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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sticker Shock. Not!

I've been following the rash of gas-related posts on U.S.-based blogs as people begin to see prices cresting the $4 per gallon mark at their local fill-up stop.

Far be it from me to call anyone provincial (being somewhat provincial myself), but I feel the need to offer some much needed perspective on this issue:

Here in Israel, average take home salaries tend to be anywhere from 25% to 35% of the average U.S. take home salary.  Please note that I didn't say 25% to 35% less than U.S. salaries.  You read that correctly... I intentionally wrote that. apples-to-apples, an Israeli doing the same job as an American will likely take home 65% - 75% less in his or her pay envelope.

With that in mind, take a gander at our gas prices:

If you shop around you can find stations selling cheap unleaded gas for about 6.6 NIS (Shekels) per liter.

(Diesel, which used to be kept artificially lower than gas to appease the taxi and truck drivers, has crept up over the past couple of years and now costs even more than gas!)

There are 3.7483 liters to a gallon so that means the price of a gallon of gas here is 24.74 NIS

At the current exchange rate of 3.44 Shekels to the Dollar (or .29 dollars to the Shekel if you prefer), Israelis are shelling out about $7.17 USD per gallon at the pumps!   

Yes, I know we have socialized medicine here and our public school system does away with the need to waste money on day school tuition.  I am also aware that it costs less than $3,000 per year to send our kids to the best Israeli Universities.    If you think about it, all that makes sense in light of our paltry average take-home salaries.

But it hurts just a little hearing my American friends complaining about paying $4 a gallon for gas when I sometimes pour 10% of my take home pay into my gas tank.

A little perspective is all I'm saying.

Posted by David Bogner on June 17, 2008 | Permalink

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It took me a couple of months of living here, but one day as I was waiting for the car to fill-up, I mentally calculated what the price of gas was per gallon. When I realized it was about 7 dollars, I was sorry I did manage to figure it out. Now I just don't think about it.

Sometimes denial is necessary.

Posted by: Baila | Jun 17, 2008 1:17:52 PM

I've been buying gas 200 NS of gas at a time lately. . . that way, I don't have to hear the guy tell me it was 350 NS (roughly $100) to fill my tank (actually my debit card will only let me buy that much at a time, but I think I prefer it that way)

Posted by: Rachel | Jun 17, 2008 2:02:52 PM

You'll probably hear the old song now of how Americans drive many more miles to get to work or to meet their friends for a pie and a cup of coffee etc. etc. And how everyone simply depends on their car. Humbug.

Diesel here, btw., is as expensive as unleaded gasoline, which is pretty ridiculous, and we pay as much as 1.48 Euro per liter for unleaded. It came around 1,20 Euro one year ago.

Posted by: a | Jun 17, 2008 2:11:16 PM

So why doesn't everyone drive hybrids or ride scooters?
Myself I ride a scooter to work, apart from the days when I do it by bicycle, and we upgraded our family car to stick-shift as you get more mileage.
Don't forget to keep tyres fully inflated, and take off roof-racks when not in use.
(Don't thank me....)

Posted by: asher | Jun 17, 2008 2:18:03 PM

Baila... Thinking is definitely not recommended here. :-)

Rachel... One of the big no nos of the immigrant process is continuing to think in dollars. You earn in shekels... think in shekels. It still hurts, but at least you feel no poorer than any other Israeli.

a. ... Wow, that's $8.50 a gallon! But at least you guys are earning a respectable (by our meager standards) European salary.

asher... Thanks for the reminder about my roof racks. I've been meaning to take them off. I'd love a scooter or motorcycle but my wife won't let me get one until we can afford to up my life insurance coverage. Our car is a stick shift transmission and diesel. Since I drive long distances every week to work the significantly higher fuel economy for the diesel engine has paid off very nicely (I get about 15 kilometers to the liter).

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jun 17, 2008 2:45:02 PM

Yesterday, the British were paying around $15USD a gallon.


Posted by: shira0607 | Jun 17, 2008 2:57:44 PM

shira0607... But the UK (Imperial) gallon is 20% larger than the US gallon. OK, yeah... I see your point. the Brits are getting hosed even worse the the Germans or the Israelis. I'm sure Japan is paying a couple of hundred bucks a gallon seeing as a nice dinner in Tokyo costs roughly $500! :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jun 17, 2008 3:06:33 PM

Remember, Shira(0607), that British gallons are real man-size gallons of 1.25 US gallons (+/-). They therefore work 90 minutes of minimum-wage (5 GBP per hour) for one (nearly) 5-litre gallon, or 18 minutes at minimum wage per litre. An Israeli has to work 22 minutes at minimum wage for his litre, and I'm not taking income tax into consideration here, as minimum wage is low tax bracket.

Posted by: asher | Jun 17, 2008 3:13:36 PM

The entire American infrastructure is built on the assumption that energy would be cheap forever; the whole economy is automobile-centric. Building them, feeding them. We made our own bed, and now we must lie in it, lumpy mattress and all.

It's not the price of gasoline that's painful, it's the sudden changes. Right now, gasoline is just catching up with inflation when you look at what most things cost back in, say, 1970. But the recent changes - mainly driven by the entry of a billion people into the middle classes of China and India, which in turn drives the demand for energy in those countries - have been abrupt, and so they hurt more than gradual increases would have.

Oil-based energy should be expensive. It's based on a nonrenewable resource. And meanwhile, we Americans bitch about the price of gas while buying bottled water at $6/gallon. It is to laugh.

Posted by: Elisson | Jun 17, 2008 4:05:10 PM

I agree with Elisson.
Tho if this teaches people somethign then I am all for it.
I really have trouble listening to people whine about gas when the drive a Hummer to the office.
Also - people would have plenty of money in their pockets if they could figure out how to 1.) stop buying things they don't need; and b.) stop wasting the things they do buy (food being a huge factor there).
We could feed and clothe the world on what Americas throw away.
Makes me ashamed to live here.

Posted by: weese | Jun 17, 2008 4:22:26 PM

I hear you, BUT it doesn't lessen the pain and frustration to have to be hit with these prices. I won't even pretend to know anything about economics but I don't really believe the prices need to be so high, especially in the United States, where there is such a big demand, easy access, etc.

David, the grumbling and complaining is valid and it's relative to what our standard of living is. It's like someone complaining about their childhood and for me to say that they are lucky because they didn't grow up in a war-torn or poverty stricken country. True, but that doesn't mean that person isn't valid in their complaints. Their pain, frustration, be whatever it is, is how they feel and how it affects their life. The same with the gas prices. Yes, it could be looked at that as Americans we are spoiled or have been quite lucky, but it doesn't change the way that we feel or how it affecting our standard of living.

