... And today, I learned that the $4.09 per gallon I paid makes me the norm for a Chicago-area motorist - the Lundberg Survey says $4.07 per gallon is the average in Chicago, which makes us the most expensive metropolitan area in the continental United States. This is just absurd. What logical reason is there for gasoline to be so expensive? I don't want to hear about other countries where the price of gasoline has been higher than the equivalent of $4 per gallon for so long that they would dream of gas so cheap. Nor do I want to hear about places like Alaska or Hawaii, where basic commodities have to be shipped in and everything costs more. I figure anyone who willingly lives in such an isolated place obviously gets so much pleasure from the locale that they accept higher gas and food costs as the price of living in 'paradise.'"

- Gregory Tejada in chicagoargus.blogspot.com

"I think the question is not 'who's to blame' for $4 gas, but 'why are we upset' by it - and the reason is, we in the U.S. have lived with artificially low gas prices for so long that we're used to using as much as we want. In Europe, gas runs about double what it does here. In many developing nations, a gallon of gas costs two days' average wages. Imagine having to work two days for a gallon of gas! No wonder the middle classes there put families of five on a motorcycle. In the U.S., where the average wage is about $20 per hour, we still only have to work (an average of) 15 minutes for a gallon of gas. My wage is lower than that, and I don't like paying more at the pump, but let's quit whining and get real - drive less, stop buying huge gas-guzzling vehicles, and work from home."

- DJ in env-econ.net

"Liberals think you can't regulate the oil industry enough. If the current onerous regulations aren't producing more refined gas at lower prices, well, then, place a windfall profit tax on the companies and see if that lowers the price of [the] product. If not, hit it with another round of regulations and restrictions on what, where, when and how it can expand output. Repeat ... until the oil companies yell 'Uncle' and go out of business or until no one left in America can afford to put gas in their cars, afford food or any other commodity that must be transported using gasoline products in internal combustion engines, and declare victory in the war on big oil companies."

- Craig R. Harmon in teambio.org

"In the end, hopefully, there will be some good to come out of $4 (or $5, $6, etc.) gasoline. Whether it forces us to reduce our driving, shift toward smaller cars with better fuel economy, force the federal, state and local governments to offer better public transportation, etc., it's clear that expensive gas is going to force significant changes throughout America. While it may hurt (a lot) now ... chances are pretty good we'll be better off in the long haul."

- Brian Carr in dailyfueleconomytip.com

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