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Summer 2011 On $4 A Gallon

With regular unleaded around the $4 mark, we look at life in a summer of high gas prices.

Costco customers fill up at a gas station as others wait in line in Santa Clara, Calif., Friday. (AP)

Costco customers fill up at a gas station as others wait in line in Santa Clara, Calif., Friday. (AP)

$4 a gallon gas can really get your attention. $70-80 for a full tank. For a lot of people, that’s a full day’s wages.

And now comes summer. Vacation time. Travel time. And in a summer when the economy has been sputtering again — partly over gas prices.

Now, those prices may go down this summer. But they’ve already drawn a lot of attention. Smaller cars are selling. Destination travel is hurting. Inflatable pools and backyard fire pits are selling. And there are legal charges of price manipulation.

This hour On Point: life in the summer of high gas.

- Tom Ashbrook


Ben Lefebvre, energy reporter for Dow Jones Newswires.

Kevin G. Hall, national economics correspondent for the McClathy newspapers.

Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial. Named one of the top forecasters in the country by The Wall Street Journal, and one of the most accurate economic forecasters by MSNBC. She is author of, “The Passionate Economist: Finding the Power and Humanity Behind the Numbers.”

Shane Norton, senior consultant in travel and tourism for IHS-Global Insight. He is the lead author of the AAA-commissioned study on Memorial Day travel just out last week. His firm produces five holiday travel studies per year for AAA.

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  • Cory

    The first time we went over $4/gallon I remember all the outrage.  Politicians spoke about ending gass taxes and taking it to the oil companies.  This time around much less reaction.  This should clear the way for the oil companies to penetrate the $5/gallon barrier.  The attempt will produce outrage without results and gradual acceptance.

    You’ll never convince me that this isn’t utterly manipulated.  If only someone would stop the “round-a-bout”.

    • Anonymous

      You are correct IMHO. All good reasons to remove ourselves as much as possible from the oil fired consumer market. I use as little as I can comfortably. I bicycle. I bought an engine-less reel mower that i adore. We drive efficient vehicles and will buy even more efficient vehicles next time or an EV perhaps. We have a short commute and we carpool. 

    • Pancake

      Can an Egyptian styled uprising halt the roundabout?  Obama might react like an eye doctor. (Assad, R.Paul) The Democratic Convention in Charlotte (2012) could be the tipping point. Maybe the police and military will see our point. And then there is of course “the Elephant in the room”: searing hot Tampa, Fla.

  • Yar

    For every 20 cents gas goes up it costs about a penny more per mile.  However, it isn’t only at the gas pump where we feel energy inflation.  Every good and service has an energy component.  Large trucks that get 4 miles to the gallon and have 5 times the fuel inflation as automobiles.  Our economy is clearly centered around cheap energy.  How do we move to an economy that is not so energy dependent?  Our food, our consumer goods, our entire way of life is based on cheap fossil fuels.  Oil is the standard by which we currently measure quality of life.   Food inflation follows fuel inflation, this takes money out of the rest of our consumption driven economy.  
    I can’t see a way to move our society onto another track.  In the last depression people returned to the farm to subsist until the economy recovered.  We don’t have those agricultural roots in most families and farms can’t feed very many without fuel.  It is scary how fast a society collapses when there is a breakdown in transportation.  We are a week away from hunger once stores can’t restock their shelves.   We see examples of this every time a region is hit by a natural disaster, think what it will be like when these are nationwide events.   To preserve our national civility, we must ration fuel use.  Using price alone as the method of energy rationing puts many households underwater.  I would prefer a multi tiered price structure where families gets a limited number of fuel vouchers at the current low tax rate and the rest of the fuel they consume is at a much higher tax rate.  This will put downward pressure on consumption while allowing poor families some access to fuel at a more affordable price.  This doesn’t solve the energy problem but gives our economy some time to adjust.  
    What percentage of our workforce drives a hour to work only to get work and spend the whole day on a telephone and computer?  Why is it they must make that commute when they have all the tools they need at home to do their job.

    • Ellen Dibble

      I believe the reason is that the workforce has bought homes where they think the schools are best.
          Rationing would have to consider whether housing is reasonably available close to the workplace.  It would have to consider availability of public transportation.  Things like that.

    • Anonymous

      We did that 20+ years ago in Naples, Italy as military folks stationed there. Gas prices were several times what they were in the USA due to high taxes used to pay for the roads and many gov’t programs like universal healthcare (not a bad thing).

      We could buy an amount of fuel nearly tax free each month. After we consumed that we were free to buy as much fuel as we wanted but we’d have to do it at Italian market prices. I did that ONCE and it cost me nearly $50 to fill up my VW Rabbit convertible back when it would have cost closer to $12 to do that here in the USA. I was much more careful after that.

  • Joe

    Despite all the complaining, Americans still pay far less for a gallon of gas than most other drivers around the world. 
    I think that’s impressive when you consider that the U.S. consumes about a quarter of the worlds oil reserves, and that the U.S. has to import most of it’s oil.

    • Cory

      You are right.  I think subsidies at home and a helluva big stick abroad contribute to this reality.

      • Anonymous

        Visit Europe for a preview of life with $9+ gasoline. I lived in Italy for three years. If we became more European our cities would spend the next twenty years reorganizing themselves – even without gov’t intervention. Our cities are the way they are because people will drive a distance to shop. If we won’t, stores will redevelop themselves. We have seen a big push into our area of Dollar General and Family Dollar stores. These are compact stores that are closer to where we live and saves customers a drive into the traditional shopping districts. Now, I don’t like much of what I find there (Made in China) so I usually bypass them but I can see the return of the old fashioned general mercantile or drugstore to neighborhoods. 

    • William

      We consume more because we generate more wealth.

      • NrthOfTheBorder

        William, you mean as measured by the falling dollar?  

  • http://richardsnotes.org Richard

    Whether Cory is right and gas prices are manipulated by oil companies and our government or not, this may be what it takes to get more of us to take public transportation and adopt electric and hybrid vehicles.

    Of course, the problem is our public transportation sucks in the US and there aren’t a lot of choices in the alternative vehicle market. The GM Volt may be a great car but it’s not cheap.

    I doubt we’re going to hear a slogan “See the USA in your Chevrolet Volt” when most of us can’t drive one across our respective states on a single charge. More like, “See Rhode Island in your Chevrolet Volt.”

    • Cory

      I wish public transport could be more of an answer.  We have sadly built ourselves a lot of sprawl, which makes public transportation problematic.  How do you pull back from the commuter model of society (short of being forced)?  I live close to my job by American standards (10 miles), but would hate to try to bike or walk it in the Wisconsin winter.  Guess I’ll keep hoping for a cold fusion breakthrough.  

      • http://richardsnotes.org Richard

        I too live in a place where I have to drive 30 minutes to get to public transportation (Metro North to New York). Anywhere in Connecticut I want to go I have to drive. I do, however, call a neighbor of mine who lives down the road and ask him if he wants to join me on a trip into town or if I can pick something up from the store for him. We carpool to Costco often.

        For us rural types carpooling and cooperation can’t hurt and as gas prices rise it will become more attractive to introduce yourself to that neighbor you may not know.

        • Cory

          Good point.  I think we will all benefit by getting to know our neighbors all over again!

          • Anonymous

            If gas goes up and up I’ll bet those warehouse stores will get smaller and be closer to where we live. My family chose to live in a smaller town where we are closer to everything. We don’t have a 40+ min commute like some friends and family who wear out cars often and buy alot of gas b/c everything requires a hop on the interstate to go to the mall area to shop. 

            Another option is more internet shopping. A person buys what they can easily and cheaply locally and orders everything else from some place like Amazon which has good prices and free shipping. Of course if we aren’t paying local sales taxes the lost business taxes will decimate our local budgets. 

          • http://richardsnotes.org Richard

            I do a lot of shopping on Amazon and have Amazon prime which makes it even easier (free two day shipping on many items, $75 a year flat charge). However, some things are better bought at Costco or a local market and when the time comes to go I try to carpool with a neighbor. If the weather is good we take my truck which allows even more large bale of toilet paper and paper towels (no paper products from GP/Koch).

          • Anonymous

            -(no paper products from GP/Koch)-

            GOOD for you!

    • Ellen Dibble

      As more and more people live in urban areas, the range of an electric vehicle begins to be feasible for most trips.  Where I live, most people can work and shop and “play” within about a 7-mile range, and by the way there is now a recharge station at a hotel on a main drag that goes right from one side of that 7 miles to the other.  How much does it cost to charge?  Nothing.  Do you have to be staying at the hotel?  Nope.  You walk up to the desk and ask.  
           The way I see it, electric vehicles with minimal size and range can accommodate a lot of people.  It cannot accommodate everyone all the time, but you don’t have to invest in a bus because you might have a family reunion.  Instead, there are two options for longer trips and heavier loads.  (1) zipcar, the membership organization that lets you rent a car by the hour, and has increasing presence and (2) public transportation.  Within this 7-mile range we have several bus companies, some with bus racks out front, and high-speed trains seem to be planned for on the tracks that connect us with the various big metropolises in the East.

  • Mark from Acton

    If the US opens up more fields to drilling, are the oil companies going to be required to sell that oil only to Americans? At a lower price than Saudi oil? Of course not.
    Therein lies the rub. 

