Existential motherfucker

Funny thing- it’s probably a confluence of events, actually… having just returned from Costa Rica and started life without my dog and all…

but there’s some stuff that is driving me a little bit crazy now that I am back in the Greatest Nation in the World…

1. Gas is $2.65 a gallon for regular unleaded (and gas is cheaper in Georgia than anywhere). This is insane. There was a time when things like Antitrust investigations would be convened at the very thought that an industry was intentionally gouging the American people. But. Well. Oil man in the White House Crawford, and fuck you all. Congress is clearly swimming in a sea of cash from the oil industry to keep them lubed and pliant, and we pay for it. Unbelievable.

2. This is what roads look like in Costa Rica. That’s why everyone drives these. And gas is $1.50 a liter there, so it’s getting up towards $5.00 a gallon. Which is why everyone drives 50 mpg diesels. Duh. On the other hand, roads on the US are like velvet, comparatively, and yet people are driving Excursions and Suburbans. We should be driving these. Or these. As demand decreases, cost approaches zero. This isn’t rocket science.

3. Meanwhile, back at the “ranch…” WTF is going on down there in Crawford? AND WHY IS THE PRESIDENT TAKING A VACATION IN THE MIDDLE OF A WAR?

It a bit shocking to step out of the media echo chamber for thirteen days and then step right back into it. I can’t help but read about Michelle Malkin and ask “Is this for real?” I asked Agent Little Bird today if the Right Wing Noise Machine seemed to him to be on the verge of collapsing under the weight if its own ridiculousness. He didn’t think so.

Maybe it’s just me.

  1. B

    Actually, I think that gas prices going way up might be good for the old US of A. I don’t think 3$ a gallon gas is insane, as you say its below normal for everyone else. Not that I’m eager to start paying big bucks for gas, but I think the car culture is part of the decline of American civilization in some ways. The decentralized car based city is product of our car culture; it has produced suburbia, the walmart megastore, and social isolation. I’d like to see us get away from the individual suburban kingdom mindset, and back to a more community oriented way of life. How about corner stores you can walk to? Houses close together with parks instead of yards? If gas was 10$ per gallon we’d see some serious financial incentives for this kind of thing, and developers would take notice. And we’d see a reduction in the vehicle height/weight arms race that soccer moms are having on our roads.

  2. yeah, I am right there with you. I don’t even know for sure if cities like Atlanta are redeemable in a post-car world. Where would you put stuff?

    I don’t think it’s the price of gas so much that’s insane, it’s the level of duplicity of the government allowing this sort of price fixing to occur. The reason that gas prices are so high in other countries is that it is assumed the driving is a bit of a luxury, so gasoline is taxed. The revenues from those taxes are spent on public transportation.

    I believe we are approaching a window of sorts, where it will be impossible to raise taxes on gasoline because it will be political suicide, since the price of gas is rising so fast now.

  3. B

    Yeh, its interesting in that I heard that in California they are thinking about a road use tax, which would be enforced by some kind of GPS based device. To me a gas tax would make much more sense, but I guess a gas tax is that much of a political hot button. It seems like someone has an idea for an orwellian surveillance system every five minutes these days, I guess its in fashion.

  4. Cool Land Cruiser. I like the fording gear. You’d drown before your car would.

    The GPS tax system probably won’t go anywhere. I wouldn’t mind, as we only drive about 8000 miles a year. I think it was going to start at a particular mileage and go from there. Much moaning and gnashing of teeth has convinced our brave legislators that if they pass this they will have to get real jobs after the next election.

    I think it’s ironic that the richest people in the world whine the loudest about prices the poorest people, and most of the rest as well, have paid for years.

  5. I’m not thrilled to be paying as much as I am for gasoline, especially since one of my jobs requires me to occasionally drive to the far corners of my state.

    On the other hand, if gasoline prices rise enough then people will eventually figure out that it doesn’t really require a 4-ton Megamobile to take the kids to soccer practice and pick up the dry cleaning. I don’t know what the threshold is where auto buyers start making their buying decisions based more on fuel economy than macho panache, but I doubt that $3 per gallon is it. But I’ll bet that if gas were $5 — and it cost $150 to fill up a Suburban — car-buying preferences would shift dramatically.

    I’m more concerned with diesel fuel prices, frankly. Diesel costs as much as or more than premium gasoline, which makes no sense to me since it’s not as highly refined. Since most of the nation’s goods are moved by truck, it’s easy to see that higher diesel prices will fuel inflation (pun intended). Semi tractors get horrible fuel mileage, so even a slight increase in diesel prices causes a big increase in shipping costs. In some parts of California diesel is up to $4 per gallon now. Not good.

    Somewhat along those lines, I’ve been lurking on eBay checking the prices of older Mercedes diesels with the idea of running it on home-brewed biodiesel or waste vegetable oil. I knew one guy who did that with an older Merc and another who burns straight vegetable oil in his Jetta with good results. I like the idea of burning cheap, low emissions fuel, plus it sounds like good gearhead fun.

    A GPS-based road use tax is the silliest thing I’ve heard today. A motor fuel tax _is_ a road use tax, and the idea is that those (larger) vehicles that cause more wear pay more for their upkeep, because they use more fuel and hence pay more tax. How do the GPS-based tax proponents envision collecting road use data from out-of-state visitors?

    And last, the New York Times ran a chart last week that showed the historic price of gas in constant dollars. It’s hit $3 a gallon a couple of times before; right now it’s about where it was in 1982.

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