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Friday, May 21, 2004

Random Gemini discusses Gas Prices

In this post Stacy talks about President Bush's correct decision to not tap the strategic reserves to combat gas prices. I agree with her completely that the strategic reserve should not be used for this. She does however, include an argument that always bugs me when she brings up the idea that only people with “that huge, fuel inefficient SUV that you don't really need” are compaining. To me this seems to imply that a) only people with SUVs are complaining about high gas prices b) if you have an SUV you have no right to complain about gas prices (regardless of any mitigating circumstances that may have inspired you to buy an SUV) and/or c) high gas prices are only a problem for people who own SUVs and don’t effect anyone else. SUVs are expensive (one reason they have become a status symbol) and by and large are owned by relatively affluent people. While I am sure most of these people would rather pay less for gas, I doubt that it is a major factor for many of them and I doubt they spend much time complaining about it. The exception to this would probably be people who, in fact, truly need an SUV or similar large vehicle. Growing up as one of six children I can confidently say that a mid-size sedan does not work for all families. I am sure that my parents would have loved to have purchased smaller, cheaper, and more fuel efficient vehicles but they didn’t really want to take three trips to transport the family anywhere. This type of SUV owner, already having to make sacrifices for a vehicle that will meet his transportation needs, is as justified as anyone else in complaining about high gas prices. High gas prices disproportionately hurt the poor more than the wealthy. While there is some difference by and large a poor person will need to drive as far as a rich one and although they may have a more fuel efficient vehicle the effect of a price increase is proportionately more impacting. Added to this is the increased cost of other goods and services from increased transportation costs. I suppose that what she is really trying to say might be that the evil SUV is the cause of all our high gas price woes. While there is some justification to this, an efficient mpg rating is only one way for a person to inefficiently use fuel. Unneeded trips, air conditioned houses, lights left on all day are also inefficient and either directly or indirectly cause an increase in gas prices. Having a variety of fresh fruits and vegatable availible all year round is a luxery that uses fuel. Singling out the SUV as the great cause of high gas prices is inaccurate and unfair. Update: Random Gemini has another post on this.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I agree with most of your arguements here, I disagree with an SUV being the only choice for larger families. Having multiplied fruitfully myself, the only cost effective choice for me was a minivan. While calling the purple beast a minivan seems a misnomer, it does get better gas mileage than an SUV. I can also haul things with it like a truck and haul my kids and their friends around. I'll freely admit that I didn't want a minivan. I would have much rather had an SUV. SUVs are cool and I didn't want to be just another soccer mom. After owning the van for a couple of years, I would definitely say that's the only choice for me now. The room, versatility and fuel efficiency are incomparable (at least in my price range.) However, I will admit that minivans are relatively new and even 15 years ago, they weren't really an option. :)

5/21/2004 02:43:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

I wasn't trying to state that large families must have an SUV, only that the most fuel efficient choices were not an option for them. While an SUV does get worse gas mileage than a minivan, they are not so far apart that the other benefits of an SUV might not quickly out weigh the advantages of slightly better fuel economy

5/21/2004 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger Random Gemini said...

I am truly of the feeling, that many people contribute to the problem by consuming more than they need to.

Replace SUV with any vehicle that isn't fuel efficient and you will get a new perspective on my argument. SUV's are merely notorious for their lack of fuel efficiency.

5/22/2004 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger Aric said...

High gas prices are not caused by or significantly contributed to by gross consumption, save in the short term. Long term, the most significant factors in the price of gas are the availability of the correct types of oil, and refining capacity. The availability of oil or lack thereof is an artificial contrivance. Although OPEC only produces 40% of the world's oil, most oil producing countries tend to unofficially follow their production guidelines. Refining capacity is also linked to this contrivance. If refineries are having trouble getting the right types of oil, they'll either retool to refine something else (and that takes time and capital), or idle the refinery. Either way, it takes time and money to bring that capacity back up to full speed after a prolonged shortage. Combine the refining shortage with a sudden spike in demand, and you've got high gas prices. Although the American propensity to drive larger, more inefficient vehicles certainly doesn't help the problem, I would say that it more has to do with the fact that Americans drive long and often.

5/22/2004 09:15:00 PM  
Blogger Random Gemini said...

See my comments here:


5/24/2004 11:04:00 AM  

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