Thursday, May 8, 2008

How to Afford Gas

I've been hearing lots of ideas bandied about to help people with the insane spike in gas prices. They started hand ing out the The only one that makes any sense is repealing the gas tax. That's because it means rolling back a tax that politicians would have to reinstitute with only a couple of months to go. And I'm for ANY tax cut. Period. Credit to Hillary Clinton and John McCain for at least seeing the short-term gain for us.

I've heard a few solutions as well. And since I always have a few cents to throw in the arena of ideas, here are the Three Pillars to Cheaper Gas:

First Pillar - Use Every Technology We Have. This is simple. I've already elaborated on this before, but it bears repeating. Anything that can grow our energy supply and our energy independence should be used. This means dig coal, extract from oil shale, and drill in every place we have oil, an the environazis can go get a spoon and eat my ass. It also means getting every clean technology we can. This includes solar, wind, and tidal (where practical) and especially nuclear. I'd even be up for burning waste cooking oil, even if my car smelled like a grease fire. And we need to stop mandating and producing shit that is inefficient, like ethanol, at least until it can stand on its own without government subsidies. An addendum to this is that we have to cut red tape. We can't build nuclear because the envirogoons are ready every time with pictures of Chernobyl, streams full of three-eyed fish, and dire warnings of a nuclear winter (a global warming solution?) ahead. Refineries can't expand, and producers can't build new ones. For more details, try this article from the Heritage Foundation, which I read after writing most of the last paragraph.

Second Pillar - Conservation and Common Sense. This one comes down to a country of people taking personal responsibility. To clarify, you have the right to do whatever the hell you want with your life, but if you commute an hour every day to a palatial suburban dwelling in a Hummer, you are small part of the reason gas is so high. The fact is that demand for oil worldwide is skyrocketing. And for those liberals out there who lack the capacity to understand economics, when you have X number of barrels, and more people want them, the price goes up. So as we ramp up to get more oil, we also need to cut back some here at home. I've bought my last two cars with fuel economy in mind, and I'm salivating over the idea of a Prius or something. This brings me to common sense.

Third Pillar - Research and Development. We are a nation with boundless opportunities and a knack for solving problems. The problem is that we are too often directed by agendas, politics, and taxes to plod along in the specific direction. Ethanol is an example. Here's an idea I had while mowing on Tuesday: If we could take field remnants, grass clippings, and many organic things that get thrown away and produce fuel (ethanol) or energy from them, that might be a way to get it without impacting food supplies. And if we can produce it using nuclear energy, then it doesn't impact our fossil fuel usage. Another idea: With an increase in nuclear and clean energy production, and the increases in battery efficiency and formulation over the past decades, then the electric and hybrid cars are becoming more practical. With gas prices as they are, we could see some really creative retrofits showing up out there. After all, there are all kinds of ways to rework vehicles. The point here is to start taking everything ever suggested and try finding ways to implement it. And get red tape out and tax incentives (but not subsidies) in.

The point is that there is no one solution to this problem. Our problem is cultural and political. We need to change the mindsets that are contributing to this problem. I'm not talking socialism, though. I'm speaking of the mindset that we had that won World War II. We knew we had to do a lot of things in the short term to be free in the long term. With all the inane and insane schemes to 'solve' the problem that have only exacerbated it, we have come to the point of crisis. And it will take a war on gas prices to solve it.

And another point. This war will solve a few other problems in one big sweep:

Energy independence - Self-explanatory.

Global warming - Not that I care to 'solve' the pseudocrisis, but some of the solutions I have outlined happen to fit there too.

The impending recession - The rush to develop technology and build energy plants will trickle down to all sectors. And as these things come online, there goes energy prices right down. It's a ripple effect.

Part of the war on terror - We are so involved in the Middle East because they have oil there. Whether directly or indirectly, energy independence and less dependence on fossil fuels (globally) will take away part of the power of countries that breed terrorist sons of bitches. The rest of the war, of course, involves killing every terrorist alive.

There. Now all we have to do is stop having congressional hearing about gas prices and start actually solving the problems.


Obob said...

this may sound evil, but I like the high gas prices. It forces us to take a real look at our use of oil. I'm not a treehugger, in fact we should start drilling in ANWAR. But we Americans have proven we need a jack in the jaw to progress. This has been building for years and blame goes across the board.
I'm trying to use more cliches, but I ran out.

