Join 3,556 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Midwest gas prices
June 13, 2000 1:45 AM   Subscribe

Midwest gas prices declaired unfair. I guess, you know, $1.80 a gallon was fair, ok even, but $2.15 isn't. Take your time. no really.
posted by tiaka (27 comments total)

 
Once it gets to $5/gallon, I'll start to show some sympathy.
posted by holgate at 4:51 AM on June 13, 2000


Please explain to me why this is unfair.
posted by y6y6y6 at 5:13 AM on June 13, 2000


I HATE when people argue over gas prices. Of course they are arguing as they fill up their SUV. If it's so bad, don't drive (gasp!). When I get gas I never look at the price, because no matter what it is, i have to have it to get where i wanna go. It's completely absurd to argue over it.
posted by corpse at 5:59 AM on June 13, 2000


I was reading this article on European gas prices this morning (link via Makovision), which points out that gas prices there are higher because of higher taxes. But doesn't the United States also subsidize gas production? Someone tell me I'm not making that up.
posted by owen at 6:15 AM on June 13, 2000


While I'd love to live in a carless world, the American infrastructure is set up in such a way that makes this extremely difficult. Unless you live in a large metropolitan area (San Fran, New York etc.), getting around without a car is almost impossible.

Not everyone is an 'Internet Millionaire', or even a 'Internet Middle Class citizen'. When someone is living at, or near the poverty line, a twenty/thirty cent gas hike can hit pretty hard.

Also consider the fact that right now, gas is cheaper in states with higher taxes, which makes this sound like a case of corporate price gouging.

Of course, corpse is right. We shouldn't worry about OPEC and ExxonMobile being corporate bastards. There are more important things to worry about, like why Jason Kottke hates us all.

All that said, I wish the US would respond by looking for alternative energy sources and creating viable public transportation in small cities, instead of playing some short term hardball with the energy companies.


posted by alan at 7:02 AM on June 13, 2000


Unless you live in a large metropolitan area (San Fran, New York etc.), getting around without a car is almost impossible.

I don't know that I completely agree with this. It certainly is often more convenient to use your car, but if you choose where you live wisely, you can often manage with public transit, walking, and biking.

Certainly, one way to encourage development to become less car-oriented is to use your car less. Take a bike to work, to go shopping (for smallish stuff, anyway), to run errands. If you can manage your daily life without a car, just take a taxi or rent a car when you absolutely must. It's possible to do if you are really serious about it.

I wish the US would respond by looking for alternative energy sources and creating viable public transportation in small cities, instead of playing some short term hardball with the energy companies.

While this is a good idea, you can do a lot yourself without waiting for the feds to get involved, cause that'll take a while.

(PS, alan, I hope this doesn't sound like I'm attacking you. Your post just gave me some good jumping-off points to espouse my wacko political philosophies. Thanks!)
posted by daveadams at 7:19 AM on June 13, 2000


I agree with Alan's point on mass transit, at least in the Chicago area. While the city has some areas well-blanketed with trains and buses, it still doesn't cover the entire city. The suburbs? Forget about it: coverage is beyond spotty. You can only traverse suburbs that crawl up the Lake Michigan coast, straight south from the city, and basically straight west. That leaves out many areas that have built up significantly.

That said, I don't see why I'm paying $2.15 for a gallon of gas when someone is getting the same stuff in another part of the country for up to 50 cents less. That's what's at issue here, not necessarily the threshold of $2.00. Once it hit $2.00, it continued to climb and it's still going up, even though we've been told that it's going to come back down by state and local officials (bah).

Back when gas was threatening to hit $1.75 here (just two weeks ago, mind you), people said that they would change their driving habits. Now it's $2.15 and that still hasn't happened. I feel no pity for SUV drivers, btw. They bought a gas-guzzler, and they have to live with it. At one point I did the math and it would cost about $85 to fill up a Ford Excursion!

In any case, I'd like to see an itemized deduction of where my money is going when I pay for gas. How much is going to my city (lots I'm sure), county (even more), state (lots), nation (much), the oil companies, and so on.
posted by hijinx at 7:49 AM on June 13, 2000


Its hard to walk to work that is 35+ miles from home, biking over mountains, woods and plains is tricky (espcially for fat american rednecks). Its obvious that in dense urban areas (US) the gov could support public transportation more. But not everyone in the US lives in an urban area. Usually the most expensive gas is found in "the hills" or country anyway.

(please don't respond with the "if you can't afford it, move to the city").
posted by jamescblack at 7:52 AM on June 13, 2000


Want to save money on gas? Buy a cheaper car! Get rid of that Audi and buy a Civic Hatchback or something. Then invest the difference. You'll have enough gass money to last for quite a long time.

