I had a realization today: I haven’t written anything about gas prices metaphorically going to the moon much like Bitcoin did not. On this blog where I have deep and analytical dives such as Comcast Sucks: The Worst Company Ever and Amazon’s Wheel of Time Sucks, how have I not mentioned a damn thing about gas prices? Like it’s been wearing on everybody recently, and especially with summer vacations happening, everyone is going to be hurting — I haven’t whined about that yet? That’s because, as you hopefully read later, is because I think we can’t do much about it. And if you can’t do anything, what’s the point of caring about it?
So let’s do that now. Bitch about gas prices and I’ll get to my whole “we can’t do anything anyways” part in a very round-about way.
Why are gas prices high?
Depends on who you ask really. Ask a person on the left and they’ll say it’s because of corporations jacking the price up under the guise of war/inflation just to rake in Free Money. Ask a person on the right and they’ll slap a Joe Biden “I did that!” sticker on your forehead and mention tHe LiBeRaLs. Or something.
Obviously you can see which way I lean on that, but not totally. We’re talking gas prices here guys; there isn’t a single root cause for gas prices being high. There’s no one person/entity you can blame for all of it. In fact I think it’s a bunch of little things adding up here. We have the war in Ukraine, that’ll create instability and raise prices especially when nukes are mentioned. Or our recent bout of INFLATION thats pushing the price of everything – and gas – upwards. And maybe inflation was caused by the feds chucking cash into the economy a few years back thanks to COVID? Add in refinery disasters, hurricanes, weather, blackouts, any and everything that can happen during/involving the processing of oil, all the way to a refinery, and then to you a gas station: it’s complicated!
So no, Joe Biden can’t magically raise the price of gas and Trump couldn’t magically lower them. And while corporate greed of oil probably isn’t insignificant you can’t pin everything on them. It’s capitalism and if those fucks want to rake in cash they kinda have to otherwise the shareholders will be cranky. Like it or not, that’s the type of world we live in.
So basically, gas prices are high because a bunch of bad shit is happening in the world. And some people are maybe greedy assholes.
How do I not spend as much money on gas?
This one is simple. Just don’t drive!
Easy, right? Okay so you have to go to work. Are you close enough to walk? No? Can you ride a bike there? Can you carpool there? You don’t know anyone? Well shit, drive to work I guess. And you’ll probably have to drive to pick your kids up from school. And to buy groceries. And to do nearly everything else in the world.
Okay so you have to drive somewhat, and the obvious thing to do is minimize your mileage as much as possible. Take a shorter way to work, maybe try carpooling. Make trips in a single go instead of making multiples. Obviously these options aren’t open to everyone making avoiding gas prices a struggle. But maybe you can save a little bit of money by not driving as much. A very little bit.
Among other things you might be able to do is air your damn car tires up. Yes, seriously. Anyone who has ridden a bike with a low tire and compared it to a properly inflated one already is aware of how important tire pressure is on efficiency. As you have to work noticeably harder to ride a bike with low tires your car also has to work harder, burning more fuel, and costing you more money. While you wont save any noticeable money this way, this is probably the easiest way to save on gas.
Even crazier ideas that can and will make a difference: buy a new car! Downsize into something more fuel-efficient; after all, do you really need your 17 mpg pickup truck to commute to work? If you’re really pissed about gas prices you can even buy an electric car. These cost next to nothing to drive, especially when compared to a gas car. Our Dodge Caravan costs about $0.29 per mile to drive while our EV costs about $0.03 per mile to drive. This is almost one-tenth the cost of driving the van!
The downside here is that not everyone can make massive and complicated decisions to swap into a more fuel-efficient vehicle on a whim. It’s expensive and is a big life change to make. Many people in our current economic situation are in no way able to buy a smaller car or an electric car. Obviously gas prices seem to hurt those already on the lower end of the societal ladder and I suppose this is par for the course of life in the western world.
Let’s protest and not buy gas! Fuck ’em!
This would work, in theory, but in practice could never happen. You’d think and hope that higher prices at the pump would eventually, eventually, lead to lower demand and thanks to economics should, should, mean prices would go down, eventually stabalizing at some lower price. Where this price is, who knows, it all depends on how much people are willing to pay the higher prices. I think the fancy word for this is ‘elasticity’ or something.
Back to the whole ‘gas prices are complicated’ thing from earlier. This complex situation means gas prices are pretty hard to change for the singular person. What the hell can any of us do about gas prices besides suck it up and pay for them? While we can slightly lower our fuel useage this doesn’t mean it can make a dent in worldwide demand for Dino Juice.
While filling up this weekend I noticed that E85, basically corn vodka, was at $3.99 per gallon. Sub-$4 gas? Really?! Now that’s one way to avoid high gas prices: switch to a different fuel! But that in itself is a complex situation and not everyone can and should start dumping E85 into their tanks to save a few dollars. But it is an option that would stop you from buying gasoline.
What about the effects of increased demand for E85? What happens to corn and therefore food prices? How much do we want to fuck with food prices just to save money on gas? America uses corn for everything – the main ingredient in soda/pop besides water is high-fructose corn syrup – even something as non-essential as Coca Cola is a fucking corn product! And that’s all we need in the world right now, people bitching about the cost of soda/Doritios because everyone started buying Corn Booze to power their car.
E85 is complicated and I’ll write a seperate post about that. It is an idea to avoid gas prices somewhat but it’s not the perfect way to avoid them. Once again, it’s complicated.
Okay, so let’s just give up.
All of this was basiclaly a way to say that gas prices are high because of a bunch of reasons and society is so damn set in it’s way – people are inflexible due to habit or life circumstances – that there’s little way to actually avoid gas prices. Sure you can cut corners here and there by carpooling, airing your tires up, not driving as much, and optimizing your routes but this isn’t exactly going to make a huge dent on your total fuel budget. It’s just a cost we mostly have to live with.
If anything I hope this situation teaches people to play the long game a bit more, like downsizing our vehicles and thinking into something more sustainable, and maybe cheaper. Trucks are cool for hauling stuff but I’d never want the gun of skyrocketing prices at the back of my head to threaten me. Honestly, the entire reliance on something so important in our world with such an unstable price is kinda terrifying. Imagine if the price of food fluctuated by 50-100% in a few month, society would be falling apart! But this is simply what we’re used to with gas prices – it’s our norm – and that makes me nervous.
Even if you can’t do it now, put it in your mind that maybe it’d be good for you to own a cheap, shitty, fuel-efficient junker car to put-put your way to and from work in. Maybe consider an EV in the future; they’re really advancing on range and charging times in the past couple of years. The prices of them are almost comparable to a gas car finally. Even if gas prices do head back to $2 or $3 a gallon what’s to say they’d stay down there for an extended period of time? After a few months, maybe years, what’s to stop them from shooting up to $6 or $8 when the next worldwide crisis hits? You’d be fucked all over again failing to learn the lessons 2022 is desperatley trying to teach us.
I suppose I’m saying that gasoline, being such a fundamental part of our society, is something that we’re stuck with. I don’t like it, but it’s the truth, and if anything can happen it’ll have to be a transformation of society as a whole. If, and this is a big if, change does happen it’ll take a long ass time to occur. It’ll have to be a sustained effort by everyone making small but permanent life style changes. So I suppose there is something that can be done about our sky-high gas prices, but the question is if we’re willing to actually do anything about it.