A Brave New World of Rising Fuel Prices
Call me a pessimist (my wife certainly does), but I don't think fuel is going down in price. Ever. Yes, it will fluctuate periodically. Up a nickel, down two cents. But the gamebook, from this point forward, calls for ever rising fuel prices.
Which sucks to be sure. It's not just the cost of gas at the pump that America has to be concerned with. It's the cost of everything that rises because the cost of gas is going up. That includes building supplies, food, furniture, office supplies, pet food---EVERYTHING.
I know this is a terrible burden for working class families and middle America. In my own family, we're fairly lucky in that I work out of a home office (not a lot of driving) and my wife drives a '74 VW beetle (the best condition beetle you're ever likely to see on the road--I would love it if it only had...air conditioning, which, in the south, is indispensable to everyone but my wife). However, for people who have to commute considerable distances to work, this is an incredible kick in the pants.
However, the long term effects may not be so bad (I have my optimist hat on). Already, the ripple effects can be seen. Sales of gas guzzling SUVs and large trucks are plummeting while Toyota can't keep Prius hybrids on the lot. And, I've read that GM has greenlighted the Chevrolet Volt, an electric plug-in vehicle for production (I think in 2010, and I am personally excited about this car). And people are restricting their driving enough that a measurable decrease in national fuel consumption can be seen.
This second gas shock may be the thing to finally push us in the right direction in terms of developing a national fuel program and getting greener, more efficient vehicles on the road. Think about it. From the 1980's until just about 4 years ago, we enjoyed very low prices on gas. During that same period, average vehicle weight increased by 1000 lbs and average horsepower doubled. The conclusion is obvious. Cheap gas prices did not lead us to conserve or develop efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles. Current developments, however, will. This is the silver lining for what is, without question, a bad situation. But America will adjust and come out stronger for it. And in the end it will be good for a variety of reasons.
One - we don't need to be dependent on foreign oil. This draws us into conficts that we don't really to touch with a ten foot pole. It also causes us to be off-balance strategically and politically.
Two - Being completely dependent on oil puts our entire economy at risk when prices escalate and nations like Saudi Arabia decide to thumb it to us.
Three - Oil is not renewable and is dirty.
Four - Oil is running out and everyone knows it.
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