Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ignorance and Stupidity Are Not Free

Anyone who was an adult during the 1970's knows that $4.00 a gallon gasoline or even $10.00 a gallon gasoline prices are not the worst that can happen. The worst is when you can't buy gasoline at any price.

Anyone who was an adult during the 1970's should not be surprised at the current price of gas. If back then you thought about the issues even a little, you should have known that this day was coming. You couldn't know when and you couldn't know exactly what would cause it, but you should have known it was coming and you should have known that if we didn't plan ahead, the situation could be even worse.

There was a short period in the 70's when people lined up for hours to get gas to fill up their cars. Fights broke out in gas lines as frustration soared and tempers flared. Imagine how your life would change today if you couldn't buy enough gasoline to get to work or drive to the grocery store or if you had to spend hours in line to buy it.

Given the events of the 70's, it is hard to understand why we aren't better prepared today. Not!

Al Gore was accused of proposing a 50 cent a gallon gas tax back in 2000. The rational was that higher gas prices would make alternative energy sources more viable and provide incentives to use this finite resource wisely. I don't know whether or not he really made the proposal, but I don't remember many people thinking it was a good idea. Long term thinking is not a strength that comes naturally to people. It is also not a strength of most businesses (SUVs and large pickup trucks are really cheap right now). It should be a strength of government, but not when people vote their short term self-interests and politicians don't have the character to educate people with the painful truth.

Actually, the current high price of gasoline is one of the best things that could happen to us. The painfully high prices may provide motivation to address the problem before there are severe shortages that would turn a problem into a disastrous. Let me put it another way - a return to $2 a gallon gasoline would be bad for the country.

I do wonder if $4 a gallon gasoline is painful enough. It may take even higher prices. It will also take some time for people to realize that $2 a gallon gas is a thing of the past and accept that difficult changes must be made. I know that many people are struggling with these high gas prices, but there is a valuable lesson to be learned. Ignorance and stupidity may be natural and easy, but they are not free. The high price of gas is an indication that we failed to acknowledge the obvious; oil is a precious and finite resource.

So here is the question of the day - what other important issues are we ignoring because the problem is not obvious or the peril is not immediate or the issues are complicated or the solutions are painful?

Ignorance and stupidity are not free.

1 comment:

gmoose2 said...

Actually, I believe John Anderson first proposed the 50 cent tax when he ran for President in 1980. That was back when 50 cents would have really meant something.

Nice blog.

-C Fuchs