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Pain is Relative
November 2, 2007 6:35 PM   Subscribe

As crude hit an all time high at $96.40US per barrel this week, prices increase at pumps across the US. Regular self-serve rose 9 cents to an average of $2.80 per gallon in 11 Texas cities this week, a price of €0.51 per litre. Even Arab nations are feeling the pinch; in Syria, subsidised fuel prices were increased by 20% to €0.74 per litre. This price is "still low compared to world prices", though. The Automobile Association has a handy reference chart for Europe: drivers in the UK are paying an average of €1.37, and Danes €1.40. Latvia, though, is a European bargain at just €1.00 per litre.
posted by DarlingBri (69 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Take your capitalist bullshit chart somewhere where people care!
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 6:39 PM on November 2, 2007


But seriously, I know it's the political target du jour but Americans can pay 3 or 4 dollars per gallon. The "global warming is going to destroy us" types are offering lots of "solutions" in Congress which is befuddling, they should be cheering this type of thing on. The only thing that will really move us to alternative fuel types is when petrol is more expensive per mile than the alternative.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 6:45 PM on November 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


What ever happened to all the people that were saying rising gas prices weren't a problem becuase we hadn't reached the adjusted for inflation high of @80 dollars a barrell?
posted by drezdn at 6:50 PM on November 2, 2007


The only thing that will really move us to alternative fuel types is when petrol is more expensive per mile than the alternative.

/points and makes Invasion of the Body Snatchers shrieking noise
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:51 PM on November 2, 2007 [5 favorites]


I'm still waiting for more expensive gasoline to reduce traffic on my commute.

sigh.
posted by Hicksu at 7:00 PM on November 2, 2007



What ever happened to all the people that were saying rising gas prices weren't a problem...


They incorporated.
posted by Mblue at 7:02 PM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Here's a chart that's very scary, and we haven't even gotten to the pre-summer price runup. I have to credit that source as from a PeakOil.com thread. There's some lucid points in there dealing with the devaluation of the dollar and other factors.
posted by rolypolyman at 7:06 PM on November 2, 2007


The selfish part of me is saying: Great. MORE fuckwits to contend with on the bicycle paths now.

Wishing there was a rule that somehow rewarded the oldskool cyclist who rode not just coz petrol prices forced them to. Kowtowing would be a good start.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:20 PM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Regular self-serve rose 9 cents to an average of $2.80 per gallon"

TWO BUCKS AND EIGHTY CENTS!? Good god, at discounts that deep it's almost worth driving to Texas with a trunkful of gas cans. I haven't seen regular unleaded fuel on the good side of three bucks a gallon in months.
posted by majick at 7:21 PM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Put aside the despair. There is a simple explanation for high prices: in the summer, lots of travel. In the winter, heating fuel costs. See? Now you understand the price rises.
posted by Postroad at 7:24 PM on November 2, 2007


We're a little past summer driving season.
posted by rolypolyman at 7:38 PM on November 2, 2007


What ever happened to all the people that were saying rising gas prices weren't a problem becuase we hadn't reached the adjusted for inflation high of @80 dollars a barrell?

Measurements vary, but the guesses I've seen place the inflation-adjusted high at $96 to $101 a barrel (in current dollars).

I recently saw a very interesting article either at The Oil Drum or linked from it that discussed this. The U.S. has surprisingly become more efficient at using oil since the 1970s, so inflation is only one thing to account for in measuring the cost of a barrel of oil. Another is the percentage of GDP that needs to pay for the oil. In the late 1970s, it was something like 10%. Now, it's closer to 5%. The conclusion this article gave was that oil needed to hit $162/barrel for it to have the same impact as $80/barrel did in 1980.

*goes off to look for this article.*
posted by A dead Quaker at 7:41 PM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


I chalk it up to another money grab by the handful of companies that control the worlds oil supply.
posted by Mr_Zero at 7:43 PM on November 2, 2007


I'm still waiting for more expensive gasoline to reduce traffic on my commute.
That's sort of the problem, isn't it?

