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16 June 2010 @ 09:45 am
gassy externalities  
"That means the gasoline you're buying at the pump is -- stick with me here -- too cheap. The price you pay is less than the product's true cost. A lot less, actually. And it's not just catastrophic spills and dramatic disruptions in the Middle East that add to the price. Gasoline has so many hidden costs that there's a cottage industry devoted to tallying them up."

Yes, YES, YES.
I'm feeling: crankybeyond cranky
Deloresdebsquared on June 16th, 2010 02:03 pm (UTC)
I think of it as a shell game of "who gets to pay the real cost?" If businesses keep moving the shells around, the expectation is no one will notice that the totals just aren't right.
Blue Gargantuabluegargantua on June 16th, 2010 02:03 pm (UTC)

Yeah, but sadly it's the last few paragraphs that are also true. Oil is the High Fructose Corn Syrup of energy. It's pretty much always cheaper to buy junk food than vegetables and mmmmm....junk food. Of course, when we eventually run out of oil then we'll really want the alternatives, but the discipline required to switch before we hit disaster might be beyond the ability of any government (and any national population) to achieve.

The future may hold other solutions however.

vito_excalibur on June 16th, 2010 02:31 pm (UTC)
Yes indeed. I whine and then cheer whenever the gas prices go up at the pump. If we were paying the true cost of it, we'd use less.

ETA: I know he says we wouldn't, but I live in a place which is devoted to messing with our transportation system, and you can see people developing carpooling when it becomes advantageous to.

Edited at 2010-06-16 02:32 pm (UTC)
Chance: america! fuck yeah!1!miss_chance on June 16th, 2010 03:07 pm (UTC)
I see how/why your mood with this article would be "beyond cranky." But ridiculous optimist that I am, I have to say it lifts my spirits a little. Progressive thinkers have been voicing those thoughts for decades, in small, independent presses. I'm sure the hidden costs of gasoline comes up in your work and research specifically, all the time, probably almost every day.

When the Washington Post runs the story, though, and in small words, friendly, personable language that people can understand... Well, I don't know, it feels like a small victory to me.
ruthless compassion: martini handsaroraborealis on June 16th, 2010 03:13 pm (UTC)
Oh, no, I agree with that. I'm cranky about gas, our dependence on oil, and the fact that these externalities still exist. The article is great.
T Streichsweetbaboo on June 16th, 2010 03:57 pm (UTC)
See also: Water, food, conflict (war).
Misanthropic extrovertdbang on June 16th, 2010 04:35 pm (UTC)
Yes, I had the same thought.

This is what I want to say when people bang the capitalism drum (and invariably diss socialism.) Paying for (for example) national defense is, they say, a valid government function, but paying for (as another example) welfare is not, because people should be pulling their own weight, not expecting Society to suck up the cost for their existence.

But when food, water, gasoline (and hosts of other things) are not charged at their true costs, it means Society is subsidizing EVERYONE in proportion to their consumption.

Blah blah blah blah....
Misanthropic extrovertdbang on June 16th, 2010 04:32 pm (UTC)
that's a great article, thanks for linking to it.
Will O'the Wispwotw on June 16th, 2010 04:42 pm (UTC)
I agree with you that oil is probably way underpriced. But the
column you link to should make both of us *less* cranky about
this, not more.

The real goal is to get the quantity right, not the price. The
reason we want to get the price right is that it's the only known
way to get the quantity right. But according to this column,
the price doesn't affect the quantity much anyway. That means
it's less important to get the price right, and hence there's
less reason to be cranky about getting it wrong.
ruthless compassion: martini handsaroraborealis on June 16th, 2010 04:46 pm (UTC)
Well, that part of the article strikes me as dumb, actually. We have proof that even in the US, where people seem to think we're incapable of change, people's demands on oil-for-energy go down in the US as the price climbs (see summer 2007).
Will O'the Wispwotw on June 16th, 2010 05:28 pm (UTC)
Yes, I quite agree with you. I wonder what evidence these
researchers think they've found to the contrary. (It would
have to be very powerful evidence indeed to outweigh all the
existing evidence you implicitly cite.)