Sanding our assholes with 150 grit. Slowly. Lovingly.

Have Gas prices affected you (probably U.S. specific)?

I realized this weekend that gas prices have finally affected me. There was a user group meeting on Saturday in downtown, and I chose not to go because I wanted to make it more days without having to fill up.

I know that other countries pay much higher gas prices, and would probably love to pay what we are paying here. But for me, who was paying $1.70 a gallon not even a year ago, it's a bit of a shock.
Permalink Cory Foy 
August 18th, 2005
I'm a pretty heavy commuter at times, compared to the average, and honestly compared to all of the other costs gas really doesn't seem that significant, and really I think people (and the media) are over-dramatizing the impact, and it is more psychological (coupled with a perverse denial about how expensive cars really are before you even factor in gas).

e.g. I drive on a toll highway which costs me from $3.00 to $5.00 per way, get a coffee that costs from $1.55 - $3.00, depreciate the vehicle who knows how many dollars (probably about $0.20 a kilometer), bring myself that much closer to the next service appointment, wear down the tires, and pay enough auto insurance that it costs about $0.25 a kilometer. Couple in the huge taxes needed to cover the transportation infrastructure, and the unaccounted cost of pollution.

By comparison, gas in my vehicle costs around $0.10 per kilometer. I still find it remarkable that pushing some heated water through some virtually limitless quantities coffee grounds costs far more than a limited and huge demand resource explored and sucked out of the ground.
Permalink Dennis Forbes 
August 18th, 2005
Hell yes it affects me - I pay US$4 per gallon.
Permalink Flasher T 
August 18th, 2005
I'll continue to drive to work as long as there's a net gain for doing so.

I get 25mpg (US gallons) currently, but I'm not going to trade in for a 40mpg+ hybrid -- all my miles are highway miles, and hybrids don't do that well at 80mph (they run on the gas motor at those speeds, negating any improvements).
Permalink example 
August 18th, 2005
Probably US specific???

Yeah, cos the rest of the world isn't bothered by petrol prices. Which are currently topping $6 a US gallon over here.

And the power company has written to us saying that they have to put their prices up by another 15%...


I just love the way Americans think high oil prices are a US problem.
Permalink Katie Lucas 
August 18th, 2005
Neat how we get such high oil prices in an oil president's second term...

It certainly has an effect on other people, but I would sure maintain that it is a U.S. problem, in so much as the cause is concerned.
Permalink I am Jack's infinite id 
August 18th, 2005
"I just love the way Americans think high oil prices are a US problem."

Ermmm, the world portrays Americans as gas pigs, driving their mega vehicles and commuting massive distances. Of course that's pretty much true. I presume this was the foundation of the OPs subject line, given that we're constantly schooled about how Europe is so amazingly considerate with resource usage, carefully sipping a teaspoon of gas for their motorized bicycle.
Permalink Dennis Forbes 
August 18th, 2005
I think the non-US objection to "probably US specific" is that it's less of a problem for people in the US even though they're pretty much the cause of the high price in the first place. Until you're using your fair share and paying the same as everyone else you can all shut up whining about it. :)
Permalink Mat Hall 
August 18th, 2005
We in the US are complaining about the higher prices just because it's such a shock to the system when the cost of a tank of gas suddenly skyrockets.

Although I don't enjoy paying higher prices, I'm hoping that it will impel my fellow gas-guzzlers to scale back and stop driving those Ford Expeditions and Lincoln Navigators and (shudder) Hummers.
Permalink Dana 
August 18th, 2005
If it does affect behaviour then it will be temporary and largely because of the knock on effect to food and household prices.

If we're experience is anything to go by though that change isn't going to last very long. Even though our price per litre is almost as high as your price per US Gallon there are still as many 4x4's and the rest of the large engined brigade. That said the actual mpg of those vehicles tends to be much better than their equivalents in the US solely because of engine sizes.

What did affect car buying to a greater extent was not petrol prices but road tax increases on engine sizes over 1.4L and the virtual extinction of the company car by taxation.