Oh, and more thing - Israel does have great PUBLIC transportation, as well as many cities in Europe. The same can not be said in the US. It might be a great incentive to push it, but until then ....

Posted by: jaime | Jun 17, 2008 4:26:47 PM

Yeah, but in a little country like Israel, how far can you really expect to drive?

The problem, where I live, is not the high price of gas but the short supply of land. To get any kind of home, one must out-compete one's neighbor in getting the biggest loan, which means that we're all strapped for cash. A significant increase in the price of gas means that some of us won't be able to keep our homes. Driving more efficiently won't help, either, because the cost of gas affects the cost of everything else.

Posted by: M. Patterson | Jun 17, 2008 5:27:50 PM

But it hurts just a little hearing my American friends complaining about paying $4 a gallon for gas when I sometimes pour 10% of my take home pay into my gas tank.

Who decided to move to Israel. You knew what you were getting into. As someone already said it is the shock of the increase. A year ago gas was substantially less than it is now, something like $1.5 less.

And before Katrina gas was less than $3 a gallon. I always figured that at some point gas would go up, but I never expected the increase to be so dramatic in such little time.

Posted by: Jack | Jun 17, 2008 5:32:36 PM

It's insane the way American think that cheap gasoline is a birthright. The average American has no concept of the world outside of the town they live in. Most are in denial that we are competing for energy in a global market. The news media seems to think that its the governments job to do something about the price of energy. And not anything rational, like more exploration or research. They think everything will be just fine if the government tells the oil companies how much they can charge. And the markets be damned.

Posted by: David Bailey | Jun 17, 2008 6:19:35 PM

I always find it interesting to note that, before we gave it away to Egypt, the Sinai provided us with 85% of our gasoline.

I finally made a blogroll and you are on my top five. I am sure that I will add more blogs over time, but right now you are among the five blogs I read regularly.

Posted by: Rivka with a capital A | Jun 17, 2008 6:48:20 PM

Trep, I can imagine the annoyance, and actually, everyone I know has been pointing out that despite the spiking prices, we're still paying a lot less than Europe always has. (Sometimes people say this through their teeth, but they have been saying it. Dumb ignorant Americans though they are.)

That said, we're talking about a sudden extreme rise in an everyday cost. Please, people, stop thinking about the "average American" in your imagination, and think about the people who've worked out their tight budget to a dime, and now find themselves paying a lot more for gas than they expected. That's a kid's piano lessons right there, that's student loan payments, that's new shoes for the kids, that's the check they wanted to send Mom to help out with the heating bill. My students' parents are sweating this one out. Me, I don't drive.

Posted by: balabusta in blue jeans | Jun 17, 2008 7:53:33 PM

Ok, now even your puff pieces are depressing. Israel's a mess, no one agrees with anyone else, and I can't even whine about gas. More dog pictures please. Maybe something funny happened with your Zahavah? How are the bees? Because to go from paying $100 monthly on gas, to now over $400, with no increase in wages is painful. I'm reforming. I moved, and I still need to carpool and ride the bus to make it work. I know I don't deserve low gas prices, but they quadrupled in less than ten years. 'Shock' doesn't begin to cover it.

Posted by: noam | Jun 17, 2008 8:45:15 PM

Balabusta in Blue Jeans nailed it. It's the fact that it isn't only the Gasoline that is going up. It's affecting our grocieries,our entertainment (if we enjoy eating out), our services, our clothing, transportion - anything and everything that is relying on the movement of goods and services. It rising so quickly that we can't seem to keep up with it and with the job market down and salaries not going up either, it's really having an economic impact on everyone.

Again, there are those who may say that this is the norm outside of the US. That may be true, but it's not the norm for us and it's doesn't make us spoiled, or ignorant or less empathetic. And Americans shouldn't have to be made to feel bad or apologized for their reactions.

jmho.

Posted by: jaime | Jun 17, 2008 9:20:08 PM

I'm with Balabusta here.

Can we please lose the whole "rich Americans don't know how good they've got it" thing? C'mon, David, you used to live here too. For folks who are struggling and have no choice but to drive, things are really getting hard. And forget the whole "apples to apples" thing. Everyone has a budget, and when one expense shoots through the roof without salaries rising to compensate, the budget is shot to hell. And BTW, it's not just one expense. If I've seen one, I've seen a hundred different goods and services that are suddenly more expensive because everyone relies on gasoline to get their goods to market. Then you have skyrocketing tolls in the NY metro area. Add to that the businesses that are laying people off because they have to tighten their belts because of rising prices in general, and folks are looking at foreclosures, evictions, bankruptcies, etc. etc. Think I'm exaggerating? Trust me, I'm not. And BTW, that little item about yeshiva tuition in America that you kinda glossed over - sorry, that's not glossable. Because of tuition expenses, Orthodox Jews in America practically have to be rich to be poor, and thanks in part to the spike in gas prices, that's becoming more and more impossible. There's a lot of real pain here, and the smug attitudes are NOT appreciated.

Just sayin'...

Posted by: psachya | Jun 17, 2008 9:46:20 PM

Big difference: Israel is *tiny.* My home *county* is over two-thirds as big as Israel. (I'm not sure what the politics of getting the various oil-making countries to work with Israel, for that matter.)

More area does mean more resources--which is why we're able to export, shoot, GIVE AWAY tons of food-- but it also means that it takes more to get things from A to B.

Just about everything we build technology with is a non-renewable resource--from iron through all the other metals. I don't recall any great push to preserve the precious iron resources when steel prices spiked. *grin*

That said, the problem with saying "all things being equal" is that they almost never are, and I'm highly amused at all the finger-wagging and pontificating going on. Amazingly, I never figured I HAD a birthright-- my name will be changed, the family brand only makes sense with the name.... Other than simply being an American, I have no birth right.
Being an American means that when I see folks screwing things up, I get pissed. That's why I'm angry about gas prices, that's why I'm angry at the rolling mess so many folks call "Palestine," that's why I don't like China, that's why I don't like the Earth Mother flavor of environmentalism(IE, environmentalism as a religion).
I just wish that some sense would leak into Congress so we can tap the huge natural resources we have HERE--newly estimated to nearly as much as Saudi Arabia. We've been working on ways to make cars more efficient, to make them run on other things, to find the next big step-- choking economies won't do much to help that search.

Posted by: Foxfier | Jun 17, 2008 9:55:21 PM

Yesterday in London, I paid £1.17 per litre for lowest grade unleaded--that's the equivalent of 7.71 NIS, 1.49 Euros or $2.31 per litre. The price is expected to go to over £2 per litre over the next year or so. I don't think comparing costs per hour of average pay is quite a fair comparison base, because it doesn't take other motor-related taxes into account--like £8 per day congestion charge tax if you drive through central London, £161 annual car tax and 17.5% VAT on all motor related expenditure (eg servicing, cost of tyres etc).

