Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Cost of Cars and Oil

In watching local news this morning, they were of course talking about lagging sales for the Christmas season. They blamed such things as rising food prices as a culprit, citing the increase in costs for corn and soybeans.

Of course, they totally missed the story behind the story, in that the auto and oil industries and the nation's addiction to the automobile are responsible for all of this.

Why are food costs rising? Transportation costs are one overwhelming reason. There are two factors behind this:
  1. The price of oil is driving up the amount of money it takes to harvest crops (unless people are still using bull and plow systems, which I pretty much doubt) and get their produce to market.

  2. The current "eco-friendly" fad of using ethanol and biodiesel for fuel are diverting crops away from human and animal consumption and toward fueling vehicles, driving the cost of corn and soybeans and other crops used for these fuels increasingly higher.
So, what to do? Ride your bikes more!

From a strictly economic standpoint, creating less demand for oil will push the oil companies to charge less, to try to draw people back to driving. They're charging more now because they can, so let's make them unable to charge more!

Also, lessening the amount of fuel used will drive down the need for ethanol and biodiesel, which will encourage more use of food crops for actual food instead of fuel.

It's all amazingly connected... yet amazingly ignored by the media.

People, not speed.

8 comments:

  1. Sorry to jump on your bandwagon and to get all sorts of philosophical (and conspiratorial) but here's my take. First of all, I don't think most people think the way we do. The assumption most people make (including reporters and editors) is that we HAVE TO own and drive cars so the problem isn't the car, the problem is paying for the fuel for the car.

    Now, any outsider (aka thoughtful person who rides a bike) can see that what you have written is dead on. If we stopped feeling like we "own" our cars and we "need" them and start realizing the cars "own" us and we DON'T "need" them then we'd be getting somewhere.

    As for conspiracy, well, look at who advertises the most on television. Drug Companies and Car Companies. Why would any sensible editor/owner of a media company bite the hand that feeds them by suggesting with all seriousness that we do the right thing and stop using the death mobiles?

    Ok, sorry, /rant. I hope you and your expanded family are doing great!

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  2. No need to apologize, Andrew. I was mostly just surprised that they didn't really delve into the reasons behind the cause for the rise in food prices, nor mention high gas prices as another possible reason that the malls are emptier than the retailers would like. Usually they do take that mental leap, especially when talking about family budget issues being changed by gas prices. They've certainly done it before.

    I agree - only someone whose comfort zone doesn't include a car would necessarily come to my obviously correct conclusions ;).

    And it's really no conspiracy to say that the companies that own big media aren't going to report poorly on the other industries that are making them filthy rich at our expense. Everyone knows it's going on, they just don't talk about it. Or, they just see it as good business, which is possibly even scarier...

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  3. So how do we get the word out to help people make the connection? I'm encouraged that people are now jumping on the "green" bandwagon, but many (most) still haven't made that connection that continuing business as usual won't be possible even with alternative fuels. I think it's urgent that we must cut back.

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  4. Any rational person realizes that we're going to have to cut back. The key thing will be getting a conservation-minded president into the White House - someone to call attention to these issues in a very public forum, and someone who isn't afraid to stand up to the auto industry and say "your product is killing the world."

    But what we have right now is a Vice President who says things like "Conservation is a personal virtue, not the basis of an energy policy."

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  5. Going green is fine as long as there is no personal suffering. Switching to CF light bulbs appears to be as rough as a lot of people want to get.

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  6. Good point, Smudgemo. I can't wait to see what happens when some of those folks HAVE to cut back, 'cause I think that's where we're headed.

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  7. Good points Jamie! No pun intended, but we've got a long road ahead of us. I've always locked the bike up for winter, but this year, I'm going to start using it for quick trips around the neighborhood, rather than using the car.

    And despite the extra 20 minutes it takes to get to work on the bus, I'll be experimenting in January with taking it when my [work] schedule permits. My estimates are that I'll be able to bus to work 1/3 - 1/2 of the time. I'll get my reading time in, so it'll be more productive than driving.

    But you're right. Big media isn't going to report on the real issue. Alienating viewers, despite the fact that they're using the airwaves as a public service (for personal profit, nonetheless) may cause social discord. Better to be lull the masses, right?

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  8. It's amazing how we used to hear folks railing against the so-called "liberal media" (actually, we still do in some places, AKA Rush Limbaugh and his horde of talking monkeys), when the truth is that the media is one of the most conservative institutions in the US.

    Good for you for getting back on the bicycle for the winter. You'll find plenty of great advice to help you with this on this blog and the many other wonderful ones out there. Glad I could help you get there a bit... makes all this blogging totally worthwhile.

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