    Oil is fungible. It gets sold on a global market for market prices. Remember OPEC? They control the global price of oil by increasing or decreasing production. Any increase in US production would be offset by OPEC to keep their prices high. The only beneficiaries would be the oil companies, not US consumers.

    The US has 1.37% of the world’s proven oil reserves. We consume 21.7% of its oil. It is not possible to drill our way out of this disparity. The only sane alternative is conservation and alternative sources of energy: electric cars run by solar, wind, hydro and geothermal energy. Save the oil for our planes.





    • Gregg

      Oil prices are driven largely by speculation. If we were to drill here and exploit all available resources it would have an immediate effect on prices because the speculators would speculate down instead of up. Increasing refinery capacity would directly affect domestic prices as its the oil not the refined product that is controlled by the world market. And did I mention millions of jobs? It’s simply not true to claim drilling here would not be beneficial.

      The idea that anyone knows what our reserves are is ludicrous.

      President Obama has repeatedly said he wants gas price high.

      • NrthOfTheBorder

        Gregg, I agree with you – but we, Americans, don’t control supply. 

        So, yes, for awhile,  commitments to drill more, or open up the strategic oil reserve, will dampen speculation – but the crunch will return sooner or later. 

        Meanwhile, the longer term solutions will get pushed down road just as they have since the embargoes in the 70′s. 

        • Gregg

          I do not endorse opening up the strategic oil reserve but your points are fair enough. The real question is what are the longer term solutions? I prefer an “all we can do” approach and it seems that all I hear here is talk of highly unproven electric cars and rolling back our standard of life. I think we should drill here, build refineries, expand nuclear and conserve. I loved Boone Pickens plan but he had to abandon the wind farm idea. His plan to switch all municipal vehicles to natural gas is a winner though. Emissions have improved dramatically since the 70′s despite the massive increase in numbers.

          • Alan

            Gregg: Can you shed a little light on Boone P’s abandonment of wind farms. Was it the distance from points of generation to points of consumption? Other problems? Europe uses a lot of wind farms, but I don’t think they deal with the vast distances we do.

          • ThresherK

            Pickens is a Texan, and there have been murmurs of water being the main objective. It’s a subject worthy of its own show.

          • Pancake

            Yes, purposeful spoiling of groundwater, privatization of water, speculation in water, and the increasing scarcity of water due to climate change all merit further discussion. Even the wastage in water bottle petroleum merits further discussion. But, the coal slag pile above Charlotte’s main water reservoir is not being discussed because it would jeopardize the energy hub lie. Such is American media.

          • Gregg

            I’m sorry Alan, I’m pinched for time. I know Pickens had to sell off more than 600 wind turbines. I think transmission and infrastructure were the problem but you’ll have to google it yourself.

          • Anonymous

            Let fuel continue to be expensive and how we do what we do will change – smaller stores closer to our suburban or rural homes. We’ll start driving sensible vehicles again. People won’t be diehard consumers and might rediscover spending time in the backyard with friends and family having cookouts and visiting. ALL those things are GOOD in my mind. 

          • NrthOfTheBorder

            We’re not used to being in a pinch – and our reaction so far has been to continue on our merry way – gas guzzling SUV’s anyone? 

            It seems everything will be, will need to be, tried – natural gas, oil sands, nuclear, solar..everything.  Meanwhile, much as I have faith in a free market solution to our energy needs, the horizon for longer term solutions is just too far out. I fear huge disruptions and wonder if this country is capable of a national commitment towards an organized approach to solving our energy needs.

      • Alan

        I would guess that daily or weekly shifts in oil prices might be steered by speculation but that supply and demand, especially the demand of emerging nations like China, Brazil, India will tend to keep prices high over the long run regardless of these speculation driven shifts.

        Also, please explain why estimating domestic reserves is ludicrous?

        And ultimately, isn’t it in the interest of our lungs and our overall health for our country to get off the oil addiction and on to something – whatever that something is – that’s less invasive and harmful? 

        • Gregg

          Alan, “Mark in Action” wrote: “The US has 1.37% of the world’s proven oil reserves”. If he had used the word “estimating”” as you did then I would have less of a problem. New reserves are found every day all over the world. We have no way of knowing how much there is.
          I would think the shifts would be more significant than weekly but you are correct about supply and demand. More supply cannot hurt even it does not keep up with demand.
          I agree with you about our collective lungs but you have to be more specific than “whatever that something is” wrapped in a cloak of emotional and exaggerated fear-mongering. I don’t mean to accuse you but stories of impending doom and gloom always sell and often lead to misguided results that line someones pockets. How many generators were sold prior to the Y2K scare? MTBE was supposed to help but it didn’t and is now in our water. We got rid of DDT and Malaria deaths sky-rocketed.
          I just think it’s best to avoid highly costly kneejerk reactions.

      • Anonymous

        If Goldman Sachs says speculation is 25% of the price (increase?), then there certainly is some speculation, but it DEFINITELY is NOT easy to prove; see: http://triplecrisis.com/commodity-speculation-krugman-leaves-questions-unanswered/ for a deeper discussion.

        What is known is PROVEN RESERVES. But it is unlikely that there are oil fields on the scale of Saudi Arabia undiscovered. Finding one each year would not meet the world’s energy needs when the recovery from the Great Recession really gets underway. We just ARE NOT going to drill our way out of this. We do need more short term, but we need to spend (a lot) now to develop alternative sources, wind and solar (PV and Thermal, particularly) so we can  avoid the higher gas costs to come.

        What Obama “wants” is the gas price to NOT be susidized and to rise enough to make those alternatives cheaper. If gas prices are raised but the money given back to consumers the consumers will be largely whole, but they will buy the cheaper alternatives as they buy cars that can use them, etc.

        • Gregg

          Yea like I said, Obama supports higher gas prices. Just wondering, if domestic drilling is so inconsequential then why is gas 12 cents a gallon in Venezuela? 

          • Anonymous

            Because Venezuela produces (extracts) more oil than it uses, so it can subsidize the amount it uses with the money it gains selling the “surplus” on the world market at the world rate. (Just like Iran, except Iran does not have refining capability, so it has to buy back the refined product after selling it for export.) It really is fairly straightforward.

    • Anonymous

      @d1f4d6bdbd30038a190115b7f587a2c9:disqus  Exactly! But a further point is that what is left of American reserves is EXPENSIVE to extract. The oil companies will not even drill if the price is too low. But because the price of oil has been going up, drilling HAS increased over the last two years: See the U.S. EIA for a graph: http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=pet&s=mcrfpus1&f=m
      Note the uptick at the right (if you just get the data and then graph that, it looks like a V with the left a slow down trend and the right / a sharp up that rises about two-thirds of the way back to the 2000 year level. The bottom of the V is mid-2008, just when oil reached $147 a barrel.

  • Mark from Acton

    The challenge of electric cars is range, and time to recharge the battery. But a battery is just a container for energy, much like a gas tank is a container for gas. Who cares how long it takes to recharge the battery if you can swap out a fully charged one in the same time it takes to gas up?

    “At Better Place battery switch stations, drivers enter a lane and the station takes over from there. The car proceeds along a conveyor while the automated switch platform below the vehicle aligns under the battery, washes the underbody, initiates the battery release process and lowers the battery from the vehicle. The depleted battery is placed onto a storage rack for charging, monitoring and preparation for the another vehicle. A fully-charged battery is then lifted into the waiting car. The switch process takes less time than a stop at the gas station and the driver and passengers may remain in the car throughout.”
    On Point did a show about this company 2 years ago:http://onpoint.wbur.org/2009/04/24/shai-agassi-clean-car-pioneer

    • Gregg

      Can we charge the batteries without coal? What are the consequences of disposing the old batteries?

      • Mark from Acton

        1) You really should listen to Tom’s interview with Shia Aggassz:

        2) Batteries can be recycled. And we already know the consequences of carbon emissions:

        • Gregg

          I’ll check out the interview when I get time but is was really just a yes or no question.  Batteries cannot be recycled forever, they must be disposed of at some point.

        • Mark from Acton

          I guess the graph didn’t show in my previous comment. CO2 emissions and global warming correlate very closely. You can see it here:


          • Gregg

            Algore’s graph does indeed show a correlation but it is opposite of what Gore implies. Listen to his language when he shows the graph (paraphrasing) “do you think they go together”. He is careful not to say CO2 causes increased temperature. The reason is, his graph shows temperature went up BEFORE CO2 levels did, not after. 

          • Anonymous

            At what point in history was Mr. Gore referring to? The warming periods that took the earth out of ice ages DID precede the rise of CO2; that warming was caused by shifts in the earth’s orbit but just the orbit shift would NOT have created enough warming to take the earth out. As the earth warmed, CO2 increased by release from the oceans and other natural mechanisms, which further warmed it in a positive feedback mode, just as it is doing now. But by burning fossil fuels man has bypassed the orbit shift initiation and gone on to create the fastest warming that has occurred in any period paleogeologists can measure.

          • Gregg

            One theory is warmer air holds more CO2 but temperature has always risen first.  Algore’s graph (I think) represents 650,000 years. He knew he was being misleading that’s why he chose his words so carefully. That’s why the movie cannot be shown in British schools by law without explanation of the 9 factual errors including CO2/temperature.

