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.
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 Electric. Post 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."
- MSN Autos:Find the cheapest gas near you
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.
More on MSN Money:
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!!!
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.
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.
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!
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..
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.
@tylerdurton...."while Bush was destroying our economy" eh? Oh, you mean how Bush was destroying our economy when gas went to $2-$3 a gallon? Is that what you mean? Just curious. And the Us economy and the citizens got "raped by republicans" but whats going on now, WHICH IS UNPRECEDENTED (you moron), isnt raping the economy or the citizens...is it?. You are a typical liberal that uses different measuring sticks to suit your lack of intelligence. I seriously wonder how someone could be so ignorant and outright clueless.
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