Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

US Gasoline Prices Spur Telework

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the moving-bits-not-atoms dept.

Power 512

coondoggie writes "The price of gasoline may finally be changing the way many people commute and communicate. Anecdotal evidence says teleworkers are growing rapidly as a direct result of the cost of driving. The article links a survey indicating that in Q1 2007 the 19 largest US cable and telephone providers (representing about 94% of the market) acquired over 2.9 million net additional high-speed Internet subscribers, to a total of about 56.2 million. That can be attributed in part to more employees taking advantage of telework programs, experts say. Just this week the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust task force opened the first of a series of hearings on the oil industry. Its chairman noted that gasoline prices have soared well above $3 a gallon and asked, 'How did we get into this mess?'"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

It can only be a good thing for IT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19191697)

Most of the projects rely too much on word-of-mouth and not on actual written documentation. If this means people learn to write and express themselves better, it's a very smart move.

It's always interesting how decentralized open-source projects seem to produce better quality code than in-house projects.

How? (5, Insightful)

dj245 (732906) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191701)

Urban sprawl, SUV's, and lack of MPG targets for manufacturers. Average MPG hasn't changed much since the 70's. I also haven't noticed any change in peoples driving habits. People still tailgate, race to the next light (even though it is red) etc. I guess they have money to burn.

There is no good fix for the sprawl. The other two are at least somewhat addressable by some means of legislation or industry curtailing.

Re:How? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19191739)

You forgot the assumption that oil would remain cheap and plentiful forever -- a flawed assumption for any finite resource.

Re:How? (1)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191743)

Indeed, it's basic supply and demand. With SUVs you get more demand and the price goes up.

Re:How? (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191803)

Wait, you invoked supply and demand to infer price. If supply goes up along with demand then the price should remain the same. I don't have total output numbers available.

Still, though, I'm not buying any idealized edition of the economy. Price has gone up for two reasons: 1) because it can do so rapaciously and today's cities are designed with the assumption that transportation is fast and easy, and 2) because those top level Wall Street managers who lost millions in the .com bust are shoring up their profits through investments in newly extra-profitable businesses associated with delivering gasoline to the public.

Why does everyone look for the most meaningless answer (eg. some idealized form of gradeschool economics) while turning a blind eye to the reality of the way the world works?

Evidence of ignorance (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19191955)

How are we supposed to take your comments about real world economics seriously if you don't understand enough about economics to cure your own homelessness?

Re:How? (5, Insightful)

thule (9041) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191773)

Don't forget there has not been any refineries built in 30 years, even though there has been more types of gas that the states have required. Don't forget that not only has our demand for oil continued to grow, but the world demand has also continued to grow.

Re:How? (4, Funny)

BakaHoushi (786009) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192047)

Wait, wait, wait...

So... you're telling me, there are other countries in the world? And that these other countries have economies? And these economies change, which, in turn, requires a shift in the required natural resources, including the amount of oil they require?

I'm sorry, but I find that a little hard to believe.

Re:How? (2, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192369)

Don't forget there has not been any refineries built in 30 years,
So why don't we import refined gasoline instead of crude? I'm sure we could have it made to whatever specification is required.

Re:How? (4, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191785)

lack of MPG targets for manufacturers
The other two are at least somewhat addressable by some means of legislation or industry curtailing.

A more sane way of solving the problem is to have the consumer pay the true cost of energy. Does the gasoline you buy require us to import from unstable governments, resulting in a higher defense bill when we are in more conflicts over it? Put a tax on gas to foot the bill. Does gasoline hurt the environment? Put a tax on it to cover the cost.

Worried about tax payer backlash? Give out a refund check to cover the average cost. Those who buy the fuel efficient car or choose not to live an hour from work will make a killing. Those who don't will get killed. I bet you'd see habits change REAL quick.

In

Re:How? (2, Insightful)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192193)

A more sane way of solving the problem is to have the consumer pay the true cost of energy
Don't we already?

Does the gasoline you buy...Put a tax on gas to foot the bill.
What's happening to the tax money we're already paying?

Does gasoline hurt the environment? Put a tax on it to cover the cost
What's happening to the tax money we're already paying?

I understand what you're saying but I think there's a hole in the government's pocket which, if sewn up, could allow many of these problems to work themselves out.

Gas Price in Europe is $10 Per Gallon (5, Insightful)

reporter (666905) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191863)

Gas prices in the USA are not particularly high -- even at $3.50 per gallon. Gas in Europe [toledoblade.com] costs $10 per gallon.

Such high prices in Europe does not hurt the European standard of living because many Europeans use public transportation; bus and trains are relatively cheap to ride. In the USA, many Americans refuse to use public transportation due to class snobbery. In my neck of the woods, about 80% of the passengers on the bus is either impoverished Americans (from ghetto neighborhoods) or illegal aliens from Mexico. The occupancy of the buses is about 50% during most of the day. Meanwhile, the freeways are packed with late-model cars driven by the wealthier class.

Frankly, even if gas prices increased to $10 per gallon in the USA, Americans would not necessarily experience a decline in their standard of living -- if they use public transportation. It is cheap although it may be slighly inconvenient because you must time your life according to the bus or train schedule.

Note that American politicians never compare European gas prices to American gas prices. The politicians just tell Americans what they want to hear: "Gas at $3.50 is too expensive. We Americans are a sad, pathetic victim of the greedy oil companies. We should force them to lower gas prices back to $1.50 per gallon so we can enjoy your monster SUV."

These are the same Americans who overwhelmingly supported the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Re:Gas Price in Europe is $10 Per Gallon (2, Informative)

CowboyBob500 (580695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191909)

Exactly. Everytime someone from the US says how high their gas prices are, I just laugh. $3 per gallon is cheap. Very cheap.

Bob

Re:Gas Price in Europe is $10 Per Gallon (5, Interesting)

fbjon (692006) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192313)

Indeed [csmonitor.com] . An interesting quote:

"European per capita consumption of gas and diesel stood at 286 liters a year in 2001, compared to 1,624 in the US, according to IEA figures."

Re:Gas Price in Europe is $10 Per Gallon (4, Insightful)

notamisfit (995619) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191975)

You know, I don't think we've seen so much as a drop of oil out of Iraq. From what I've heard, China and Vietnam are the ones getting the contracts. Not that I really care; most of the Middle Eastern oilfields were illegally nationalized from US or British companies anyways. (If it wasn't for the West, they'd still be driving camels on top of the world's richest oil deposits.) That's the _really_ scary thing about Iraq; Bush honestly seems to believe that letting Iraq vote itself into another Islamic Republic is going to be the thing that brings peace and stability to the region.

As for public transportation, it's feasible -- in the metropolitan areas. Out here in farm country, it's a lost cause (and the lower property taxes and intangibles like better schools probably make up for the extra money spent on fuel).

Bushian fantasies (2, Insightful)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192071)

I agree, except I think you're giving Bush way too much credit. He probably believed that Iraq would turn itself into a liberal democracy as soon as the tyrant at the top was removed. ( It's not surprising that he should have that view; it will probably work in his own country...)

Re:Gas Price in Europe is $10 Per Gallon (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191995)

Did you ever see the public transport system in the US. I have. I can understand why people refuse to use it.

Also, for a lot of people there is no viable alternative. The US style of sprawling out towns into miles and miles of suburbs means that you HAVE to have a car, often there isn't even a public trans system.

Public transport here is subsidized. Heavily subsidized. I get the whole town for 500 bucks a year, almost round the clock with 3-15 minutes wait time, tops. In clean, safe and reliable trains and busses. I actually don't even own a car anymore. What for?

