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Whining about whining about gas prices - The online computery journal thingy of a turtle

May. 25th, 2008

01:20 pm - Whining about whining about gas prices

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When people get angry, sometimes they stop making sense.

Letter in today's Houston Chronicle editorial section:

I find it very tiresome listening to people endlessly complain about the price of gasoline.

These are the same folks who stand in line to pay Starbucks $2.50 for a 65-cent cup of coffee they could make at home for 20 cents -- the same folks who buy "spring water" by the crate and could just as easily install a $6.95 filter on their kitchen faucet that would provide better water for about three months.

We live in interesting times.
--LAURENCE SHALLENBERGER, Houston

Yeah, they could just as easily refine their own crude oil in the backyard! Oh, or switch to biodiesel. That's simple and cheap and anybody can do it, right? I mean, it's not like biodiesel wouldn't work in their existing cars, right?

Yes, how dare people complain about the price per gallon of an industrially produced fluid that they need several gallons of every week to get to work every day, especially when it works out to a much lower price per gallon than of another, easier-to-make fluid which they use for a completely different purpose and which they buy no more than 20 ounces per day of!

Current Music: Talking Heads - Stop Making Sense

Comments:

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From:nefaria
Date:May 25th, 2008 03:01 pm (UTC)
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Does remind me of when Tet compared gasoline to printer ink, the ink's selling for about $20 per 10ml cartridge, which works out to something like $10,000 per gallon. :)

As for gas prices, I imagine there are some small conspiracies going on, but the fact is that demand keeps increasing and supply is flat, so the price goes up. Any politician promising to make the price go down through sheer force of personality is lying.
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From:thecanuckguy
Date:May 25th, 2008 05:36 pm (UTC)
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Tet must've seen this.

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From:yakko
Date:May 25th, 2008 05:58 pm (UTC)
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And don't forget that a good portion of the cart goes to waste thanks to head cleaning and nozzle unclogging, so you're very lucky to get one ream of output from a set of carts.

I got fed up with inkjet printers a few years ago. Good thing I got a laser printer for free and its $60 toner carts last thousands of pages! No color printing, though.

As for gas prices, I won't believe a word politicians say about "doing something" about it. Instead, I'm going to buy a better car and use 50% less fuel. And if that's not enough, I can figure out some way to use my own bodily fuel for some (or all) of the trip. It's a hard problem to solve, but not impossible.
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From:thecanuckguy
Date:May 25th, 2008 09:55 pm (UTC)
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As for gas prices, I won't believe a word politicians say about "doing something" about it. Instead, I'm going to buy a better car and use 50% less fuel.


That's definitely the view people should take. Politicians *can* do something about it (encourage alternate fuels (biodiesel, hybrid, fully electric, etc.) by subsidizing, and/or making it less enticing to make gas guzzling vehicles), but that would require them getting out of the pockets of big oil. Bush, we all know, is. I'm not fully convinced Obama or Clinton are or could remain out of big oil's clutches.

And if that's not enough, I can figure out some way to use my own bodily fuel for some (or all) of the trip.


If you can figure that out, the world will, literally, beat a path to your door. You do know that powering a car witha free, renewable resource (eg bodily fluids) is the Holy Grail of the 21st century, right?
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From:orv
Date:May 26th, 2008 10:43 pm (UTC)
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I think he meant walking or biking. Which I suppose are bio-fueled transportation, but not the sort you seem to be thinking about. ;)
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From:orv
Date:May 26th, 2008 05:49 pm (UTC)
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For once I agree with you. Actually, the single action most likely to be effective -- going to the Saudis and begging them to open the taps a little wider -- has now been attempted by Bush, twice, and it didn't work.

It's possible the Saudis don't have the capacity to increase production any more, in which case we may be in for interesting times -- the House of Saud is unlikely to survive when the flow of petrodollars stops.
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From:nefaria
Date:May 25th, 2008 07:41 pm (UTC)
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> I'd be happy if gas were $20-$30 a gallon.
It'd be impossible for those working minimum wage to break even. Massive unemployment. And the price of everything would double at least.
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From:yakko
Date:May 25th, 2008 08:14 pm (UTC)
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It's all about priorities. My budget has quite a bit of fat in there. Actually, that's a great idea: every time I want to spend $1.10 for a soda, I'll remind myself that I could be renting some other substance that's more important. I'll have money for gas and I may lose weight. :o)

As for the Prius, I really wish they were more cost-effective over time. Meanwhile, my prospective new car will get about 29 combined, which is over 50% more than what I'm getting now. At least I'm conserving -some- fuel while not breaking the bank.
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From:thecanuckguy
Date:May 25th, 2008 05:22 pm (UTC)
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And I'm of the view that NOT A SINGLE AMERICAN should complain about gas prices - not a single word of complaint - until they come to Canada* and see us.

Our prices are currently $5.18.4/gal** and there isn't nearly the amount of grumbling up here as you have down there. We have learned to take it like men, dammit.

Of course, our posted prices are in litres (which means the above price is actually signed at $1.29.9), I'm convinced that we do this for the American tourists (weeding out the stupid ones), who jump for joy when they see prices more than half of what they have there, and then wonder why it's more expensive to fill their car.

