Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is.    The Honorable Governor of Texas, George W. Bush

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.    Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Gas, and Gasbags

This gas price thing is stirring up a whole lot of debate. Worst in my book is the free market nonsense that such crunches can be best addressed by giving free reign to the monopolists, in the assumption that the value of their product will naturally lead them to search out new sources of oil. "Calm down, everyone, it's not like we haven't had these prices before, adjusted for inflation."

Of course, adjusted for inflation, the median income isn't keeping up with the price of gas, or with the income of such columnists as Patrick McIlheran, who gives us this advice:

So adjust. It's unpleasant - I speak as a minivan owner - but fuel costs had been low for a long time. If politicians need to keep busy, they can rethink rules that reduce competition and supply. They can otherwise let the market work.

Ah, yes, all those pesky rules, written at a time when foolish folk decided that living in a choking brown haze was perhaps not the way to go. Well, it's a post $2.00-a-gallon world out there, the reality is that we have to unshackle those ... well ... that oil company to do it's best, spending a lot of it's own money to flood it's exclusive market with cheap gas.

But ask not what the corporation can do for you, ask what you can do for the corporation. There are important choices to be made by us one and all. Not cumbersome, evil communal decisions, but good old American free market embracing ruggedly individualistic personal decisions, as the op-ed guy wires this in from his den:

The tale is that we're hooked and paying the price.

Speak for yourself. You're hooked if you drive 26 miles to work in a pickup truck. You're less dependent if you take a bus. Some guy who runs his consultancy off a laptop once he walks from his loft to a coffee joint around the corner has you beat either way. Make a choice and pay the price.

"Make a choice and pay a price." And how might that ol' free market be effecting one's choice? Let's look at the county where I work; Lake County, Illinois. The median household income is around $80,000. Jobs in Lake County predominantly line up along the I94 corridor, mainly in the southeastern part of the county. Let's look at the map to see where one might make one's "choice" to locate environmentally responsibly. The numbers are the median home prices in each town.

Now, Highwood is rather a small WC town alongside a former army base, so don't think everyone can move there. In fact, the old base is being converted into half a million dollar townhouses, so the median is likely to rise.

Where do all those $80,000 families live? Well, Mr. McIlheran, they seem to have made the bad choice to locate off the map to the left there, where they are certainly to be the first to pay the price. Miles away. Millions of gallons away.

How very irresponsible of them.

5 Comments:

At 4:51 PM, Blogger JD said...

When I was reading this I came up with the idea to create a bumper sticker that says "Don't blame me, I take the bus."

Then I realized the inherent problem with that.

 
At 2:48 PM, Blogger Bullock said...

Reread that op-ed guy again; "...we're hooked and paying the price."
For a lot of this argument, he has it half-right. Where the jobs are wouldn't matter with efficient mass transit systems and a culture of using them.But,we Americans are different. We take the capitalist path of least resistance, the easiest choices, the most myopic, lazy-eyed short-term vision and the least researched path.
Why? A short history:
Loss of mass transit easements & right-of-ways. Chicago in the 20th century was the rail capital/hub of the U. S. with more rail lines, commuter lines than anywhere else. One by one they have disappeared due to neglect, changing demographics of industry and that most compelling emerging drug--the automobile.On the west coast, in the 1920's, Los Angeles had one of the best mass transits systems around. You could get from Pasadena to the beach in 20 minutes one way for a nickel.Now, it's 3 hours and a tank of gas.Mass transit is history--gone by the wayside. Replaced by the irresistable jones of a fast, new, shiny car, marketed by the cartel of big oil and big auto.Alternative energy? Efficient rotary or diesel engines? Get outta town or we bust your face!
All the right of ways were bought up by real estate developers;another greedy, voracious brand of consumer goods drug dealer.Everybody wants a house and land, right? Gotta have a 3000 square foot house on a 3200 square foot lot for around $3K a month.Don't forget the paraphernalia, er, accessories; new furniture, new car, new kids, etc.

And, we did it to ourselves. Bought right into the hype only to get it home and be disappointed that it wasn't worth the money, wasn't worth the dependence on foreign or anyone's oil, wasn't worth the destruction of the planet and all species for finite, non-renewable fossil-fuel exploration and exploitation.

Just convenient.

 
At 12:26 AM, Blogger JD said...

Makes me want to key an SUV

I still think that someone is going to jail for this. Mark my words. Sometime after Bush (the lessor, as Dad calls him) goes back to Crawford for good some justice department guy will start a Sherman Act investigation. I'm not buying the whole "Katrina knocked out supply..." line. Last time I checked, the Arabs were cutting production voluntarily. We are the ones with all the refineries. Besides, we don't get that much oil from the middle east. It's mostly from Russia, Venezuela, and Nigeria (not to mention, ourselves).

 
At 4:04 PM, Blogger JD said...

I didn't mean Russia, we don't actually get much oil from them, but they produce a lot. No, our top importers of oil are those quasi-french bastards in Canada, and those no good job-stealin mexicans.

Oh, and Iraq is #6 now. But oil had nothing to do with the war, really.

 
At 7:35 PM, Blogger sequoit said...

Hey, easyy on us quasi-French, will ya ;)

 

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