Posted by: Judy | Jun 18, 2008 2:11:32 AM

have to admit it I'm with David on this issue, and also have to admit that Ellison is growing on me day-by-day.
Kudos to David on 15 km/l

Posted by: asher | Jun 18, 2008 8:01:32 AM

Yeah, I'm totally on David's side for this one. I, for one, stopped driving in the US when gas hit $1.50 a gallon (granted I was a poor student). I have a car here in Israel but drive maybe once a month. I walk, bike or take the bus. The American's complaining remind me of when they went on the Wisconsin plan here and the recipients went on riots...you mean I have to work for money I used to get for free!!!?? If you didn't anticipate the increase in prices then you were living in denile. I love America and I still think its the best country in the world but they way Americans think cheap prices are owed to them just because they bought a too big of a house in the suburbs that is far away from work infuriates me. Americans are living on borrowed time. Its unbelievable how suggesting that Americans may one day have the living standards of Europeans is considered blasphemy (some policitician whose name escapes me suggested this and was chastised). Everyday I see the gas prices move up it fills me with pure joy, people have to suffer because it is the only way to learn (not the mention how great high gas prices are for the environment). Its an expensive addiction. Lets see if we see a revival of inner cities and community based agriculture and investment into public transportation....

Posted by: Naomi | Jun 18, 2008 9:44:31 AM

If you didn't anticipate the increase in prices then you were living in denile.

You are missing the boat on this one. It is not a lack of anticipating that prices would go up, rather it is an exponential increase that took place over night without being accompanied by cost of living wage increases.

but they way Americans think cheap prices are owed to them just because they bought a too big of a house in the suburbs that is far away from work infuriates me.

Or maybe people bought a house far away from work because it was all they could afford. Maybe they decided that paying rent wasn't fiscally smart and that purchasing property made more financial sense. The blanket treatment is wrong and short sighted.

Everyday I see the gas prices move up it fills me with pure joy, people have to suffer

So it makes you happy to see that people are losing their homes, children are going hungry and the multitude of problems that accompany this.

Again, the blanket statement misses all of the nuances. It is one thing to chastise people who make foolish financial decisions and to suggest that they deserve what is coming to them.

But that ignore the thousands who fall into the category of the working poor. The people who are barely getting by. What about them.

And of course all of this ignores the implications of what a major blow to the US economy can do the rest of the world. This is not such a simple issue.

I'll stand shoulder to shoulder with out and say that we need to come up with a viable alternative to oil. It is good for the environment and who wants to help support the terrorists.

But I can't support feeling good because other people suffer. It is simply unacceptable.

Posted by: Jack | Jun 18, 2008 10:22:04 AM

Of course -- we could just get to work on responsible stewardship of our natural RESOURCES, as RESOURCES, and that would pretty much be it for the whole "energy crisis."

A, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAaaaaaaaaa....aaaa...


<*cries*> hooo-- boy.

Posted by: Wry Mouth | Jun 18, 2008 10:43:15 AM

Naomi -
It would be very, very easy to write a parody of your rant re: living in Israel, despite the risks.

The only reason I refrain is because I have high respect for Israel, my religion's Elder Brothers, and those who have died.

I do, however, ask you to think a little more critically about the arguments you make, and the implications of them.

Posted by: Foxfier | Jun 18, 2008 11:42:59 AM

Elisson... I'm glad you said it. There seems to be a growing feeling on this thread that I like to see people in the US suffer.

weese... Sadly the roads here are clogged with SUVs too. :-(

jaime... People are supposed to learn from pain. You touch a stove... you learn not to do it again. The pain of rising gas prices has been going on for decades and yet the American consumers refuse to learn the lesson. Maybe it was because it was so gradual... but that pain you all feel right now from the quick rise in prices? that was the hot stove. Learn the lesson! As for public transportation, you get what you demand. If there was a demand for rapid transit in the US it would appear. As an aside, here in Israel there is a valid excuse for car ownership (at least among the non-observant) because all the public transportation shuts down mid day on Friday.

M. Patterson... I sometimes put 900+ kilometers a week on my car. You don't have to be a Montana lineman to do a lot of driving.

Jack... Did you read the part about it hurting "just a little'. Of course I'd rather be here. But there are LITTLE things that still hurt. Like not being able to get a decent bourbon! :-)

David Bailey... Good points all. although I'd wager that most people in the world are in self-imposed denial about much of what happens outside their little bubble.

Rivka with a capital A... I had no idea it was that much! Wow. BTW, I am way behind in updating my blogroll so don't be offended.

balabusta in blue jeans... See my response to Jaime above. Sudden pain is supposed to teach people a lesson. I recall the lines in the gas station back in the 70s during the oil crisis. That was our wake up call to invest heavily in alternative energy sources and to design more efficient transportation options. Did we learn? No. Cars got bigger and alternative energy remained the unfunded pipe dream of marginalized hippies.

noam... Like I've said a few times here... I can't sh*t diamonds every time. I'll see what I can do to liven things up. I promise.

jaime... You are describing a global phenomenon, not an American one. You guys are just playing catch up. I see the US with all its scientific prowess as the potential leader in alternative energy... but the US refuses to lead.

psachya... You totally missed my point. I said it hurt just a little bit to pay sch a high price and listen to American complaining about half that price (while making more than double my salary). I am not complaining about being here. I just find it odd that Americans don't see the irony of their complaints.

Foxfier ... Even if the US finds oil reserves triple what the middle east had at the start, it only buys you another generation of breathing room at best. The pinch will come again, but by then we will have destroyed the environment with the byproducts of all that extra oil. The time is now actually it was 30 years ago) to kick the oil habit. Maybe this current bleating I hear from my American friends is actually the sound of them waking up.

Judy... Fair enough. But just as in Manhattan, those congestion charges are designed to get people to use public transportation.

asher.. Be careful Elisson is a bad influence. Before you know it you'll be writing bad haikus about 'taint'. Trust me. Bad juju over there. :-)

Naomi... I doubt we will see a return to the type of living arrangements you describe. But I do hope that this will give people a wake up call about alternative energy. Heck, Kennedy put a man on the moon by simply holding a press conference, creating a budget and setting a deadline. When will another leader have the cajones to do that?

Jack ... I have to call BS on that one. America has been hitting the snooze alarm on this issue for decades. There was a conscious decision by the leaders NOT to deal with the issue and instead they kept the price of fuel artificially low to make sure the people stayed asleep. Well guess what. Everyone's waking up now and they want answers. I hope they get 'em.

