9th Oct 2008, 11:32

How does it follow that if everybody had a 30 mpg car, gas would only be $2/gallon? The oil companies will charge whatever the market will bear. It's just as valid to say that if everybody had a 30 mpg car, then gas would be $5/gallon.

The economic woes will knock SUVs off the road for those who can't afford them. Those that can afford them will continue to drive them. Either way, it's not your choice.

9th Oct 2008, 17:08

Yes, let's explore the issue of responsibility. Is it only to use less gasoline, or is it part of a larger economic picture? Are we trying to preserve gasoline for some reason, even though it is an inefficient technology that should be replaced? Do we have a responsibility to not go into debt and further drag down the economy? Is it high gasoline consumption or unbridled debt that has caused the economic meltdown?

I live 11 miles from work, and drive an older vehicle that gets 15 mpg +/- 1 mpg. I chose to live as close to work as possible expressly for the purpose of saving gasoline, and bought a more expensive house just to be closer to work, knowing that I would make up the difference in gasoline after just a few years. In driving this older car to work, I put 5,700 miles per year on the car and use about 381 gallons of gasoline per year. How about the average daily one-way commute of 45 miles, which even with a 30 mpg car uses 780 gallons of gasoline per year? Tell me, who is using less gasoline? Which is the more environmentally and economically responsible life decision?

Should I buy a hybrid? Should I get a loan to buy a new 35 mpg car? Should I buy an electric car? When gasoline prices were rising, I was prepared to switch to a 30 mpg vehicle, but it is a huge money-loser. Sure, a Honda Fit might get 40 mpg and use 143 gallons of gas for my yearly commute, but at $16,000 it would take 17 years to recover the cost in gasoline savings, and that is even assuming that gasoline remains at $4/gallon. So, why would I go into debt to buy a car that will lose money for me, and not even be around long enough to recover its cost? Saving gas is great, but throwing away that much money is just not smart. That might be a political or personal decision, but it is not a smart economic decision.

I'm ready to park my old vehicle and buy something more fuel efficient when prices make it a viable option. With gas prices falling a dime a day, the pressure to do that is receding for now. Alternatively, someday when my current old vehicle wears out, I'll definitely buy something that gets a minimum of 30 mpg. If that is selfish, then consider me selfish for thinking of my own economic well-being before wasting money on what amounts to making a political statement.

Yes, there are lots of foolish, greedy people out there, and there are people who made poor decisions because they just didn't know any better and thought the good times would last forever. They are now learning different. Is it really helpful to lambaste them or criticize them just because of the kind of car they drive? I would think that anyone who is truly concerned about the environment could find a better way to help the situation than to argue about people's personal choices, however misguided they might have been. Hey, let he who is without blame cast the first stone, right?

10th Oct 2008, 08:37

Not true. The gas price is directly affected by supply and demand. The more you use, the higher the price. Basic economics.

10th Oct 2008, 08:48

Many of the Japanese cars sold in the US are built here. Wouldn't you be taking money out of our own pockets by not buying them?

The U.S. "Big Three" car companies made their own choice to partner with nearly every other brand of car over the years, because our domestic products couldn't stand on their own. Now nearly all of the import brands have their own factories here, or somewhere in North America, and many of the cars are even designed here for the American market. You'd be killing off many American jobs if the import car market failed in the US. Yes, Japan... or Germany, or Sweden etc. etc. gets some of the profits, but we couldn't have survived the automobile industry without them.

10th Oct 2008, 11:25

Gas prices don't really follow the law of supply and demand at the pump. With oil at $82/barrel, gas should be around $2/gallon but it isn't. Even with demand dropping, the oil companies always find some excuse --- a new hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico that may threaten platforms; the time-honored "fears of instability in the Middle East"; or the same one that energy traders invented to create the California "energy crisis" of "we just don't have enough refining capacity because the Washington liberals won't let us build any!"

And consider this --- states such as California are actually penalizing owners of very fuel efficient vehicles because road taxes are tied to gasoline sales. Before the market crash, fuel consumption and miles driven declined month after month, and gas prices still took months to drop only grudgingly.

10th Oct 2008, 11:51

Not quite true. The domestic auto industry employs, directly and indirectly, 13,000,000 people. Import manufacturers employ only a minute fraction of that number (a VERY minute fraction) in the U.S. In addition, all profits from the sales of non-U.S. companies goes to other countries, thus depriving U.S. companies of expansion and development capital.

As for U.S. companies being unable to "stand on their own", that, too, is not a true statement. Ford and GM acquired import brands, not the other way around. Ford bought Mazda and the quality of Mazda went up considerably afterward, as did Jaguar (another Ford acquisition). We owned a Japanese-built Mazda. It was pure garbage compared to the high-quality vehicles produced under the more quality oriented Ford. A relative owned a pre-Ford Jaguar. It was a mechanical nightmare. He now owns a new J8. It is a very solid and reliable car thanks to Ford. Mergers with import manufacturers have been very good... for the imports.

10th Oct 2008, 15:34

This is true, and everybody should try to conserve as much as possible, as well as seriously pursue alternate forms of energy.

But it is also true that gas prices go down when America talks about actually drilling and tapping into our own energy supplies like other nations are allowed to do. The prospect of that is also directly related to supply and demand, and has brought fuel prices down in recent months more than anything else. Of course you will never hear that from the news media.

11th Oct 2008, 13:51

Even if we tapped EVERY oil reserve in the U.S. we'd still be 22% short of filling the needs of just U.S. drivers alone. We also will not see one drop of newly drilled oil for 10 years, at which time world reserves will be so low it will not be affordable.

12th Oct 2008, 21:10

-- "Even if we tapped EVERY oil reserve in the U.S. we'd still be 22% short of filling the needs of just U.S. drivers alone..." --

That is pure speculation. Nobody knows exactly now much oil is out there, but recent discoveries suggest America could be sitting on reserves in excess of those in the Middle Rast.

-- "We also will not see one drop of newly drilled oil for 10 years..." --

Says who, Green Peace? Objective assessments by people who know what they are talking about indicate that oil production could take place within one year in areas that have already been explored if the offshore drilling moratorium were lifted.

Furthermore, right or wrong, our whole energy infrastructure is largely dependent on fossil fuels. It will take a lot longer than 10 years to convert it to alternative sources. Do you want to continue to be held hostage by the middle eastern oil cartels for that all that time?

I agree we need to stop depending overwhelmingly on oil and develop alternate energy supplies. But at the same time, we must be level headed and not mistake political sound bytes for fact.

This is not a trivial process. It requires a lot more brainpower than the political machinery in Washington could ever provide. I do not believe there is any one energy source that is going to be the solve all solution. We need an assortment of sources: e.g., wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, and yes, let's even keep domestically produced oil around for use as a supplemental source when required.