* Canada is of course just one example, but it's the one I know. I have friends in Europe who are paying double that. And also taking it like men. (Yes, that means that it's about $10/gal in some places in Europe. And they aren't mass rioting like they undoubtedly would in the US were that to happen there)

** Of course, different rates in different parts of the country, YMMV. (The north and the maritimes are quite a bit higher than that). This is just the price that I've seen at gas stations in my neighbourhood. I also just did the conversion from litres to/from gallons, didn't bother converting the currency, since its been near parity since the start of winter, more to do with the faltering US economy than anything successful here (although our resource-base economy is in a good time)
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From:yakko
Date:May 25th, 2008 08:27 pm (UTC)
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No. Not a single American should bitch about gas prices until they've paid for gas in Europe.

In 1992, gas on base was rationed. There was a good reason for this, because it was $0.32/litre, which works out to about $1.20/gal. Compare that with DM1,50/litre on the German economy (DM1,35=US$1 back then, so figure about $4.22/gal on the economy. In 1992). German nationals working on the base could buy gas on base at much lower prices.

It's about £6/gal in the UK now (~$12), so we definitely can't bitch about $4/gal.

I actually figured the cost of running my prospective new car at $3.999/gal, so there's not a lot of surprise going forward.
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From:thecanuckguy
Date:May 25th, 2008 09:48 pm (UTC)
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My point exactly. I did mention Europe, but just in passing, I know the price of Canadian gas well so that was the basis for my arguement. And many Americans could easily go to Canada since we border them, see our situation and STFU. (Gas prices being what they are, affecting airline travel (the preferred way of going to Europe) I'm assuming it's less likely for Americans to go to Europe, but I don't know the travel numbers.) (Texans would have access to Mexican gas, but I don't know at all what they pay there. KT?)
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:May 25th, 2008 10:28 pm (UTC)
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I don't know either. Only time I've ever been to Mexico was Cozumel for snorkling during the second Furry Cruise.
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From:varro
Date:May 25th, 2008 09:09 pm (UTC)
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Of course, we pay $782 a month for health insurance....when was the last time you had to do that? (Even if there's a 10% VAT dedicated solely to health insurance, do you spend $7820 a month?)
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From:deckardcanine
Date:May 25th, 2008 10:20 pm (UTC)
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I agree. I also think that Americans shouldn't complain about high taxes, given what a low percentage we pay compared to other industrialized countries.
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From:orv
Date:May 26th, 2008 05:52 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, the anti-tax rhetoric in the U.S. is absurdly strong considering how little we actually pay in taxes.
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From:thecanuckguy
Date:May 26th, 2008 09:22 pm (UTC)
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Reminds me of a joke that comedian Glen "That Canadian Guy" Foster once said about how complacent we are in Canada with our tax situation:

"They could tax 99% of our income and we'd say 'Well, at least we got 1%. But if they ever take that 1%, we'll march on Parliament Hill! Well, I won't march, but I'm sure someone will. And not everyone marching, my God, that'd be anarchy. We need a nice organized protest march of eight or nine people - someone should form a government committee to decide the optimum number of people to protest on Parliament Hill ... "
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From:orv
Date:May 26th, 2008 10:42 pm (UTC)
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At least you get something for your taxes. We just end up paying for exploding objects to export to Iraq. And interest on the national debt.
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From:orv
Date:May 26th, 2008 05:51 pm (UTC)
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I think comparing fuel prices in Canada or Europe vs. the U.S. is a bit of an apples/oranges comparison. The prices are that high in Canada and Europe because, as a society, they've decided to tax motor fuels heavily. If you subtract the taxes they're paying about what we are.
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From:thecanuckguy
Date:May 26th, 2008 09:16 pm (UTC)
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Exactly. There's nothing stopping the US government from also taxing motor fuels heavily, but they don't (what noble restraint they're showing!). They don't know how good they have it, they could very well be in the same situation that Canada and Europe are in. Americans have a good deal and they're whining about it.
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From:yakko
Date:May 25th, 2008 08:45 pm (UTC)
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Instead of complaining, I aim to actually do something constructive: buy a better car. I've finally pulled the trigger on the whole process and this is the last week I'll be grumbling (as much).
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From:varro
Date:May 25th, 2008 09:06 pm (UTC)
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And even coffee shop coffee didn't double in price in the past 3 years, or more than quadruple in the past 10 years.

That's like Pepsi going from $1.29 to $5.20 a 2-liter bottle in the past 10 years.

It's not the price, it's the volatility of the price and the perceived (and probably actual) gouging by the energy companies and the Saudis that people are angry at.
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From:angelbear_oh
Date:May 26th, 2008 12:49 am (UTC)
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There are signs that Joe Consumer is getting the message. According to the Columbus Dispatch, bus ridership in Columbus is up 18% over last year. And new car preferences have seriously shifted over to compacts. Bad news for Detroit.

I have them all beat, though. I telecommute everytime I get the chance. Not only is no gasoline burned, but there is no risk of accident (I can listen to traffic reports and have a little chuckle to myself), and very little risk of the car breaking down.

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From:thecanuckguy
Date:May 26th, 2008 09:26 pm (UTC)
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Bad news for Detroit.


My dad said that Ford has announced recently that since SUV and the like sales are way down, they've got the message and are going to be making more eco-friendly cars now and less SUVs because no one can afford them.

This strengthens my belief that by the time my kids get their first driver's license in just over 10 years, most of the new cars in production will be eco-friendly and not gas powered. (I also believe the first car or two my kids drive will still be gas powered as kids' first cars generally tend to be old clunker cars, which means their first car will probably be something considered brand new now.)
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