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Gas Guzzling Brutes Are Not For the Poor

Aug 29, 2008
Gas prices are a hot topic right now, and have been for some time. With increased demand, especially from developing third world countries like China and India, continued unrest in the Middle East, and lack of investment in new refineries, the problem continues to grow worse and shows no signs of slowing down. And while we may certainly feel we have it bad, some countries actually pay more at the pump than we do, including the U.K, Germany, Denmark and The Netherlands, largely because of heavy government taxes on gasoline to discourage their consumption, a technique that is also employed with cigarette and alcohol taxes in some regions.

In the U.S, the price of a gallon of gasoline has nearly quadrupled in the past decade. Here's a quick look at the average price of gas through the past decade.

U.S. Regular Conventional Retail Gasoline Date Cost Per Gallon
  • Aug 3, 1998 $1.04
  • Aug 2, 1999 $1.20
  • Aug 7, 2000 $1.46
  • Aug 6, 2001 $1.38
  • Aug 5, 2002 $1.40
  • Aug 4, 2003 $1.54
  • Aug 2, 2004 $1.89
  • Aug 1, 2005 $2.29
  • Sept 5, 2005 $3.07
  • Aug 7, 2006 $3.04
  • Aug 6, 2007 $2.84


  • Source: Energy Information Administration

    That price jumped dramatically since August of last year, with the price in New York topping $4 a gallon in May 2008. The scariest thing to consider is that gas prices have by no means hit their ceiling, with the cost of oil per barrel actually resting at a lower rate than it did in the late 1970's considering inflation, though the price of oil has gone up considerably in the past few years.

    So what can be done, if anything? Is this just a natural case of supply and demand that we'll have to accept and cope with? The short term answer at least is yes. While oil companies make record profits that could be taxed by the government, therefore reducing personal tax on gas, this is unlikely to occur.

    On the distant horizon of course is the creation of alternative fuels or methods of powering automobiles. The current main alternative is ethanol, but it currently costs even more than gas itself, and there are unanswered questions surrounding the impact it may have on food prices if it ever went into mass production.

    Hybrid cars are another alternative, but also another expensive alternative, with studies estimating that the actual savings in gas would not make up for the difference in cost of the automobile over a standard economy car for as long as ten years.

    Of course the best way to avoid gas prices is to avoid using so much gas. Biking is becoming a popular alternative means of transportation, and almost a necessity for cash starved people. Getting that office carpool set up, or finally caving in and joining it or other good choices.

    As much as we may hope otherwise, high gas prices mess up household expenses and are here to stay and should be considered the norm if anything, and not high. You can reserve the word high for what they will reach in the future, as it seems all but a certainty that they will continue to rise. Planning ahead for the future could save you a lot of money down the line. As for the present, pumping up those old bicycle tires and finding your helmet in that box in the basement would be a good start.
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