          • Anonymous

            The first thing that is wrong in your statement is that warmer air holds more CO2; at normal pressure and temperature ranges (which covers the atmosphere at ALL times of the year), the atmosphere is a MIXTURE of the gases Nitrogen, Oxygen, various amounts of Water Vapor (H2O), Argon, CO2, and traces of hydrogen, helium and other “noble” gases. None of them are dissolved in the others, they are MIXED with the others.

            Because H2O has a magnetic dipole, it attracts other H2O molecules which clump, particularly in the presence of small particles, and will form clouds and water droplets which remove the water vapor from the air. This does NOT happen with the other gases. So the concentration of those other gases is dependent ONLY on the amount available, from whatever source. Water vapor is obviously different because of that precipitation effect, which is dependent on the temperature and its concentration in the air. That is why water vapor is NOT considered a controlling greenhouse gas.


            By what time was Al Gore referring to, I just wanted to assure myself that it was the period preceding and into the onset of a warm period after an Ice Age, so we would both be talking about the same thing. Al Gore always tries to be careful so that everyone will understand what he is saying and so he does NOT imply things that are NOT true. It would seem he cannot win for losing here.

            It is not true that there are scientific errors in Al Gore’s movie, “An Inconvenient Truth.” What the British judge ruled was that the movie was scientifically accurate, but there were 9 points where Mr. Gore made what the judge ruled were “political points.” He said that these had to be identified to the recipients before they could view it. That is DEFINITELY NOT what you are claiming. For the full story, see:

            I hope you will take the time to read this, go directly to the judge’s ruling, and then consider yourself educated to the TRUTH.

          • Worried for the country(MA)

            Mark, yes there is a correlation between increased CO2 and warming.  However, there is a stronger correlation between warming and oceanic cycles and solar activity over the last century.  Solar activity and oceanic cycles are natural.

          • Anonymous

            The reasons you are wrong are fully explained at: www.skepticalscience.com/
            I hope you will take the time to read all the “deniers’” excuses for telling the true science.

          • Worried for the country(MA)

            Don, where am I ‘wrong’?  Are solar and oceanic activities not natural?
            Are their correlations to warming not larger than CO2?

            btw – I’m not a ‘denier’.  Are you a ‘warmist’?

             Like most trained in science I am a skeptic and for good reason.

          • Anonymous

            The solar and oceanic activities are basically CYCLES, which vary in one direction and then return, but they are all of different — notably shorter — than the CO2 cycles that the earth has experienced. Those other CO2 increases were triggered by slight orbital changes and I explained how those warming changes then triggered CO2 releases which caused even more warming, like sound feedback when a live microphone is put in front of a speaker.

            I can say that wind is a natural activity, but does that cause warming? Only when the wind is already warm, but it can just as well be cold and there are often equal amounts of each. You have to EXPLAIN the HOW those “activities” cause warming over a long period, not just on a day-to-day or season-to-season basis, as the ones you reference do.

            PLEASE, PLEASE, read the above reference, take your time, and when you have a question pose it here (probably a new program as there are many things to talk about under this topic). But you will have to show some willingness to learn and progress on the subject; otherwise I will reluctantly have to consider you a troll. If you are one you will know what I mean.

          • Worried for the country(MA)

            Have you followed climategate?  The temperature chart you linked has been thoroughly debunked as shoddy science with the now famous “Mike’s trick” and “hide the decline”.

            In fact, a statistician analyzed Mike Mann’s statistical data algorithm fed random data into his program and got a hockey stick 70% of the time.

            Yes, there is global warming.  Some of it is man caused.  How much is not settled.  Is the warming harmful?  That is far from clear.

          • Anonymous

            I am sorry to have to inform you that the “debunking” has been completely in the OTHER DIRECTION!

            Have you ever said something like “I could kill him/her”? Well, after being harassed for data, etc. by deniers who were misrepresenting its results, a few researchers let their “peeve” show in a few e-mails. Other than saying a few bad things out of frustration, NOTHING untoward was ever found to have been done, and all the “papers” and “documents” that supposed to have been suppressed were found to have been published/referred to and openly discussed.

            Drop this canard!

          • Worried for the country(MA)

            No Don, not a canard.

            Dr. Richard Muller, Berkley, a self described believer in man caused global warming, has lambasted the researchers exposed in ClimateGate for conducting shoddy science.  It was so bad he now says he won’t read anything published by that crew.  Check it out.

            It’s all about the science not a religion or political belief system.

          • Gregg

            I agree with you. If you examine virtually any claim of AGW then you will see some tie to the IPCC’s 2007 report which relied heavily on “research” at East Anglica. It’s also very easy to find people who believe exxageration and downright lies are justified because they believe in their cause. That’s not science.

          • Anonymous

            @327b60c55221432e499267aebfb70c09:disqus @ec83219a7a1ebf66c63f3a5b695ec4ba:disqus 
            Dr. Richard Muller has been shown to be disingenuous at best and I use that term because even when shown errors he has made, he acknowledges them but refuses to correct them. Please see:


            At least you guys are making (thus exposing) the deniers’ lies and letting me get the truth out to the world that comes to this site. It may be too late for some, but maybe not many will have seen your misinformed questions without my answers, either.

            No one source of research is EVER used for the IPCC reports; for the particulars that you raise there are so many different independent sources that it would defy credulity that they all were false. Just forget it. Remember, when something sounds real good to be true, it usually is, and that applies to the claims about “ClimateGate” in SPADES. You might as well believe the Moon is made of green cheese, or the Moon Landings were faked.

        • Worried for the country(MA)

          “And we already know the consequences of carbon emissions:”

          And what would that be?  Better crop yields from the extra plant food?

          • nj

            Ah, the warming denial gang’s uniformed argument again.

            Grain yields drop about 10% for every degree increase in average temperature.

            Study: global warming hurting corn, wheat crops

            Global warming could rob the U.S. economy of $1.4 billion a year in lost corn production alone, a national environmental group estimated in a report released Thursday.The Environment America study, based on government and university data, projects that warming temperatures will reduce yields of the nation’s biggest crop by 3% in the Midwest and the South compared with projected yields without further global warming.[excerpt]Study: global warming hurting corn, wheat cropsO­ver the past 30 years, glob­al corn and wheat pro­duc­tion has fall­en 3 to 5 per­cent in re­sponse to a warm­ing glob­al cli­mate, a new study re­ports.
            The drop-off, it adds, may be re­spon­si­ble for the six per­cent rise in food prices since 1980—a $60-billion-a-year jump in what con­sumers paid for food.
            Da­vid Lo­bell of Stan­ford Un­ivers­ity in Cal­i­for­nia and col­leagues ana­lyzed his­tor­i­cal food pro­duc­tion and weath­er da­ta from around the world, be­tween 1980 and 2008. 

            Ex­am­in­ing the four larg­est ag­ri­cul­tur­al com­mod­i­ties—corn, wheat, rice, and soy­bean­s—they found that glob­ally, corn and wheat pro­duc­tion has de­creased in re­sponse to cli­mate warm­ing; that of the oth­er two foods has­n’t.[excerpt]

          • nj

            Link didn’t reproduce. Trying again…


          • Worried for the country(MA)

            Interesting.  I’d like to see more.
            You link claims the US has been left out of global warming.  No warming in US?

            Very convenient since US is  largest producer of corn and US corn production has been increasing (number of acres and bushels per acre).

    • Anonymous

      Buy an EV for your daily commute if you drive less than 90 miles round trip unless you can charge at work. Cost of the electricity is about what – a quarter of the price of gasoline? 

      If you can’t charge or drive further – buy a VW TDI or hybrid that gets ~50 mpg. 

      Use the savings to finance a rooftop solar array so offset the power your EV consumes. Now a person isn’t contributing to the amount of nuke or coal electricity consumed.

      My car sits ~8 hours at work and ~14 hours at home every day. That’s plenty of time to charge even on slow charge. 

      We long ago made changes that allowed my wife and I to carpool. We have two four cylinder cars and one sits there all the time. We rotate back and forth so the batteries don’t go dead. We rarely need both cars but the cost to keep one parked (taxes and insurance on a well aged car) is cheap. Occasionally we need to be on the go at the same time or one of the cars will need a repair. I do all my own repairs so a wheel bearing or a water pump replacement might take two evenings. No big deal. A spare car is a good thing to have around. 

  • Gregg

    I really don’t understand all the belly aching over gas prices. I’ve heard for years how we should be paying what Europe does. Obama said only that he prefers a gradual increase to that level. This is what he wants. The idea is higher energy prices would encourage people to roll back their standard of life. We could walk or ride bikes. We could carpool. And the holy grail, “high speed rail” would have us packed like sardines of conformity. If we were to drive cars they could be tiny and unsafe… but efficient. We could hang our clothes out to dry. We could grow gardens to offset high food prices resulting from high gas prices. It’s liberal utopia, what’s not to like?
    Keep in mind, we can do all these things now if we choose to. It’s our choice until the government steps in to control behavior. I happen to be pro-choice.

    • Alan

      Not sure, Gregg, how far your tongue is in your cheek. “The holy grail, ‘high speed rail’…packed like sardines of conformity.”(?)