I mean, every time oil/gas prices go up, the newsies trot-out some wonk who goes on about how the prices must not be so terrible because Americans are still driving as much as ever.
Does anyone stop to think that people can't simply stop driving? They have jobs to get to. Carpooling is an impractical joke and most cities don't have a usable mass-transit system (as in, one that doesn't require you walk 15 blocks from the nearest bus stop to your office.)

You just bite the bullet, tank-up and make the CEO happy when he sees everyone's butts in their chairs.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:55 PM on November 2, 2007 [3 favorites]


Here.
posted by A dead Quaker at 7:58 PM on November 2, 2007 [4 favorites]


The selfish part of me is saying: Great. MORE fuckwits to contend with on the bicycle paths now.

Have you tried airhorns? I've heard they work wonders.
posted by A dead Quaker at 8:02 PM on November 2, 2007


In other news, the Canadian dollar closed at just over $1.07 USD today.

So, we are officially going to start calling the 'ole greenback "Funny Money" and using jokes like "Hey - America is 10% off!"
posted by SSinVan at 8:03 PM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Whut Thorzdad said. I'm still waiting for that job where you can stay at home and make just as much as now but save on gas so you can actually make ends meet on other bills. I was told ten years ago that was just around the corner, and I still sit in a cubicle in front of a computer and a phone where I could do the job just as well at home.

"You just bite the bullet, tank-up and make the CEO happy when he sees everyone's butts in their chairs." Icebergs melting? Oil over a hundred a barrel? So? Everyone's butts are in their chairs; there's no armagedon.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:05 PM on November 2, 2007


We are not going to seriously start conserving until it hits about $150/$200 per barrel. That will be a good thing. I'd rather that we get there first through a huge tax... but politicians are weak, go figure.
posted by caddis at 8:09 PM on November 2, 2007


Postroad: Yes, both of those things increase fuel costs. However, when prices do not drop during the other two seasons and only hold steady, that's something of a problem.
posted by absalom at 8:14 PM on November 2, 2007


Conservation is one thing. More mass transit is another.

Actually building out systems like BART? That will be nice. Right now it's "under environmental review" which is exactly where it's been for several years now.
posted by drstein at 8:28 PM on November 2, 2007


1500 won per litre here in Korea, which at current exchange rates, is about US$1.65 (haha Yankee peso), or €1.14.

Dunno what that would be in hogsheads or toadbellies or whatever archaic units you Americans use, though.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:04 PM on November 2, 2007


In other news, the Canadian dollar closed at just over $1.07 USD today. And the Aussie at .92. Amazing.

The Australian government- seeing the writing on the wall on petrol prices is offering a $2000 AUD rebate to convert old cars to LPG.

I converted my old toyota 4 cylinder truck to LPG for $600. Filling up for the week now costs me only $25- used to be $65-$70 a 50 litre tank.
posted by mattoxic at 9:09 PM on November 2, 2007


1500 won per litre here in Korea, which at current exchange rates, is about US$1.65 (haha Yankee peso), or €1.14.

It's $1.30 per litre in Australia. A litre is about 1/4 of a gallon. So we're paying significantly more in Australia.

By the way, the Australian dollar is buying US 94 cents - the highest in 20 years, so the exchange rate isn't making much of a difference. In fact, overall, it's brought petrol prices down a little here.
posted by crossoverman at 9:14 PM on November 2, 2007


I'm hoping gas prices increase to the point that more people carpool, taking public transportation, or move to cities where they can walk places.