Re:Gas Price in Europe is $10 Per Gallon (4, Informative)

tempestdata (457317) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192105)

I live in Los Angeles, the second biggest American city and I can tell you first hand that the public transport system here SUCKS! I HAD to buy a car.. Absolutely HAD to, even when I was a flat broke student living in a room the size of the car I bought. Yes it was a used old banger, but I was actually able to get around! To build a functioning public transport system you need money. I wouldn't mind taking twice the time to get to/from work everyday using public transport just so I dont have to drive, but the way the public transport system is. It would end up taking 3 times as much (An 1 hour and 30 minutes!) and that is just absurd.
If only our government would spend more of the money they take from us, and spend it back on us. Instead, what I see is them taking my money so they can go bomb some people. The worst part is? I have to live with the knowledge, that I, for my part, am working hard every day to help pay for those weapons.

Gas is too expensive at $3? HA! Lower the damn income tax rate, and tax the gas consumption. A responsible government would do this. Unfortunately, if there are heavier taxes brought on gas, our income tax wont fall to compensate, we'll just be paying for more missiles, and guns.

Just imagine. For a minute.. impossible as it may seem. If $6/gallon were levied as a gas tax in all counties with a population density over a certain threshold, to pay for a public transport system for that county. To make it faster, cleaner, safer and more convenient. I'd gladly pay $9 a gallon to gas my car up then.

Chicken and the egg (3, Interesting)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192153)

Did you ever see the public transport system in the US. I have. I can understand why people refuse to use it.
Without resorting to significant subsidies (which most Americans loathe, even though they aren't aware of just how many subsidies already exist), what you've just stated is a vicious cycle. Without a significant number of people riding public transportation, there is inadequate funds to improve public transportation. Until public transportation is improved, you won't have a significant number of people riding it.

Re:Chicken and the egg (2, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192297)

And that's why a pure market economy does not work. My country developed something akin to "social market economy". We're moving away from it (read: it gets worse), but for a long time we had basic economy in governmental hands (power, water, natural gas (not fuel), sewage, even phone and postal service), and also the public transport. I.e. they provided the foundation for you to build a business on top of it. It worked, sometimes better, sometimes worse, but it was reliably good or bad.

Yes, we paid more back then for gas, power and water. But the quality was better. We had spring water in our tap, gas to every remotely sensible place and triple redundant power supply (so blackouts were kinda unknown for a long time here, at least since the 50s).

Personally, I prefer a reliable service to what it is currently turned into. 'cause you don't think we pay less tax now that they're privatizing everything they can, do you?

Rule #1 about taxes (0)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192339)

Personally, I prefer a reliable service to what it is currently turned into. 'cause you don't think we pay less tax now that they're privatizing everything they can, do you?

Rule #1 about taxes: they never truly go down.

Re:Chicken and the egg (2, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192347)

Without resorting to significant subsidies...

I think you've hit the nail on the head here. The road system in America is significantly subsidized, yet the rail system and public transportation systems are expected to make a profit! What. The. Fuck?!

Re:Gas Price in Europe is $10 Per Gallon (2, Insightful)

miskatonic alumnus (668722) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192159)

Did you ever see the public transport system in the US. I have. I can understand why people refuse to use it.

Its non-existence in most places is a pretty good deterrent. I would much rather use public transportation than own my own vehicle. I hate driving, dealing with other drivers, paying for insurance & vehicle maintenance & gasoline, making the yearly donation to the DMV to keep it registered, and still having it break down from time to time. A lot of people consider the automobile as symbol of their freedom, I view it as a symbol of servitude --- when it breaks down, it immediately displaces whatever your current highest priority is. Goddamned things are balls and chains, polluters, and instruments of fatality --- claiming more lives in the age group 15-40 than any other cause of death in the U.S. The sooner we're rid of them, the better.

Re:Gas Price in Europe is $10 Per Gallon (4, Insightful)

epee1221 (873140) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192201)

In the USA, many Americans refuse to use public transportation due to class snobbery.
Did you ever see the public transport system in the US. I have. I can understand why people refuse to use it.
Exactly. I don't avoid public transportation here because of snobbery. I avoid it because it is of low quality. With my car, I can roll out of bed at 8 and be at work before 8:30 minutes. If I had to take the bus, I would have to get up around 6:30, walk a mile and a half, get on one bus, ride to the middle of town, change buses (and hope everything's on schedule), ride out to work, and get there around 9. I would also likely have to get off work early in order to be able to take the bus back to where I got on (a mile and a half from home).
On top of all that, once I already have a car, it's cheaper to use it drive myself to work than to pay for the bus fare. (It's about $3 for a day's driving, $4 for a day's busing -- $6 for the bus if I pay for each ride individually)

The comparison don't hold (1)

aepervius (535155) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192043)

Because here around 70% (europe) of the gas price is due to taxes (it used to be that way but now it is probably around 60% due to the oil price raise). I do not think you gas in the US is taxed as much.

Here are some link about this tax rate on fuel in europe :
About.com on fuel gas price (first paragraph) [about.com]
US reluctant to match Europe Gas price taxation [signonsandiego.com]

Quote :
For decades, European countries have imposed high taxes on fuel to encourage conservation and fuel-efficient technologies while funding public transportation. In England, the Netherlands and Scandinavia, the taxes on gas are more than twice as much as the underlying cost of the fuel.

Re:The comparison don't hold (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19192123)

In the Uk some 70% of the cost of petrol/diesel at the pump is revenue to the Government (ie Taxes.)
I've been 'working from home' off an on for 6 years. Now its more ON than off. Most weeks I work from home for 4 days a week. The downside is that the Office is 80 miles away so commuting is not really an option.

If everyone who could worked just one day a week from home the reduction in CO2 would acheive most if not all of the targets that have been set by various governments (noticeably not the USA...)
Make it two days a week and you start to get serious reductions in commuter traffic thus actually improving the fuel efficiency of the drivers using the now emptier roads.
As so it goes on.

Personally, the $40.00 per month I pay for 2Mb unlimited ADSL sames me far more in fuel costs plus wear and tear on my car any my stess levels from the fact that I don't have to suffer the daily commute in both directions.

Re:Gas Price in Europe is $10 Per Gallon (1)

figleaf (672550) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192073)

I live on the outskirts of the city. I would like to take the bus if it was more frequent.
The bus service is only available in the morning and evening hours on weekdays and no bus service on weekends.
On top of that the bus drivers don't stick to schedule sometimes its 15 minutes early or an 1/2 hour late.

Re:Gas Price in Europe is $10 Per Gallon (4, Informative)

koreth (409849) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192079)

In the USA, many Americans refuse to use public transportation due to class snobbery.

In much the USA, many Americans refuse to use public transportation because they want to get to work in a half-hour rather than spending four hours hopping from bus to bus to train to bus. That is certainly the situation in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am not exaggerating those times, either; a few years ago, I had a contract in Pleasanton, about 35 minutes by car from my home in Sunnyvale. My car needed to be in the shop for a few days so I decided to take public transit. How bad could it be, right? Pretty damned bad, [511.org] is the answer. (The bus stop at the start of that route is about a 10-minute walk from my house; there are none closer. And note the price, too, though a monthly transit pass would cut that way down for a regular user.)

Who I was sitting next to was not the issue; the issue was that it took so damned long to get to the office that, if I had to do that every day, I'd be doing literally nothing but riding the bus/train, working, and sleeping. That's why you mostly see poor people on the bus: people with enough money to buy and operate a car would rather spend several extra hours a day with their families.

One root cause, in this area at least, is idiotic zoning policy that makes it illegal for most people to live close to where they work. The cities around here are divided into residential areas with the occasional convenience store or restaurant, and industrial/commercial areas with no housing other than the occasional programmer sleeping under his desk after an all-nighter. As a result, there is very little of interest within walking distance from most people's homes. And since those same zoning laws generally prohibit buildings more than a couple floors high even in the commercial areas, everything is spread out so far and wide that it's utterly impossible to design good public transit systems like those of higher-density cities. (Well, you *could* design one, but it would cost so much to operate that people would find it cheaper to drive their own cars.)