I filled up the Volvo this morning, I've given up looking at the total price but it was somewhere around £60.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
August 18th, 2005
Hmmm grammatical nonsense in there, If we're = If our
Permalink Simon Lucy 
August 18th, 2005
I live in the US and I think gasoline/petrol is still a bargain here (although I've always owned cars with reasonable fuel mileage). When adjusted for inflation, isn't US gasoline currently cheaper in real terms than it was in the mid-1970s? I think the media makes a big deal of the price, but it doesn't fundamentally alter the life that most people live here. (The price of home heating oil this coming winter may be a different issue.)

People may complain about the price, but I can't see that it's having much effect when most people don't think twice about paying $40-$100 per month for a cell phone, $50-$100 per month for cable TV, $3-$5 for a cup of fancy coffee, $10 for a movie ticket, $30 or more per person for a dinner at an average restaurant, and on and on. If you drive 1000 miles per month at 25 miles per gallon that's 40 gallons, which at $2.50 per gallon, costs $100 per month (or less than one "grande whatever" cup of coffee per day).
Permalink Philip 
August 18th, 2005
I live in mexico, we pay about 6 mexican pesos per liter, thats about 2dlls per gallon

I think you will be ok hehe.


http://www.google.com.mx/search?num=50&hl=es&rls=GGLD%2CGGLD%3A2004-49%2CGGLD%3Aes&q=6+pesos+per+liter+to+dollars+per+gallon&meta=
Permalink Masiosare 
August 18th, 2005
<<We in the US are complaining about the higher prices just because it's such a shock to the system when the cost of a tank of gas suddenly skyrockets.>>

but you still pay less for gas? prices went from 70 cents to a buck a litre over here... or from $2.17 (USD) to $3.10 (USD) per us gallon?
Permalink Kenny 
August 18th, 2005
I have never driven on a regular basis (I have always chosen to live close enough to work that I can walk or bike or take public transport).

Gas prices affect me only indirectly (e.g. by affecting national economies, manufacturing costs and retail prices, wars, the environment, etc).

> Yeah, cos the rest of the world isn't bothered by petrol prices.

I expect that the majority of people in the world (i.e., most people in China and India) still don't drive at all regularly.
Permalink Christopher Wells 
August 18th, 2005
"Europe is so amazingly considerate with resource usage, carefully sipping a teaspoon of gas for their motorized bicycle"

Dream on. Over here, at above $6/US Gallon, it's big SUV's and "tuned" (meaning, half the mpg of the motor for a few extra hp) kits that are selling like hotcakes.

The first goes to Mr. Jones wanting to keep the safety illusion pace in the red-queen roadwars, the second would be for pimple faced "my dick is too small and I darkened my windows so people can see the puss erupt when my boils burst, but I still can't get laid" little johnny.
Permalink Just me (Sir to you) 
August 18th, 2005
At this one Mexican restaurant some colleagues and I frequented, there was a sign on the door that stated:

"Due to rising gas prices, delivery of goods to our business has also risen. Therefore, we are unable to offer complimentary [free] chips and salsa for customers anymore. Sorry for the inconvenience."
Permalink Yoey 
August 18th, 2005
"my dick is too small and I darkened my windows so people can see the puss erupt when my boils burst, but I still can't get laid"

Yeah, that's a funny stereotype until you overhear women discussing guys' cars.

Philo
Permalink Philo 
August 18th, 2005
Gonna tint the windows on the Aries K car?
Permalink hoser 
August 18th, 2005
>> less of a problem for people in the US even though they're pretty much the cause of the high price in the first place. <<

I don't think the blame can be pinned on us this time. I think a large part of it is rising demand in China.

Which means that the high prices are here to stay, as their economy grows.
Permalink example 
August 18th, 2005
They just talked about gas prices on the news this morning, and they were kind enough to mention, that if you take the taxes out of the gas price that the U.S. adds in, then do the same for european countries, most of Europe is actually their gallon/litre of gas cheaper than the U.S.. Your governments are the ones who are fucking you over. I guess that's also why your freeways (ie: the autobahn) are as smooth as glass, while ours are cracked and filled with potholes.

