February 29, 2012 by Steve Schuler
Sounding Dangerously Conservative: A ‘High’ Gas Price Diatribe
The following originally appeared as a comment by Steve Schuler to: Santorum Says $4 Gas Caused 2008 Financial Collapse
You know what? I’m really tired of hearing people whine about high gas prices. The rest of the world laughs at what we call high, and with good reason.
Let’s do some math:
Say you’re driving the national average commute distance of 28 miles per day (Average commute distances by mode) and commute about 260 days per year. That means you’re driving 7,280 miles per year. To account for weekend shopping trips let’s assume you’re actually driving that 28 miles every single day of the year. That would mean you’re driving 10,220 miles per year.
Now, because you’re an American, and therefore aren’t concerned enough about fuel efficiency to let it get in the way of purchasing a sweet ride, we’ll assume you get a mediocre 23 mpg (EPA Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 Through 2010) which puts you just above the national average. With these middle-of-the-road assumptions, if gas prices go up $1 per gallon (e.g., from $3 to $4, which now has the media abuzz with concern) it will cost you $444 more per year -or- $37 more per month.
Here’s the important part:
If you did what Santorum says and bought a house with a mortgage so high that an extra $37 per month would lead to foreclosure then you are a moron and the only help you need is a basic education in math. (Too bad we can’t find the money for that!)
But wait, there’s more:
You’re confirming your inability to do math if, while suffering this financial hardship and living well beyond your means, you continue to pay more than $37 per month for TV, or for internet, or for cell phone service, or for hair cuts, or manicures, or to go to the movies, or to eat out, and on and on. (To say nothing of modifying your driving habits to save gas.) You have to live within your means and sometimes that means minor sacrifices for the future. “You can’t always get what you want.” (Even liberals can make the occasional conservative sounding statement once in a while!)
I am of course aware that people have financial hardship due to unexpected layoffs, medical problems and other events beyond their control and for these people I do sympathize. I think of myself as a very liberal person, but at some point you have to let people take some responsibility for being stupid. To say gas prices rising by $1 or $2 per gallon is crushing people’s ability to pay their mortgages and therefore caused the recession is either wrong or representative of how far off the rails education and parenting are. (Not to mention how depressingly materialistic our culture has become.)