Re:Gas Price in Europe is $10 Per Gallon (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19192119)

Such high prices in Europe does not hurt the European standard of living because many Europeans use public transportation; bus and trains are relatively cheap to ride. In the USA, many Americans refuse to use public transportation due to class snobbery. In my neck of the woods, about 80% of the passengers on the bus is either impoverished Americans (from ghetto neighborhoods) or illegal aliens from Mexico. The occupancy of the buses is about 50% during most of the day. Meanwhile, the freeways are packed with late-model cars driven by the wealthier class.


+5 insightful my ass.. it should be -2 uninformed presumptuous fucktard.

Firstly, the average USian lives farther from work than does a European. We like living in the burbs and not being piled up on top of each other. When the gang bangers stop killing each other (along with innocent bystanders) within city limits some of us might consider giving up some elbow room for the inner-city life.

Secondly, some of us do take public transportation when it is available. I do at least three times a week.

Thirdly, due to the fluidity of the job market, you cannot "move closer" to work as so many would suggest simply because in eighteen months time you'll probably have swapped jobs anyway. I'm not buying a new house every year and a half.

Lastly, while many would like to take public transportation, waiting an hour for a bus is a wrong answer. I didn't have a driver's license until I was 23, and jokingly told people I had a black belt in mass transit (I'm in my 30s now). If you don't happen to be on your way to a mainstream destination you'll have to transfer to another route, and that usually takes quite a bit of time. I live in Ohio, and I'm not going to imitate those who spend half of their goddamned life on the BART out west.

We need more fuel efficient vehicles. We need ethanol-electric hybrids, mass amounts of corn, sugar beets, algae, and whatever else we can use to generate ethanol.

Note that American politicians never compare European gas prices to American gas prices. The politicians just tell Americans what they want to hear: "Gas at $3.50 is too expensive. We Americans are a sad, pathetic victim of the greedy oil companies. We should force them to lower gas prices back to $1.50 per gallon so we can enjoy your monster SUV."
  These are the same Americans who overwhelmingly supported the invasion and occupation of Iraq.


So, you have cites for this, right? Oh, that's right.. you pulled it from your ass.

I have no problem paying $3.00 a gallon for home grown ethanol running in a 45mpg Honda.. but I do have problems with assholes like you who tar everybody with the same brush.

Re:Gas Price in Europe is $10 Per Gallon (1)

tompatman (936656) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192127)

In the USA, many Americans refuse to use public transportation due to class snobbery.
Also, many Americans have no access to public transportation. Only in the center of major cities is public transit any good, and even then it is nothing compared to what Europe has.

Re:Gas Price in Europe is $10 Per Gallon (1)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192155)

Americans refuse to use public transportation due to class snobbery
Nonsense. For a large percentage of Americans, mass transit is simply not an option. For example, there is no mass transit between my home and my job ... period. Secondarily, it is obviously much more convenient and comfortable to drive your own vehicle rather than adapting your schedule and personal comforts to public/mass transit. It has nothing to do with snobbery and everything to do with convenience and comfort.

Bull (1, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192245)

Such high prices in Europe does not hurt the European standard of living because many Europeans use public transportation;
Bull.

Yes more use public transport than the US. i.e. 90% of travel is by car rather than 95%. But it does indeed hurt the European standard of living. Not only do they have to spend a fortune on a car, another fortune on fuel each year, but they are also taxed to the gills in order to pay the truly massive subsidies that are required to make public transport remotely affordable for the 10% who are able to make use of the extremely limited service.

Conventional public transport is unable to provide an equivalent service to the car, it is simply physically unable service the other 90% of journeys that most need to make.

Public transport is most definitely not the answer to the car. Not with any of the existing group transport systems anyway. Anyone who says it is, is simply repeating dogma without having really investigated the costs and inherent limitations of such systems.
 

Re:Gas Price in Europe is $10 Per Gallon (1)

bogjobber (880402) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192257)

In the USA, many Americans refuse to use public transportation due to class snobbery. In my neck of the woods, about 80% of the passengers on the bus is either impoverished Americans (from ghetto neighborhoods) or illegal aliens from Mexico.

While that may be a factor (I've certainly heard that sentiment) it's certainly not the largest one. Where I live (Salt Lake City, UT) there's a fairly reasonable mass transit system, and in the morning and late afternoon/evening nearly everyone on the light rail and most of the people on bus routes are white collar workers. A fair amount of people I knew used public transportation to commute to work (although it's still a small number compared to most European countries). The city planning was carried out fairly well and the suburbs aren't too sprawled compared to other US cities and everything's pretty decent. My experience was also similar in Portland, OR although I wasn't there for long enough to make a solid judgment of it.

Compare that to some Midwestern cities that I've been to. I've lived in Kansas City and they have the worst city planning/mass transit that I have ever seen. It took me 15-20 minutes to drive to work and it would've been about a two hour bus ride with three transfers if I wanted to take public transit (which I very much did). Nearly every professional lives in the suburbs, most of which are sprawling and far away from the city center, and a large number live and commute from 30+ miles away. Businesses are scattered around the metro area, with no real central work location (although they're trying to fix that). Riding mass transit there wasn't even an option unless you literally did not have any money.

So it's not really a simple answer. Yes, we need better public transportation. But in some places we're probably at least twenty years away from re-aligning the way cities are built so that public transportation is even an option for most people. That also assumes that there's the political/social will to start that process. If there is, I haven't seen it (in KC at least).

Conditions are different here than in Europe. When these cities were being built there was a lot of land and cheap gas. Post-WWII most people were wealthy and land was cheap. We didn't have the opportunity or necessity to build/rebuild mass transit systems like Western Europe. It has nothing to do with Americans being stupid or greedy.

Re:Gas Price in Europe is $10 Per Gallon (1)

hankwang (413283) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192287)

Gas in Europe costs $10 per gallon.

I'd like to know in which country. Rates for standard grade (Euro 95) vary from 1.05 EUR/L to 1.41 EUR/L (including sales tax), which is about 5 to 7 USD/gallon. See European fuel prices [brandstofprijzen.be] .

Re:How? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19191895)

Urban sprawl, SUV's, and lack of MPG targets for manufacturers. Average MPG hasn't changed much since the 70's. I also haven't noticed any change in peoples driving habits. People still tailgate, race to the next light (even though it is red) etc. I guess they have money to burn.

There is no good fix for the sprawl. The other two are at least somewhat addressable by some means of legislation or industry curtailing.


Not just money to burn, but American lives! How many troops per mile does the average "American" get in their SUV?

Re:How? (1)

notamisfit (995619) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191899)

At anything less than 5 USD a gallon, gas is still a bargain compared to what we get out of it. Habits won't change until gas gets really expensive (it's still cheaper now than it was in 1981, adjusted for inflation). And if Detroit could come up with an economical vehicle with the SUV's capacity and safety factor, they probably wouldn't be losing money per unit sold.

Re:How? (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191941)

The other two are at least somewhat addressable by some means of legislation or industry curtailing.
Will only extend the existing situation. Let them gouge prices, eventually either people will switch to an alternative or someone will find a way to provide cheaper gas.

 

Re:How? (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191963)

Actually, I think the mileage is doing pretty well considering all the other safety and emissions equipment manufacturers have to put in. So we have somewhat heavier cars, more powerful engines, and gas mileage that is at least comparable if not better than in the past.

Re:How? (1)

mh1997 (1065630) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191973)

Sprawl must be good!

If cities and towns don't want sprawl, why do they enact open space laws? Why do many towns and cities in California restrict the height of apartment buildings forcing people to live further and further away from work? The only answer that makes sense to me is that it is a conspiracy to make the roads so congested that people want to move to the city.