Moral of the story: You don't save money by going to the gas station that's $.02 cheaper, or using that $.10 off coupon at the grocery store. You save money by getting a good deal on the big ticket items, houses, cars, etc. Do that and you won't have to worry about penny pinching anymore.
posted by vitaflo at 8:00 AM on June 13, 2000


I'd like to see an itemized deduction of where my money is going when I pay for gas

Here's some figures I found for gasoline taxes in the Chicago area.

Chicago fuel tax: 5 cents/gallon
Cook County fuel tax: 6 cents/gallon
Illinois fuel tax: 19.3 cents/gallon
Federal fuel tax: 18.4 cents/gallon

Apparently, Illinois also charges sales tax on gasoline sales?

Illinois sales tax: 6.25 percent (12.5 cents/gallon at $2/gallon gas prices)

Of the state tax, 58.4% is kept by the state and the rest is distributed to local governments.

In 1998, the state of Illinois collected $1.2 billion in fuel taxes.

References:
Illinois DOR 1998 Annual Report (Motor Fuel Taxes)
API Fuel Taxes by State

posted by daveadams at 8:30 AM on June 13, 2000


I live in a small midwestern town (about 45,000) and commute to work every day 50+ miles. I drive a Chevy Lumina which gets 25-30 mpg. I still have to gas up each week, and when me and my wife are on a shoestring budget as it is, going from paying $15 (Around January) to fill my tank, to almost $23 (currently), is quite disconcerting. To top that off, this morning, driving into work, I noticed the gas stations raising their prices YET again. And not just a few cents, but from $1.69/gal to $1.84/gal. That is a .15 cent increase and in my opinion, ludicrous. We have seen gas prices skyrocket over $0.50 in the last 3-4 months. I recall gas being about $1.34 back in March or so... You can't tell me the gas companies aren't price gouging.
posted by da5id at 8:51 AM on June 13, 2000


I live in Chicago, and while I have been suprised at how rapidly the price has gone up, I really don't mind. I fill up a 22 gallon tank every 2.5 weeks on average, and was surprised by the $14 difference between my fillup yesterday and the previous time. Even $5 a gallon is pretty cheap when you think of the fact that you are buying processed dinosaur. Everybody has heard the one one about how milk, an infinately renewable resource used to cost more than Gas which is of course less than infinate. That was crazy and gas was artificially low (or was the milk high? I forgetI was a little kid when the big energy crisis was going on (1975?). This situation is not as bad as it was then. Aren't you happy the gas is available to buy, even at these higher prices? At that time I remember Gasahol pumps at all the gas stations that pumped a corn substitute for gasoline. What happened to this alternative? I remember that it was cheaper. Why did it go away? Everybody seems to know we are going to have to move away from fossile fuels eventually. None of us want the government to squeeze and force us to make that change. Perhaps this is an opportunity for the market to offer us a cleaner alternative. Bring on the Hydrogen cars, bring on the well designed fuel cells. Certainly someone among us will be smart enough to make these ideas work eventually. Then we can save the oil for important stuff like plastic.

Thanks to daveadams for providing interesting info on the tax breakdown.
posted by thirteen at 8:52 AM on June 13, 2000


Thanks, Dave.

Unsure about the sales tax deal, but if that's the case and it's not a blanket amount for the entire state, it's 8.75% for the city and my (money-grubbing, corrupt) suburb, too. Most suburbs charge between 6.5% and 7.5% sales tax.
posted by hijinx at 8:54 AM on June 13, 2000


Wait a minute!!
How did this happen?
How did some other part of the country end up with higher gas prices than the addicted-to-automobiles / direct-line-to-the-Alaska-pipeline-but-does-that-help-No! / state's-always-legislating-reformulated-fuels-the-oil-companies-can-never-make-enough-of California?


posted by wendell at 9:21 AM on June 13, 2000


Re: "please don't respond with If you can't afford it, move to the city"...

If you can't afford it, move to the city. Or start farming.

Can't you see the hypocrisy in wanting to live in unpolliuted countryside *and* have in a job in the industry-based system?

Andrew (who chooses to live near where his partner works, works from home himself, and doesn't own a car).

posted by andrew cooke at 9:24 AM on June 13, 2000


Uhm... excuse me? Who came up with the bright idea of the american government taxing the crap out of us? Who listened to the first boneheads in suit and ties saying, "we will do all these things as the american government if you just give us all your money"?? Who nodded their head and went, "duh. okay."

I mean wasn't that the reason why so many people crossed the sea to get here in the first place? NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION. I don't know a single person in Washington who represents me. Kay Bailey Hutchison wouldn't comfortably sit in the same room with me, much less cater in the least to my political whims and needs.

