Monday, May 24, 2004

I Fisk Pete Du Pont
From OpinionJournal - Outside the Box
[I]n spite of what you read in the paper--outrageous gasoline prices entered into Google gets you 15,000 links--its current inflation-adjusted price of $2 a gallon is about its median price over its 85-year existence, and with the exception of the 1980s spike, it has been steadily declining over the decades.
I'm only 20. I've only been driving for 4 years. I've only been paying for my own gas for one year. $2.129 is a lot more expensive than $1.40 a year ago, and it hurts.

Better still, improving technology has increased the number of miles one can drive on a gallon of gasoline, to 22 in 2000 from about 13.5 in the early 1970s . So the cost of gasoline per mile driven has fallen nearly in half, from more than 13 cents to a bit more than seven cents.
My miles-per-gallon in my Saturn has not changed in the past year.

Meanwhile median income for a family of four (in inflation-adjusted dollars) has increased to more than $63,000 today from less than $46,000 in the 1970s.
My income is almost the exact same it was a year ago.

Family income is up, and the cost per mile driven is down, so as a percentage of income, gasoline costs are substantially less and are an economical bargain for all of our families.
I don't know about my family income, but I know I don't have access to it. I also know I'm driving more than I was last summer, and last summer I was not paying for my own gas. Maybe it helps my parents, but not me.

Burning gasoline is very much cleaner than it was 20 years ago too. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, lead emissions have nearly disappeared; carbon monoxide is down 62%, sulfur dioxide 52%, nitrogen dioxide 24% and ground-level ozone (smog) 18%. Cleaner fuel, cheaper fuel and better mileage mean greater access to the things that matter in life. Gasoline-powered cars are a very good thing indeed.
I agree that gasoline-powered cars are a great thing. And it's good that we're doing better with the environment. But, to be perfectly honest, these articles about how "it's not as bad as you think," really doesn't help my wallet any. I want cheaper gas, and I want it now. I also want alternatives to combustion engines, and I want them now. How about we drill in ANWR and put the money saved towards developing alternative fuel sources? Sounds good to me.


Sandals said...

I've read that the inflation-adjusted price of gas today is the same as during much of the 1980s spike. I haven't checked into that, but that seems contradictory to the spirit of the quot-ee's message, even though there's no direct contradiction...

Tanstaafl said...

1) Much of what you're experiencing now is a seasonal spike because more people travel in the summer. Heating oil is more expensive in the winter, gasoline is more expensive in the summer.
2) Your 2003 Saturn probably gets better gas mileage than my 2000 Saturn
3) Exploration of oil is not the primary reason for the relative shortages of gasoline lately. It is more due to outages at refineries that limit the amount of finished gasoline available.
4) A large part of the increase in price is due to the requirement by Connecticut of including more ethanol in the gasoline, which came about in the last year because of health/environmental problems with the MTBE additive.