Wry Mouth ... That's crazy talk! :-)

Foxfier ... Write the parody... or don't. But what you've done is not particularly intellectually honest. If there are parts of her argument you don't agree with the forum is open... let her have it. But to dismiss someone without even telling them where you take exception doesn't fly. From what I've read of your comments you are a bright, articulate person. Don't take the easy way out.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jun 18, 2008 12:05:34 PM

treppenwitz -
If you find it "honest" or not, I will not insult those who gave up their lives for a good cause, no matter how much someone's ignorant claims call for a parody. I do thank you for the complement, though--even if you later regret it. ;^)
I do believe, with all my heart, that reclaiming Israel for the Jewish people, in any form, is a good cause. This is the internet, there are far too many folks who will take ANY text as literal--so I will not give them fodder. I know I don't have the skill to write a parody that is cutting yet still not usable for the nasty folks around.

It is NEVER easy for me to hold my tongue when it comes to being sharp or vicious--however, my basic point is this:
You (Naomi) are taking joy in the hardship of others, without paying attention to the other costs they face, and the benefits of their actions; your projected/supposed motivation for all the American people--all 303,000,000+ -- and then, without even bothering to use spell-check, proceed to insult their intelligence and use every bad stereotype that anyone can think of; why do you not just throw in a hook-nosed Jewish banker while you are at it?

Not all Americans fit your idiotic stereotype, and no human on Earth foretold this abrupt rise in oil prices.

For background: my parents are ranchers. I have lived in a house we owned for roughly five years of my life-- the other 13 years of my childhood were in ranch-owned houses, because it's cheaper to provide housing than to raise pay; another five years were on the Navy's check, and the next two are on my dime-- a small apartment, but large enough for me to rattle around until my husband got here, even with our massive number of books.

We did not, despite Naomi's ideal, live in a "too large" house or in the suburbs; I was 14 before I got my own room, and then only because my sister demanded we reorganize an over sized closet to make her room. There was room for her bed, and about two feet on two sides. Since it was an hour to the nearest WalMart, we were NOT in the suburbs.

I can easily go a week without starting a vehicle-- I walk most everywhere, because my husband and I can. My parents can easily go TWO weeks without using a non-work vehicle, because they do most of their shopping at Costco, twice or MAYBE three times a year.

Everyday I see the gas prices move up it fills me with pure joy, people have to suffer because it is the only way to learn (not the mention how great high gas prices are for the environment).

You take joy in making it so that we can't give starving people food, you take JOY in poor people being unable to get to work; for that matter, you accept the neo-pagan idea that more CO2 is a bad thing? Have you not even BOTHERED to look into the effect of CO2 on plants? I'll give you a hint: in a starving world, CO2 increase is a good thing.

Posted by: Foxfier | Jun 18, 2008 2:19:56 PM

When I gave the price the British are paying for a gallon of gas, I converted liters into gallons and then used the current exchange rate. It was actually 15.64USD.

I should have elaborated a bit on why i mentioned what some Europeans are paying for gas. While in the US, things are getting very tight and people are beginning to switch to more fuel efficient vehicles, things are much worse in Europe. Truck drivers are blockading streets and last week two people were killed.

I fear this could happen in the US eventually. Already there have been calls for truckers to strike to protest the high diesel fuel costs. This country is so dependent upon trucks transporting everything, a strike would be harmful.

A few years ago, I wrote a criticism about one of President Bush's State of the Union address on energy. I was hoping he would announce plans to have something similar to the Manhatten Project to explore alternate energy.

A lot of people in the US are currently cutting back on a lot of things. Some, like me are starting gardens to grow food. There are less and less SUVs and heavy pick-ups being used for commutes. People are starting to move back to the cities and this is creating other problems. As the move in, poorer people are being forced out. Mass transit is not going out to the areas where they are moving and there is much protest to extend subway lines through rich neighborhoods.

I drive 55mph on the interstate on my commute. I receive a lot of "friendly" gestures. By driving 55mph, I only have to gas up every 12-14 days. Each week I commute over 200 miles.

I'm seriously considering buying a scooter but the only ones I can afford are knockoff brands. I'm hesitant because I would need one that doesn't breakdown every day. I'm trying to avoid the Ford of scooters!! I've found several that have 250cc engines and would allow me to travel on the interstate.

I would like to be able to convert my home to solar energy. The costs are prohibitive at this time though there has been much progress in research and development to make it cheaper. The Popular Mechanics site has many great stories on the current research but it will years before the technology hits the market.


Posted by: shira0607 | Jun 18, 2008 3:02:40 PM

Shira-- are you sure your car is tuned to be max efficiency at 55? It does varry by vehicle, after all-- but it makes bigger dent to minimize how often to step on the gas or break.

I'd like to know-- are the accidents you cause by driving at dangerously slow speeds worth the conservation? Do you at least stay in the slow lane, or do you go evangeical an drive in the other lanes?

My aunt drives an "off brand" scooter to work--and has for the past year. She loves it, expecially because she's a cautious driver.

I would like to know when the government has caused scientific advancement by legally restricting existing technology.

Posted by: Foxfier | Jun 18, 2008 4:46:08 PM

Trep - you seem to be missing the point here. Your readers are telling you why it's upsetting them, and you are responding back that we deserve it or that we should use this gas crisis as a learning tool and change, and totally disregarding or validating our position and right to vent. Your post basically said how can we Americans whine and complain about our gas prices, when, places like Israel, is much more expensive and you get paid less money. That may be true, but does that suppose to mean we don't have the right to voice our opinion, our dismay and concern about those rising prices and how it's impacting our lives? Are we suppose to just ignore it and continue to be thankful for what we have and to only focus on the rest of the world's reality? How does one thing have to do with the other?

And, are you telling us, that noone complains in Israel? Are you saying that Israelies, compared to Americans, when creating policies and how it will affect their country, their citizens, etc, think only in the "long term" instead of "in the moment"? That as a whole, Israel and it's citizens are environmentally conscious, forward thinkers, and actually make things happen now, for it's investment in the future? That may be true for a few things but in truth, is it's energy and other conservation policies driven by any ideology other than force economics?

I doubt anyone would deny any of the points you just made regarding the past energy crisis, or the gradual rising prices, or even the need for the US and it's consumers to change its energy policies and invest and lead the world in alternative energy products and conservation. And one would think this would be a huge wake up call for immediate action that is proactive and environmentally responsible but all it does in the short-term is have the opposite affect - Drill, Tap Those Offshore Resources, ... rather than actually doing anything that is substantial and long-term.

This isn't a case of learning by a Hot Stove, as history has shown, this will be another period that will be looked back on as "I remember when", and then the pain will be forgotten and life will continue back to what it was before.


