Monday, April 21, 2008

Why Do We LOVE Paying So Much For Gas?

We Americans must LOVE paying so much for gasoline. We must love the thought of gas going over $4.00 a gallon, and thirst for it to go higher. We must, because we're doing everything we can to make it happen. Sure we give "lip service" to hybrids. biodiesel and ethanol, but with the same two lips we endorse so MANY fuel wasting measures.
We insist on raising the speed limit to 70 mpg, which means we'll drive 79...or 80, or more, even though we could cut our fuel consumption by 20 percent by driving 55 instead of 70. Not to mention the lives that would be saved. In 1975, when speed limits were lowered to 55, fatalities also fell, by more than 9,000. Some studies dispute that slowing down saves lives, although simple physics dictate that it's easier to stop from 55 mph than from 75 mph, and collisions at 55 are not nearly as violent as those at 75 or 80.

I used to be speeder myself. I drive 110 miles every day, round trip, to work, and have for the last 11 years. Finally fuel prices jumped so high I was looking for ways to save money and decided to try simply slowing down. It took some getting used to. At first, I felt like I was crawling, but gradually, I got used to the slower speed. I started enjoying the ride even more as I could listen to the radio, think about what I wanted to get done that day and drive at a leisurely pace. I even avoided a couple of collisions with deer, as I could see them faster and slow down faster. I also started saving money. My fuel economy rose from 19 mpg in my Ford Ranger, to 25 mph. Now I drive a Honda Civic rated at 32 mpg, but I get 40 mph. My commute takes about 5 or 6 minutes longer, but 5 or 6 minutes is worth the money and making my drive safer.

It's a tough sell. So many of us are hooked on speed. They whiz by me at 80 mph or more each morning. Every once in a while, I'll see them again, on the side of the road, getting a ticket. That's not too often, though. It seems that for the most part, we don't enforce the higher speed limits we have. Sadly, some of the worst speeders are law enforcement officers themselves......the ones who are supposed to be slowing us down. Let's face it. We're hooked on speed. We're hooked on being in a hurry.We LOVE the vehicles with 300 horsepower and up. They're sexy, and sexy sells...even though sexy also costs. We're seeing more ads featuring fuel economy now, but it's more of a marketing afterthought than a market foreshadow we should have seen years ago.
We complain about what gas costs now, instead of investing in our future years ago by pushing ethanol and biodiesel. There are plenty of ethanol and biodiesel plants under construction now, but when will they come on line? And will we support them once the price of gas slightly drops just to tease us into putting off alternate fuels again. Why would we rather be beholding to Saudi Arabia and Venezuela than our own American farmers for our fuel? I don't know why, but I know we are.
In the meantime, in addition to us loving high fuel prices, we must LOVE paying more for food and other goods, as the fuel surcharges mount. The $4 plus diesel is what delivers our food, medicine, clothes, furniture and plasma TVs. We don't mind.

We SAY we want lower fuel prices, but for decades, we set the stage for higher prices and higher consumption with our habits and preferences. Please don't complain about how the high profits of the oil companies. That must have also been what we wanted. They're only charging what we're willing to pay. That's business 101. One way to lower prices, is to lower demand and we don't want to do that. We'd rather complain, or ask the government to force oil companies to lower prices, instead of taking charge of our own fuel dependence ourselves. We can change our habits by slowing down and support alternate fuels that WE can produce, right here in the good ole USA, but we'd rather pay more for oil from the Middle East and make them even richer, and oh yeah, complain. Why?


hulagirlatheart said...

Addicted..I'll admit it. I love a fast car. I'm trying to slow down, but it's a work in progress.

Rick Okie, DRIVETHELIMITS said...

Hi Lew,

Great story! I found it while researching material for my blog, "DRIVETHELIMITS." I'm starting a grassroots movement to do exactly what you're describing here: urging folks to slow down to posted speed limits for all the obvious benefits.

I posted a link to your blog from mine and I'm joining yours as a follower. If you don't mind - return the favor and go to:

and join up on my blog too.

Cheers, Rick Okie