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Why you should love $5 gas

Stop grousing about the numbers at the pump. All of this could be good for you and good for America.

By doubleace Apr 19, 2011 8:58AM

Updated: May 25, 2011, 8:10 p.m. ET

 

This post is by Lynn Mucken of MSN Money.


As you pump 13 gallons into your Honda CR-V  -- American's best-selling SUV with 28 mpg on the highway and 21 in town -- it's nearly impossible to view the $50 you're spending with a positive attitude.


With the national average for regular at $3.81, it's easy to label oil executives as pond scum, but try to remain open-minded. Think of the big picture: Though that promised road trip to Disney World has gone up in carbon monoxide, high gas prices may actually have an upside. Not for you and your family personally, maybe, but perhaps for the United States as a whole.


What if gas hit $5 a gallon? Here are some benefits (and we're serious about most of them):  

 

Fewer people would die on the road. The less you drive, the more likely you will survive, if the events of 2008, the year of the most recent gas price surge, are correct. In 2007, 30,527 died in vehicle accidents in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2008, that number dropped 12%, to 26,791.


This mainly was attributed to a decrease in highway speeds. Also contributing was a 2% drop in miles driven, from 3.03 trillion to 2.97 trillion, despite a 1.7% increase in the number of registered vehicles. On the negative side, with many turning to more economical modes of transportation, motorcycle deaths rose 2.6% in 2008 and bicycle deaths 1%.

Demand for high-mileage cars could grow. The key word here is "could." Hybrid sales rose quickly in 2007 as gas prices climbed, then dropped noticeably in the second half of 2008 as gas prices plummeted from over $4 to $1.60. This time around, despite gas prices climbing steadily over the past year, hybrid cars shrunk from 2.9% of new vehicle sales in 2009 to 2.4% in 2010, according to Ward's Auto. Meanwhile, sales of trucks, SUVs, crossovers and minivans rose from 48% of the market to 51% from 2009 to 2010. In addition, the average fuel economy rating of new vehicles sold in 2010 was 22.2 mpg, down from 22.3 mpg in 2009.

 

That proves, of course, that Americans love their big vehicles. It could turn out to be different this time around. For one thing, there will be far more gas-efficient options available, plus all-electrics like the Chevrolet Volt and the soon-to-be-launched Ford Focus ElectricPost continues after video.

Shorter security lines. Airlines fares are extremely fuel-price reactive. Soon, hardly anyone will be able to afford to fly willy-nilly around the country or globe. You will breeze through the maze of airport checkpoints.

 

Less pollution. Less driving means cleaner air. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "pollution from vehicles causes two of our worst air pollution problems, smog and carbon monoxide." There are no solid figures on how many Americans die annually from car-produced pollution, but a 2008 study by Great Britain's University of Birmingham linked pneumonia deaths to pollution from motor vehicles.


Less congestion. Ever notice how well rush-hour freeway traffic flows on the minor holidays when most of the rest of us are working? A 2% drop in miles driven can make a big difference, allowing you to drive faster, although you now won't want to. According to the Department of Energy, on average every 5 mph you drive over 60 is like paying an extra 24 cents per gallon (based on a $3.79 price).

 

High prices lead to lower prices. Mackubin Thomas Owens, a professor of national-security affairs at the Naval War College and the editor of Orbis, the journal of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, theorizes that if gas prices rise enough, the government will open up areas now closed to oil production and oil companies will be able to invest in more-expensive methods of extracting oil. Soon we will be drowning in the stuff, and prices will drop again.

 

More exercise.The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates that by 2020, three out of four Americans will be categorized as overweight or obese. So, it can't hurt to walk the three blocks to the grocery or bike to school or work.

 

"When gas hits $4 a gallon, a lot of people come in looking for options," said Tim Blumenthal, the president of Bikes Belong Coalition. "Bike commuting jumped 44% between 2000 and 2010, with a big part of that in 2008. Still, more than half of all bike trips are three miles or less, so we're seeing racks and baskets (sold) for those who have multiple stops to make on the way home."