*sorry for the rant - guess it's the three hour sleep I've had.

Posted by: jaime | Jun 18, 2008 5:05:49 PM

OK, let's try this again.

Trep - I know that the price of oil in Israel is twice the price of it here. It always has been. WADR, you probably knew that when you made aliyah. Presumably, when you work out your family budget, you take that into account. All I'm saying is that people here are being hit severely because of an unexpected expense. I would have said the same if it had been any other staple. Folks who rely on driving are losing their pants. I know it's not economically easy to live in Israel - but neither is it here. Most of us struggle to survive. Here in America too. You're allowed to kvetch about it. So are we.

And BTW, to all those commenters who drive two or three times a year, or whatever - guess what? Not all of us have that luxury. As a musician, I have to bring equipment to every gig. I don't have the option of public transportation, or telecommuting, or riding my bicycle to work. Trust me, I wish I did. And there are plenty of other professions like mine, where the nature of the job means filling the tank a few times a week. I know guys who are literally turning down gigs because they're getting too expensive to drive to. So when I read about how it's just lovely that people like me should suffer, or that I should possibly not be able to pay my rent or utilities bills or put food on the table so that some touchy-feelie PC-types can feel good about themselves - well, that's where the word "smug" comes in.

As for alternative energy sources - bring 'em on, babe. No one would like more than myself to tell the OPEC monsters to drink a few petroleum cocktails. Meanwhile, we're stuck with gasoline. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in ourselves but in our politicians. And please spare me the partisan cant - Democrats and Republicans are equally guilty regarding this mess. Until those energy sources are available, however, some of us still need to drive to work. And it's not our fault, OK, guys?

OK, that's enough. This rich, spoiled, pampered, SUV-driving American (NOT!!) is done kvetching for the day. Carry on... :)

Posted by: psachya | Jun 18, 2008 5:49:57 PM

Shira-- are you sure your car is tuned to be max efficiency at 55? It does varry by vehicle, after all-- but it makes bigger dent to minimize how often to step on the gas or break.

I'd like to know-- are the accidents you cause by driving at dangerously slow speeds worth the conservation? Do you at least stay in the slow lane, or do you go evangeical an drive in the other lanes?

My aunt drives an "off brand" scooter to work--and has for the past year. She loves it, expecially because she's a cautious driver.

I would like to know when the government has caused scientific advancement by legally restricting existing technology.

Posted by: Foxfier | Jun 18, 2008 4:46:08 PM

Dear Foxfier,

I am a courteous driver who stays in the right hand lane and if I do have to pass someone up, I increase my speed and make sure there isn't someone coming upon me going 80 and above. This is unlike those who feel the interstate is their own personal speedway and tailgate me while they are trying to pass someone in the middle lane. Is there really any need for someone to be going over 80 on the interstate?

And 55mph is the most efficient for my car. I'm glad your aunt has had success with her scooter. Do you mind sharing what brand and the size of the engine?

Posted by: shira0607 | Jun 18, 2008 5:57:03 PM

Ok Foxifer--I'll bite. *Obviously* there is no joy in poor people having to suffer any more than they do. Come on now. Poor people also suffer from the lack of health insurance but not much has been done to help them. Pulling the "poor" card in this situation is disingenuous. Surely there were some very poor people suffered when gas was $2 a gallon. No outrage then. Pick your reason, poor people suffer period. Its only when it starts hitting the wallets of upper middle class people that its become an issue. Yes, I do get a healthy dose of schadenfreude when I picture your average suburban Humscalade (hat tip to John Stuart for coining this) driver watching the dollars flash by when filling up the car.
My parents sold their place when gas hit $2 a gallon and moved 30 miles closer to the nearest city. I have another friend in MN who 1 month ago decided that gas was getting to expensive, overnight put their house on the market, packed up everything and moved 45 minutes closer to their son's school.
I believe the US will be the driving force in alternative energies and will only do so when forced to. Yeah, getting a heroin addict off the drug is probably an extremely painful process but nobody would suggest that someone continue to use drugs just because the journey to sobriety is painful. So, yeah, its painful and so many families may have to decide whether to fill up the car with gas or give the kid that piano lesson or leave the air conditioning on all night because now they will have begun to internalize the true cost of energy. The fact that many more people may have to make that decision really does fill me with joy and hope that change may come. We should all be happy that we enjoyed the party for so long so to feel like you have the right to party (in contrast to whatever the Beastie Boys say) while the rest of us pay the bill is selfish.
Besides, its a global economy, what happens in the US affects anyone and have you looked at airline ticket prices lately? I suffer in silence because I know its for the best for our future.

Posted by: Naomi | Jun 18, 2008 6:18:21 PM

Naomi -
By the government, I grew up "poor." My folks would've been "poor" with one child, let alone three. My *my* measure, we were pretty well off-- we even had satellite TV and a car for the kids.

Realistically? Poor folks suffer more from high gas prices than from some lack of health insurance--- NONE of the 20-somethings I know have health insurance, besides myself, and I only have it because my mother threw a fit. ALL of them drive.

Sadly, I have never been above lower middle class to "poor"-- I grew up a ranch kid, went into the military and am now a house wife. How about you? Are YOU motivated by greed or envy?

You want to talk disingenuous, how about your claim of all Americans who are hurting "buying too big houses"? How about the claim that we were in (sic) "denile"?

If you really believe that the USA will only become a force for alter native energy, then you need to pay attention-- in just the last few days I've seen stories about cars that get 40 MPG, about bugs that poop oil, about the USA working to find an alternative to fossil fuels.

News flash: we are not "your average suburban Humscalade" filling up our gas tank. We are the folks making food appear in the store.

Posted by: Foxfier | Jun 18, 2008 6:39:53 PM

"You are missing the boat on this one. It is not a lack of anticipating that prices would go up, rather it is an exponential increase that took place over night without being accompanied by cost of living wage increases."

It is an exponential increase that has been a long time in the making. Presidents have been promising energy independence for the better part of half a century (notable was Dhimmi Carter's "crisis of confidence" speech).
The US has managed to keep oil prices artificially low for decades (by subsidies to oil companies and big stick tactics with the Saudis). GW may well have gone down that path, but instead he has allowed the American people to take off the blindfold and see what the real cost of living is.
This was a daring move made by a brilliant visionary who realized that alternative, renewable energy needs to become fiscally viable before it becomes existentially necessary (then we'll really be screwed. Try building a nuclear plant with bronze tools).
I'll spell this out (even though our scientists and leaders have been saying it for donkeys years): IF. OIL. IS. CHEAP. RENEWABLE. ENERGY. CANNOT. COMPETE.
Carter learned that the hard way when he had congress pass his Energy Security Act back in 1980.
For those who don't know, JC provided 88 billion in loans and incentives for the creation of the SFC (Synthetic Fuels Corporation - coal to fuel. A clever idea considering that the US has the largest coal reserves of any nation on earth). The goal was to produce, by the end of the decade, 2mil barrels of oil at a cost of $40 unit (a steal by today's standards) Everything was going swimmingly until OPEC reduced prices from $37 to $14 effectively bankrupting the venture.