      I would guess you’ve never experienced high-speed rail. Perhaps it takes having grown up in NYC, where a car was often a liability rather than a convenient or efficient choice, to appreciate high-speed rail. I did in Japan. There’s nothing like it. No traffic jams. No crazy drivers taking your life in their hands. You’re free to do other things (safely) and you get where you’re going oh so much more quickly than you could possibly with an automobile. On time. And with greater comfort. I think you should experience it before you damn it.

      • Gregg

        Alan, I’ve been to NYC and experienced the subways and trains but do not live there. I am in a rural area and mass transit is not an option so you have a point. Where you missed is the idea that I was condemning it. I think it’s awesome, especially in places like NYC. My problem is with government forcing taxpayers across the country to pay for something they don’t want all in the name of saving the planet. I do not believe it will.

        • Alan

          Okay. Misinterpretation of the use of the term “Holy Grail” and “sardines” which I took to be condemning ones.

          I don’t think it saves the planet either. Not by itself surely; only in conjunction with many other actions. But right now, people travel significant distances by car to get to airports in order to take trips of 150-500 miles. A high-speed train is a much more efficient and environmentally friendly way to get to places within that distance range.

          • Gregg

            Alan, I was indeed being a little snarky which can be confused with condemnation. My snark was aimed at those who seem to worship high speed rail as a solution with no downside (there seem to be many) not the rail itself. There is much to like about the idea. There’s a lot to like about freedom as well.
            It’s stall cleaning day here at the farm. I’m going to crank up my diesel tractor and skid steer Bobcat and do what has to be done.

      • Cory

        I’d love to be able to read or snooze during a commute.  How’s that for a socialist utopia?

        • Gregg

          Who’s stopping you? Just don’t make me pay for it. You made the leap from “liberal” utopia to “Socialist” utopia. True colors?

          • Ellen Dibble

            We pay for highways and highway maintenance as well, whether or not we use them.

          • Gregg

            Good point Ellen but I would posit the highways benefit everyone who does not drive on them but uses goods trucked on them.

          • Anonymous

            And freeing the highways of freight and large vehicles (putting their cargo on rails) wouldn’t benefit us all? I’d love to drive somewhere without mixing with 50,000 lb trucks. 

          • Gregg

            I guess that’s a laudable goal but trucks make the country work and IMO highways are a legitimate use of taxpayer funds. On a related note, here in rural NC the 7 mile State road I live near was recently repaved with “stimulus” money. It was a perfectly good road but they had to spend the money or loose it. So there is a line there somewhere.

          • Ellen Dibble

            I don’t have statistics, but in the late 1950s, when the highways were in
            place but the quantity of long-distance driving Americans was less, the
            expected use of the highways was projected at far less than what they get.
            I recall hearing that. If people let trucks do most of their deliveries —
            say one truck per 40 people-trips, that would save people time, and the
            planet CO@. And the cost of maintenance of those highways would go way
            down, not by a factor of 40, because trucks are heavier, but by a factor.

          • nj

            And who pays for the U.S. global military interventions, occupations, presence so you can have your “choice” of driving around on $4 gas? Who pays for the environmental damage from oil spills, emissions, global warming? Who pays for emergency response to traffic accidents? Who pays for road and bridge construction and maintenance?

          • Gregg

            If our” military interventions” were about oil then it’d be 40 cents a gallon as it is in Iraq. It was a nickle as recently as 2004. As far as who pays for what, if we had high speed rail we would still have all the same problems you mention just a higher bill for the taxpayers.

          • Cory

            Wait…  you mean liberal and socialist aren’t the same thing?

          • Gregg

            No, compare Joe Liebermann to Bernie Sanders.

        • Alan

          Apparently, Cory, the French who live 200 miles outside Paris get about an hour to snooze or read on their way to work. Not bad. Like living in Burlington and being able to work in Boston.

      • William

        I rode the trains in Japan when I was stationed there. It was nice not having a car payment and maintenance costs but I can’t see many more cities in the USA ever having any sort of light/hsr system. Our government officials are just too corrupt and inept.

        • Anonymous

          Actually the rich are demanding all taxes be cut so drastically that there is no money for maintenance. I guess they feel their Mercedes survive potholes, etc., without requiring frequent wheel alignments, etc.

          Government officials are no more corrupt than in previous times when we built the trolleys, Interstate Highways, the Apollo space program; business probably has more corruption.

    • Cory

      Humanity simply put cannot be trusted with too much freedom (sorry libertarians and anarchists).  We need laws, rules, and various other guidelines to keep us from killing and abusing ourselves and others.  The only real question is how much is too much?

  • Worried for the country(MA)

    Where is the leadership from the White House energy security and high gas prices?  Because of new technology we now have loads of cheap domestic natural gas supply and guess what?  Autos can run on natural gas.  Natural gas is now the equivalent of $1.30/gallon.

    The President can sign a simple executive order today  to jump start this transition to this domestic energy source.

    Check out the plan and sample petition to send to the White House from Dr. Bill Wattenburg, KGO-AM San Francisco here:

    • Chris

      Yeah I want Jersey drivers speeding done the highway at 80mph with their road rage driving causing natural gas explosions.

      • Worried for the country(MA)

        FUD.  Natural gas is less risky than gasoline.

    • Anonymous

      Where do you get the idea that your car, sitting in your driveway or parking space can fill up on natural gas drive off? What a load of nonsense. You need to convert the engine and that can cost $12,500 to $22,500 depending on the vehicle, engine, size of CNG tanks needed, and who does the converting. I doubt many people would go in for this.  

      Where was the leadership on any energy policy in the last 40 years by any president or congress? They all make speeches and do nothing. Why is this? Maybe because it’s not in the interest of the big oil/gas corporations to do anything.

      • Worried for the country(MA)

        Not conversion.  I am talking about factory built cars.  The only CNG car marketed in this country is the Honda CIVIC but most auto companies make and sell them in other countries.  They are NOT more expensive if made at volume.

        Car makers already make bi-fuel or dual fuel cars.  They have a CNG tank and a normal gasoline tank.  The driver simply selects the tank to use and they can even switch over during operation.  This option makes the most sense while the CNG fueling infrastructure is being built out.  I drive by one everyday but there aren’t enough.  Also, home fueling will be an option too.  You can get one installed for $1-3K.

        btw – Mercedes just released a dual fuel sedan that gets 230 miles on CNG and 450 miles on gasoline.  They sell it in Europe, not the US.

        I agree all previous Presidents failed on this one.  The difference is natural gas is now abundant but wasn’t viable until the last few years.

    • ThresherK

      “New technology”? That sounds like a frakking huge risk.

      • Worried for the country(MA)

        Like any drilling (or industrial activities) fracking has risk.  It needs to be regulated properly.

        • ThresherK

          The people who can’t be trusted to actually govern (Republicans), to actually regulate something run by corporations whose attitude to environmental regulation is “If you ain’t cheatin, you ain’t tryin”?

          That’ll be the day.

    • Anonymous

      Go watch Gasland and see if you want cheap “natural” gas… “Natural” gas might be cheap but it isn’t any cleaner than oil apparently if you have to “frack” to get it. 


      • Worried for the country(MA)

        Yes, I did watch Gasland and I did a little research on it.  It isn’t a balanced documentary.  I agree the water table needs protection from all drilling – oil and gas.

        Natual gas does burn cleaner than gasoline.

    • nj

      And how long before we burn through the natural gas supplies? And then what? And what will you tell the people whose water becomes polluted from fracking? And we’re still warming the planet. The status quo is not sustainable.

      • Worried for the country(MA)

        100 years.  Yes, natural gas is only a bridge fuel.

  • Pancake

    It really is true that this nation has an energy policy that favors fossil fuel extractors. For instance, the met-coal (metallurgical quality) mined in West Va., Kentucky and Pennsylvania is now being shipped through Baltimore to China in record and ever increasing amounts. We don’t need it right now (plenty of scrap for recycling) so the price is cheap. Now here is an opportunity to place a tariff on this export, using the income for sustainable energy technology to offset China’s emissions. But all the O-administration ever thinks of is robo-signing a stricter Patriot Act from France so us protesters at the 2012 Democratic convention in smoggy Charlotte can have our heads legally bashed. Shameful, shameful, shameful… and you can ride the Blue Line all of 6 miles to nowhere.

  • Chris

    Well America, can’t handle a two dollar rise in gas?

    Wait until you are paying $6, $7, $8 dollars a gallon.

    You wanted to build houses that were 50, 60 70 miles from your jobs. You didn’t want to have any public transportation or trains because you didn’t need them. You were a car nation.

    You wanted to believe the lies of the past 30 years that gas was cheap
    and was never going to run out and now you will pay the price.

    • William

      Take away the government interference and let’s see what happens to the price of oil and gas.

      • Chris

        The sinking dollar means it will only go up from here.

      • Anonymous

        Yep William – without gov’t interference I suspect mass transit would likely be very cheap compared to the price of fuel and a private vehicle. Don’t like $4 gasoline? Start chaning your lifestyle and vehicle choice so you aren’t buying any more than you have to. Not all efficient vehicles are created equal – some are miserable to drive, some are really, really nice rides while getting 35+ mpg. See the VW TDI series getting 40+ mpg on the highway. 

  • Jim

    FYI. even at $4 Dollars/Gallon, US drivers are still getting the cheapest price the worldover.

    • Gregg

      I support cheap gas.

    • Jim in Omaha

      Unless of course you include all the money our government forces us to contribute to maintaining the security of the global system of petroleum production, transport and use.  Then I would expect we are paying more than anyplace else.

  • Matthewchanin

    Bring the high prices! Folks are so much wiser about car purchases, mass transit, and green energy when gas goes up.

  • Mary Ellen

    Please discuss how speculators and commodities traders are siphoning off profits at the expense of the world populations.  The narrative of supply and demand only goes so far…. after that we must look at the way resources are shared and traded.  See http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/wikileaks-cables-show-speculators-behind-oil-bubble-20110526

  • Cabmanjohnny

    Get used to your future in driving. Less driving. There is no “drill fix” to the national addiction. Interesting to see how the great growth mantra to sustain the nation’s debt loads will be impacted by less affordable energy.http://www.theoildrum.com/

  • Chris

    All American should watch this movie on how the corrupt government of Argentina stole everything from it’s citizens because that’s what’s starting to happen here.
    Argentina’s Economic Collapse

    The great government fire sale is on


    May 13, 2011

  • rl

    How to boil a frog so that it doesn’t jump out of the pot: incremental increases in temperature. The frog becomes habituated to the cahnge and before he knows it he’s cooked.  So it goes with oil and gas prices. If I were a conspiracy theorist I’d say this is intentional on their part.

    Isn’t that like the annual fleecing we’ve experienced over the last 10 years?  Prices rise until people begin to moan, politicians threaten action, the prices back down to about half of the increase, people calm down and seem relieved with the lower-than-peak-yet-higher than before prices. And in this way the prices are stepped up every year. 

    Why doesn’t the government step in? Either they are bought and paid for by the oil lobby or maybe it’s a stealth tax. The higher the gas prices the more Federal and State taxes accrue with politicians having to “raise taxes”.

  • Ellen Dibble

    JP Morgan and Chase are speculating in oil, betting both sides against each other, up and down?  Hmm.  Are these the same banks that the G-8 last week was stating were going to be backing the development of the economies and institutions in Tunisia and Egypt?  
        I was wondering which bank?  Surely one of the ones I pay interest to.  I’m thinking, well done, banks.  Now I’m not sure.

  • Fernando

    As an ex-pat I am always intrigued by this incredible contradiction of US American culture. People love capitalism but resent that market forces make gas expensive. Even Tea Party members complain that the Government is making nothing to control Gas prices! The same institution they want to reduce to nothing. Give me a break!

    • Chris

      The Tea “Party” philosophy can be summed up as thus:
      only for me and not for thee.

      They are the stupidest and most hypocritical people in this country today. Really and truly.

      • Gregg

        Yea, living within our means and following the Constitution are stupid ideas. Why would anyone consider such insanity.

        • Chris

          Yeah, like the signs the idiot tea baggers carried that read: keep your hands off my Medicare?

          I rest my case.

    • William

      I think the Tea Party is complaining about government blocking development of natural resources.

      • ThresherK

        …that Tea Partiers live downstream of?

        Hey, when it comes to extractive industries, the Tea Party doesn’t care. Coal industry and state govts cahooting in WV, KY and elsewhere? They can’t be bothered. They can’t envision that they would ever live someplace like that, or Cancer Alley, and it’s not their problem. Ever.

      • Chris

        The Tea “Party” believes the lie that the U.S. has “plenty of oil” if the government will only “get out of the way”.

        Deluded slobs believe the lies being told to them. The U.S. has only 3% of the world’s proven reserves of oil.

        In fact the U.S. Geologial Survey released their findings in October 2010 that the Arctic Petroleum Reservse has 90% less oil then presiously extimated. Yeah. That’s right. 90%.

        Alaska’s untapped oil reserves estimate lowered by about 90 percent


  • Vtcheflw

    This is a much bigger conversation than price manipulation or summer gas costs.  What we really need to talk about is what can we use instead of gas?  The petro-chemical industry’s track record of environmental distruction is not exceptable.  It will just get worse.  We need to move on.

  • bfb

    Seems like you are missing one BIG question for the refiners. Why in 2008 was gas $4 gallon when oil was $140 a barrel and in 2011 we have $4 a gallon gas @ $120 a barrel?? Seems like somethings wrong here!

    • Anonymous

      No kidding.

  • Chris H.

    Unrest in the Middle East?  What a cop-out excuse for why prices at the pump are rising.  There’s been unrest in the Middle East since the discovery of oil in the Gulf, let alone since history can recall.  It’s unfortunate the Oil companies just don’t come right out and say they are raising their prices because they know Americans will continue to pay.  We may complain and we might curb some of our spending habits, but we will continue to fill up. 

  • Kathy

    Pizza Delivery companies don’t “make up the margin on higher volume” when the price of gas goes up. That money comes from the pockets of the drivers.

  • Peter

    In every other industry when the cost of good sold increases, profits go down. In the oil industry increased costs are just passed along to consumers and the big oil companies just make higher profits. Something very wrong here. Competition needed.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      Competition from what? Big Oil has the monopoly on fuel for trucks & automobiles. They have no competitors, on purpose and by design. I say BOYCOTT BIG OIL. Stay home, meet your neighbors, grow a garden, ride a bicycle, get acquainted with nature this summer. Just don’t drive unless you absolutely have to.

      • Worried for the country(MA)

        OK, I’m only going to buy from small oil from now on.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

          There is no small oil. Good luck with that investment. Betcha it won’t be there for ya when you need it most.

          • Sam Wilson


            Its “free market” after all… values go high and values go down.. wink wink… anyone who sent their kids with 529 money during 2007 – 2010 can testify on that.. and the folks who “retired” during the same period..

          • Gregg

            I know, lets do away with big oil entirely, same with big pharma and any profitable business.  That’ll help.

      • Worried for the country(MA)

        Oops, I was only going to buy from small and then I realized my 401K must have some Exxon-Mobil so I guess I’m OK with big oil after all.

  • Vtcheflw

    Maybe if we told NASCAR they could keep driving is circles, but only if they did it without fuel made from earth trapped sources; we would see cars going 200 MPH burning plant oils.

    • ThresherK

       At least they got rid of the leaded gas several years ago. Aren’t F1 and Indy alcohol-based? (I mean the engines, not the fans:-)).

  • Charlie

    I’m fortunate that I can ride my bike to work.  So far this year I’ve save about $150 on gas.  But as I got to work on this beautiful morning (mid 60s F) I noticed my work neighbor’s AC was going full blast.  American attitude and opinion on conservation still has a long way to go.

    • Gregg

      In my area of NC we had a terrible drought a few years back. People were encouraged by municipalities to conserve water. Watering lawns or washing cars was highly restricted. I don’t have a problem with that but what ended up happening is demand went down and when supply went back up people were still conserving. That’s good too. Everything was peachy until the waterworks raised prices because the demand was down. Higher prices are a consequence of conservation in the world we live in. 

      • Gregg

        To follow up regarding the rich, if we have people like Algore or John Edwards living in huge mansions and flying in private jets then it helps keep demand up and prices down for the little guy. 

  • Sknodole

    I’m always disappointed when the big elephant in the room is never part of the conversation. It’s past time to acknowledge that we have reached Peak Oil. Yes, gas may go down again some, but this is just the beginning of the end of our fossil fuel-based economy. Our ability to produce oil is ending and we have to transition to something else to support our economy, food production and way of life.

  • Ellen Dibble

    The cost of food is projected to double by 2030, according to the BBC this morning, and I didn’t catch whether that was because of fuel costs.  I believe this was projected as a result of climate change.
        More elephant in the room.  I order my food to be delivered by a national delivery service from a regional distribution point because (a) it’s hot out and (b) I’ve got plenty of work to keep me cocooned.  This happens to help in terms of CO2 emissions, but only to an extent.  I would be bicycling if I bought it myself.
        But for me, the cost of fuel IS the cost of climate change and the cost and availability of food.  The cost of health care is the main thing keeping me from enriching the GDP in other ways.  Health you can’t substitute.  Automobiles, if you have to, you can go eco-friendly.

    • Worried for the country(MA)

      Ellen, corn prices has gone up dramatically.  Crop yields have gone up during this period.  Then why?  It is fear of climate change.

      Stupid policies to encourage corn ethanol production have driven up corn prices.  Corn is used throughout our food supply (eg, beef feed stock).

      • Ellen Dibble

        Corn sweeteners too.  I tend to think the corn lobby is very powerful in Washington.  Corn ethanol is not a big step forward either in terms of providing food for the planet or protecting us from CO2 enveloping us like a greenhouse.  So I tend to view the corn industry the way I view the fossil fuel industry, as a profit-generating business, subject to the kind of speculative manipulations we’ve come to loathe as symptoms of capitalism in its poorly regulated excesses.
           Because corn is being morphed into a pseudo-fossil fuel (as I understand it), I don’t regard it as a human food.  Percentage-wise less corn is eaten by us.  And if you’re talking about animal feed — animals reduce our ability to create nourishing calories.  It’s an inefficient way to feed us.  And don’t animals create methane, which is a large percent of our climate woes?  I don’t mean bears and coyotes.  I mean animals farms, if you know what I mean.  