Suburban living is the worst of all possible worlds.
posted by Justinian at 10:15 PM on November 2, 2007


I think if you can't walk fifteen blocks from the train/bus station to your office, that's more of a problem with YOU than it is with the infrastructure. Unless it's fifteen-plus blocks of dirt road in the rain and you're on crutches, fucking garage your car already and stop making excuses.
posted by padraigin at 10:21 PM on November 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


I fully support all the campaigns to get people into buses, metros and trains and out of my fuckin' way!
posted by surfdad at 10:37 PM on November 2, 2007


having lived in pittsburgh, chicago and san francisco without a driver's licence, I can attest to the fact taht american cities are some of hte most unfriendly to non drivers. they aren't designed to be used without a car. SF is the most manageable but that's only if you live in the city itself, say within a block from the #1 route. or in the gold coast of chicago or some such thing.

so many of the commenters talk about higher gas prices creating a shift [or the potential for a shift] towards a less auto dependent lifestyle - I fear that instead of waiting until the day the gas prices reach that point - now is the time to begin thinking in a proactive manner and looking at the way the systems are designed around the car and gas consumption, if indeed any alternate means are to be put into place by the time it comes impossible to use a car with any great frequency.

and this goes beyond cars and vehicles, as the price of oil rises, its influence is being felt in the rising price of food, plastics, chemicals - anything which use petroleum or its byproducts - when will a systemic look at alternates begin? When oil is gone ? so during the interim period while alternates are found what will be the substitutes? will we wait until every drop is gone to find replacement solutions or shall we begin looking at a life wihtout free flowing oil while there still is a supply to ease the transition?

or does it not matter because the rapture is coming anyway? *snarks*
posted by infini at 10:58 PM on November 2, 2007


I walk 500 feet to work. It typically takes me three weeks to burn through a tank of gas, and my car gets 20mpg.

Bring on the $5 per gallon. The sooner it happens, the sooner we'll start getting cars that are more fuel efficient than they were in the 80s. Also, I want to make those lone drivers in SUVs cry bitter tears.
posted by mullingitover at 12:30 AM on November 3, 2007


I just love the middle and upper-middle class commenters who can't wait to tell us how great it is that gasoline prices are going up, because it will shift people toward using eco-friendly transport.

The folks I know with the most eco-unfriendly transport aren't the soccer moms with SUVs, they're the barely-making-ends-meet people who are driving beater cars from the late 1980s. These are the folks who are hurt most by this, not the people who can afford brand new transportation. Good luck finding buses in most American cities that actually get you where you need to go when you need to go there, and even those are better than living in non-urban areas with ZERO public transit.

Bicycles are great, but do you want to ride a bike in the Las Vegas summer at 120 degrees F, or in the Minnesota winter at -40? Do you want to walk 15 blocks from the bus stop in that, padraigin? Workplaces don't tend to be happy with folks who have just sweated through their work clothes, or who have to spend the first half hour of work preventing frostbite from damaging their extremities. Bicycles also have a tendency to be stolen, especially if you have very little money and live in an area where a lot of your neighbors also have very little money. A friend of mine in Milwaukee had 3 bikes stolen in 3 months (all locked up, yes). Try telling your boss "sorry, couldn't come to work, bike was stolen again." Okay? Now try doing it if you work at a convenience store or other menial job where your boss considers you totally replaceable.

It's also worth noting that the same working-class schmucks I'm talking about here would need to spend a lot more time to get to work on the crappy mass transit or a bike. That's time they could be using to spend with their families, go to school, do their hobbies, et cetera. If a bike adds an hour of commuting time daily (which it easily can, at least where I live), plus the added time expenditure of additional showers related to biking to and from work, you're talking about 90-120 minutes per day taken up by your eco-friendly transit -- if you sleep 8 hours and work 8 hours, this can be up to 25% of your leisure time, gone. You're also assuming a job that doesn't leave you dead tired, bone-aching at the end of the day.

But I guess that's Metafilter. We all have office jobs and can afford Toyota Priuses and nice bicycles that will never ever get stolen and weather that is lovely all year round!
posted by InnocentBystander at 1:15 AM on November 3, 2007 [17 favorites]


So oil is traded on a global market, yes? If oil is now the highest it has ever been, why isn't the price of gasoline the highest it has ever been? After Katrina, gas prices here in Ohio were over $3 and several times this summer they have all been well over $3 for various reasons yet the price of oil was noticeably lower then than it is now.

Help me understand.
posted by well_balanced at 1:34 AM on November 3, 2007


InnocentBystander - Are we to assume your position is that it is okay to fuck up the environment if you are poor?