"Or maybe people bought a house far away from work because it was all they could afford. Maybe they decided that paying rent wasn't fiscally smart and that purchasing property made more financial sense. The blanket treatment is wrong and short sighted."

It doesn't sound like a blanket treatment. A house is an investment and like any investment it can turn out to be a wise one or not. Sorry but I'm going to advocate personal responsibility on this one. People should stop acting so shocked. America's troubles with oil are well known and have been well documented over the years. Shortsightedness is a poor virtue to reward with a bail out

"But that ignore the thousands who fall into the category of the working poor. The people who are barely getting by. What about them."

College degree? Ingenuity? My father pulled himself up from nothing, My maternal grandfather did so as well. My wife payed her way through some of the best colleges the US has to offer. I've worked hard to get to where I am. What would you have the US do? Play Robin Hood?
Besides. If we don't get our energy policy together and pronto, these working poor are really going to take it in the chin. The best thing you can do for them is invest in renewable sources of energy and be a productive member of society.

"But I can't support feeling good because other people suffer. It is simply unacceptable."

Get off your high horse. That was clearly not her intent. *phew* what a populist spin doctor. The Obama campaign NEEDS you

Posted by: Daddytype | Jun 18, 2008 6:40:51 PM

"Realistically? Poor folks suffer more from high gas prices than from some lack of health insurance"

The only cure for high gas prices is high gas prices.
That is the free market way.

"Are YOU motivated by greed"

Everyone is motivated by greed in one way or another. No need to ensconce yourself in that moral high ground usually populated in its entirety by cyclists, vegans and natural-birth-mothers.
You are making this a social issue when it is not. If we don't take action now and own up to our mistakes as a nation NOW we will all be poor. Africa Poor. Heck, Pueblito-in-Mexico-Poor.
There is no need for hand-wringing. Let's just all keep a cool head and work on a solution. Support legislation that encourages the use of alternative energy. Invest. Have your friends invest. And when all else fails, strap on a labcoat and come up with some ideas yourself.

"You want to talk disingenuous, how about your claim of all Americans who are hurting "buying too big houses"? How about the claim that we were in (sic) "denile"?"

nice. A cheap shot on a typo
I see you have taken the argument to new heights of intellectual coruscation.

"If you really believe that the USA will only become a force for alter native energy, then you need to pay attention-- in just the last few days I've seen stories about cars that get 40 MPG, about bugs that poop oil, about the USA working to find an alternative to fossil fuels"

No, what she said was that the US would only innovate when they were backed against a wall (which you have confirmed with your post). This fact is not in dispute. Under Bush, a 'conservative' president, investment in alternative sources of energy has soared (thank the Bush tax cuts for that). Today, one out of every 10 dollars invested is in alternative energy. Again, what Naomi said was right. None of this came to pass during the fantasy years when clinton was busy snoozing in the oval office

"News flash: we are not "your average suburban Humscalade" filling up our gas tank. We are the folks making food appear in the store."

"News flash"?
I don't think she was talking about you personally.

Posted by: Daddytype | Jun 18, 2008 6:58:20 PM

I'm late to commenting on this one, but here goes. Mr. Treppenwitz, when you lived back in the U.S. of A. , you used to drive some gas guzzlers, just like the rest of us. ( a cute jeep that got about 5 gallons to the mile comes to mind). So as you yourself know, the average American just wasn't prepared for a sudden jump in prices. If it had been gradual, I think people would cope better. But if prices in Israel jumped 40 % over 2 yrs, I think people would not react kindly either.
Just thinking out loud

Posted by: Larry | Jun 18, 2008 7:47:16 PM

"a. ... Wow, that's $8.50 a gallon! But at least you guys are earning a respectable (by our meager standards) European salary."

Have you had a look at average salaries charts vs. crude costs of living lately? :)

Anyways, I hope that Europe will continue chanelling efforts towards vehicles that run on alternative energies and an overall lower power consumption.
Unfortunately, there exist very opposite interests on the side of the fuel industries, the government and the vehicle manufacturers. Small and efficient cars that consume few possible l/km were purposedly (!) less marketed here in Germany in the recent years than SUV-type impressive and status-signaling monsters, who take up valuable parking space in the cities on top of that. Mind you, we went seriously "eco" and "alternative resources" as early as the late 70's; there is a potential market here despite all. However, by artificially keeping buyers' interest for efficient and environment-friendly cars down, investors are unlikely to invest sufficiently in the R&D of such technologies. The benefactors? New technologies that make use of sustainable resources instead of crude oil, however, are serious competition to the crude oil companies and its investors and lobbyists, and this is one of the reasons why all we see in 2008 are so few hybrid models (our parents, for a start, have just switched to a hybrid).

Posted by: a | Jun 18, 2008 10:58:47 PM

Daddytype-
The only cure for high gas prices is high gas prices.
That is the free market way.

No, the free market way would to remove artificial restraints on the ability to increase supply in a significant way--please note the folks who are putting in back-yard oil pumps.

I don't think she was talking about you personally.

I buy the food; therefore, her "schadenfreude" over imagining some easily demonized group DOES effect me personally.

Posted by: Foxfier | Jun 18, 2008 11:28:46 PM

I don't look on Israel as expensive - rather I look on the US as being particularly cheap regarding gas prices. Israel is pretty much in line with Western Europe. The US response to cheap gas has been to buy much bigger cars than they really need which, when you consider the environmental costs is not particularly responsible IMHO. Now the market in the US for SUV's is flooded as people try to get rid of their gas guzzlers.

A couple of bright points with regard to Israeli gas:

1) In the US the standard gas is 87 Octane and the really good stuff is 93 Octane. In Israel you're filling up with 95 Octane - better quality in other words (unless there are 2 different scales?)

2) When I tried to buy a small engined car in the US I failed. If you want a 1.6 you might find a lawnmower but little else. A car that would have a 1.6 litre engine in Israel has a 1.8 litre minimum in the US but oftern 2.0 or greater. Same size car = less gas

3) The distances travelled tend to be shorter and, if you're within the city you usually have the option of walking places - in the US 'burbs that's often not an option due to greater distances and often (believe it or not) lack of pavements (sidewalks) and decent street lighting.