Also, driving makes a heck of a lot more sense in the U.S. than in Europe, because we are far less densely populated. The majority of the U.S.A. is still considered wilderness. Public transit only really works in places with a high population density.
Permalink Jared 
August 18th, 2005
"Yeah, that's a funny stereotype until you overhear women discussing guys' cars"

Well, you should probably just avoid them, then.

Then again, maybe it's just me. I do like women that come equipped with a brain. Yes, I tend to be somewhat picky, even if we're just talking about getting laid.

And, yes, before anyone asks, that might explain much :)
Permalink Paulo Caetano 
August 18th, 2005
"Yeah, cos the rest of the world isn't bothered by petrol prices. Which are currently topping $6 a US gallon over here."

My point was, that us American's are used to being able to *not* think about it because gas prices have been so low. Most of the rest of the world already deals with it, and I was curious how people who didn't necessarily deal with before were handling it now.

Jeez, can't win... :)
Permalink Cory Foy 
August 18th, 2005
"...gas prices have been so low."

And *my* point is that they're *still* low. :)
Permalink Mat Hall 
August 18th, 2005
Some good points about relative cost of gas versus the other things people spend money on.

My wife and I are very careful about spending money. 10% straight to savings, 10% for charity (our church). I don't stop and get a coffee every morning (though I'd love to), I bring my lunch to work most days, and we only eat out once or twice a month.

In that situation, losing an extra $20-30 a week just for gas isn't any fun. And it is frustrating that there are so few options - not many places around here let you live near where you work unless you have a *lot* of money, or a good bullet-proof vest. Very little public transportation, and there'a no way I would endanger my life by riding a bike on these roads (even though it's only like 15 miles to work).

And yes, Mat, I know they are still low relatively speaking (though we are getting close to breaking the all time high of $3 a gallon adjusted for inflation). But most people didn't prepare for them to make the jump they did, so I'm sure there is some adjustment going on (or there will be eventually)
Permalink Cory Foy 
August 18th, 2005
Well with these gas prices at least you'll see less and less trailer-trash buying Hummers to park in front of thier single wides.

Rent-to-own baby.
Permalink Yo 
August 18th, 2005
> And *my* point is that they're *still* low.

Um, not so much, when you have even a modestly-sized grocery store depending on truck deliveries from a hundred or so miles distant arriving several times a day. Scale that up to factories that depend on just-in-time inventory and it starts to get hairy.

My personal concern was never with the cost to fill my own tank. This creaky consumer economy depends utterly on truck transportation, which now faces $3 per gallon diesel.
Permalink Dan Rowan or Dick Martin - your choice 
August 18th, 2005
I'm also awaiting a lucid, non-Kool-Aid explanation as to how increases in the price of oil futures can have an immediate effect on the price of gasoline that's already in a service station's underground tanks. Just saying.
Permalink Dan Rowan or Dick Martin - your choice 
August 18th, 2005
The explanation I heard is that they want to charge you enough that they can afford to replace (i.e. buy more of) what they sell.
Permalink Christopher Wells 
August 18th, 2005
>I'm also awaiting a lucid, non-Kool-Aid explanation...
Because they can.
Permalink Peter 
August 18th, 2005
> Because they can.

Beat me to it.
Permalink Dan Rowan or Dick Martin - your choice 
August 18th, 2005
I've parsed explanation's like Christopher's in this way: What you've already spent on gas (in your underground tanks) is now a sunk cost with very little meaning. All that really matters is the state of the world as you're making the transaction.

But that's just me.
Permalink Tayssir John Gabbour 
August 18th, 2005
If you have a brick of gold that someone sold your grandpappy 100 years ago, are you going to sell it for a dollar just because that's what your grandfather paid for it? Of course not. The "what the gas station paid for it" argument almost sounded kinda weird, and communist, to me.
Permalink Dennis Forbes 
August 18th, 2005
Dennis has a point. They need to keep refilling those tanks. If they sold you the gas at the price point they paid for it (plus profit of course) then they would lose money when they refill the tanks.

They'd get it back (I assume) when they sold THAT gas -- but that's business, after all. Charge what the market will bear, and what you can make a good argument for.

I used to think this was bogus, too. After all, the "price of a barrel of oil" is NOT the price paid -- it's the speculative future price of what the buyer thinks it is going to cost. It takes several weeks for the purchase to actually happen at an actual price.

But that's the "hard" number the producer's have to deal with. It would be nice if there were some "wind-fall" tax, to discourage them all from artificially pumping up the price, though.
Permalink AllanL5 
August 18th, 2005
People are, in general, morons about the price of gas. I say this as someone who pays my fair share (a two vehicle family, one a gas guzzling 255HP minivan...can't wait until they finally bring over hybrid minivans...both of which go an extensive number of kilometers per week), but I find it hilarious when the media does the human interest side, talking to people bitching about those damn oil companies, and how the government needs to step in and do something about it.

These people will be standing beside their monster SUV, gassing up so they can put the hammer down at every light, driving a block to get the mail. They (I'm stereotyping, but I am sure that I am largely right) wouldn't be caught dead on public transit, wouldn't consider the imposition of carpooling, they wouldn't dare constrain housing to being close to where they work and play, and fuel-efficiency doesn't register on their buying requirements (this is proven in survey after survey). In essence they won't bother doing a thing to remove the yoke of dependency on oil, but each time it shoots higher they'll bitch and complain about those damn oil companies. Thus, instead of each rise in price leading to behaviour changes that hurts the oil companies (more public transmit, more efficient cars, etc), instead it's just a hilarious increase in their intake. It really is amazing to watch.
Permalink Dennis Forbes 
August 18th, 2005
Agree with Dennis on the one dollar gold bar thing. Oil is not a commodity. It's a liquid asset.
Permalink Rich Rogers 
August 18th, 2005
So is malt whisky. Whaddya going to do, will it to your grandson? :-))

High excise on fuel is a simple way to impose an unavoidable tax, something the Italian government discovered in the 60's as a way of getting SOMETHING out of those affluent enough to own large cars and employ tax accountants.

There's much made of how the US deficit is being spent on its military. Dollars being dollars, you could equally view it as subsidising agribusiness or the motor industry.

Were the US to tax fuel folk may move in closer to the store and shorten their commute or may stay in the suburbs and telecommute while growing produce in the backyard. Sort of post-apocalyptic speculation here but consider how this may give a foretaste of life when the real untaxed cost of fuel rises to the prices paid in Europe or beyond.

>"Well with these gas prices at least you'll see less and less trailer-trash buying Hummers to park in front of thier single wides"

I think the Hummers would make dandy chicken coops. Or bedrooms.
Permalink trollop 
August 18th, 2005
And incidently, the NYT published an article recently on "exurbs" (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/15/national/15exurb.html?pagewanted=1).

At $6/gallon like it is in the Netherlands today, these people are pretty much fucked...
Permalink Fred 
August 18th, 2005
I have to drive 33 miles each way to work every morning. I really hate the commute, but there's nothing I can do about it becuase my wife drives 26 miles each way in the opposite direction. I am currently keeping an eye open for another job that would either allow for her to stay home, for use to move closer to where we both work, for us to carpool, or some combination of the three, but I'm not being very aggressive about it as there is nothing wrong with my current job in itself. In the meantime, our fuel bill now runs about $300/month (yes, I'm figuring in a reduction in that cost as part of what I would need to make for her to be able to stay home). Her car gets 26mpg. My car was getting 24mpg, but it was a 16 year old POS. Earlier this summer I finally managed to replace it. I bought a 34mpg Chevy Aveo. Still fairly cheap car payment, and an improvement in the gas situation (we'd be at $350 now with the old car). I know a few people who bought hybrids to try to save money, but by my (and a few others) calculations, you'd have to drive it almost 300,000 miles before the difference in gas costs made up the difference in price between the hybrid and an equivalent non-hybrid vehicle. Of course, as prices continue to rise and hybrid technology gets cheaper the 300,000 will fall, but in the meantime I'll stick with my aveo. And I get an mp3 cd player to boot.
Permalink Joel Coehoorn 
August 19th, 2005

This topic was orginally posted to the off-topic forum of the
Joel on Software discussion board.

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