Believe me, I understand the stress that higher gas prices will put on people. But that is unavoidable. The alternative is to keep on doing what we're doing. Sorry, I'm afraid I'm going to have to side with preserving the ecological balance of the planet over making people - including working class folks - have to take more time to bike to work or whatever.
posted by Justinian at 2:02 AM on November 3, 2007 [5 favorites]


well_balanced - gasoline prices surged after Katrina because refining capacity was knocked out. Importantly, refineries are still operating at high capacity because oil companies won't build new ones - they don't see an increase in available oil to justify a multi-decade investment.
InnocentNamesake - the poor, both in the developed and developing world will indeed bear the brunt of oil decline. If there is scope to use mass transit, walk or bicycle everyone should be doing it.
If there isn't, pressure the government to fix it with more buses and other infrastructure. Saying it is great or terrible that the oil price is going up is just hot air. There isn't a damn thing anybody can do to make it lower, despite adventures in Iraq or pressuring the OPEC cartel. There just isn't enough oil to meet demand.
At least the middle class bikers and prius drivers are doing something to ease the demand and not push the prices higher for the poor.
posted by bystander at 2:18 AM on November 3, 2007


Low-displacement motorcycle. I live in Beijing, and god knows you'd be fucking nuts to own either a car or a bus card here. The city is 60 km wide and traffic moves at a crawl. Subway coverage is horrible. Buses are as slow as the rest of traffic, which means it would take you 4 hours to go from one end to the other. It's like Atlanta with LA traffic.

They don't HAVE to be dangerous, and you won't sweat too much, and in the cold, you bundle up and put on some chapstick. And you use a quarter of the gas a car does.
posted by saysthis at 2:52 AM on November 3, 2007


And you never pay to park.
posted by saysthis at 2:54 AM on November 3, 2007


Sigh.

Over here it's EUR 1.45 per liter. That's about 7.70 dollar per gallon. And still the traffic jams are horrendous.

So, what are you all complaining about?
posted by DreamerFi at 4:01 AM on November 3, 2007


Bicycles are great, but do you want to ride a bike in the Las Vegas summer at 120 degrees F, or in the Minnesota winter at -40?

I don't want to ride a bike when the weather isn't suitible for it. Therfore I must drive a car everywhere all the time!

Your logic is infallible.
posted by public at 5:22 AM on November 3, 2007


If the Iraq war was "for oil", they're doing a heckuva job.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 5:34 AM on November 3, 2007


But I guess that's Metafilter. We all have office jobs and can afford Toyota Priuses and nice bicycles that will never ever get stolen and weather that is lovely all year round!

Nice try, but, sorry, you're being a big presumptuous bag of douche. I do not own a car, haven't owned one for 15 years. I ride a crappy but functional $65 bicycle (my third in 4 years, after the last two were stolen) to work, rain or shine, and it gets to 120F here in the summer in the pissing rain, and well below zero Fahrenheit in the winter when the wind howls. I walk to the grocery store, and take the occasional bus. I'm not complaining -- I like it that way.

Of course, I don't do it because I give a flying fuck about the environment -- on my misanthropic days I find myself rubbing my hands with glee at the prospect that climate change will thin the human herd a bit. The planet itself will continue to abide, either way. I do it because I like to keep my life as simple as possible. Owning shit I don't need fucks that up.

But I do work in an office these days, and burn puppies and kittens to warm my home in winter, though, if that makes you feel better.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:14 AM on November 3, 2007 [3 favorites]


pee

koil
posted by exlotuseater at 6:23 AM on November 3, 2007


Food crisis looms as climate change, fuel shortages bite:
Record world prices for most staple foods have led to 18% food price inflation in China, 13% in Indonesia and Pakistan, and 10% or more in Latin America, Russia and India, according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). Wheat has doubled in price, maize is nearly 50% higher than a year ago and rice is 20% more expensive, says the UN. Next week the FAO is expected to say that global food reserves are at their lowest in 25 years and that prices will remain high for years.
posted by stbalbach at 6:43 AM on November 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


So, what are you all complaining about?
Because the US is now much worse off relative to before. High per-litre fuel taxes common in Western Europe mean a smaller relative increase in consumer prices when the underlying commodity goes up, effectively cushioning the blow.
posted by BobInce at 6:58 AM on November 3, 2007


well_balanced: in addition to what bystander said, this is the time of year when demand for gasoline usually goes down and it's less critical if stocks are low. The fact that gasoline has gone up at all in NA during this time of the year is remarkable.