So at least you buy better gas which is more efficient in a smaller more efficient engine and have shorter distances to travel - therefore a tank of gas will, on average last longer. Small comfort perhaps but I'll take it where I can.....

Gilly

Posted by: Gilly | Jun 18, 2008 11:54:12 PM

Wow, I just read through the entire post! It is amazing how such a topic can become emotionally charged -- but I digress...
What I find interesting is that I used to drive a car that got 35 mpg in the early 80's. The price of gas wasn't a factor for me then, although I remember being non-plussed whenever it hit a psychological milestone like $1, $1.50 or so. 10 years ago when my wife and I drove down to Florida and back gas had gone down again (I think the lowest we paid was $0.68 in Georgia or S. Carolina). The car we drove then was the next size bigger and still got in the mid to upper 30's. Yesterday I heard an advertisement for a mid-size vehicle that sipped gas at a cool 27 mpg. Sipped. As if it was an acceptable, if not better and more manageable car to afford. My stepdad favorite target of impracticality was the Hummer, which he called a Dumber. Many of the people who own large impractical vehicles make their choices for different reasons other than the price at the pump. But the vast majority of folks who support the economy get what they can. Factor into this bankers willing to bend the rules of mortgages and other consumer loans along with the past "irrational exuberance" of the economy to quote Greenspan, it is not surprising to see what is going on now.
I have read about how some are watching the "shock" of the Americans and while it has to be acknowledged, it should be a teachable moment, not a time to gloat.
They say that necesity is the mother of invention, but I say that discomfort is the primary motivation for action. I have heard on many occassions that gas needs to be a certain price for people to start changing their habits. I've long heard people advocating for a gas tax high enough(I forget how high) in order to get this change going. These folks were considered "fringe thinkers" and dismissed. Of course, no one would want to be responsible for enacting it. But now market forces have done it anyway. So, surprised am I? No. Shocked? Temporarily. Kvetching? Human nature. Changing my habits? Adjusting.
Btw, is it really $15+ a gallon in the UK? Gulp.

Posted by: arrrteest | Jun 19, 2008 3:28:57 AM

It is an exponential increase that has been a long time in the making.

So what. It doesn't mean that it is right or any easier. It is easy to sit in your chair and look down your nose at others and make ridiculous proclamations. Yes, ridiculous proclamations about it being a long time coming and Dubya being some kind of visionary who did this to help people. If that was the case he wouldn't spend time talking about offshore drilling and the need to lower prices. That argument doesn't work.

Sorry but I'm going to advocate personal responsibility on this one.

Sorry, but I am going to call it a straw man argument again. How about a little more than saying that a house is an investment that can be wise or not. It is far too simplistic to suggest that the person who commutes long distance made a poor investment choice.

People should stop acting so shocked.

Right. You live in a place where there might be a flood so you should just suck it up. Right, when a man sticks a gun in your face and takes all your money you should just suck it up because you knew it was possible that it could happen.

College degree? Ingenuity? My father pulled himself up from nothing, My maternal grandfather did so as well. My wife payed her way through some of the best colleges the US has to offer. I've worked hard to get to where I am.
More blanket statements. If someone is poor it is because they don't work hard or haven't the ingenuity to devise some new product or service the world needs.

That is an ignorant remark. I can introduce you to people who work three jobs to try and make ends meet. People who do everything to give their children a better future than they have. People who have the skills to do more, but don't have a car or public transportation that will get them to a job that pays more.

Based upon your analysis they deserve it. It is too damn bad that the government hasn't done more and that they suffer because of it.

I can't buy into that line. I believe in being socially responsible and helping people take care of themselves, not a hand out, but a hand up.

Get off your high horse. That was clearly not her intent.

Without my high horse I'd be neck deep in the crap you're shoveling. ;)

Posted by: Jack | Jun 19, 2008 6:37:33 AM

Yes, the complaints of many Americans might seem slightly less valid when compared to the complaints of Europeans and other individuals, but within the context of American society, Americans' complaints are valid. People were already expecting gas prices to rise, but not so sharply in such a short amount of time. It's difficult for senior citizens on fixed incomes to deal with such sharp price increases. It's also challenging for families to handle big expenses when their every day expenses skyrocket. Braces aren't cheap, and unlike piano or karate lessons, they're not necessarily optional. Families that were on the edge or just barely making it, or even those families who had a bit of breathing room, now find themselves in completely different circumstances. If everyone is cutting back, families that depend on some sort of charity to get by may also suffer, as charitable donations may also decrease in the near future. It's not just about gas prices, it's about the overall state of the economy. Gas prices just happen to be the easiest way to quantify the changes in many individuals' economic situations.

People's situations change and sometimes they can't make all of the adaptations they might wish to make. A family member of mine used to live 15 minutes or so from their job; now their job is 50 minutes away. None of the major Jewish communities in that tri-county area are much closer to this person's job, and other comparable positions have similar commutes. Moving in general is expensive; not everyone can afford to do so. Some people need the space of a house and can't fit a large family into an apartment.

It takes time for public transportation systems to be improved, so even with increased demand, change can take quite a while. Even so, sometimes public transportation isn't viable for certain situations. There's no panacea for the current situation.

Just as some people on one side of the world might not entirely understand their peers on the other side of the world, so too, some people of different marital statuses might not fully understand one another's situations.

Also, aren't gas prices higher in some countries due to certain taxes, which pay for various services?

Just a question- why is all gasoline in Israel high-octane? Does that play a role in the price of gas?

Posted by: tnspr569 | Jun 19, 2008 8:19:33 AM

"So what. It doesn't mean that it is right or any easier."

I don't recall saying that it would be easy. In fact, that was the point of my post. So long as things were 'easy' we were content to let the government tell us fairy tales about our energy prospects. Your focus is all wrong. You are caught up on the issue of one steep rise when your outrage should be directed at the years of deception when we were living far beyond our means.

"It is easy to sit in your chair and look down your nose at others and make ridiculous proclamations. Yes, ridiculous proclamations about it being a long time coming and Dubya being some kind of visionary who did this to help
people."

No easier, I'm sure, than it is for you to cast blanket aspersions on facts I have provided for you as you expound the gospel according to jack.

"If that was the case he wouldn't spend time talking about offshore drilling and the need to lower prices. That argument doesn't work."

Read between the lines. Drilling is not going to help us reduce the cost of energy now (though it might indirectly though an increase in consumer confidence. I would like to think that our consumer is more savvy and discerning but I know better) but we need to get all our resources online so that we can use them tomorrow when things are really tight.

" It is far too simplistic to suggest that the person who commutes long distance made a poor investment choice."

I'm sorry, you're right. It's way too brazen of me to expect people to think ahead, or indeed think.