Toad734 said...

I assume when you say repeal gas taxes that you are going to do things like increase the Estate Tax and stop giving subsidies to Exxon. Or do you just want to cut funding to more inner city schools and college loans?

So if there is oil under your driveway we can drill there? How about if it’s in protected Navajo reservations should we just kick them out and move them to an even worse place? What about Yellowstone? What about Mt. Rushmore, maybe there oil in that mountain, so you are saying it’s ok to put an oil rig on top of Washington’s head? And that being said, can we use your garage for the spent nuclear fuel rods? How about the basement of your kids school?

I would like to point out that Kerosene/gasoline wasn't efficient when it was first being produced. If only 1% of the population needed a car, it didn't make sense to refine the oil and build gas stations everywhere. That’s the problem with Ethanol right now, there's like one refinery and only a handful of cars can run on E85. If every car ran on E85 or 100% Ethanol and we had refineries in every part of the country we wouldn't have the problem of efficiency. Why is it somehow Ethanol is a problem because they don’t grow Corn in Seattle? They don’t grow oil there either so whats the difference? They both have to be transported to the market. Corn comes from Iowa, Oil comes from Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, which do you think would be cheaper to ship from, Iraq or Iowa? How much money has Sony lost on Bluray? Are you saying they should have never made bluray discs and players because it isn't profitable today? CDs weren't profitable when they first came out. You are also pretending that Corn, of which ethanol is made, has to be subsidized. In fact, if Corn could replace oil, it would no longer need to be subsidized as it would then become a profitable crop. Stop pretending that we need all this corn to eat, we don't. You can drive from Ohio to Wyoming and see nothing but corn. When is the last time you had corn on the cob or anything with actual corn in it? The majority of the corn in the country is used as filler, as a High Fructose Corn Syrup or animal feed. If you want to talk about inefficiency, look at how much grain or corn it takes to produce a lb of beef when we could have skipped the middle man and eaten 12 lbs of corn or grain. Sugar is a natural sweetener, it tastes better than Corn Syrup and it is better for you. If you look at the rise in obesity in the US it directly correlates with the use of HFCS and the Governments subsidy of corn. We don't need that corn as food!

That being said you are right, Hummers are stupid and they make you look like you have a small penis. It doesn't stop at the type of car. If you work downtown and decided to move 40 miles out to the suburbs and it takes you an hour of bumper to bumper traffic to get to work each day, you are just as responsible as the Hummer driver for gas prices. That and if you are a President whose family and friends are all in the oil business and they convince you to invade one of the largest oil producing nations in the world which refused to sell its oil in US dollars.

Toad734 said...


Im in no way saying Ethanol is the definite answer, I am just saying the argument about efficiency and food is bunk.Sure some things would have to change but as you said, it could be an economic boom.

Toad734 said...

Oh, and kudos for admitting that this war was about oil.

And I sort of agree with Obob with the exception of ANWR.

Facts about ANWR:

Estimates about oil reserves are between 4-12 billion barrles of oil in oil sands

The US uses 7 over billion barrels of oil per year.

If we satarted today, it would take about 15 years before we could access this oil.

Is a Valdez type disaster worth a years worth of oil?

Name at least 2 oil companies who are interested in drilling in ANWR.

How many other Arctic Refuges do we have in the United States? Do you also want to build a WalMart and a McDonalds in ANWR?

Patrick M said...

Obob: That's why my solution includes expectations that we do our part to solve the problem. Apathy, and low gas prices, let things get to where we are now.

Toad: You always have to solve one problem by adding another, don't you?

First of all, cut the taxes, and make the government do with less. That SOP for me. And yes, stop ALL subsidies. Then we don't need the tax.

Oil and corn - We find a way to drill with minimum impact wherever oil is. And that is the point of the third pillar, to kick up the R&D, to find ways to make everything efficiently, to deal with problems like nuclear waste.

I don't have everything solved, yet, but throwing up every problem as a reason to not do something rather than trying to find a solution is why we're in this situation in the first place.