Re:How? (1)

Trifthen (40989) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192037)

It's not just that. This is freaking 2007! Why the hell do we have to drive to work, when very few jobs actually require being at a specific building every day? Most "work" could be done from a home office, via phone, webcam, or VPN, with maybe an occasional visit to the office for important meetings or mass coordination.

I take the Chicago L for twenty minutes a day so I can... sit at a desk for eight hours and code or manage databases through our VPN.

It's this pointless adherence to 1980's methodology that's filling our highways to capacity daily, giving us hours of gridlock, two or three hour commutes, consumption of millions of unnecessary barrels of oil, etc. I truly want gas prices to shoot ridiculously high so businesses will be forced to either compensate workers for commutes, or relax requirements for being onsite. It's not the urban sprawl screwing us, it's the fact we have to drive from twenty or thirty miles away along with millions of others, for basically no reason.

The sooner that ends, the better. Go gas prices, go!

Re:How? (1)

caseih (160668) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192279)

This is off-topic as far as telecommuting goes, but hey. This is slashdot.

The fix for urban sprawl is to clean up our cities. Put in clean, esthetically pleasing higher-density housing in the downtowns, increase public transportation to make it more appealing to live in such locations. Better planning in putting in green spaces (central park) very well could make higher-density housing areas much less the concrete jungle and more homey. But that's never going to happen until all our available land-mass is covered with subdivisions and the oceans are dried up.

As far as MPG goes, our engines today are now more powerful and much more efficient than they were in the 70s, all while consuming about the same amount of gas. However our vehicles are now larger and much heavier than they were in the 70s. We have, in fact, returned to the gas-guzzling boats of the 60s in terms of size and weight. The reason our cars are heavier and bigger is because we want the illusion of safety. If our neighbor is going to drive his his SUV with a high bumper, we want to make sure we never end up underneath it, so we buy a tall SUV too. We want the power to race out of danger. And so on. If we all drove smaller cars, and had sane safety regulations concerning bumper height and so forth, we would all be driving sub-compacts that got 50+ MPG. And we'd be a lot safer on the road too.

Sometimes I think we take freedom and rights way too far. We like the freedom to lift our SUVs way up and put on big tires. We like the freedom to drive 80 mph down the freeway. Never mind the fact that our actions put others at mortal risk. So it's a trade-off. Do we enact laws to curb such behavior? How do we change behavior in a positive way? It's interesting that we as humans will, in a heart-beat, trade our long-term well-being for something that will bring us only a brief moment of satisfaction. In other words, we'll place more importance on the cost of something today, than the long-term cost over our lifetime. Thus I'm not sure we can actually change public opinion with regards to our driving habits unless we allow gas prices to continually rise. Sadly high gas prices affect primary good producers first, often driving them out of business. Tis a sticky situation.

It's a question of advantages vs price paid (1)

Arthropod (773668) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192303)

Yes, in America our cities tend to be less dense. This translates into more distance traveled to get to work, but it also translates into what we (and probably most people) consider better living conditions. You can argue that it's not worth the extra fuel burned to live in greater luxury, but clearly there are plenty who don't agree.

Driving a car instead of using mass transport results in greater fuel consumption per capita, but you get to travel according to your schedule, in a self-contained environment entirely controlled by you, with the company you select, and you can actually transport items when you want to, including a week's worth of groceries or more so you don't have to go to the store every time you want to make a meal (which, incidentally, cuts down on transportation for car users).

Driving a larger vehicle instead of a tiny car means more fuel burned per mile traveled the vehicle, but it buys you carrying capacity. I don't think it was unreasonable for my parents to have a Minivan to take the seven members of our family around in. Even if it had been the most gas-guzzling SUV ever invented, the mileage per person riding would on average have been way better than one person riding the 30 mpg Saturns people are bragging about in this discussion. Heck, if you're going to be short-sighted about it, a bus gets terrible mpg. Sure, there are people that are driving SUVs mostly by themselves, and that's kind of dumb, but...

...that leads me to my next point: SUVs and trucks may be handy scapegoats, but they don't really make that big of a difference, at least as far as "when the oil will run out" is concerned. Even if solo drivers choose to go with a 20 mpg SUV instead of a 30 mpg Saturn, that just means the fossil fuels are exhausted in 60 years instead of 90. As far as dumping fumes into the environment, there's some argument there, but 20% of Americans driving a bigger or more powerful car than "necessary" is/will be swallowed in the rapid adoption of any car (or even more prevalent mass transportation) by the rest of the world's masses, as they grow more affluent. The only long-term solution is to draw our power from other sources. Nuclear power seems like the clearest practical direction to go, with whatever method is preferred/proves to be best for storing the energy for use in vehicles.

I lived in Europe for two years without a car, and did the whole mass transportation thing. It sucked. I'm willing to pay quite a bit for the enormous convenience and luxury of having my own vehicle to transport items, to take friends out to places where it wouldn't make sense to have regular trains or buses but that are accessible via some sort of road, to shave significant time off my daily commute, to be able to live in a house instead of a tiny apartment crunched together with everyone else because it's impossible for us to travel very far for work... The list goes on. I also like having a slightly more powerful car than is "absolutely necessary". Like anything, it can be taken to one extreme or the other, but forcing everyone to crunch together and/or drive fewer, smaller, wimpier cars isn't a silver bullet that will fix everything like people seem to think, so why torture ourselves needlessly? There are plenty of other luxuries (air conditioning?) that currently require the consumption of fossil fuels in order for us to enjoy them, but they're not under the gun as much as the belaguered vehicle owners of America.

Each individual's lifestyle has its price. For some reason people talk as if nothing is gained as a result of certain less "environmentally-friendly" practices, but that's not true. It may not be something you care about, but that's not necessarily an excuse to limit everyone else's choices. I hear that argument all the time here about other things. If you decide a certain lifestyle's not worth it, don't live it. If enough people decide that allowing other people certain lifestyles is unacceptably detrimental to the whole, then we pass laws accordingly. But that shouldn't be done lightly. I guarantee that there are things the majority disapproves of that you do, so I wouldn't set too much of a precedent (especially when it's not even for something the majority agrees on, in this case).

Rapidly growing teleworkers. (2, Funny)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191711)

TFA says"teleworkers are growing rapidly as a direct result of the cost of driving."
Yep, now I never have to leave my Mom's basement except for trips to 7-11 to restock the fridge.

Ohhh! You meant the number of teleworkers?? Oops. Never mind.

In other news , (1)

zygwin (1091281) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191717)

Software piracy has increased by 2.9 % ;)

It's very simple... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19191757)

Its chairman noted that gasoline prices have soared well above $3 a gallon and asked, 'How did we get into this mess?'"

You got into this mess because the mileage of the average vehicle in the USA is its lowest point in 20 years.

It is low because many congresses & presidents (both republican & democrat) refused to increase the CAFE (corporate average fuel economy standards) for more than twenty years.

Further, the popularity of SUVs exploded, and since SUVs are "trucks" they have far lower standards (fuel economy & safety) than "cars".

Then, on the supply side, how many new gas refineries opened in the last 20 years?

How many cities have viable public transit?

It's not rocket science.

Make it meaningful (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191763)

Is there any way to correlate teleworkers with productive companies? I'd be okay with telecommuting but not if I know that the company, along with twenty others, is just a front for a fund manager to pad the performance of his assets.

I guess if you're a telecommuter who's being paid fat and happy you're not much worried that the money funding your salary is, at the other end, sucking the retirement funds of a thousand blue collar line workers dry.

Re:Make it meaningful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19191957)

wouldnt care about the retirement funds of a thousand blue collar workers if i was wiping my ass with them and burning them to warm my house. if they are to stupid to put their funds in a moneymaking place they are to stupid for my pity.