This Week in Petroleum has a separate page on gasoline.

check out the relationships between stocks/inventory, demand and production and things will start to make a bit more sense.
posted by nobeagle at 7:17 AM on November 3, 2007


We all have office jobs and can afford Toyota Priuses and nice bicycles that will never ever get stolen and weather that is lovely all year round!

And all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:28 AM on November 3, 2007


Because the US is now much worse off relative to before.

I know it's relative. That's why the post is titled "Pain is Relative." But from an outside perspective, hearing Americans whine about price increases to a measly €0.51 smacks of entitlement issues. America wants cheap gas, refuses to sign the Kyoto agreement, and is the largest market for SUVs. One quarter of all new car sales in the US are SUVs. That is outrageous.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:36 AM on November 3, 2007


Doesn't this mean that Bush was right about the Iraq war?
posted by greytape at 9:58 AM on November 3, 2007


Huh. For a moment there I thought my RSS reader somehow switched from metafilter to some financial news feed.

refineries are still operating at high capacity

Well, sort of. Crude oil input to refineries is a bit lower this year in the USA (EIA shows -0.6% ytd), and refining capacity is (I'm pretty sure) slightly higher. Oh, and imports are down and consumption is up slightly. Hmm. So anyway, the percentage of refining capacity actually utilized has been a bit low this year. If there's going to be more refining capacity than there is crude oil, that should mean lower crack spread in the future, compared to what it would be if everyone were still worried about lack of refining capacity like last year many were. So, yeah, no surprise that crude oil price goes up first, before gasoline. It had room to do so.

Wednesday was an interesting day this week, as nymex oil futures shot up by like $5 in a few hours. The weekly EIA report showed stocks at Cushing fell by 15% or something in one week. I have no idea if this really means anything, and it's never good to read much into one week's report, but it sure was a big number. Even more influential since just a few months ago everyone was talking about the high level of stocks at Cushing keeping WTI price down.

All that may or may not be related to peak oil. Few years ago I was spreading the word around town like some kind of mad prophet, telling people that peak oil would happen in 2008. Now if I retroactively change my prediction to 2008 being the year the effects start to get bad enough that even middle-class Americans are forced to react to it, maybe I could've been right. I sure hope not. Come on OPEC, show us what you got! Flood the market with your boundless oil! I demand gasoline for driving at high speeds to interesting places! America wants cheap gas, so I hear, and I also want inexpensive petrol.

Food is also nice to have, stbalbach, I was thinking about that the other day. The biggest grain harvest so far this century, that of 2004, the only year so far in this new century there was a surplus, still wouldn't be enough to meet this year's demand. And instead we're getting considerably less. At the rate they've been falling these past eight years, most of which you can't blame biofuels for, world grain inventories would reach zero in the next year or two.

Ah well, things aren't quite desperate enough that I'm going to consider buying a Prius. I'd rather have a nice car and not drive it.
posted by sfenders at 10:02 AM on November 3, 2007


Have you ever been in a Prius? It's a pretty nice car, much nicer than you would expect given its size and price.
posted by caddis at 10:58 AM on November 3, 2007


I totally disagree with InnocentBystander. I used to be poor. I worked 40 hours a week at half minimum wage, because I was only 18 (but of course, my room was not at half rent, neither were my insurance premiums halved or did I get food at half price). I was WAY too poor to afford a car (or even a driver's license), let alone money for gasoline. Public transport is great in my country, but it does not go to the industrial areas where most of the low-paying jobs are. So, I went by bike. Even in winter when it was freezing, or in autumn when it was raining and windy. I sometimes lost a job because it just wasn't possible to get somewhere (in time), but that's life. In my experience, cars cause more trouble (and cost more money to maintain) than bicycles.
posted by davar at 10:59 AM on November 3, 2007


stbalbach: excellent point. People always seem to forget that the more profound effects of crude prices and oil shortages are likely not with gasoline, but with food.