I mean usually you can accept normal supply and demand. But with gas there's a great constant demand for it, built into our society in such a way where you have to be an activist or a lunatic to try to function without a car. The supply is controlled like the diamond industry through a worldwide conglomerate of rich and powerful boneheads who use barrells like we use greenbacks. We're under their thumb no matter how you slice it.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:49 AM on June 13, 2000


Who came up with the bright idea of the american government taxing the crap out of us?

Huh? If you are referring to the gasoline tax, federal transportation spending is covered (in theory, anyway) exclusively by this tax. Are you saying you don't want anymore highways or federally subsidized transit? I don't understand your question.

If you don't like your "representatives," then vote for someone else, or run for office yourself.
posted by daveadams at 9:56 AM on June 13, 2000


"If you can't afford it, move to the city. Or start farming."

Not everyone who lives in the countryside is there because they want to be. Its where they were born and thats all they know.

Can't you see the hypocrisy in wanting to live in unpolliuted countryside *and* have in a job in the industry-based system?

You need to get out more, no offense. Ever been to rural USA? You know, the places where there isn't a glow of city lights on the nighttime horizon? I'm not talking "dream home" or resort areas.

People there have to travel for everything; jobs, food, and gas. I grew up riding a school bus for almost hour before reaching school - and thats w/o stops.
posted by jamescblack at 11:41 AM on June 13, 2000


Not everyone who lives in the countryside is there because they want to be. Its where they were born and thats all they know.

I'm not sure I understand how where you were born has anything to do with your ability to move to a city.
posted by daveadams at 11:59 AM on June 13, 2000


Big picture: increased gas prices effect more than how much it costs YOU to fill up at the gas station. Prices on everything will go up to reflect the increase in delivery costs.

Also this increase will put many small businesses that have fleets out of business. This will effect many people and there familys.

So if you're not going to have compassion for the yahoo driving the gas guzzling SUV and get all giddy about how those yuppy's are finally gonna pay there dues, then think about the people who may lose their job (not to mention the fact that the inflation it may cause could be enough to trigger a country or world wide economic downturn).
posted by Mick at 12:47 PM on June 13, 2000


So if you're not going to have compassion for the yahoo driving the gas guzzling SUV

It's these people causing a lot of the problem. Gasoline consumption is way up because of increased driving and more SUV-type vehicles on the road. If we could get them to stop filling up, prices would have to go down.

I don't doubt that rising gas prices will affect me even if I don't drive. But they will affect me less than if I did. A worldwide economic downturn probably wouldn't be all bad, after all.
posted by daveadams at 1:12 PM on June 13, 2000


Wow, have I written every other message in this thread? Coooool.
posted by daveadams at 1:13 PM on June 13, 2000


Gas consumption is also factored by a booming economy, truck transport, suburban sprawl, and increased economic specialization. It's not all selfish truck drivers, who are increasingly buying things like Honda CR-Vs anyway, which get comparatively terrific mileage. Even SUV makers like Ford are beginning to improve the gas mileage their cash cows get.

I agree with the overall goal of reducing consumption, but 50% price hikes two years in a row is ridiculous.

For those not in the Midwest, who haven't heard the explanation, there are basically two. First, that the EPA required for clean air a new RFG (reformulated gas) on June 1 for certain urban areas like Chicago; the leanest form of RFG is patented by one supplier, Unocal; and a pipeline to the midwest broke in March and is still running at just 80% capacity. This led to a supply-demand problem which naturally resulted in higher prices. It also happened at the same time as the traditional summer price hike, which the last two years has NOT been followed by an autumn price dip.

Unfortunately the only folks making money at this are the refiners and wholesalers, who had plenty of time to prepare for RFG and recover from the burst pipe. Everybody else is pretty much screwed. I'm not worried myself, I pretty much see it as a cost of living thing, but my mother and brother both have driving jobs and they've been hit hard. My mom drives all over the county as a restitution officer, with an unchanged-in-several-years per diem matching the IRS rate, and my brother, with a new baby, was working pizza delivery to make ends meet. Now he says his tips barely cover his gas. For them and a lot of other people, they don't have the luxury of choosing mode of transportation or reducing how much they drive.

More worrisome, for me, is that this may combine with the Fed's rate hikes to tip the Midwest into a recession -- which the rest of the country VERY MUCH should be worried about. The soft landing may not be so soft.
posted by dhartung at 7:49 PM on June 13, 2000


Swap your Audi for a Honda? Move to the city? Blame the SUV drivers? Had it occured to you that your food and the produce that you eat is delivered to your local store on a truck? That truck uses fuel. hello??? That fuel is pricey. Pricey fuel means product prices go up to cover the cost of the fuel. Domino effect. All delivery costs rise and everyone suffers - even if you do not own a car. Get a clue.

