I just had to get this off my chest, so please bear with me. I was filling up my car at the gas station today, and I saw all of these little signs on top of the gas pumps that said, "Are you concerned about a 58% increase in gas prices because of Cap and Trade?" It turns out that the signs are put up by somebody by the name of 'OurEnergyVoice.com', an anti-cap-and-trade website sponsored by Marathon, Speedway, and SuperAmerica gas stations.
Now I like to think I'm at least a somewhat environmentally responsible individual, but certainly not 'hardcore'. I recycle some things, I don't dump antifreeze down my storm sewer, I plan my errands route to save on gas, and that's about it. I am by no means a tree-hugger... not even in the same galaxy as one. But for some strange reason, I just could not stop thinking about this sign that I saw. It was bugging me so much, I just had to write my own responses to this question down on paper just to shut my brain up... and my brain is usually pretty quiet, so this was a big deal for me. Here goes:
Am I concerned about a 58% increase in gas prices because of Cap and Trade? The truth is -- No, I'm not the least bit concerned. When gas was over $4.00 a gallon last year, yes I'll admit I was a little bit concerned. So what did we do here at home? We made efforts to cut back on our gas usage; we drove 55 instead of 62 or 63; we didn't take as many trips into town during the week; we didn't take as many weekend getaways as we once did; and when necessary, we cut back a little on dining out and going to the movies. And at the end of the year, we did just fine. In fact, I foresee that the only people that would be concerned about the increase would be A) People who worry too much anyway, or B) People who burn up a shitload of gasoline. Like my neighbor down the street, who drives his Excursion into town 4 times in an evening like a bat out of hell. If he were to just make 2 trips into town instead of 4, and maybe drive one of his other 3 cars instead of that Sherman tank of his, that would likely solve the problem on his end. (Notice I went easy on him, I said nothing about slowing down!)
Am I concerned about a 58% increase in gas prices because of Cap and Trade? The real question should be... are the gas stations concerned? Look closely at the sign, and you would see that they've already shown their hand. Clearly, they're already planning on automatically passing any increase on to the customer without question or debate. That tells me that they're not too terribly concerned about it either, or about us. If the companies were in any way concerned about our well-being, they would try to find a way to keep from passing that cost on to the customer, and then put THAT up on the signs advertising it -- instead of trying to get us to shit ourselves with fear over the big bad gas-prices boogeyman. I wonder how much all of those signs cost? Funny... it seems strangely as if the prices have gone up already, and they've started rubbing our noses in it.
Then I got to thinking about the usual responses... 'Well, what about businesses? This is going to mean lost jobs!' Why is it, and HOW is it exactly, that an increase in gas prices always seems to translate into somebody getting fired? I have thought this through many times before, and I just cannot seem to connect the dots. If gas prices go up, why can't a business simply try to cut back on fuel usage? (Much like a lot of us did last year!) You know, cut back on the company car usage, tell your employees not to drive their work vehicles like stock cars, plan the routes to keep from driving back and forth, consolidate shipments... do whatever it takes (again, like a lot of us did last year). The implication here is that the first response for cutting costs is always to put some poor schmuck's livelihood on the chopping block, and everybody seems to just go along with it and say 'Oh well, that's normal, what can you do?'... as if we were big, juicy strips of fat being cut off of a steak and tossed in the trash. In the face of higher gas prices, there are plenty of other, much more effective, places to trim that fat. If in the end they still need to cut some staffers to make ends meet, then so be it... but at least TRY something else first, for Christ's sake.
Oil and gas are finite resources. We will run out someday... maybe 50 years, maybe 1,000. But definitely someday. It makes sense that the sooner we learn to cut back on using it up, the less painful it will be later on when we really do have a shortage. Saving the environment and cutting off money to the OPEC nations that hate us are nothing more than added bonuses, in my opinion (as I said, a tree-hugger I am not). The key here is to do what we know needs to be done eventually, and start doing it sooner rather than later in an effort to spread the 'inconvenience' out over the longer term so it's not quite as noticeable, and save ourselves a lot of grief later on.
And in closing, I'll just say this... Am I concerned about a 58% increase in gas prices because of Cap and Trade? No... because at least this time we would have an actual reason. I've already seen the results of a 120% increase in gas prices because of nothing more than speculation. Come to think of it... where the F#$% were THOSE gas station signs at??!