Monday, October 03, 2005

"Cake, meet cake-eating!"

Evan Kirchhoff has written another Instant Classic, this time on the subject of gasoline prices.
I know we're all supposed to be avoiding nonessential travel and so on, but what is the logical leap from the fact that gas is now $3 per gallon to the moral assertion that I ought to take new steps to conserve it? Here's a parallel piece of economic data: "a large pizza is fourteen dollars". Would you say that fact morally obliges me to eat more pizza, less pizza, or about the same amount of pizza?

I don't know that any individual point he makes is 100% original, but who cares?
Yes, I understand that we are currently facing damaged U.S. gasoline production and delivery, plus contention for crude oil with Asia, plus an Ominously Uncertain Global Era in which "ease of oil extraction" is highly correlated with "craziness of local government". But I also assume that these factors should be fully captured and expressed in the fact that gasoline costs three bucks. That's what prices are for, right? There are obviously things worth doing with $2 gasoline that aren't worth it at $3, but that's a purely practical decision; there is no added moral dimension here.

This is his specialty: explaining clearly and humourously, in under 1500 words, why "what your elected representative is proposing to solve your problem" is a terrible idea, and will most likely achieve the exact opposite of its intent.
What we have are middle-class consumers in the richest country in history whining about temporary 50-cent increases, which means that for a few weeks it costs an additional $10 or so to fill the trucks whose gas mileage they didn't care about until approximately last month. Obviously any modern government must immediately appease them with socialized energy, as opposed to telling them to grow up and cut their damned latte budget by 10 bucks or (my preference) reduce their overbidding on the nation's housing stock by 0.000001%.

You should immediately forward his piece to everyone you've ever heard complain about gas prices.
Also, I admit that I have raised our prices over time, even while the cost of computing equipment has dropped. I know! Behold the terrible visage of the gouger! But even as you recoil, I tell you that there are many of us: for example, I have heard that some companies have employees who will ask for more money for doing the same jobs as before, in a nefarious practice they call a "raise". Gougers every one!


At 8:50 p.m., Anonymous colson said...

I couldn't agree more. If you really want to make a load of cash, wait until the next big scare, buy puts on oil futures when it goes up drastically and you see it peaking then ride it all the way down and sell out.

I also agree with the author on the fact that we really don't have any reason to whine just because we have big gas guzzlers. Well, I don't but I get to rub it in to my roomie who gets a whopping 16mpg in his Jeep...


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