The Kansas City Star is reporting that gas consumption is down throughout the region (and across the nation).
High gas prices across the nation are causing people to drive less and less because the result of higher fuel prices is that people must conserve money to make sure they can pay for more necessary things like food and shelter.
I know I’m not the first person to say, this, but I’m going to say it anyway.
Higher gas prices are a good thing.
The United States consumes more fuel than every other nation on the planet. It makes sense that we should probably pay less for it since we use more, right? This is true. However, we’ve grown accustomed to such low gas prices that any spike at the pump results in us crying foul and calling for boycotts of Shell and any other oil company that sells gas.
And while it’s true that oil companies like ExxonMobil and BP have made more money in the last several years than ever, I still don’t think we pay enough for gas.
Boycotting specific gas stations really doesn’t hurt anyone but the gas station owner, who operates on a very very slim margin. Out of the $3.34 per gallon (the price at the Quik Trip I pass on my way to work), the gas station actually profits a very small percentage, with the majority going to the oil company and the refineries to pay for the crude and the cost of refining it.
Oil companies are making huge profits because we still have yet to temper our consumption of oil. High gas prices have not done anything to the way that we live our lives. I still drive my SUV from Olathe to Fairway by myself every day, filling up once per week for $60+ each time.
Maybe when gas reaches $4 per gallon, I’ll actually get serious about taking the bus because it will finally be worth the huge hassle (we’re talking about 2 transfers and about a 2-hour commute to go 20 miles) to actually ride it. I imagine there are others out there who think the same way.
That’s why higher gas prices are a good thing. Maybe they will finally encourage us who consume more oil than any other nation (although China’s nipping at our heels) to change the way we think and put pressure on those who can do something about it to actually…do something about it.
I still believe that the American people have a say. It’s one of the reasons why I support Barack Obama. He’s someone who I believe will take the voice of the people under consideration when developing legislation. The issue is that people don’t care enough about it right now to really do something about it. We can’t rely on corporations like oil companies and car companies to magically do the right thing. They are going to do what is most profitable because they are still profit-based companies. They don’t owe you lower gas prices. It’s up to you to stand up and say, “If that’s how you’re gonna play it, then I’ll just change my lifestyle entirely.”
This is the only way we’re actually going to get viable alternative fuels and good mass transit in bigger cities – by actually telling people that they suck.
This isn’t an Earth Day post, but was inspired by a discussion I heard on the radio on the way into work. The host was outraged by the high gas prices and brought in an expert who basically said, TOUGH. And I agree. It’s time for people to get used to $4 per gallon gas because it’s not coming down anytime soon. Hopefully, it will inspire some folks to do something about it.
(And to those of you who are going to suggest that I get a different car, the answer is no. This one’s paid for.)