(This is a good place to start.)
posted by LooseFilter at 11:30 AM on November 3, 2007


Have you ever been in a Prius?

No, and I probably should've mentioned that my dislike of them is mostly irrational. I did try the simulated version in GT4, the Playstation driving game. Maybe I'll try one out in real life some day, but it's probably not suited to my own peculiar taste in automobiles. I don't know exactly why, but I'd rather have an old Honda CRX, some of which were just as good as the Prius on highway fuel economy.

People who do a lot of city driving would have more of an incentive to consider a hybrid.
posted by sfenders at 12:02 PM on November 3, 2007




In the US we are conditioned by our by our national myth of individualism to assume that this means we get to run our lives as is most convenient to us (therefore I want to look rich so I'll mortgage my future to by a $60,000 SUV and bedamned to the cost-- just put it on the credit card!) and by the media/corporate interests whose bottom lines thrive on the interpretation of that myth to mean spend spend spend, and don't worry about the consequences.

I do not see where or how this country will ever find the personal, moral or political courage to fix the bullshit consumerism and me-first sensibility that passes for a culture in America.

How do we fix this? I'm serious. How do we fix this?
posted by nax at 1:46 PM on November 3, 2007


How do we fix this? I'm serious. How do we fix this?

Unfortunately, I don't think this will change until exterior circumstances force us to.
posted by LooseFilter at 2:33 PM on November 3, 2007


How do we fix this? I'm serious. How do we fix this?

We don't. You'll remember what happened to the last US President that encouraged energy conservation. We've had an entire generation grow up without the slightest inkling of economic hardship (at least in a broad, socio-economic sense). The last people to experience true economic woe are dead or entombed in old folks homes.

Most people don't change until they are forced to do so by necessity. And because we have no preparation for it - that seemingly endless, painless torrent of credit has kept us supplied with all the luxury we desired - the change is going to be that much more painful.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 2:55 PM on November 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


InnocentBystander writes "the same working-class schmucks I'm talking about here would need to spend a lot more time to get to work on the crappy mass transit or a bike."

Cry me a river ! The very same working-class schmucks had -years- to make their voices heard , again and again and again and again and again ad-nauseam, concerning all aspect of mass transit. Yet unsurprisingly like many others, they were enamoured with the idea of having and running their own vehicle ! Who doesn't love the idea of being able to hop in a vehicle and reach the destination, without waiting for anybody or anything ?

That was equated to a personal freedom I guess, for americans and UK people, but it generally works for any human being.

Well, time to pay for the freedom that doesn't come for free, I guess. It sucks when there is no viable alternative, sucks even more when it was somehow
foreseeable and foresaw.


InnocentBystander writes "you're talking about 90-120 minutes per day taken up by your eco-friendly transit -- if you sleep 8 hours and work 8 hours, this can be up to 25% of your leisure time, gone."

I agree with you on the waste of time by inefficient transportation, but don't blame ALL mass transit for that, and cut the eco-friendly=enemy crap, it's just Exxon propaganda. Not all mass transit sucks, actually if you think about it underground transportation can be noticeably faster than surface, because the average speed is usually a lot higher than the avg surface one, or at least in my big city. Certainly there is may be some combined walking/bikeing to do..as in Paris/London.

But exactly as for internet, owning your own tube to the rest of the world may just be too inefficient/impossible or rest too much on your capability of financing it, so maybe one could obtain a second best optimum : something that doesn't exactly bring you door-2-door, but that is enough accessible, reliable, fast ..subtracted from strikes and monopoly privatization...the dream of an infrastructure that ships you like a packet is shipped on the net.