End of wars. According to National Defense Magazine, the cost of "in theater" gasoline to our troops in Afghanistan can range from $100 to $600. The Army estimated fuel can cost up to $400 a gallon if the only way to ship it is via helicopters. (Black Hawk helicopters get 0.74 mpg, while F15-E strike fighters get 0.41 mpg.) And that was last year's prices. Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya might get too expensive for America's taste.


Local businesses could profit. If you can't afford to drive out to Wal-Mart or Home Depot, you may be buying instead at the local supermarket or neighborhood hardware store. In addition, as the cost of transporting, say, grapes from Chile, goes out of sight, you may turn to regional farmers for your produce.


It's all about democracy. If we let up on the gas pedal, we'll starve those oil-rich despots out of existence. Oh, we import as much from Canada as from Saudi Arabia and Venezuela combined.


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3467Comments
May 26, 2011 10:12AM
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So now high gas prices are a good thing.   The Obamugabe propaganda machine is in full effect.   War is peace.   Unemployment is work.   How many Orwellian articles will the propagandist press keep printing trying to tell us not to believe what reality is telling us.

 

Future articles from the same jackasses:

 

"Sovereign bankruptcy is great for the country"

"Attacking Libya without approval of Congress- Bush's fault"

"Why Executive Orders are making Congress irreleavant - why that's good for you!"

 

Remember everyone, the left is in LOVE with tyranny.   Good back and look at all other leftist states.   Look under Mao, Stalin, Hitler, etc.   It's always the same.   Massive costs, an impoverished nation, no liberties, no impartial law, and massive peace time deaths of civilians.   It's no different here.  This is what these people are about.   Tyranny and massive poverty

May 26, 2011 10:12AM
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Why don’t we just demonize every American Industry? The Left, including the Obama Administration is doing their very best. That should do wonders for the economy. $5 a gallon gasoline (or higher) is the stated goal of the Ultra-Left. Energy Secretary Chu said "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe." Enough said.

 

Another piece of useful information: BIG OIL makes about 2.5 cents per gallon of gas; the Federal Government makes almost 50 cents per gallon of gas. Let’s not forget the Vehicle Mileage Tax (VMT) that the Federal Government is proposing. Yes, that’s a tax for miles driven. Here in Maryland, one of the most Liberal States in the country, the legislature was proposing an additional 10 cents per gallon of gas.

 

Who’s the glutton? Wake up Liberal America!!! The government is the problem, not the solution!!!

May 26, 2011 10:11AM
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Yep, it's official! The biased media is now convinced that the majority of Americans are morons and are duty bound to bend over and take it in the **** with a smile!

Holy sheep excrement Batman, what does this mean for Gotham?    Someone shoot me already!  Confused
May 26, 2011 10:11AM
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What a stupid article, pure and simple. Must have missed her economics 101 class.  Stupid and full of flawed logic. Guess that applies to everything then, higher grocery prices, higher home heating costs, higher ticket prices, higher medical costs. This lady must be high.
May 26, 2011 10:11AM
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The purpose of this ridiculous article is to convince us, the stupid, uninformed masses, that $5/gal or more for gasoline is good for America and we should actually THANK our socialist pres Obama for what is left of our economy.  According to the main stream media, $5/gal when Bush is pres = bad, $5/gal when "the Messiah" is pres = good.  Unbelievable.

 

May 26, 2011 10:11AM
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What the author has intentionally left out is what it does to the economy. If there are less lines at Disney, then they lose money, then Disney employees start losing their jobs. Its not just Disney but any amusement provider will take a hit. The same thing with food prices, people are eating out less and less because the restaurants raise their prices to pay their overhead and the customers are trying to conserve to pay for gas, this is a lose-lose situation. Yes, the planet would be better off if we did less driving, but not everyone has the luxury of being able to take the train or the subway, there a large number of people who live in rural areas. Not to sound paranoid but I think maybe this author is attached to the gas companies or the government, either way its still a large smelly heap of garbage!
May 26, 2011 10:10AM
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OMG.... what a whack job. If people flew less the airlines would go out of buisness or they would just charge alot more to fly to make up for higher fuel prices. Also if we use less gas other countris like China will just gobble up what we do not use. Another thing, if gas prices reached $5 do you think they will ever go down? The north American continent has enough fuel underground to last us 150 years at current consumption, but yet we get it from other countries.