"Right. You live in a place where there might be a flood so you should just suck it up. Right, when a man sticks a gun in your face and takes all your money you should just suck it up because you knew it was possible that it could happen."

That's about the size of it. It's tough but it can be turned into a positive event if the flooding or the mugging wakes us to the reality of things. Maybe we will hound our elected officials a little more about infrastructure and toughness on crime.

"That is an ignorant remark. I can introduce you to people who work three jobs to try and make ends meet. People who do everything to give their children a better future than they have. People who have the skills to do more, but don't have a car or public transportation that will get them to a job that pays more."

If tomorrow there would be a famine, these people would be similarly screwed. "Poor people have less resources to deal with crisis" You just blew my friggin' mind.
There are two ways to help them: Do something retarded and populist like give a tax vacation from oil during the summer months (little better than a band-aid the oil companies will use to boost profits), or reward ingenuity in the areas you are interested in by granting tax breaks to innovators of the energy field. You want to help people by sending them back to lala land where candy bars cost a nickel.

"Based upon your analysis they deserve it. It is too damn bad that the government hasn't done more and that they suffer because of it."

It is too damn bad and we are all paying for it. This should have been at the top of our agenda 20 years ago. The US is like a passenger in a car with a drunk driver that complains when there is an accident. It's all of our fault but enough of self immolation. What do we do about it?

"I can't buy into that line. I believe in being socially responsible and helping people take care of themselves, not a hand out, but a hand up."

If you want to be socially responsible and help people take care of themselves, go out and innovate, create or invest in someone doing those things. I submit to you that Edison, Bell and Gutenberg have done more to help these poor people you yak on about than any three "philanthropists" you could ever name. Think about that before you waste bandwidth with another emotionally charged response

"Without my high horse I'd be neck deep in the crap you're shoveling. ;)"

On that high note, adieu

Posted by: Daddytype | Jun 19, 2008 8:49:38 AM

And for the record: gas prices are up 65% in Israel in the last 4 years (in shekel terms) and once you factor in the fall of the dollar, gas prices are up a whopping 125%--IN 4 YEARS.

Yet, I've never heard a peep from anyone about this. Not a news story, nothing about how hard its made the lives of the working poor....interesting psychology/cultural issues here.

I asked an Israeil in my office why he thinks its such a non-issue here and his response was that people understand that high gas prices are overall for the good of the people (given the taxes collected) and therefore take it. His opinion was that Americans just focus on the "me" factor. So, I don't know...sounds a little old-school Israeli naive but that is what he thought.
I agree with Daddytype...adieu on this topic.

Posted by: Naomi | Jun 19, 2008 9:08:17 AM

Naomi -
Alright, so the raw price rise in the USA was roughly double that of Israel for the same time period; how much driving MUST be done to get to work? To ship food? To ship goods which are resold out-of-country?

Imagine that Israel had a huge oil reserve under it, and that the prices kept rising; how would that change the way folks react, be it "for the people" or otherwise?

Posted by: Foxfier | Jun 19, 2008 10:39:03 AM

The Ayalon in Tel Aviv will be shut down today from 3:30-5pm as truck drivers, taxi drivers, and others protest the gas prices... It is indeed in the news in Israel!

Posted by: Ruth | Jun 19, 2008 1:30:33 PM

The Ayalon in Tel Aviv will be shut down between 3:30 and 5pm today as truckers, taxi drivers, and others protest high gas prices and lack of government involvement. It is definitely in the news in Israel.

Posted by: Ruth | Jun 19, 2008 1:32:48 PM

So long as things were 'easy' we were content to let the government tell us fairy tales about our energy prospects. Your focus is all wrong. You are caught up on the issue of one steep rise when your outrage should be directed at the years of deception when we were living far beyond our means.

Oy, this is such nonsense.

No easier, I'm sure, than it is for you to cast blanket aspersions on facts I have provided for you as you expound the gospel according to jack.

What facts did you provide. What did you do other than make statements and ask that we accept them to be valid and true.

Read between the lines. Drilling is not going to help us reduce the cost of energy now

Stay the course of the thread. You said that Bush is a visionary and that he is doing this to force us into a better future. I said that your allegation is nonsense and still maintain that position.

If he was such a visionary he would lay out the terms of his vision. He hasn't. He said that we have to lower gas prices to help the economy. This is from the NY Times:

“If Congressional leaders leave for the Fourth of July recess without taking action, they will need to explain why $4-a-gallon gasoline is not enough incentive for them to act,” Mr. Bush said Wednesday in the White House Rose Garden. “And Americans will rightly ask how high oil — how high gas prices have to rise before the Democratic-controlled Congress will do something about it.”

That is not visionary, that is partisan politics.

That's about the size of it. It's tough but it can be turned into a positive event if the flooding or the mugging wakes us to the reality of things.

That is a very narrow view of things. Life is rarely so black and white.

If tomorrow there would be a famine, these people would be similarly screwed. "Poor people have less resources to deal with crisis" You just blew my friggin' mind.

Nice to see that you have so much compassion. And your solutions aren't based in reality either.

or reward ingenuity in the areas you are interested in by granting tax breaks to innovators of the energy field. You want to help people by sending them back to lala land where candy bars cost a nickel.

I never said that. I said that we have an obligation to do more than shrug our shoulders and say life is tough.

If you want to be socially responsible and help people take care of themselves, go out and innovate, create or invest in someone doing those things. I submit to you that Edison, Bell and Gutenberg have done more to help these poor people you yak on about than any three "philanthropists" you could ever name. Think about that before you waste bandwidth with another emotionally charged response.

I am not operating off of emotion. All I did was prick a hole in the gasbag you launched. You have next to no substance in these ramblings, just a lot of hand wringing and shoulder shrugging.

If you read more carefully you'd see that I am interested in a hand up and not a hand out. I could spell that out in detail by saying that I am interested in seeing society do things that help provide more education for people. I could outline that I am interested in seeing people gain skills that can be used to be productive, that I am not talking about giving people welfare for life.

Or I could ask you to spell out your allegations. Edison, Bell and Gutenberg- decent list. But just for kicks I wonder what we'll see come from the billions of dollars Bill Gates philanthropies are doling out.

Better yet, look at this dated list and you'll find all sorts of stuff that competes quite well with your three.

One more thing.

The US is like a passenger in a car with a drunk driver that complains when there is an accident.

Emotion must be getting the better of me, but this analogy is just silly. Passengers have a certain amount of responsibility for who they travel with, but they are not 100% responsible for the actions of the drivers.

Or would you say that the passengers who died when their planes crashed into the WTC were responsible for what happened to them.

Posted by: Jack | Jun 19, 2008 7:11:51 PM

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