Saturday, May 3, 2008

You Think Gas is Expensive? It's Not...

Gas in the US really isn't that expensive when compared to other countries. Really. Yes, it's dramatically more expensive than it was two years ago, but it's still quite cheap.

I remember the first time I was in Europe (1998), and I think it was in Paris that I saw my first "gas station" (in Paris, they aren't like in the US -- it was more like a driveway with a pump). Pointing it out to my friend, I said "Wow. Look at how cheap the gas is!" when I saw the price. After converting the price from francs to dollars, I thought the price per gallon was $1.25 or so. Then, my friend and I realized that was the cost for a liter.

It's just that in the US, the price of gas has been hyperconsciously kept low by the government. That, in turn, has certainly contributed greatly to the severe demand for gas and the resulting "shortage." I say shortage, because yes, there are reserves in the Arctic and other locations, yet I agree they shouldn't be tapped. We shouldn't destroy the environment to facilitate laziness. Yes, I do think that many drivers of single occupancy vehicles are showing a form of laziness. Selfishness, too.

In disclosure: I don't drive. I don't even know how to drive. I also want to throttle all the drivers I see during rush hour that are in a car by themselves. I really, really do. My landlord is also a pretty rabid environmentalist. I know some of his extreme feelings about waste, the environment, and recycling have enhanced mine and heightened my awareness. He's also utterly convinced that the US economy will completely and utterly implode and be destroyed...within the next 20 years...because of lack of oil. If you're interested in that theory, read this, or just search for "peak oil" in Google. It's compelling stuff, and the arguments have merit. On the other hand, I tend to believe that viable fuel alternatives will soon become more widespread and affordable and prevent this financial meltdown. (The fuel alternatives link also has links about peak oil.)

But back to gas. Read this to see just how affordable gas is in the US. Yes, gas is ultra cheap in Venezuela at 12 cents a gallon, but if we compare to France, the French are paying over $8 per gallon.

There are a variety of reasons to drive less (especially with only one person in a vehicle), and use other transportation (bus, bike, comfy shoes) to get from one point to the next.

NOTE: If you're interested in this article, you may also be interested in my new article Reasons to Cheer the High Price of Gas.


Fabulously Broke said...

Could NOT agree more...!

I hear people from Europe talking about that all the time

L@SpillingBuckets said...

Totally agree. Great post.

Anonymous said...

It is worth noting that in europe, the countries were designed for bikers, public transit, and cars are smaller and fuel efficient. Not to mention the countries themselves are smaller. Even the east coast of the US is much more public transit friendly than the midwest and much of the west.

I do agree in general though. It is ridiculous that we haven't found a good alternative yet. It is ridiculous that cars aren't getting a lot better mileage by now. Ridiculous.

Nola said...

Thanks for posting this. As a European it makes me laugh when Americans complain about gas prices.

To anonymous-My country at least wasn´t designed for bikers. We live here quite normally.. that includes cars.

Anonymous said...

"It is worth noting that in europe, the countries were designed for bikers, public transit, and cars are smaller and fuel efficient."

The countries that are hundreds or thousands of years old were designed for automobiles?

Anonymous said...

isn't the reason gas is so expensive in europe due to the high taxes that pay for all the social benefits unlike in the us where the high prices are used to finance the high life for oild company execs and politicians like bush

Anonymous said...

wow lets take into account the fact that America has built their lifestyles around oil and gas and to have the price inflated so much in such a short span of time IS shocking. Not to mention the tiny cars in Europe that get much better mileage. If the country had KNOWN we would be paying so much for gas the millions of Americans that drive SUVS and trucks that get 12 miles/gallon would have opted for different vehicles. Most of our country does not have mass transit so paying $100-$150/wk for gas in an SUV IS epensive.

It amazes me how pompous Europeans are when only 1 country over there does not owe us money and we are the reason most countries over there do not speak German and did not have their behinds handed to them in WWII.

I could not agree more that something can be done about it on a congressional level, but for us common citizens all we can do is sit back and watch the price of EVERYTHING sky-rocket because everything shipped requires gasoline. (that is, everything except our salaries which in some cases are DECREASING).

So the next time you think of us as a bunch of spoiled citizens remember all the scrapes America pulls countries out of.

Greg said...

completely agree with "we shouldn'tdestroy the environment to facilitate laziness"

and to add on to what anon said: "It is worth noting that in europe, the countries were designed for bikers, public transit, and cars are smaller and fuel efficient"

in general these countries are smaller and more compact, and the infrastructure like roads etc has been there longer and had more time to develop. when the car came into use in america, much was still open land... and still is for the most part. getting from A to B here is much harder than in europe without a car

Anonymous said...

Well, when you figure out a cheaper way for me to get to my job in DC to my house (about 1.5hrs in a car) then spout off to me about it. Right now, i can't even afford the down payment on a hybrid car.