And I didn't say this war was about oil. Oil is the reason the Middle East has any influence in the world. And in the post-WWII period, we had a reason (Global Communism) to be there. And, put bluntly, shit happened, and a lot of bad guys grew out of the power struggles. A few mistakes and misunderstandings over a few decades have turned the area into one huge clusterfuck, with oil. That's why decreasing our dependence on other countries and on oil is critical.

So I don't want to hear whining and excuses. I want ideas. That's how we solve things here. More to come.

Toad734 said...

I assume you are referring to all the dictators we backed in the Middle East and I now hope you see maybe why a lot of those people don't like us meddling in their affairs.

I hate to say it and I know you don't want to hear this but the only way we will come up with solutions is if the government mandates it. The government will never mandate a solution with regards to MPG from the automakers or a push for anything other than oil and gas if people like Bush, Rice, James Baker, Bush Sr. and Dick Cheney are in office.

Exxon is going to keep doing what Exxon does until they can't. Until the oil runs out, they aren't going to spend money (the exact subsidized money they get from the government) to invest in things like Hydrogen unless the government says they have to. Detroit is going to keep selling gas guzzlers until the government says they can't and consumer are going to keep buying gas guzzlers until the government says they can't.

We have Hybrid busses but only one they put the Olympics advertising on, there are Natural gas busses all over DC but we don't have them here in Chicago and we wont until someone at the government level tells us to cap our emissions and use of oil and gasoline because in this situation the free market doesn't win. Oil is there, everything is designed to run on it and no one wants to put the time effort or money into anything else if they don't have to. This is where your Libertarian principals will fail you. This isn't going to happen on its own from the bottom up.

And perhaps you are right, if the government doesn't have those tax revenues maybe they’ll stop starting these expensive wars and subsidizing Israel which is why we are in the situation we are in to begin with. If Corn isn't subsidized they won't be able to sell it as food and will have to sell it as fuel and therefore there will be a bigger push for refineries. That's one point where you may have something. The problem is they won't cut the funding of Israel, or the subsidies to ADM or Exxon. Can you imagine the 1st politician who says they are no longer going to offer corn subsidies? That means all those farmers will have to actually produce a profitable crop and if that crop fails, they will have to rely on crop insurance as opposed to the government paying them anyway. That politician would loose the next election for sure. Of course it would make all the Mexican haters happy as Mexican farmers will no longer need to come here to work as they will be able to compete against American corn.

Patrick M said...

We don't need more government involvement. That's how we got in this idiotic cycle.

We have become a nation of regulations and subsidies. That's why we had cheap gas for so long and have price spikes now. And gas regulations back in the 70's were worse, and caused shortages. Government mandates "solve" one problem, but almost always create another. The solution is not to add more, but to cut, cut, cut.

The fact is, when a cheaper, superior option shows up, oil will go by the wayside. That is how markets work. And we're not there yet.

And I forgot about the immigration issue. That's another thing I can take credit for helping to solve. Thanks.

I'm so great.

Bask in the glow.

Toad734 said...

I don't think our next option is going to be cheaper, not at first anyway. Hybrids aren't cheaper and only with the tax break does the consumer start to make his money back from the investment and only if he keeps that car for over 5 years. That being said, all Hybrids are cheaper than Hummers. But what I am saying, not relying on the assholes in the middle east or the assholes in Exxon might be worth higher prices if it allows us to become dependent from those entities. I don't know about you but I am tired of Exxon choosing our Presidents.

Patrick M said...

I don't know about you but I am tired of Exxon choosing our Presidents.

You've got your wish already. Because it's either going to be Barack Obama, who I'm guessing is probably on your wavelength, or John "PingPong" McCain, who is no one's friend, except maybe Teddy Kennedy.

And it is the price of oil that will change us in the end, as scarcity doesn't seem to be a problem yet.

Toad734 said...

Not yet. Although McCain isn't in bed with Exxon yet, I am sure he or Obama will be at some point. They have way too much free money to spend this year to not pay off a politician. Of course neither of them or their fathers are Tx oil men so that's a start.

Patrick M said...

Two words that McCain and Obama agree on will keep the oil companies away: Global Warming.

If Obama wins, it will be because McCain pissed off his base. He's doing a good job at that.

And there are a lot of industries making more money than the oil industry.