Thursday, September 04, 2008

Real Change

It is not surprising, but it is appalling that it seems that many Americans want the government to make them change their behavior. They complain about the high price of gasoline, and its effect on the economy, but they will cruise around on Friday night until the government tells them they can't.

They don't seem to understand that the reason gas prices are high is because, in spite of the prices, they keep buying gasoline. The best way to lower the price of gasoline, and the cost of living, would be to stop buying it. To complain about the chokehold Big Oil has on the economy, and to continue to buy excessively from Big Oil seems hypocritical.

It is understandable if a vehicle is necessary in one's work, or is necessary transportation to get to work, the grocery store, or even a bit of entertainment, that one would need to buy gasoline. But beyond that, it doesn't seem necessary to wait in line at Starbuck's or McDonalds with the engine running for twenty minutes when it would be cheaper to park the car, turn off the engine, and go inside. It doesn't seem necessary to drive up and down the main drag for half an hour while deciding where to eat or what show to watch, when plans could be made ahead of time.

As a frequent pedestrian, we see this kind of behavior constantly. The kind of behavior that tells us the economy must not be so bad after all, because people seem willing to pay the price no matter how high it gets.

The government can't change at this point. The folks on Capitol Hill know that if they give with one hand they have to take with the other. For instance, they can't outlaw buy only investments in oil futures, because that would upset the union pension plans, and most of our congresspersons depend on union support to stay in office. They know they can't suddenly press ethynol on the economy, because corn is used for many more things than fuel, and if corn were to reach $100 a bushel it would have a much more devestating effect on the economy than $100 a barrel oil.

Change needs to come from the individual. It needs to come from taking responsibility for one's actions, rather than expecting the government to fix things. The best we can expect from Washington DC, no matter who the next president is, is the same dance, different song.