I've been riding my bike (3, Insightful)

geek (5680) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191771)

I always preferred walking or riding but the gas prices are what finally drove me over the edge. I live in CA and it's pushing 4$ a gallon right now, in some places it's gone over 4. So I just ride my bike, everything I need is in riding distance. If I do have to go further I have my car, which is a rather fuel efficient Saturn. I think I've put all of 60$ in the tank this year total. To me that's how it should be.

I blame a lot of the fuel efficiency problems on city planers. The layouts of our cities are really bad for fuel economy, especially place like San Francisco and Los Angeles. California also suffers badly from a lack of a good public transit system. We have buses but it's not good enough.

Part of the problem is also social. People want their big tanks (Hummer, Suburban etc) because they feel safe in them. For whatever reason people equate size with safety even though it's not the actual case.

Re:I've been riding my bike (1)

catbutt (469582) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191843)

Can you back up the statement that size does not correllate with safety? True, big vehicles are dangerous to *others*, but we're talking your own safety.

In my opinion, it's a bit of an arms race. People are less safe in small cars because of all the large cars.

(and btw, don't think I'm defending SUV drivers. I drive an old Vespa as well as a bicycle here in San Francisco, so I'm no fan of SUVs )

Re:I've been riding my bike (1, Insightful)

Silver Sloth (770927) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191897)

The drivers of small cars, like us cylists, are far, far more road aware. The divers of large tank like cars feel safe in their boxes and don't feel they have to worry so much. Hence the drivers of small cars drive better and are safer.

Re:I've been riding my bike (1)

catbutt (469582) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192055)

That's bizarre logic. You are suggesting that the only reason people in smaller vehicles are safer is because they are actually in more danger , and therefore they compensate (through their behavior) more than the actual danger?

Why would they compensate more than the amount of increased danger?

Re:I've been riding my bike (2, Interesting)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192195)

They're only really in more danger because of the SUVs...

The SUV carries a great deal more mass, which makes collisions with it more energetic. Now, the SUV can expend some of that mass as extra "armor", which makes them safer for their occupants.

If everyone drove the modern day equivalent of the bubble car [wikipedia.org] , with modern materials they'd be very safe - and the pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, etc, would be much safer too. Oh, and they'd save craploads of gas. Of course, this is impractical for everyone - but I'm sure that most SUV drivers could stand to lose the majority of their cargo space and most of their passenger seats. Even if you had an SUV for utility purposes, you could probably buy a small commuter vehicle for the money you'd save on gas not driving it every day....

Re:I've been riding my bike (2, Insightful)

CheeseTroll (696413) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192147)

It isn't so much the size that makes SUVs less safe, but their high center of gravity, which makes them more prone to rollovers. In the winter, we see SUVs flipped over in the ditch all the time. They'll hit a slippery patch, their tires will catch on a ridge on the side of the road, and away they go.

I think they should create a NASCAR-like race using SUVs. Then people would really see the difference in handling between them and a low-slung car.

I wish I could. (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191887)

So I just ride my bike,...

I used to, also. But after the second time I was clipped by a car, I just gave up.

The other thing that really pisses me off is that I like to park in one spot and walk to the other stores. Unfortunately, you get somebody yelling at you and threatening to have you towed of you park your car there. The attitude is, "buy your stuff and get out". Malls? Yuk! Malls are for folks who have no lives and no where else to go to hang out. The prices in malls are not competitive because the landlord charges up the ass for rent.

Here in America, driving is a necessity. Public transportation?!? HAhahahahahah...oh, yeah.

I have to laugh when I hear that the Chinese, Indians, and other folks in developing countries all want to have cars too. First, I have ask, "Why?" Driving sucks...I hate it! Second, just think of where oil prices will go when all of those Chinese start to drive. Now add in: Indians, Indonesians, Africans, etc....

Of course (1)

Ogemaniac (841129) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191935)

You could live in Michigan, where the weather is not suitable for bike riding about 250 days per year. Then what do you do? It's either raining or at least seriously threatening rain or storms, or were buried in snow, or it's 85+ degrees / 80% humidity for the summer. Getting to work all hot and sweaty or drenched is not an option.

California has one of the most benign and hospitable climates on Earth, and can't be used as an example.

I love public transporation and am all for it, but it sickens me that California, with its perfect weather and holier-than-thou attitude, still has almost none. The entire LA freeway system should be ripped up immediately.

Re:Of course (1)

BKX (5066) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192021)

I hear ya. Public transport in Michigan sucks as well. Grand Rapids has one of the best bus systems in the country (if you believe the hype) but I don't no of anyone who can use it, since no one lives near a bus stop. The few people I do know who live close enough to get on, live so close to work that it's cheaper to use their car.

The weather in N. Europe sucks, but people cycle. (1)

SpzToid (869795) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192197)

I just heard on NPR the city of Paris is setting up 20,000 bikes with RFID and special racks and a pay as your go system. The 1st 45 minutes are free. One of the arguments is more cyclists means increased overall safety for cyclists on the road. because paris is making cycling a priority, and wants to discourage automobiles.

In the Netherlands space for bikes, safe crossings, etc. is a matter of civic planning, and the councils will re-arrange crossings or squares every few years as they figure out even better designs.

Denmark, Sweden, have lousy weather too. yet the per capita ridership blows N. America away. I think much of it has to do with poor civic planning and vision in North America. People will do it, if they understand and someone shows them the way. The problem is, folks aren't looking too hard, or far.

- - -
You can't be ahead of the curve if you're stuck in a loop.

Re:Of course (1)

mhifoe (681645) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192263)

I really cannot see the problem in riding in rain.

I cycle to work year round in the UK, where it rains loads.
Add fenders to your bike and carry a change of clothes in a plastic bag in your panniers.

Congress! (3, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191777)

How did we get into this mess?

Congress!

Let's see what congress HASN'T done...

  • Made it easier to construct refineries to avoid the problems right after Katrina
  • Allow drilling in ANOIR
  • Allow drilling off the continental shelf in the gulf
  • Set federal gasoline standards so gas could be used anywhere, instead of each state requiring different blends and ruining some of the economy of scale we could have
  • Raise CAFE standards more than once ever 20 years, and then only by like 3 gallons. Every car should be getting 30+ at this point, every truck/SUV 20. We can do it.
  • Use Iraqi oil for reconstruction and running our equipment. In a rush to avoid looking like the war (which I support) was for oil (which everyone thought anyway) we've wasted tons of money and oil that could be shipped to the US, the savings put towards gas tax reductions or rebates, etc.
  • Working to make diesel more common here now that we have relatively clean and efficient diesels. Europe has them. We should too.

What, exactly HAS congress done to lower gas prices? Ethanol subsidies? Hydrogen research? Those haven't done much, have they? I remember 7 years ago when I saw a station out of town with gas for 99 cents a gallon. I'd be very surprised to find a station right now in my area at triple that. Ok, I know, they passed tax rebates when you buy a hybrid. But they passed them when hybrids were very hard to get and the expire this year as hybrids are getting easier to get. Oops.

Re:Congress! (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191853)

You forgot what they could have done regarding expanded use of nuclear power, similar to how John Kerry forgot to mention Poland as part of the initial coalition when speaking about the Iraq War in the 2004 presidential debates.

Re:Congress! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19191969)

By ANOIR I assume you mean ANWR, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Re:Congress! (5, Informative)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191971)

That's ANWR, not "ANOIR".

The big problem this summer is refining capacity. We've already seen the spike in oil prices into the $60/bbl range caused by increased Chinese demand for oil, and that hasn't really budged a whole lot since last year. Oil inventories have been good since then. The reason prices are so high right now is because of gasoline supply concerns, i.e., post-refining, and while I'm in favor of expanding drilling operations into both the eastern Gulf of Mexico and ANWR to offset worldwide demand increases (and thereby obtain price relief from increases over the last couple of years), this year's gasoline increases have nothing to do with that.