Babbling on about SUV's and moving within a major city makes you sound terribly ignorant. Fine, move to the *City* and pay triple in Real Estate - yep folks that there is the answer. *sarcasm* People sometimes live OUTSIDE of a major city because of the cost of living within a City is so high. Saving $1-3,000 a year in gas then spend a minimun of 60% more on shelter makes perfect sense. I think not.

Also, keep in mind this point of view is specific to the Northeastern part of the USA. I can't speak for the high price of fuel abroad nor the cost of living.



posted by velvett at 9:40 PM on June 13, 2000


Nobody has a birthright granting them cheap gas. I was surprised by tax breakdown listed above. My question now would be are those taxes a pay as you go/maintain the infrastructure tax, or a sin/don't drive so much tax. One is acceptable, the other is not. I have heard on the local news Illinois is considering dropping it's gas tax for the duration of this price increase. Lower taxes will help a bit now, but will the roads suffer, will you pay more to repair your suspension?


It does not matter where you live, or what you drive when the price is high we are all gonna pay one way or another. By the gallon is a fair way to pay the increase. You wanna drive a SUV? it's gonna cost you. Did somebody make you buy it? Who should pay to fill it up? Should we have the government keep the price low and and spread the cost around to everyone through our taxes? That is not fair. You wanna drive suck up the cost. The truck delievering the bread costs more, bread costs more. That is the way the world works. You wanna live in the suburbs and work in the city? It is less of a bargin than it used to be, start looking for a suburban job.


It is starting to sound like people are in the mood to trade blood for oil again. I personally would like to hear sombody confirm the existance of Gasahol. It did exist did it not?
posted by thirteen at 10:19 PM on June 13, 2000


I personally would like to hear sombody confirm the existance of Gasahol.

If by "gasahol", you mean gasoline blended with ethanol, it still does exist, just not in as many places. Lots of rural gas stations still carry ethanol-blended gasoline because the locals like to support it.

Ethanol is a corn-based alcohol that burns cleaner than gasoline. Any recent model car (post 1983, I think) should be able to effectively use a 10% ethanol blend. If you are willing to modify your engine you can use higher concentrations of ethanol. I think Chrysler and Ford are planning "alternative-fuel vehicles" that will be able to use higher concentrations of ethanol, as well.

I'm not sure how efficient ethanol would be as a sole fuel source for automobiles, but it does have the benefit of being 100% renewable unlike petroleum we find in the ground.

Babbling on about SUV's and moving within a major city makes you sound terribly ignorant.

I guess this is targeted at me. Okay, you addressed the "city" bit, but not the "SUV" bit. What did I say about SUVs that was "terribly ignorant"?

As for moving to a "major city," I didn't intend to imply that. I consider my current residence to be "in the city," even if it's a small city of 160,000 in a relatively sparsely populated area (compared to the Northeast). My cost of living is very low compared to major cities, although it is higher than the surrounding rural areas. As for the money you save, since I do not own a car at all, I save more than just gasoline costs. I also save car payments, insurance, maintenance, etc. I think AAA calculated it cost something like $6000/year on average to own and operate a car. That almost covers my house payment! Cool.

Had it occured to you that your food and the produce that you eat is delivered to your local store on a truck?

Yes. I'm sure it will drive up costs if gas prices keep going up. Can't help that. But I can lessen my direct gasoline consumption. Moving closer to where you work, and/or driving fuel-efficient vehicles are part of that solution.
posted by daveadams at 8:45 AM on June 14, 2000


I tell ya Dave - I'm not wild about SUV's and I've owned one. But I will say this, Lexus has a SUV that consumes regular fuel instead of premium high test and it does pretty good on gas. [My boss has one.] Actually, I dislike many SUV drivers [the little housewifey kind with the 6 kid carpool, cell phone to the ear sideswiping you while trying to make their tennis lesson] more than the SUV and I also think the insurance rates should be higher because they inflict more damage to cars and roadways - but that is a different topic completely.

I didn't mean to attack you personally and if I may add New York tends to have it's own set of rules regarding cars, gas, real estate and cost of living. For me personally living in the city would cost me more monthly without a car than outside with a car and my $200 plus gas bills paid by my company. What can you do...

Here's a chuckle... the cost of gas goes up 20-30 cents on Fridays in the Hamptons so the weekenders can get slammed to pay more. I have to laugh every week the Exxon station changes their prices every Fridayand Monday. Go figure.
posted by velvett at 2:31 PM on June 14, 2000


« Older This illustration of the human digestive tube...  |  Win a fantasy career from Yaho... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments