Americans have their heads in the sand
8/09/2005 05:13:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
Kunstler:
Now, it's my personal opinion that we really are headed for crash central this fall. The price of oil is entering uncharted territory. Natural gas has virtually tripled in price since 2003. People are beginning to fear that the heating season will be brutal for those in the employ of WalMart and worse for those in the employ of nobody. Magical as this phony-baloney over-leveraged economy has seemed, whatever remains of real life will be affected by higher gasoline prices. I know it sounds absurd to say that, because so far Americans have seemed to absorb a one year price doubling without complaint. But we're hostages to motoring, whether we like it or not, and when the price of gasoline goes north of $3 a gallon (coming very soon) yowls will be heard even in the soundproofed sanctums of Karl Rove's west wing headquarters.
AP:
WASHINGTON - The economy is holding up well despite high energy prices. Economic activity expanded at an energetic 3.4 percent clip in the second quarter as consumers and businesses showed they were still in the mood to spend.
AP:

Ed Mortimer, director of congressional and public affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the group is pleasantly surprised that travel and tourism seem to be holding up so well in light of the high energy costs.

"From everything we've seen at this point, people are just swallowing the increased energy costs and finding a way to travel and vacation," he said.

Herald/AP:

But Oregonians, like other Americans, have not given up on using their cars, Eki said. Vacation travel is showing no signs of slowing down, and consumers continue to buy larger cars, despite the amount of gas it takes to run them.

"It may be because the economy is turning around," Eki said. "They figure they can economize elsewhere."

I don't know what will begin to focus our collective attention on the tough choices that many Americans will need to face this winter.

Will it be $3.00/gal gas?

I don't see why that would make much of a difference. Other than the working classes starting to feel the pinch, and the unemployment rate starting to tick up a notch, will we even notice? Will news reports begin to offer any solutions, rather than treating the news as an oddity?

Will it be the heating bills that are 40% higher than last year?

More noticeable for the Average Joe. A heating bill that goes from $300/mo to $420/mo is noticeable, but again enough for anyone to begin taking action? Maybe so.

Will it be the increasing loss of life related to difficulty heating homes?

Again, I think that the MSM would treat the upcoming rise in deaths due to lack of heating, or heating by unsafe/unconventional means as an oddity. 'Oooh, look. There are people dying from the cold in our country.' Coverage [like the latest train derailment or plane crash], coming up after the break.

Interesting info on
"fuel poverty", from the BBC.

There should be a full blown deluge of information from the federal and state governments on how citizens can make upgrades to their home to increase energy efficiency in regards to home heating, tax incentives beyond the paltry $500 tax break in the Energy Bill (one energy efficient window costs approximately $500 installed), and information for those renting or unable to make major renovations to help prepare for a cold winter and high energy costs, including how to seal windows and eliminate drafts around doors.

Yes, I know it's August. Yes, I know that it will be 90+ degrees this week. But, mark my words, it's going to be a long cold winter this year.

UPDATE:
Romehater had his thoughts about the situation this past weekend, and compared the cost of gas increase to the lack of increase in the minimum wage. Although, I think that prices have gone up more dramatically than he thought. The price is up 66% over the past 3 years alone.

Chart from syracusegasprices.com:


Big Gav adds in 2 more cents and agrees that the way to go is:
for the British giovernment (and those of other cold countries) to strongly encourage the take up of insulation and other efficiency measures by homeowners and landlords (ie. don't try to solve the problem by subsidising fuel use, though this may be necessary in some limited circumstances, solve the cause of the problem).


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5 comments:

On 1:21 AM , Prof. Goose said...

we'll bitch more at $3. we won't change our behavior 'til $100/bbl-ish though.

*sigh*

 
On 5:00 PM , RomeHater said...

I'd say $80 a barrel will be a tipping point.

Steve, you should be looking at my blog once in a while. I mentioned some of this this weekend.

http://romenysucks.blogspot.com/2005/08/dont-believe-hype.html

 
On 6:22 PM , Kate West said...

I am currently looking for a part-time job and the ability to take public transportation to work, at least part of the time, is really influencing my decision on where to apply. I don't think many people seem to be very realistic about the fact that gas prices are never going to go down again. I am in fear of what our heating costs will be this winter; we rent a house and do not have the ability to do much of anything to it. I'm looking forward to the day when we live in our own home again and can get off the grid.

 
On 10:14 PM , RomeHater said...

I actually calculated the ratio of minimum wage to gas prices in June.

http://romenysucks.blogspot.com/2005/06/another-look-at-minimum-wage.html

 
On 10:28 PM , baloghblog said...

wasn't trying to call you out on the math, just stating that it is getting worse. $2.49 on the end of my street today for reg unleaded.

I think that $2.50 and $3.00 gas level will be psychological barriers.