There were already a number of scheduled refinery maintenance shutdowns, and then BP had a major refinery go down for "unscheduled maintenance". Personally, I'm a bit suspicious of any unscheduled refinery maintenance. One of Enron's tactics to manipulate the electricity market was to create artificial shortages by calling up power plants and asking them to shut down temporarily. Hopefully, that's what Congressional hearings will be looking into. If there are no shenanigans going on at that level, then really there's nothing punitive they can do about it. What you're seeing is simple supply and demand combined with smart moves by speculators who bought gasoline low and are now selling it high. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if some gasoline retailers are buying a small portion of their supply at higher-than-retail just to keep their gas stations in stock.

Refiners are stuck with expanding current operations, which is generally limited to technology updates and expanding into whatever surrounding land they have available. Unfortunately, it's late enough in the game now that refiners are going to resist the urge to build new large-scale refining capacity even if they could get a license to, because ethanol is starting to gear up, and by the time the refiners could actually get a new plant built (including the years upon years of environmental impact studies), the demand for gasoline will already be dropping in favor of alternative fuels (probably increased ethanol-gasoline blends, but that's still less gasoline being needed).

Re:Congress! (2, Insightful)

mbkennel (97636) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191985)

Regarding above points:

Industry also had little incentive or desire to build refineries. And it's
better to use less gasoline as well. And refineries have had capacity
expansion equivalent to 10 new refineries.

There are some annoying problems with clean air standards raising prices,
but one of the principal ones comes from Federal political interference.

In California, the refiners are FORCED, against their desire, to use
ethanol imported expensively (and not compatible with cheap pipelines)
from politically powerful but sparsely populated farming states.

This despite the fact that they could meet even the strictest Los Angeles
emissions standards for fuel without ethanol---and give better fuel efficiency
to drivers.

Naturally this raises prices artificially---more than letting CA figure out
its own means to meet the air standards. CA isn't so insignificant (30 million+ people?)
that a robust market isn't possible on its own.

More oil exploration in Alaska and Gulf (which is actually already heavily explored) will
make oil companies locally a lot of money but overall be insignificant. Really, look at
the numbers of the hypothetical (optimistic guesstimate) oil available and compare to
global consumption.

At best, Alaska is our ultimate Strategic Petroleum Reserve and we should reserve it
for when the crap really hits the fan---which it will in 20 years when the terminal
downslopes of all major oil reserves really get cranking past the peak.

And again, since oil is a world tradable commodity for lowering prices all
that is necessary for Iraq is to just get its oil out on the world market.

If the US decided to confiscate the oil for its own profits you can bet
that the attacks on the oil pipelines would be far worse than even now.
No Iraqi local would have a stake in keeping the oil going.

I agree that efficiency standards ought to be raised. I prefer a fee-bate
instead of CAFE standards: tax low efficiency vehicles (without normalizing
by mass!) and rebate that to efficient vehicles. Make it substantial (e.g. $3000
on a normal Civic, $5000+ on a Prius-level efficiency) and relative
to the fleet sold every year, not an absolute threshold.

Then automatically you get a push to increase fleet efficiency every year
without additional legislation, and the vehicle choice is subject to market
forces not direction.

This is better than a high gasoline tax, because people have power of choice
when they buy cars, so it's not just punishing them for choices made
years ago.

Re:Congress! (2, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192285)

At some point, one has to take responsibility for one's own actions, and responsibility for one's own life. Not only that, but in times of long conflict, when our soldiers are dying on foriegn soil, it is often traditional to support those troops by making sacrifices, rather than complaining that one can't have honey and ice cream every day.

So here we are with a very predictable rise in gasoline. Do people take responsiblity for thier choices? No they complain that the government is not giving handouts. Our troops required a billion dollars a week for supplies, do we say what can we do to cut back and help, or do we just slap a sticker on out SUV and live life as normal?

By the late 80's it was well known that oil dependence was a security risk. It was also known that even though new wells might be found, they would neither be as cheap to exploit nor as secure. Forward thinking people knew that oil was a limited resource and if we did not want to pay excalating prices for that resource, prices that would be predicted by the standard capitalistic supply and demand curve, we would have to move to another supply of energy. The myth that we have not known for 20 years that oil was a non renewable and limited resource is up there with the myth that everyone is Chis Columbus' day thought the world was flat. To be clear we did not know when the oil would peak, 2000, 2010, 2020, but we knew it was coming, and research lead and design to manufacture time required that action was needed.

But the issue we have now is only partially caused by the 'high' price, and to get back on topic, the issues seems to be that despite the 'high' prices few people are cutting back on fuel use through, for example, telecommuting. Surprisingly, though the price peaked a year or so ago, The price/demand curve has only recently peaked, and there is no evidence that price is going to reduce demand as predicted by the standard capitalist models. Therefore, nothing that the government does to increase supply or decrease demand is unlikely to have a long term negative force on the price rise. It is clear by the price/demand curve that the consumer just does not seem to care about the price. Only about driving as much as they wish.

In fact, if we want a quick fix, the best way is to use a modified Nixon era type of price control. Let consumers purchase 10 gallons of gas each week at $2, and anything over at market rate. This will allow us to have cheap gas, and allow consumers to buy as much fuel as they wish.

We were warned. (5, Insightful)

oddaddresstrap (702574) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191795)

How did we get into this mess?
We were given a whack in the head about thirty years ago. We got up, dusted ourselves off and carried on as if nothing had happened.

Re:We were warned. (4, Informative)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191883)

For those who don't study history or are too young to remember ( a union which is probably 90+% of slashdot ), parent is presumably referring to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1973_oil_crisis [wikipedia.org]

Good premise, but (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191797)

The article is making the case for government support of teleworkers while questioning the reasons for >3$/gal fuel. While that is a good premise I don't think that it covers everything. I work from home when I can. I want to stop smoking to save money but I suddenly realized that if I work from home I save the same as not smoking 1.5 packs that day. Yes, gasoline is becoming a very expensive habit. I hope that this story and related issues do bring about an atmosphere where my employer is willing to let me work from home several days per week. That would equate to a nice raise in pay.

I don't think that the link between teleworkers and fuel costs is concrete or causal. I think it's just a happy coincidence. Moreover I hope that the gasoline companies get held over the 'barrel' for quite a while and in a way that puts money back in my pocket. 90 million dollars net profit per day is obscenely huge. Someone should be questioning why fuel costs are so high!

Congress got us into this mess... (1)

Manuka (4415) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191801)

How did we (congress) get into this mess? By regulating the daylights out of the industry.

Re:Congress got us into this mess... (1)

randomErr (172078) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191837)

It isn't just Congress. Its all the states and cities that add fee's for every little road project.

How did we get into this mess? (1)

randomErr (172078) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191813)

Simple:
-Environmental regulation have gone out of control. The regs are to the point that no one has the $$$ to build any new plants
- NIMBY - Not In My BackYard - Not one wants to live by a stinky, noisy refinery. I know, I've lived next to one my whole life; it isn't pleasant.
-Each state has at least 50 cents of tax that gets directly added to the gas at the pump in addition the other taxes the companies have to pay (import tax, environmental and safety fees)
- There been 3 major refinery fires within a finite number of functional refineries
- Demand is higher in the summer then the winter but supply remains the same (see above)
- The cost associated with switching from winter grade to summer grade

I'll take my $100 million now for my study.

Re:How did we get into this mess? (1)

Alex Zepeda (10955) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191857)

In California, the taxes levied on fuel are listed at the pump. It's about $0.18/gal in state taxes, and about the same for federal taxes (+ $0.08/gal in federal taxes on diesel).

Re:How did we get into this mess? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19191879)

I'm sure all the drivers in Europe are crying in sympathy as we continue to drive to work. Especially in the UK where the ~£1 a litre (~$10 a gallon if my metric/imperial conversion is correct) is fast becoming a common sight.

Quite simply the US is playing catchup to the price petrol really is given the amount of global unrest in the oil producing regions.

Refinery capacity has increased significantly (1)

mbkennel (97636) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191885)

Although no NEW refineries have been built for a long time,
existing refineries have had their capacity increased very
significantly over a couple of decades, equivalent of
10 new refineries.

And, yes, old refineries were really big sources of nasty
air pollution. Stop knocking the environmentalists---they've
made life much nicer in many ways. There are kooks, of course, but
air pollution restrictions on refineries are not kooky.

Gasoline is expensive, overall, because we're using fossil fuel
which is reaching increasing geological depletion.

See www.theoildrum.com for insight, instead of slashdot drivel.

Re:How did we get into this mess? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19191933)

If over-regulations are whats stopping them from building new refineries, then then why has the oil industry been steadily closing existing refineries for the last 30 years?

The easy answer is that its oil industry bullshit. It's quite simple. the fewer refineries the greater the strangle hold they have over the market, which is why profits are skyrocketing while the costs have remained relatively steady.

Re:How did we get into this mess? (1)

whiskeyOnIce (980338) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192163)

Supply and demand... it COULDN'T possibly be that simple. What did we think would happen when we lose all our production to China due to federal and state governments making the cost of employing someone in this country prohibitively expensive.

It doesn't matter what we think or do anymore. The insane boom of gas usage in China that is about to occur will happen anyway regardless of anything we think we can do about it here. And, of course, the liberals will blame the evil corporations ("who are acting all corporationy") and the conservatives will blame the government, when in truth, they tend to act together to screw things up. (Look up the history of corporations back in the days of cowboys driving cattle across private owners' open land. Corporations can't get away with truly hideous behavior without government support.)

True, we aren't building more refineries, tankers or drilling for more oil in our own reserves. To use California as an example, the refineries there are reportedly maxed out on their capacity, as well as the tankers bringing in supply. This means, even if we DID start drilling and pulling up more of our own oil, we couldn't ship it to the refineries, and even if we could, the refineries don't have the capacity to process it. At their current max capacity, the California refineries produce every day the approximate quantity the California drivers consume in one day. They don't produce a surplus. Which is why some privateers are looking into creating new refineries in adjacent states. If we can get a surplus somehow, new refineries could help produce more and help lower prices.

But with everything maxed, it would have to be hit on all fronts. More refineries, more tankers AND start drilling our reserves. We've finally reached a point where it's going to be better financially to begin converting over to something else because the finances of continuing where we're going just doesn't make sense.

Too bad our government can't learn from the Brazilian government and start a program guaranteeing we will be running entirely on biodiesel in a matter of 10-20 years. But why do that when we can just keep subsidizing farmers for NOT farming crops while shrugging and "investigating" the continuing increase in gas prices?

So, most likely, there's going to be a (serious) race to get to the next uberfuel for the nation by privateers and small corporations. The big guys seem to already be smelling the change in the air and are doing a bit of research there, but who knows how much they're really working towards it right now. They may just end up following the pack.

Either way, I look forward to seeing what they come up with. Right now, I'm down with the biodiesel angle. I'll be glad to go down and get a vehicle that already has any small conversion on it that allows me to just pour in that stuff. And any accompanying kit to make my own, if I choose to go that route.

It's not because of crude oil prices (1)

AbsoluteXyro (1048620) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191849)

According to a news report last night, these crazy gas prices aren't due to our gas guzzlers our the rising cost of crude oil. Actually, crude oil is cheaper now than it was a year ago, and oil companies make about 30 dollars for every barrel they turn into gasoline. This is more about oil companies loving money than anything else. Sorry I don't have any links/references, but I do trust CBS well enough to have their facts in line.

Re:It's not because of crude oil prices (1)

ElephanTS (624421) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191877)

but I do trust CBS well enough to have their facts in line

Lol, you betcha. Bless your naivety.

Re:It's not because of crude oil prices (1)

figleaf (672550) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192039)

All this time I thought the fact that Dollar is falling against other currencies is contributing to the price hike.

Anyways the $3 is half of what several Europeans and Asian countries are paying for gasoline so its not that bad.

Re:It's not because of crude oil prices (1)

Bill Walker (835082) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192067)

Sorry I don't have any links/references

here [economist.com] you go. It doesn't actually support your point of view; gasoline prices are set by supply & demand, and as the article says, we actually ship gasoline from Europe because of our shortage in refinery capacity.

And the rest of the world asks... (3, Interesting)

26199 (577806) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191881)

Why is tax on gasoline in the USA so ridiculously low?

Either that or our (UK here, but I'm sure it applies elsewhere in Europe) tax is ridiculously high. Hmmmmm.

Re:And the rest of the world asks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19191965)

and why is it so much in the news in the US ?
Are they so poor that a few dollars matters ?
Other countries don't put gas prices on the national TV news.

Re:And the rest of the world asks... (1)

louisadkins (963165) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192179)

The cost of living in a lot of areas (US), and the (in my opinion) encouraged abuse of credit in daily life, mean that the difference of a dollar a gallon for gas is very much noticed. All jokes aside about cutting into the beer budget, I would gladly pay 8-10 dollars a gallon for gas IF we had the public transport infrastructure to support the public. Unfortunately, though, owning a car in the US is only considered a luxury by the government; I have lost count of the number of job applications/interviews where "do you have a car?" was a make/break question.

Re:And the rest of the world asks... (2, Insightful)

Poppler (822173) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192213)

Why is tax on gasoline in the USA so ridiculously low [compared with Europe]?
The problem is that unlike Europe, most of the United States doesn't have a viable public transportation system. Unless you live in a major city, you're pretty much stuck driving - the closest bus stop to my house is about 10 miles away, and I live in one of the more densely populated suburban areas in the country.

In Europe, driving is a luxury, but in most of the US, it's a necessity. I could understand places like NYC imposing a high gasoline tax, but in much of the country, it would be an unfair burden on the working poor.

Re:And the rest of the world asks... (1)

26199 (577806) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192325)

Hmm. I don't think driving is a luxury in the UK; it's a necessity for most. The public transport simply isn't that good, and it's expensive.

Living in London I can get by without a car (wouldn't have anywhere to keep it if I wanted one); but that would hardly be true in most of the country. At least, so far as I can tell; I've never really tried.

I suppose one thing we do have is that it's often straightforward to walk or cycle instead of driving.

Uh, only because of reduced price (1)

awfar (211405) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191891)

I did not read the article yet, but I just thought it orthogonal to my experience;

My only reason (because we know how great cable tv is) was one year internet at $19.95, total $29.95 w/analog cable, not the regular price like $59/mo, which was a non-starter for me for many, many years (though I previosly while living in a big city).

When this is pricing is over I will look for other options; wireless is becoming widespread even in rural areas.

How did we get into this mess? (2, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191893)

Human nature. Consume while it's cheap. You see it in every aspect of human behaviour.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_common s [wikipedia.org]

This is why socialism doesn't work and why market economics does.

 

wtf are you talking about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19192337)

i love armchair economists who have NO idea what they are talking about


what you call "tragedy of commons" is more properly known as externalized cost, and it has absolutely nothing to do with socialism, in fact, the "tragedy of commons" is a brilliant example of one of the fundamental problems with lasseiz fair capitalism, in that corporations freed from regulations will avoid paying the externalized costs of their activities

Positive change (4, Insightful)

Simon80 (874052) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191925)

I'll support these outrageous gas prices if they're finally high enough to make people rethink their horribly inefficient daily commutes. I find it wrong that there is such a huge flow of cars going back and forth every single day.

I hope soestion (2, Interesting)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191929)

I really hope it takes off.