The goverment and these speculators need to go away. We need a new form of government, by the people for the people. Stop letting career politicans run the show.

May 26, 2011 10:10AM
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just wondering..... if the "evil" oil companies make 7 cents profit per gallon and the gov't takes in 43 cents per gallon not to mention what individual states may charge then who is actually the bad guy??
May 26, 2011 10:10AM
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$5.00 a gallon WooHoo cant wait , I'm with you.
May 26, 2011 10:10AM
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I'm a small mostly organic farmer and this year I cannot afford to grow staple crops because the cost of everything I need to make a profit (ie stay in business) is too high. I can't justify the expense to even show up at local farmer's markets anymore due to the high cost of fuel and the lack of people who will pay for gas to get there. What does that tell you folks? I will no longer supply the stores in my area with cheap produce to sell to you.  I'm focused on my family's needs.  We will be fine but good luck to the rest of you who don't have the ability to grow your own food. Expect higher prices on the items you want, as the cost to produce them and get them to you goes up. PS If you can, plow up your lawn and start a garden. Also, get rid of politicians who have caused the price of oil to get so high in the USA.
May 26, 2011 10:10AM
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I feel dumber for having read this article.  "shorter lines at the pump"- because it's $5 a gal.

"less vehicle crashes"- no one can afford gas to drive.  "more exercise"- let me walk 10 miles each way to church every  sunday, 5 miles each way to grocery shop, and another 5 miles because we just ran out of milk!  "less polution"- as long as this writer is poluting the air with stupidity the price of gas won't matter!

May 26, 2011 10:09AM
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Are they freakin' kidding with this article????  It was obviously placed by the government or the oil industry... or both!  Greed has taken over as the number one commodity in this world!!!
May 26, 2011 10:09AM
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YET ANOTHER REASON WHY ALL LIBERALS SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO REPRODUCE OR ADOPT !
May 26, 2011 10:09AM
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What planet is this moron from? Sure less people would die on highways, but how many will die from malnutrition/starvation? Higher gas would also mean higher food prices.. Not to mention all the other domino effects. Lynn Mucken, go back to your dream world..

May 26, 2011 10:08AM
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They keep throwing this article out there. It is one of the dumbest articles I have ever read. Liberal media is trying to push their agenda on everyone else and then make you think it is good for you.
May 26, 2011 10:08AM
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Here's an upside to this article, the writer gets fired and looks for other work. Upside 2- fire the person that ok'ed the article.  Both clowns should be looking for work while they enjoy all of the upsides of higher gas prices. 

May 26, 2011 10:08AM
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What a moron. Sure, $5 gas will end wars. Idiotic.

May 26, 2011 10:08AM
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Gas is the bloodline of our economy.  Increased gas prices is sucking the blood out of our societal arteries.  I'm sure that someone will find and revel in the upside of dying a slow death. 
May 26, 2011 10:08AM
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Why did we not hear how good high fuel prices were for us when George Bush was in office? It seems that what the press would conceder bad before is a blessing now, now that we have "The One" as President. This is all so ridicules it is almost funny.
May 26, 2011 10:08AM
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Again MSN to slanted and not enough wisdom in your articles. Oil is in everything we use. Its plastic, roads, makeup, condoms, latex, rugs, fibers, lacquers, paints, pictures etc...... gas is just one part of the bi-product. What does gas effect as well? Well all the delivery to everything you buy period, even those flavored coffees you love so much. Wake up, How about looking at why we have gas prices so high and fix that end. If you want to pay more at the pump fill up your neighbors car for free. If you want to save the world invent something worth wild and market it. Get us to space or created a better water system or find better ways to explore the sea. How about finding a way to make sure we can survive a earth killing cosmic event. Oh snap that would take oil as well, i guess were screwed.  
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