Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Want to spend less on gas? Here's one way...

With unleaded at $3.359 here in the South of Iowa, I've been thinking about how and why we got to this point. Remember when gas got to $1.40 a few years ago, and everyone was getting in a tizzy then? Baby, you ain't seen nothing yet!

Here's my solution: Let's go back to fuel ration cards like they had in WW II. That will put an artificial clamp on the demand, and lower prices, right?

Back then, to get a ration book and a certain classification, one had to appear before the local ration board and plea their case. Getting a "A" card allocated you 3-4 gallons of fuel per week. "B" cards were issued to those working in the military industry and gave one 8 gallons/week. A "C" card went to those deemed essential to the war effort, such as doctors. "T" cards went to truckers, and if you were really, really good, you got a "X" card, which provided you with unlimited fuel, food, rubber, etc. Ministers, policemen, volunteer firemen, and civil defense workers got these.

This occurred because we were getting a fair amount of petroleum from the South Pacific at the time, a place the Japanese were moving in on. That left only our domestic production, and the majority of it was needed to run those Sherman tanks and P-51 Mustangs.

What's different today? Half of our oil supply comes from an area that is openly hostile to us, maybe more than half if you include Hugo Chavez and Venezuela. We are at war, or so we're told by those in DC. If our oil supplies fell into the wrong hands, we'd be in real trouble. Rationing is one answer to reduce over-consumption and leaving ourselves vulnerable to dictators.

Sure, it might take some getting used to; no more running across town to your favorite Blockbuster to get "Ishtar: Enhanced Director's Cut", of course. 3-4 gallons per week will get you about 40 miles with a big SUV. Hope your grocery store isn't too far away. Pizza delivery? Forget it, unless you can tip the delivery boy a few contraband ration stamps. But isn't this all a small price to pay to win the war on terror and stick it to those Arab sheiks?

Of course, I'm being a bit facetious here. Nobody in their right mind is going to propose, much less ratify, petroleum rationing until the straits are dire. People will complain what they will about the price of fuel, but in the end, they'll pay for it, and maybe even smile a bit as they do it. The oil companies know this, the auto manufacturers know this, and government knows it.

However, if push came to shove, and we were headed to $10/gal gasoline, I think fuel rationing might become a viable option and worthy of discussion. As much as I don't like government intruding, at that point, it becomes a national security issue, and it becomes their business.


Anonymous Dorf said...

Here is something to ponder. Let's say we can cut WAY down on the amount of oil we need in the States. Demand goes down, price goes down, right? This is good, but there can also be a "problem" with this.

There are places that have oil, but it is more expensive to get it out of the ground.. Oil shale in Canada comes to mind. With the prices up like they are now, places like that are worth the price to get the oil. As demand goes down and down, places like that can not afford to get oil, so though as a country we may use less oil, a much higher % of oil we DO use will actually be from the Mid East because it is dirt cheap for them to get it out of the ground.

I'm not saying it's not the route we want to go.. it is. I'm just saying to anybody who thinks we can get away from Mid East oil by reducing our use may be wrong.

1:30 PM, May 23, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The thing is people are always telling Americans to conserve and drive less. For the most part people I know aren't driving around in circles in their front yards for hours on end for fun burning 3.50 a gallon gas. They're going about doing what they need to do to make a living and darn little else these days.

Fact of the matter is America runs on oil. Without oil, specifically, without reasonably priced oil, our economy will crumble. Unfortunately we can't conserve our way out of this predicament by driving less. We need new sources of oil. We need to exploit untapped reserves in Alaska and on the coasts and start exploring the deep regions of the gulf. We should also assist in developing the tar sands in Canada perhaps by supplying nuclear reactors to help in the refining process. We should attempt to do the same sorts of extraction with some of the coal and shale discoveries in our own western states.

Just as importantly perhaps more so, we need new refining capacity. We have a Strategic Petroleum Reserve and it is becoming evident we need a Strategic Refining Reserve. There needs to be a crash program undertaken to build several refineries to bolster refinery capacity in the US. If US companies will not do this then the government must. All regulatory impediments must be removed to get this done. They need to be built hardened and dispersed to withstand the impact of hurricanes and other events which cause disruptions.

We also need to discontinue the custom formulations of gasoline for different states and municipalities across the US. This is having a detrimental effect on the entire nation. One gas for everyone.

This would be a start anyway. Of course we need to look into other technology to replace oil for the internal combustion engine but those technologies are a very long way off. Oil is all there is right now. It isn't running out despite the alarmism. Beyond the popular hysteria and media hype anthropogenic global warming when looked at rationally is more about government control and a belief system than actual science. It's bunk.

1:51 AM, May 24, 2007  
Blogger noneed4thneed said...

Never going to happen with Bush and Cheney in the White House. Here's a quote from Ari Fleischer...

Q : Is one of the problems with this, and the entire energy field, American lifestyles? Does the President believe that, given the amount of energy Americans consume per capita, how much it exceeds any other citizen in any other country in the world, does the President believe we need to correct our lifestyles to address the energy problem?

MR. FLEISCHER: That's a big no. The President believes that it's an American way of life, and that it should be the goal of policy makers to protect the American way of life. The American way of life is a blessed one. And we have a bounty of resources in this country. What we need to do is make certain that we're able to get those resources in an efficient way, in a way that also emphasizes protecting the environment and conservation, into the hands of consumers so they can make the choices that they want to make as they live their lives day to day.

11:57 PM, May 24, 2007  

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