I don't even drive.. I have a 50 mile train journey each day, which takes 2 hours either way (if I'm lucky). I could obviously drive that distance much faster if it wasn't for the ludicrous congestion at either end of the trip. I did the math and even with my teensy little 796cc engine it still costs me less on the train (even if they did raise the fare by a full 13% this year), what with parking. And on the train I can read, or even work sometimes.

But even so, I'd prefer to be able to get up an hour later in the morning, I'd even work an extra hour! A nice comfy purpose-built office space at home would be infinitely superior to the ridiculous battery-hen office where everyone gabbles and cackles and holds meetings around my desk. I can't be expected to perform duties that are based on the conjunction of creativity and focus in that environment. Even cubes would be preferable to a totally open-plan office... thank heavens for my Etymotic earplug-phones or I'd never get anything done at all.

So anyway, my point is, that the public transport in this country sucks. The typical response of the rail company to an increase in passenger numbers is to raise prices. If the price of fuel drives people off the roads (and our fuel taxes here make our gasoline roughly double the price it is in 'merca), then the trains simultaneously get more crowded, late, and expensive. The last remaining palatable option is teleworking - may everyone embrace it.

Not only that, it's the most environmentally friendly option.

Re:I hope soestion (1)

tsstahl (812393) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192059)

Suggestions:

1. Drive half way.

2. Move

3. Advocate teleworking at your office. Of course, if you can do it 2 hours away, Waheed can do it half a world away.

4. Continue to sit home and bitch on /. about your hellish commute.

BTW, it would help to mention what country you are talking about. :)

PS, my 50 mile train journey in Chicago takes 43 minutes on the rush hour trains; 65 minutes including driving and walking.

telefap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19191959)

The article links a survey indicating that in Q1 2007 the 19 largest US cable and telephone providers (representing about 94% of the market) acquired over 2.9 million net additional high-speed Internet subscribers, to a total of about 56.2 million. That can be attributed in part to more employees taking advantage of telework

Or, more likely, to people who no longer have to get in their car to get porn.

I love high gas prices! (3, Insightful)

fyrwurxx (907932) | more than 7 years ago | (#19191977)

"The higher prices reflect an imbalance between supply and demand"

Yeah, and I'm sure your profit margin has absolutely nothing to do with it.

As an environment-conscious individual, I relish higher gas prices. $3 a gallon? Why not $5 or $10? I truly believe hitting people in the wallet is the *only* way to incite change in habits as deeply-rooted as our gasoline addiction. People need to realize that carpooling, investing in very fuel-efficient vehicles (for example, I drive a manual transmission Saturn--I average 30mpg city) or looking toward hybrid/bio-diesel options is not just a fanciful dream but a necessary reality. Alternative fuel vehicles are a reality, but the only way we will leverage them into the mainstream is through the power of our collective consumer's almighty dollar (and pound, and yen... ;)

Lifestyle changes (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19191993)

I bought a motor scooter 2 years ago and I love it. In the midwest in the USA the climate is right about 8 months out of the year to just drive it around for fun or even errands. I have found that a regular school backpack contains the same volume as the handheld shopping cart at the grocery stores. The motor scooter beats all the cars off the line, gets about 70mpg (more if I didn't drive it so hard) and gets many comments from people.

Well, Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19192007)

We've always had to reduce spending so much energy on transportation. Lugging thousands of pounds of metal and plastic is ridiculously inefficient. The energy consumed could well go to other purposes, not to mention the money. Low fuel prices give no incentive to avoid waste.

Granted when one has one life to live, one ought to live it to the fullest and save time with a car when possible. However, there's sensibility in living closer to work, and what the economy really needs is the incentives to build housing closer to work as well as cleaning up industry to make living near work palatable.

People are busy. They "live and let die". It's good there's so much to do to build one's personal wealth, but the downside is the lack of time to actively make a difference in the way everything works. This attitude leads to its consequencs. When personal finances are ultimately jeopardized by high cost of maintaining a lazy self-serving lifestyle, people feebly protest by working at home at their lazy desk jobs rather than considering all the people who have to commute. These telecommuters with their higher education and power should spend extra effort in acquiring land and building affordable housing closer to work as well as eliminating harmful emissions.

The petroleum industry needs to be sent a message by the masses: people have the will to change their circumstances by making their workplaces fine to live near as well as living in denser housing. This requires cooperation. People live apart because distance lets bothersome people live their own stupid lives somewhere else. However, what's going to happen when fuel prices continue to spike during hurricane season and then hold due to high demand worldwide?

Teleworkers are growing (4, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192131)

"[...] teleworkers are growing rapidly as a direct result of the cost of driving"

I guess that walk to the car and back each day was keeping them slim.

The reason (1)

Askmum (1038780) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192183)

'How did we get into this mess?'
Simple: insane love of useless SUV's, voting for a complete moron as president, trying to policeforce the world.

I've got some news for you Americans: gasoline prices here are 1,40 per liter. That's $ 3,92 per gallon. You've got some way to go yet.

How much do you all really spend on gas? (3, Interesting)

jfruhlinger (470035) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192199)

I happened to be updating my money info in Quicken when this story popped up, so I thought I'd see how much gas prices really hit my pocketbook.

In the past 12 months, gas has constituted 0.81% of our family spending. For the 12 months before that, it was 0.66%. A good-sized bump in relative terms, I suppose, but one that can be absorbed without pain in relative terms because the number was so small to begin with.

My wife's office is only about five miles away from our house, but on the other hand, she does have to do a fair amount of driving for work-related reasons during the day, so I imagine her work-related driving isn't terribly outside the norm. I do work at home, though for non-gas-related reasons, but even if you double our gas spending to get to the more typical two-commute family, we'd still be at less than 2 percent of our family budget -- certainly not something that would put us in the poorhouse. And while we're not hurting for cash, we're certainly not wealthy -- between the two of us we make less than $100K a year, less than a lot of IT folks make with one salary.

My question is, are we some kind of freaks when it comes to gas use compared to most Americans? We live in a city neighborhood where we can walk to places for some basic errands and our grocery store is two-minute drive away; on the other hand, the city we live has a pretty lousy public transit system, so if we're doing things outside our neighborhood, we invariably drive. We don't drive a big SUV, but we don't drive a hybrid either: and our sedan is 13 years old, so I imagine it's not particularly fuel efficient when compared to new cars of the same size. Yet I feel like gas prices would have to triple before we'd be really forced to reorder our priorities to feed our car. Are we really so far outside the American norm when it comes to gas use? Or are gas prices just one of those things that you see two or three times a month and so you really notice when they go up, but it doesn't realy have as much of an impact on your life as you think?

Ain't seen nuthin yet! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19192283)

We are probably past the peak of world oil production. The price will likely go 5x higher than it is now. We are a long ways from developing any alternatives. Pretty much everyone looks over their shoulder and figures it is going to be the next guy who goes on an oil diet.

Ideas like ethanol will probably not pan out well. You need to be able to brew beer for $2.50 a keg in order for ethanol to compete with gasoline at $1.25 per liter. There are possibilities mind you. Ethanol from cellulose is one and oil from alga is another... but these are technologies which need to be developed.

The short of it is that we are facing a crisis the porportions of which the world has not seen in decades. It is not going to be pretty and it is not going to be fun.

And we might actually use mass transit... (1)

Glowing Fish (155236) | more than 7 years ago | (#19192319)

So, with all these crazy ideas of ways to change our gas usage, has anyone noticed if it has made Americans anymore willing to try mass transit? Because using more mass transit is about the quickest way (ie, doesn't need much infrastructure changed) to decrease fuel usage.

But for some reason, people won't go for it, perhaps because a stigma attached to mass transit. Yes, riding the bus can be uncomfortable, but so is being stuck in a traffic jam. Yes, it can take extra time, but so can searching for parking. Yes, you meet crazy people on the bus sometimes, but I've never noticed more of them there than in, say, the grocery store. So why hasn't the most easy idea caught on?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?