  • Eric M. Jones

    Being rich, I laugh at you poor f**kers who have to work for a living. I got mine (Thanks Republicans). Now the rest of you can just whistle.

    • Chris

      You’re laughing is going to stop when 310 million Americas EAT THE RICH.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

         Not sure that I’d like the taste. Sell ‘em to the Chinese restaurants that have sprung up like mushrooms all over the North East. These masterful chefs can make anything taste good and then sell it for a tidy profit. How about a new dish like “Rich guy go pan” ?

      • Cory

        Hell Yeah!!!

      • Alan

        I don’t think the rich will be particularly tasty. There’s a foul, bitter taste underlying the glitzy presentation.

    • Helensmoke

       funny (sad) fellow

    • Cory

      You can’t possibly be rich, because if you were you’d say you were middle class.  The rich never believe they are.

    • Alan

      What impresses me most about your statement is your clearly evident compassion. Not far behind that is your intelligence as represented by your articulate choice of words. What a guy!

    • Gregg

      Evidently many commenters took you at face value but no one thinks like that despite the nearly universal acceptance of your framing.  You can’t get a job from a poor person. Dick Cheney gave $7 million to charity which is dwarfed by Bill Gates’ philanthropy. You can’t buy a used car if someone doesn’t buy a new one first. Ditto House. The top 1% of taxpayers pay 40% of the bill. So, aside form making you feel better, what good does it do to demonize the rich? We need them.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

        “what good does it do to demonize the rich? We need them.”- Gregg

        Do they need you? Methinks you speak for them that does not like to be named in public.

        The rich are good at that, at least. More mouthpieces than a dentist could comb through in a lifetime. Still, eminently edible when good meat is scarce.

      • Anonymous

        You know – I’ve seldom worked for rich people. I’ve usually worked for well-to-do companies… Has nothing to do with any rich individuals. In my experience the company bosses didn’t get ahead b/c they were that much smarter – they either got in when the company was formed or they “knew somebody” (or had dirt on somebody at least in one case). 

        Working for a rich person might only apply to people who directly work for a private company owner. Lemming anyone? 

        • Gregg

          Actually I said, “You can’t get a job from a poor person”.
          So, all that matters is knowing someone or getting in at the beginning. You mention smarts as well but who chooses how hard you work to gain knowledge? Don’t you think work ethic, sacrifice and honesty play any role? If those attributes bring you success then do you deserve ridicule. Do those that took the easy, lazier path deserve the fruits of your sacrifice?

          • Anonymous

            I’ve met alot of intelligent people too lazy to get an education. Sometimes they go on to low paying jobs, sometimes they work their rears off to pay people to do that which they could do for themselves but are too lazy to learn how to to – am thinking chore related tasks such as home and auto care. I support their choice to work an inside job to avoid outside chores but I don’t support their level of complaining they do about the cost. GRIN!

  • Sara R.

    As upsetting as it is to pay $4+ for a gallon of gas, I think this is the perfect time to reevaluate our habits and adapt to a world where the price of gasoline actually reflects the cost (on the environment especially).

    Two years ago, my partner and I were in the market for a house, and rather than buying something with a yard in the suburbs, we opted for the smaller condo in town, so that I could walk or bike to work. We downsized to one car, my partner carpools, we’ve opted not to fly anywhere for our vacation this summer. Both of us are (luckily) still employed, though I’ve not had even a cost of living increase over the last three years and my partner is facing a pay cut next year due to budget troubles in the school where she works. We are very,very lucky that we’re holding on in this awful economy, and I’m still hopeful that the pain at the pump will help US citizens face the unsustainability of our current lifestyle and begin the much needed change to a green economy.

  • Lindsfrancesjones

    I switched jobs from the suburbs to the city after a year at my first job post college just so I could get rid of my car. As a younger person starting out in the work world, it is almost impossible in most industries to afford a car and pay off school loans + live.  As a non- tech or financial services worker, 30K starting salary doesn’t have much wiggle room. Now my monthly transportation costs are $60 which I can even take out of my paycheck pre tax!

  • gary

    The wife and I do absolutely nothing. I’ve been laid-off here in Rhode Island for over 2 years, with only a few employs in the interim. Unemployment benefits have run out. It’s down to only food, water, shelter – that’s it. RI is an economic Dust Bowl and I feel it will continue that way for years. I currently work part-time in retail (a mere fraction of what I used to make). This income barely pays for my gas to get to and from work. Yet you talk about immense corporate profits, etc. … so much for “Trickle Down Economics” – what a scam. And don’t get me started on how it feels deep, down inside to be here. I used to be an active, contributing, productive member of society. Now I am ashamed, depressed, scared, lost. Get the picture? Welcome to America down in the trenches.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      Gary, it’s true that R.I. is an economic dust bowl. Massachusetts is not too far from becoming one. Raging unemployment plus escalating prices for all necessities= 0 growth. People are accepting this downgrade in living standards as if nothing’s wrong. Something is very wrong. Time to get organized. There are many more of us than there are of “them”. Let’s sort it out and get busy, one little “economic cell” at a time. Manufacturing will not come back but we must.

    • Cory

      I feel for you.  Keep fighting (and voting).

    • Gregg

      Things are looking up in New Jersey and Wisconsin, I don’t know why.

      • Cory

        I don’t think you know of which you speak.

      • Buyers’ remorse in NJ and WI

        Looking up in Wisconsin? Like how that judge threw out that illegally passed bill from their 27% approval rating Teabagger governor?

        Actually that IS an improvement.

    • Anonymous

      Gary – get out of there. There are opportunities in other parts of the country. Avoid retail. Work a wholesale industrial parts counter somewhere. Worked for me for a while. Paid for an education. The problem with places like RI is the cost of living. I looked at a job there and a modest starter house 15 years ago was $145K. Income was better than here but not that much better.

      The RI house had no driveway, had to park on the street. We bought the same house more or less down south for $55K and the neighborhood was really good. 1/3 acres of yard and a carport. Did that making $7.50 per hour (x2, wife worked) and making daycare and a new car payment. Sold it five years later and covered all the improvements we made (new HVAC, doors, paint, flooring, misc) and pocketed a little cash. 

  • HCW

    I hate high gas prices as much as anyone. But why are we/you pretending that this is some kind of shock or surprise? People laughed and groaned at Jimmy Carter back in the 70′s but if we had all gotten on board the conservation oil alternative wagon for real back then we’d be in a much happier, healthier place right now. Also- how ’bout talking about how the measures people are taking has an up-side- that being reducing emissions? Asthma in cities? gas fume related- sulphur dioxide (in fuel)- heart arrhythmia- related. And while I’m at it- how ’bout talking about the people who have paid for aggressive oil exploration and drilling? The indigenous people of Brazil for example. What the USA is experiencing right now is a cold hard hit of reality after decades of being cooed at and stroked by politicians (and industrialists) wanting votes (and over stuffed pockets). I say let’s all grow up and start behaving like responsible fully coherent adults!

    • Cory

      Then Reagan started talking about the shining city on the hill and our best days being ahead of us.  How is that conservativy no taxy thing workin out for ya?

  • Pancake

    Telecommuting never materialized. That is the fault of employers. Towns near where I live have a disaster level evacuation each morning and are ghost villages for 8 to 10 hours. The noise of the nervous drivers trying to force their way down narrow streets to the Interstate ramps is deafening. If you can’t trust your employees to tend the screen from home how can you trust them in the supply closet? Capitalist sadism is swallowing itself by fostering inefficiency.

  • Fran

    Around town car is an 82 diesel mercedes running on veggie oil.

  • Brett B

    I’m a 23 year old newly employed college grad, and after 1 year of work I’ve purchased a new truck because the high gas prices means cheaper SUVs/trucks. I’ll also get more for my old cavalier for selling a gas-sipper during this oil price spike. Also, my family back in ND (Bakken shale boom) is loving the new flux of revenue all ofver the state. One huge complaint is the crime that migrant oil workers inherently bring with them. Living in the midwest means no need to drive far for a lake or camping site.

  • Vtcheflw

    They is, no doubt, a better way.  Energy saving, new source of power and fuel, localized food stytems… it all could add up to something that works.  These comments talk of about the elephants, I still haven’t really heard it on the air.  I did like the first guest talking about criminal charges brought against the gas companies.

  • Joey

    I had a 2003 Acura with 160K miles and thought it was time to buy a new car anyway and figured I’d buy it now since gas prices are high and will always be high.  I bought 2011 Prius about a month ago and am saving over $100/month on gas. 
    I have also created a weekley budget of $50 a week with my girlfriend to spend on groceries.
    -Joey from TN

    • LB

      Wow, thanks for all that useless information.

  • nj

    The root of the problem is that our current societal infrastructure was built with and remains dependent on readily available, relatively “cheap” fossil fuel.

    Large distances between jobs and where people live and between points of production and consumption, buildings that are hugely energy inefficient, traffic systems that waste enormous amount of energy with millions of vehicles idling at stoplights at any given moment, other massive energy waste throughout the system…This is the legacy of the Fossil Fuel Era.

