A columnist lets loose on cheap oil, showing hatred of corporations. Which, it turns out, means hatred of consumers.
I’m not exactly shocked by this editorial, because it matches up with news I have read. But the sheer hysteria of the tone does amaze me. As I read it, I kept wondering if the San Francisco Chronicle has decided to become another Onion. But the writer seems serious. His headline sums it up: “$2 gas is the worst thing to happen to America.”
Cancer rates, riots in Ferguson, and Republicans take over the Senate (from the writer’s perspective that must be bad) but $2 gas is worse?
Automakers are, naturally, thrilled by tumbling oil prices. Cheap gas means not only are people driving more, it means fickle, short-term memory Americans are buying gas-guzzling SUVs and large trucks all over again (at a far higher profit margin for the automakers), and the pressure to produce really good small, efficient cars slackens…
Notice what he does here. Automakers are somehow evil for wanting to sell cars that people want—that people are willing to pay more for and thus boost profit margins. I don’t know why pain for automakers is such a natural good. In some contexts I would say the same thing—like back when I realized the government was going to bail out General Motors rather than letting it sell its assets to better businessmen who would be better at making cars. That was the time to scoff at how “automakers are, naturally, thrilled by free money from taxpayer-backed debt.” But why scoff at automakers who want to give people what they want?
Because that is really who this writer is attacking. He is attacking people for preferring SUVs with some weight rather than drive battery-powered death traps. He is attacking people for wanting large trucks.
He wants these people to struggle. He wants them to suffer. It is all so good for them:
Do not misunderstand. When oil prices peaked in 2008, changing our car-obsessed culture was no fun, at first, especially during a recession. But we quickly got used to it, and we did what we always do in times of scarcity: We adapt. We change our wasteful behaviors. We pay more attention to how we (quite literally) move through the world. We get less lazy and more creative, plan more carefully, choose our travels more diligently, figured out what’s really important.
In other words, when gas prices skyrocket, we adapt in all the right ways: Drive less, ride-share more, telecommute, walk to work, get out of our cars and back into the more connected social flow. Alternative transportation (bikes, buses, trains) gain tremendous support. People begin to think differently, for the better.
If I wrote a column extolling the poor because their poverty gives them a chance to prove their character, I’d be mocked by liberals. But that is exactly what this writer is doing. Increased scarcity is extolled on the grounds that it makes us better people.
Why is it better to use smaller cars, etc? The only reason that is given is that it is because oil is a scarce, nonrenewable resource. But if obviously is not all that scarce yet. So what is the crime in using it to improve life while we have it, and then adapt when (if) it gets really scarce. What is the virtue in saving it when it is plentiful?
Why use scarce resources when gasoline is readily available? That’s just wasteful.
To repeat: the bottom line is that the posturing against corporations is really an attack on people whose needs and wants are supplied by these corporations. The entire editorial is a wish for more poverty.
And he wants the government to impose it:
Meanwhile, some suggest now would be a great time to increase the gas tax – which hasn’t been touched in 20 years – by 15 cents or so, primarily to help the fiscally broke Highway Trust Fund.
But here’s even more awesomely helpful and radical idea: a five dollar per gallon tax increase – hell make it $6 – all of it earmarked for alternative energy and transport, environmental protections, our busted educational system, our multi-trillion debt.
We are going to tax a plentiful resource and impose poverty on Americans in order to support wasteful energy and transportation. You have to admit, the fact that Liberals find this idea appealing explains a lot about Obamacare.