Tina K. Russell

May 12, 2008

How to Lower Gasoline Prices

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Tina Russell @ 1:52 pm

Buy less gasoline. Of course, this means you won’t get to partake in the lower prices.

Sorry, but the rules of economics don’t bend to political posturing, be it hokey eleventh-hour policy proposals like tax holidays or windfall profits taxes (we’ll pay for cutting the taxes of oil companies… by taxing the oil companies! That’s a shell game if I ever saw one), glib e-mail messages begging you not to buy gasoline for one day or other short-sighted schemes, or angry rants at China and India. If there’s only so much gasoline, and demand for it goes up, so do prices. That’s the first thing you learn in economics, besides maybe “here is the syllabus, here’s when the finals will be, some rules about honesty,” etc.

It’s kind of like losing weight… sorry, but the only way to do it is to change your eating and exercise habits, not to go on a diet and then gain it all back afterward. We need to get serious and realize that the price of oil is not going to go down any time soon, and there’s no way to tell China and India not to live like us. If you’re bitten by high gas prices, there are things you can do: take public transportation, learn to ride a bike, etc. The economy doesn’t bend to your will, though, and pretending we can take our anger out on our gasoline prices is unhealthy and counterproductive.

I’m honestly in favor of a sales tax on gasoline, to pay for infrastructure improvements and a much-needed change in our energy and transportation mindsets. (Now you see why I’m not running for office.) Think of the modern public transportation systems we could build with that money, the alternative-energy research we could fund, the bridges we could fix and the roads that we could modernize. Lovely Portland, Oregon (come and visit!) is well-established as an excellent city for bikers and bus riders in America, but it ought to be a model for the rest of the country instead of an outstanding example.

It’s clear that long-term changes are needed for this crisis to subside, and those changes may be painful, but they’re necessary. Any kind of poking or posturing on this, be it from your friend who forwards too many shock e-mails or pandering politicians running for the nation’s highest elected office, is rather offensive to the plight of America’s drivers.

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