    We are now in the process of running out of the fuels which built this system. As supplies dwindle, and/or as the existing supplies become harder to find, access, and process, the cost will go up. $4 per gallon? We ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

    There will be no silver bullet, no electric cars, no fuel cell cars, that will allow us to maintain the current infrastructure at anything near what we pay now for energy. All the “alternatives” are going to be more expensive that current supplies, and are going to have their own set of undesirable, unintended, and, in some cases, unanticipated consequences.

    Restructuring our existing systems is the real solution, but is too daunting for most people to contemplate, hence the chirping about gas prices and the other symptoms of the problem.

    “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” (Thoreau) 

  • Jeffreysc

    You argue gas prices are fixed when they go up, but then the outrage is gone when gas prices come down. 

    • Ellen Dibble

      At least in 1973, as I recall, once Americans began to shift toward alternative fuels, the oil-producing nations realized they would lose their goose that lays the golden egg, and lowered their prices.  That’s my take on it, anyway.  OPEC somehow had second thoughts about squeezing the West.  
         Oh, that goose — it could be the goose egg, not the goose, if the world decides fossil fuels are a climate threat.  Block that realization.  Hold that line.

  • Pnsret

    Whereas the conversation is very interesting, I agree with Sknodole we continue to ignore the elephant in the room and have been since 1973.  I’d rather be listening to On Point presenting more shows on alternative energy development; what oil and auto companies may have done to squash the development (I’m not a conspiracy theorist); why aren’t we taxing oil more at the pump to pay for working on such development; why aren’t oil companies paying wind-fall taxes, etc. In the USA we don’t seem to move forward until we’re pushed to do so.  Let see a big push for public transportation and high-speed rail.    

    • Vtcheflw

      The callers allude to it (the elephant) but the host wont touch.  Or even defend the old ways.

  • PaulCJr

    My fellow Americans really have to see what these high gas prices mean, and that is we have invested wrongly in out transportation system and housing stock. We now live very further from our jobs and in many areas of the country only have one form of transportation, the car. We need reinvest in our housing infrastructure and in more public transportation. I manage a public transit agency and we’re losing funding from the government, which makes it diffucult for us to provide alternatives to people. Untill we properly invest in denser living conditions and other forms of transportation, we’re going to be held hostiage by these high fuel prices. Gas prices aren’t going to go lower and the $4 today will be $5 next year, watch and see.


  • Tina

    Wow, oh, Wow!  What is being said right now about speculators playing BOTH fields (the actual physical market where they take possession of oil, or other things) and the financial market, THIS is ALSO one of the GREAT UNSPOKEN ASPECTS OF THE HOUSING ECONOMIC TURNDOWN!!! I have been TRYING to get experts to see what I was saying, but I didn’t have the words — I’m starting to now (altho my understanding of how to express this is still slender, so please bear with me!).  ONE REASON THAT HOUSE PRICES WENT UP SO HIGH BEFORE & AFTER 2002 WAS BECAUSE OF SIMILAR SPECULATION BY REAL ESTATE BROKERS (some, anyway; maybe even only one per market area, but one alone will DO IT!).  Some brokers had their children living in houses that the broker finally put on the market at about $100,000.00 more than the going price.  This worked especially well in areas where Baby Boomers were retiring, often near the water.  So, someone From Away would WANT a particular house — a classic house for the area; they’d have more spending money coming from a larger metropolitan area; they’d take the $100,000.00 bite without even knowing what they were doing, because they’d be sold on the idea that there was something extraordinarily special about that particular property.  There wasn’t; but there WAS a relative of the real estate broker who could move whenever the bite was taken, waiting as long as necessary.  There MIGHT have been about $3,000 worth of “work” put into the house, so that the extra 100K could be “justified”.  And once the bite was taken, the comparable price of all the surrounding and similar houses went …. UP, extraordinarily UP!  The OTHER method, was where real estate firms had a “client” who was a builder.  The real estate agents did NOT reveal to sellers that this builder worked with them all the time, looking for houses that were “underused” (i.e., small house on a larger lot; with zoning regulations that, guess what?, favored a huge house on that property!), or that he/she was going to tear down the house, once bought, to build a MacMansion.  The realtors sent in fake lookers who rejected the house; they didn’t offer open houses, or even put up a For Sale sign; they were slow to put the house on the internet; they continually praised the house while also diss-ing it in subtle ways; and they never mentioned that one of their realtors looked for houses for this builder.  So, even tho the fiduciary responsibility was owed TO the seller, and that phrase legally means loyalty and honesty, not just the most money, the realtors set the price at a price that was good for the builder, not the seller, even when the seller asked to put the house on the market at a higher price.  So,ultimately, the builder bought the house because the presence of the house on the market was reduced by the very realtors who were supposed to represent the seller; and the seller was never told that the builder was going to tear down the house.  Tear it down he/she did; then the house was back on the market at three times the original price, and all the comparables once again went up, and the realtors collected another commission but at the much higher selling price.  I know that there must be a better way to explain all this, but these instances are EXACTLY the same as what the first guest was talking about:  the real estate brokers were PLAYING BOTH MARKETS and then playing them against each other.  That they were ALSO “playing” the physical market, which is more indictably clear in the FIRST example I gave, but which needs investigation for criminality in the second example (because they are doing the same thing, only “by proxy” — it’s almost MORE criminal, because it is sneakier, too, is what is so different from the past.  This is a HUGE CONTRIBUTING FACTOR to why housing prices went up so high, and it has NOTHING to do with Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae!  It has to do with MARKET MANIPULATION BY CAPITALISTS who are so small and local, that it went totally unnoticed.  Thanks, Everybody!

    • Tina

      Ooops:  I said, “then the house was back on the market at three times…”.  I should have said, “a new MacMansion was on the market at three….”  

      • Pancake

        Thanks for sharing your thought processes. An awakening consciousness is a spectacular and splendid thing.

        You are correct that all speculative bubbles result from collusion, secrecy, and failure to regulate. All market manipulations are elite conspiracies. Remember that only persons of extraordinary means are in a position to profit from speculative collapses. This may be a good explanation for the “business cycle.” Depressions polarize wealth and income, accentuating the gap.

    • Anonymous

      Oh c’mon Tina – haven’t you heard? The markets will take care of themselves. They are self-righting. We should shrink gov’t and get it out of the way so people can make a LIVING… 

      (YEAH Riiiight – GRIN! – Tina you are so on the right track. Keep up the good thinking. You’ll never hear the confidence machine that says they report news but actually sells advertising report anything like this. I’ve wondered if all the computerized tools available to the stock market folks and on down the foodchain hasn’t made them so able to track trends and act on those trends isn’t what has the market so volatile. 

      A consumer looking for housing should always look at property values before the current sales price and apply a sanity check. They might want to rent something in that area for a year or two first to find better deals. 

  • Stford1

    I live in norway where its 8.50 a gallon
    and yes my friends car pool to work every seat is full
    I walk or bike

    • Steve

      Small, mostly homogeneous country with infra-structure developed before the hey-day of the automobile.

      That being said, when I was last there, there were plans afloat to blast through the mountains/tundra to build a super-highway to the western fjords from Oslo.  How has that worked out?

  • Lennylane1

    Let’s have a show devoted to why the gas prices are so high!  Another caller discussed the sale of our oil to other countries – what’s going on really?

  • Anonymous

    Hi Tom. I live near Kenmore square near Fenway park.  During the height of real estate bubble, I couldn’t find parking in my neighborhood during a baseball game.  All spots were taken even residential spots and mostly by baseball fans who don’t mind getting a ticket.

    Now, I can often find a parking spot in my neighborhood even during a baseball game.  I also notice  a higher incidence of car vandalism in my neighborhood, and I suspect its done by people who resent the fact that there are nice cars, BMWs and Mercedes, and Lexus’ parked in my neighborhood.  Cars with their wheels stolen, busted side mirrors, or smashed windows.  I suspect that it’s due to the economy, and I fear it’s only gonna get worse.

    • Cory


  • Ryan K

    In Lincoln NE the public bus transit was bought out by GM and run into the ground in the 80s so car sales would rise. It’s a great college town and mostly bike-friendly, but we’re still struggling to recover. Bike racks were just recently placed on buses. Progress!

  • Peewee

    Today’s T-party word is “elephant in the room” boys and girls. When someone says “elephant in the room” scream real loud. Ah-h-h-h-h!!!

  • ThresherK

    “What is green?”, as Diane(?) asks, is a good question. The book “Green Metropolis” deals heavily with these subjects on a macro scale, if you are sitting there wondering why driving is the only way for tens of millions of Americans to get anywhere in their daily lives, but all the paving in the world doesn’t make it better.

    (Disclaimer: I don’t know if the book was mentioned. Spotty computer, haven’t heard all the show.)

  • Will

    At $70/tank, it will require more than 1 day at retail wages, to fill that tank.  Don’t forget, that is an after-tax cost, so it’s more like $85 out-of-pocket.

  • BHA in Vermont

    Gas prices are not nearly high enough yet.
    - I was at a ‘park and ride lot’ north of San Francisco 2 weeks ago. Low gas in the area was $4.19/gallon. A guy sat in his car with the engine running for 15 minutes until the person he was picking up came on the bus. It was 65F.

    - I dropped my car for service this morning. The shuttle, a 12 passenger Ford van, sat idling for 20 minutes. It was 73F.