On a tangent, considering we opened a can of worms, Icould say I am tired of paying insurance costs with minor discounts afte proving I am a good driver , I am tired of paying expensive parts of cars because the technician doesn't want/know/can replace the broken part without buying half the car back , I am tired of cellular phone holding drivers, of people whose concepts of driving is fixed speed never change lane and god forbid they should turn. I am afraid of DUI drivers, of 40K+ deaths every year and shattered lifes of the many others they knew, not mentioning the injuried. I am also starting to be tired about needing to pull my car out to go shopping, because all the lil shops closed and I must drive to megamall ; curiously, when you learn how much having the good shipped cost, you learn how much value you are bringing by driving your car and that's a very conservative estimate.
posted by elpapacito at 4:52 PM on November 3, 2007


Innocent Bystander, I lived in Arizona for most of my life and took public transit, which was even more non-existent there then as it is now, anywhere I couldn't get on foot or by bicycle. When I finally did get a car, it was a 3-cylinder Geo Metro without air conditioning that got 40 MPG in the city, with an eight-gallon tank that I filled up about once a month. I made five bucks an hour at the time.

When I lived in San Francisco I walked twenty blocks to work, pregnant, uphill both ways, in the rain, and on the way home I was usually carrying a couple of pints of ice cream.

I'm not talking out of my ass, I'm pretty serious. People drive because they're not willing to stop and there's no real motivation to change anything.
posted by padraigin at 10:05 PM on November 3, 2007


That should read "a couple of QUARTS of ice cream". That walk made me really hungry.
posted by padraigin at 10:08 PM on November 3, 2007


Take gas to $6/gallon and lots of eco-friendly options will become available to consumers.
posted by caddis at 11:21 PM on November 3, 2007


InnocentBystander - you really give off the impression of inexperience regarding what you're talking about.

Workplaces don't tend to be happy with folks who have just sweated through their work clothes, or who have to spend the first half hour of work preventing frostbite from damaging their extremities.

Funny thing. Whenever I bike to work in the freezing cold, only co-workers who don't cycle, shivering as they hop out of their cars, comment on how cold I must be, laboring under the same misconceptions you seem to. If you bike in freezing weather, you arrive much toastier and warmer than if you drive.
(Conversely, if it's super hot, you just take it easy, and your speed cools you. I've worked cushy office jobs through to crappy minimum-wage industrial manufacturing and all workplaces were ok with people cycling, and AFAIK had facilities if needed. And many places had policy to encourage it because of problems with parking space)

Try telling your boss "sorry, couldn't come to work, bike was stolen again."

Be serious. Unless you leave it outside, the only places bikes get stolen (short of someone breaking and entering your home) is at work or the shops, etc. Thus you know the day before work that your bike has been stolen, and adjust your schedule accordingly to arrive at work on time. This is really reaching.

It's also worth noting that the same working-class schmucks I'm talking about here would need to spend a lot more time to get to work on the crappy mass transit or a bike. That's time they could be using to spend with their families, go to school, do their hobbies, et cetera.

Wrong on two counts. In most cities during rush hours (ie commute times), cars are slower than bikes. Most jobs I've worked (and I usually live out in the suburbs) it was as fast, or faster to bike to work, and I'm hardly Lance Armstrong. In one case, I worked at the same place as a roommate. It continually blew his mind that at the end of the day, he would leave work while I was still there busy working, hop in his car and drive home, and walk into the house to find me relaxing on the couch.

Secondly, by cycling instead of driving, you get your exercise out of the way during time you would otherwise be wasting on driving, thus giving your more quality time throughout the week, not less.



Basically, this is just a litany of empty excuses against something people don't want to hear. Sure, suit yourself. But the reason people fooling themselves like this get little sympathy for their pain at the gas pump is because their quagmire is entirely of their own making, and can be entirely of their own unmaking, regardless of their deeply ingrained beliefs otherwise.

Poor schmucks get sympathy. Dumb schmucks don't.
posted by -harlequin- at 4:44 AM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


"If you felt yourself to be, or to be about to be a participant spectator in that awful and final spectacle, the ekpyrosis, and, having some philosophy, wished to obtain therefrom the last benediction of life, of what character would be the good that you would seek, if not the magnificence and sublimities of the bicycle?"
posted by sfenders at 7:06 AM on November 4, 2007


"the same working-class schmucks I'm talking about here would need to spend a lot more time to get to work on the crappy mass transit or a bike."

