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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.

More on MSN Money:
Apr 20, 2011 7:32PM
Lynn Mucken at MSN Money is quite possibly the dumbest person ever to use a word processing program.  I'm genuinely surprised that a person over the age of 3 can be so out of touch with reality.
Basically, she is glad that many people are having a tough time financially right now.  Apparently this person has never had to do a real days' work.
Apr 19, 2011 10:53AM
Apr 19, 2011 11:14AM
Obama is the worst president EVER!!!
Apr 19, 2011 7:53PM

Did I wake up in the Twlight Zone?  I remember when we were in this situation 3 years ago no one was saying that high gas prices were good.  In fact, we got daily tallies of the cost of fuel and how Bush's friends in Big Oil were making out big - even conspiracies that it was done on purpose to enrich his friends.  We got sob story after sob story from potential Obama voters about how bad the economy (before the recession hit) about how this was hurting the average family.  We heard how families were giving up purchasing snacks for kids, how vacations were nixed, and how after school activities were being dropped. Now that a Democrat is in charge - high gas is great for everyone!  Its a celebration, it'll make us buy cars that get 40 miles on electricity?  The most "wha?" moment in this article is that it will make more people shop locally?

 As though locals live in a vacuum when it comes to getting their products on the shelves - the price of everything will go up like it did the last time that fuel prices skyrocketed.  Meanwhile, our government is going to borrow money to loan to nations south of us so that they can use their oil?  Is ending oil dependency really the goal if we are going to help others finance their oil extraction?

Apr 19, 2011 11:10AM
Advantage of high gas prices? The author is an idiot!
Apr 19, 2011 11:04AM
Just another Liberal left writer pushing the Obama agenda....
Apr 19, 2011 10:52AM

There IS an argument for everything in life, including $5 a gallon fuel.


However, you might well find yourself ALONE as you try to convince us.


People are not happy anymore and unhappy people make unhappy communities to say the least.

Apr 20, 2011 7:30PM
You all do understand that MSNBC is the state run media and propaganda machine. If this administration sold New York to China, they would show how it would benefit the rest of us. They would also excuse a complete failure in the Middle East and blame it on Bush some how. They will not tell you the truth about this administration and the failures of our economy that are about to come!!!
Apr 19, 2011 11:22AM
Funny how when there was a republican president there were news articles daily about how the high cost of gas was affecting consumers, but when there is a democrat in office suddenly it's we will just have to get used to high prices.

No, there is no media bias!!!


Apr 20, 2011 6:53PM
I'm sure I am one of millions who can tell this story: I commute over 300 miles per week between school, work, and family obligations. So am I supposed to drop out of school? Quit my job? Keep the kids home from school? in order to avoid spending $100 a week to have gas in my car? I find it difficult to find anything good about $5 gas.
Apr 19, 2011 10:59AM

If the writer was trying to be cute, he/she failed miserably and instead only succeeded in insulting the readers.

Apr 20, 2011 7:21PM
Wow, dumbest article I've seen in months.

Ever heard of the glazier's fallacy?

Stunningly stupid piece there by "Mucken"
Apr 19, 2011 11:09AM

The author forgets one small detail.  Most people don't have the option to not drive, so trying to offer up suggestions as to why we might be happy to see $5 gas is crazy.  It is nothing more than the result of not taking our own energy needs seriously and the continued devaluation of the dollar around the world.  Speculation and flight to commodities is what is driving the price along with some increased global demand.  I do have a hard time believing that somehow in the last 8 to 10 months some great imbalance has occurred in demand that would cause such a large move.  Oil prices started going up when the President decided to put a moratorium on new drilling in the Gulf, along with showing no interest in solving the problem over the long hall.  This is what we get when we have a President that looks to fundamentally change America.  This is exactly what he wants to see because he shares the authors point of view that there are benefits to $5+ per gallon gas.

Apr 20, 2011 9:40AM
Yep I remember reading this 3-4 years ago!! It's good to pay more at the pump! Yep I remember it well! Oh wait!!!! Sorry I'm mistaken they wanted Bush's head for paying 4.15 but now it's good!!!! Hey Media, if you do for 1 you have to do for everybody!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Apr 19, 2011 3:32PM
Please tell me this was intended for print in The Onion. I know the MSM is dying a slow and painful death. But even for the MSM this is beyond pathetic.

if $5 is good, then why not $10 or $100 or hell, let's just ban gas altogether and we'll all walk everywhere. No more traffic. Everyone will be skinny. No more security lines at the airport.

This author deserves a prize for most idiotic internet post of the year.


Apr 20, 2011 6:17PM
You guys are lucky. In the UK we have almost $9 a gallon gas. But I do agree that whoever wrote this is being paid by Obama.
Apr 20, 2011 6:29PM
The only people who could possibly support $5 gas prices are wealthy city people who don't think outside their box. 

When you work as a business executive and live within walking distance of any grocery store, coffee shop, or restaurant, of course it's easy to just walk to them. When you're a Hollywood celebrity who makes more from one movie than the average person from the Midwest makes in 50 years, of course it's easy to just buy a Hybrid Vehicle, pick up your gas station tab, and oppose drilling in places that would significantly lower gas prices.

However, all the electric or Hybrid cars in the world aren't going to chance the fact that the country needs 18 wheelers, US Postal Service vehicles, UPS/Fed-Ex vehicles, and airplanes to keep our economy running. How exactly do groceries make it to grocery stores? How exactly do TV's, computers, and i-Phones make it to electronic stores or to your doorstep? How does mail make it to mailboxes?

Vehicles, airplanes, or trains that need fuel from oil to run!
Apr 20, 2011 10:01PM
Is the author actually stupid or just on the same fantasy island that our president is?  Where were all these "Positive" things when GW was President and gas was rising at less than 14 cents a gallon (versus the 30 cents it rose in a similar two week period as under the current "leadership")?  Hey, lives got saved...more than under this admin so we can say GW was good for the country (since we know the author won't).  I won't bother with all the other "reasons" high gas prices are good since they are based on an idiots concept of what is a good thing except in regards to "End of Wars".  This is the hope and prayer of all lunatic liberals, with the exception of wars they start (which just so happens they start most of them through their "peace making" efforts....such irony).  Wasn't the reason, according to the communist liberal groups, we went to war in Iraq to get their oil?  Thus it would have driven the price down (oddly enough, none of this ever showed to be true but hey, who cares about truth).  In human history, most if not all wars are a result of someone having something someone else wants.  As such, we need OIL because our government is preventing us from getting it in our own territory.  So, we go to war because someone else has what we need (not necessarily want).  So, high prices of oil does not lead to less war....I guess they let any leftist ignorant fool write articles for leftist communist liberal organizations. 
Apr 20, 2011 6:59PM
I think this guy should pull his head out of his &$$.
Apr 19, 2011 11:10AM
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