    • Sam Wilson

      Idling is so common in USA that it just makes me wonder why people cant see that there is no incentive in just idling when there is no Rain, Snow or Heat Stroke involved..

      More over, I have seen people idle their car (with keys in ignition) to get a cup of coffee from the coffee shop for 20 – 40 mins (long queues you know..) even with large SUV, Minivans, and trucks and buses are the biggest offenders..

      Forget about environment, its a hole in your pocket..  wake up…

  • Cabmanjohnny

    Most of the concern about pump prices doesn’t evidence itself in the way people still drive. Mostly fast as possible, I am the only one on the interstate driving the posted limit, actually a little under to conserve gas.Same on two lanes, someone is always trying to pass burning up a lot of fuel. Maybe when $6 hits, I’ll see more than lip service translate into driving habit.

    • Jeffreysc

      it seems like high prices are the only way to stimulate conservation, the easiest way to reduce demand

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chad-Wildey/100000211633675 Chad Wildey

    It seems that gas prices go up just before the oil companies know people will travel more often. Memorial Day weekend being one of these times and Thanksgiving being another. Does the Federal Trade Commission need any more info than this in their investigation? 

    • Jeffreysc

      except gas prices were coming down before this Memorial Day

  • Debra N

    I live in a city where public transportation is poor for anything that is south of a certin area.  Moving closer to my job is not an option due to either rent cost or high violent crime areas.  Driving to work is my only option almost 20 miles each way is taking a larger portion of my “fun” money.
    The large oil companies need to tax breaks – why so they have more available funds to arrange for transportation for gas out of the United States?

  • Steve

    Time for my periodic rant.

    Make friends, become part of voluntary organizations, trade/buy from your neighbors, take care of them the best you are able.

    Opt out.

    You will be taken care of and you will have the joy of taking care of others.

    If you are addicted to gas/oil, corporate food, rampant consumerism…there is a more peaceful/gentle way to live that will provide greater security.

    Have courage/faith.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      Courage, faith and goodwill: Precious commodities that no oil conglomerate can compete against. Thanks for the uplift, Steve. I’ll pass it on. 

  • http://twitter.com/FilipinoBoston Aki Stamatelaky

    I only pay $25.00 for a full tank for my 8 gallon car. A full tank will last me 6 to 7 days. next time buy 4 cylinder engine.

    • Worried for the country(MA)

      OK, I’ll bite.  Where to you pay $3.10/gallon.

  • Worried for the country(MA)

    I like my hybrid Camry ( 5 years now).  I still get 42 mpg combined
    city/highway in the summer.  In the winter it falls to 38mpg.

  • Mstwendell

    i was a small business owner (commercial construction) for 22 years until this past april. the lack of work finally caught up with us. i have had a company vehicle all that time. a truck with a 32 gallon tank. i’ve put many a $100+ tank in it. no more.
    instead of a vacation this year, we are the desination for a destination wedding. we’re in west/central NC and have around 75 guests driving and flying in from flagstaff az and detroit. some are coming with campers and in rv’s. we are fortunate that we can accomdate the bulk of them here and with neighbors and friends.

  • Marka

    Heck! 25 years from now, people will be priced right out of even owning a car!

  • Rob Duggan

    What I’m curious about is when the market will provide an alternative to gas and oil power. There are certainly alternative power sources, and one would think that eventually the demand for a more eco-friendly, and cost-efficient mode of transportation will produce a product to fill the market’s need.

    • gschinadoll

      Someone has provided an alternative, a Segway, which was pretty much shot down by cities and towns before it even started. If towns and cities would get with the program, LSV’s as in golf cars, scooters, Segways etc. would be allowed on our streets in our towns and cities. All we need is for people to insist on it.

      • Anonymous

         Golf carts? The Segway has proven to be unsafe. It has the tendency to be unstable. Scooters are OK I guess but have you thought about truck traffic.  They can’t see scooters or a golf cart for that matter.
        One other thing you forgot, what do these people do when it snows?
        You can’t drive a scooter, golf cart or Segway in the snow and ice.

    • Anonymous

      Nissan Leaf? Rooftop solar to power it with? I know of people doing that already. 

      There is your alternative. It’s new and like any early adopter technology it’ll be a bit more expensive for the 1st gen version. It’ll get better and cheaper with future versions. We had the RAV4-EV a while back but apparently GM sold the battery patents licensed to Panasonic/Toyota to Chevron so the story goes. Chevron killed the battery and Toyota paid them a $30M penalty. That was very durable NiMH battery. 

      So how far do you need to go each day? Would it fit into an 80 mile range? Yes? Well there is your alternative. No? Go look at the VW TDI series. 45+ mpg on the highway. 30+ mpg around town. 

      Big primary vehicle if you need one, EV secondary vehicle? Two EV commuters with used (and thus cheaper) minivan/SUV style travel vehicle stored in your garage? Two compact vehicles for commuters (cheap to buy, cheap to fuel) with a larger travel ready vehicle in the garage? 

      There is more than one way to minimize the $4 gasoline impact on a person’s budget. 

      Anyhow the cost of fuel is likely not as big a concern as the cost of paying a shop to repair your car.

      Learn to work on your own car and you’ll save so much money that you will be able to afford $6 gasoline. Am thinking of a friend’s car. $1500 repair quote recently. We did it with better parts for $325. Found that the shop was also trying to scam them into doing three unnecessary repairs as part of that $1500 quote.

  • Talina

    $70 – $80 for a full tank??  I drive a 1994 Honda Civic (original owner) that still gets 40 – 45 miles per gallon (in town).  I pay about $35 to fill up my tank.  I also walk, take the bus and take the light rail. The price of gas has essentially no impact on me or my wallet because of my choices in how I get around and what I drive.

  • Debra Cowan

    I missed the show but will listen to the podcast. Has anyone even mentioned reducing the highway speed limit? I am a traveling musician and I have to drive all over North America. I drive 55-60 and I get approx 40 mpg in my ’02 Nissan Sentra. By slowing down, i feel sfaer as I am not as fatigued as if I were going 65+. 

  • Mike in Austin

    The world has hit “peak oil,” that it, the world has reached the point where we can’t produce more oil per day than we already are. Incidentally, the point of peak production happened for the U.S. way back in 1971…

  • david

    All going according to Obama’s and the green-energy bot’s plan. I remember last time gas soared, the green-energy bots were encouraging, hoping gas would go to $5 inorder to FORCE us into their political pen. They care little about what this would do to our economy, less the middle-class and the poor. Higher energy affects everything.
    Obama in Nov. 2, 2008 stated, “My plan will necessarily cause energy prices to skyrocker”, his plan is proving true.
    But do not worry, high gas prices will not stop him from growing Big Govt. According to CBS News, Obama just increased the the Govt. limousine fleet by 73%. In 2008 we were footing the bill for 238 of these limos, now we will foot the bill for 412 limos in 2010!!!!
    Now that is change you can believe in!
    Reality is coming!

  • Lizsenkbeil

    My parents played and sang this music while I grew up. It is music that gives me a strong sense of security, happiness and hopefullness. It also is music that I can easily attune to with a hummy feel good  sense.

    • Anonymous

      Wrong show. This one is about gas prices.

  • Fredlinskip

       Gas was under a dollar Clinton’s last year. Anyone who could afford to, but didn’t invest in oil companies when W was elected wasn’t paying much attention.   After going on 40 years of “trickle-up” borrow and spend policies begun by king B&S’er Raegan (or should I say king BS‘er), it’s amazing to me how many people still don’t get it. Wages stagnated for all except the wealthy. The wealthy call the shots- no regulation. How else would we possibly have had such a colossal financial/housing meltdown. Let corporations regulate themselves, Greenspan advocated. Brilliant!!    Sometimes it’s hard to figure which is more frustrating- That we’ve had class warfare for past 40 years and the wealthy have “cleaned house” (as Buffet has said) or that majority of Americans haven’t figured it out yet.

  • 1standlastword

    Bravo CFTC and DOJ for finally taking on Wall Street greed–you folks can’t do enough fast enough for Americans who have suffered so so much loss as a result of scandalous traders and speculators…get after em!!!! 

Aug 28, 2014
Photos surround the casket of Michael Brown before the start of his funeral at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014.  (AP)

The message that will last out of Ferguson with New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb.

Aug 28, 2014
Some of the hundreds of earthquake damaged wine barrels cover and toppled a pair of forklifts at the Kieu Hoang Winery, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Napa, Calif. A powerful earthquake that struck the heart of California's wine country caught many people sound asleep, sending dressers, mirrors and pictures crashing down around them and toppling wine bottles in vineyards around the region. (AP)

Drought in California, earthquake in Napa. We look at broken bottles and the health of the American wine industry.

Aug 27, 2014
The cast of the new ABC comedy, "Black-ish." (Courtesy ABC)

This week the Emmys celebrate the best in television. We’ll look at what’s ahead for the Fall TV season.

Aug 27, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, shakes hands with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, right, as Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, center, looks at them, prior to their talks after after posing for a photo in Minsk, Belarus, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. (AP)

Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s leader meet. We’ll look at Russia and the high voltage chess game over Ukraine. Plus, we look at potential US military strikes in Syria and Iraq.

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