Cry me a river ! The very same working-class schmucks had -years- to make their voices heard


This is what I'm talking about. These people have been completely snookered by the crap educational system, have been lied to and coopted by the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy into believing that white upper class liberals are attacking their "life styles" and "values" by trying to educate the society into maker saner and more communitarian choices (is that the right word-- hope you get what I mean). This is what we need to fix. People need to understand that we can handle walking "uphill both ways" (what a great metaphor-- thank you Matt Groening and padraigin), instead of being told that it is our god given right to coast.
posted by nax at 8:30 AM on November 4, 2007


You can get away with "communitarian" when you're advocating a community-based approach to some specific problem.

When you're prescribing more communal thinking in general, urging the oppressed working-class schmucks to work harder for the good of the nation and to liberate themselves from the vast conspiracy of the elite that's keeping them in servitude... you might as well go ahead and say "communist", since it's not like anyone, sympathetic to the idea or not, is going to mistake it for something else.
posted by sfenders at 11:13 AM on November 4, 2007


sfenders I see what you're saying, but it's not exactly what I mean. I mean seeing the worth of compromise to benefit the community as a whole, losing some defensiveness and even paranoia in order to see the way to the greater good, understanding that your neighbor's well being promotes your own, and long range thinking that helps everyone benefit from the rising tide, instead of being drowned by it.

And this is exactly part of the problem with discussing these issues-- I say communitarian and you think I mean communist, but I don't. We need to get beyond labels and state the problem as it is.

But back to my original contribution, I don't see anyone in this country ever getting past their own short term comfort (not even their own interest, but their immediate comfort) to solve it.
posted by nax at 11:49 AM on November 4, 2007


Where'd this focus on "working class folks" come from? Did I miss some nationwide rally of "Poor People Against Improved Bus Service?" Anyway, the zoning policies that make it hard to get anywhere without driving -- even suburbs themselves -- largely originated to let the rich get away from the poor.* To act like it's a powerful consortium of families under the poverty line who are blocking sane land use and transportation policies in the US is crazy.
*oversimplifying a bit but not too much
posted by salvia at 11:56 AM on November 4, 2007


Oh, but in other news, did anyone notice that the Bay Area's transportation agency has proposed a "climate change surcharge" on gas [cough cough gas tax cough]?

The emissions reduction is in line with the state's new global warming bill, which requires all areas of the state to drop to 1990 levels by 2020. A key tool for reaching that goal will be cutting freeway congestion by 20 percent below 2006 levels.
....
"What we wanted to show folks is how aggressive you have to be to get even halfway to that target," Heminger said.

posted by salvia at 12:02 PM on November 4, 2007


I mean seeing the worth of compromise to benefit the community as a whole, losing some defensiveness and even paranoia

Yes, well speaking of paranoia, you might want to reconsider blaming everything on a conspiracy.

In the context of discussing the increasing scarcity of liquid fuels for transportation, the only communitarian solution I've seen proposed here so far is "Hey, no problem, we can all just ride bicycles!" Like it or not, being able to hop in a vehicle and reach the destination, without waiting for anybody or anything really is a very nice personal freedom to have, and it's not likely that everyone is going to decide to give it up because they read on the Internet that it's a good idea. To get people to make personal sacrifices for the good of the nation, it takes some kind of more coercive leadership. Even assuming conservation is what you're going for, raising taxes on gasoline would make a whole lot more sense. Conservation of that kind can't really solve the problem anyway, of course. Sure, it doesn't hurt. It buys a bit more time to deal with the more fundamental problem. Only useful if that time is actually used well.
posted by sfenders at 1:47 PM on November 4, 2007




Egyt is retardedly inexpensive. It's 0.90£E per liter, which amounts to around €0.12.
posted by Deathalicious at 4:08 AM on November 5, 2007


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