12 Reasons Why High Gas Prices Are GOOD For America

by Ron Haynes

Could there actually be a silver lining on the storm cloud of high gas prices?

(Devil’s Advocate Post)
High Gas Prices
After reading about all the doom and gloom about $4, $5, or $6 gas prices, I’ve begun to see some positives, and not just changes in people’s behavior, or in learning how to hedge against high gas prices. Here’s what I see as the potential positives from high gas prices:

1. High gas prices are causing America to rethink it’s dependency on foreign oil. More than one person believes that our economic engine’s dependency on foreign oil is a potential threat to our national security since we import nearly 60 percent of the oil we depend on. Back in 1985, that number was 20 percent.

Regardless of what you think the solution is, whether drilling for more oil, scaling back our demand, or using every tip in the book to save gas, we have needed to reduce our dependence on foreign oil for several decades. These high gas prices are putting our dependence front and center on our minds.

2. High gas prices are causing people to drive slower to conserve fuel. What’s the positive here? Fewer highway deaths. According to an article in USA Today, there have been fewer highway deaths every month since October of 2007…just when the current run up in gas prices began in earnest.

3. High gas prices cause families to plan their summer vacations closer to home. As a result, families can discover the great attractions offered nearby. They will spend less time in transit and more time enjoying each other’s company as well as more time enjoying the attraction and their vacation.

4. High gas prices are causing some Americans to rethink (or at least reduce) their attraction to “stuff.”
We’re a consumer society without a doubt, but these high gas prices have caused boaters to downsize, RV’ers to downsize, giant SUV drivers to downsize. We’re finding that our needs can be met quite nicely with something smaller, more fuel efficient, and practical. Or maybe we can be satisfied with what we already have.

5. High gas prices are causing more people to ride bicycles or walk to work. What would happen to our society as a whole if a significant portion of the population had to exercise just to get to work? We would potentially see our health care costs go down and our life expectancies go up!

6. High gas prices are increasing interest in mass transit and van pools. What is the direct result? More interaction between people, fewer headaches trying to find a parking space, less fuel consumed, more ideas exchanged (in the van), and more revenue for cities that utilize mass transit systems.

Some business executives are even opting to take the bus for business trips. It’s slower than flying for sure in some cases, but considering that you don’t have to arrive 90 minutes early, your trips are very rarely canceled for no apparent reason, you aren’t at the mercy of a freak weather system, and the seats are actually comfortable and spacious, it might be an option that more business people should consider.

7. High gas prices are causing people to re-think where they spend their money.
According to another USA Today article, fewer people are gambling in casinos because of the money they have to spend on the gas to get there. Sure, the money may be spent anyway on something else, but gambling is probably a far worse way to spend it. At least when you spend money on gas, you’re going somewhere. Gambling is a fast road to nowhere and the MPG’s are horrible.

8. As gas prices creep ever higher, we may finally get some new leadership in our government. I believe that if $5 per gallon gas were to hit by November, every incumbent would be thrown out of office…and that may not be a bad thing. We do need fresh leadership, fresh common sense leadership that’s willing to lay aside party politics and finally work to shore up the country for the next generation, not just the next election.

9. High gas prices are even boosting the real estate economies in some cities.
Cities that offer homes, condos, and apartments within walking or biking distance of employment, schools, shopping, and cultural amenities are seeing increased interest compared to the suburbs where everything is too far away for a walk or even a bike ride.

10. High gas prices are causing some fuel retailers to offer discounts for cash. With a potential savings of 2.5%, you’ll save about 10 cents per gallon as gas hits the $4 mark. Anything that encourages people to use less credit is a GOOD thing in my book.

11. High gas prices are helping fuel the online economy. As it becomes more and more expensive to drive to the mall, shoppers are turning to their keyboards and letting their fingers do the walking. If you’ve ever considered starting an online store on Ebay, now’s the time to do it.

Another by product of the online community is the increased use of conference calls, webinars, and video conferencing to reduce the amount of money spent on travel expenses. When an executive goes to another location, not only are there significant expenses with the actual travel, but also with car rentals, meals, entertainment, hotels, and other incidentals. My one week business trips usually cost a minimum of $2,500 by the time everything is added. A video conference would cost considerably less and I wouldn’t spend another week away from my family.

12. High gas prices are causing local governments to tighten up and become more efficient
with how they spend our tax dollars. Those high gas prices may also cause local governments to purchase more fuel efficient cars and trucks. When the economy DOES rebound (and it will), those governments will already have fuel efficient vehicles in their fleets and will hopefully continue to focus on the cost savings they represent.

——-

I don’t like filling up for $70 either and I know high gas prices are a burden on many people, but there is very little we can do about it in the short term according to most experts. Focus on what we CAN do: conserve, reduce driving, make smarter choices when it comes time to buy a vehicle, maintain it well, live beneath your means, and look for the positive in every situation.

Even though the raw price seems high, when adjust for inflation, we’ve just now hit the same price levels as 1981 but, with our more fuel efficient vehicles, we’re spending 50% less of our gross domestic product on gasoline than we were in 1981.

Can YOU think of anything positive that is a direct result of higher gas prices?

[tags]gas prices, money[/tags]

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 1001 articles on The Wisdom Journal.


The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.


If you enjoyed what you just read and would like to get FREE email updates with the freshest articles from The Wisdom Journal delivered right to your inbox, subscribe today! It's ridiculously easy and you can unsubscribe at any time. Since your email address is never sold or abused, you can subscribe with confidence, PLUS you'll get free reports/guides/eBooks, subscriber only benefits, and other perks.


{ 32 comments }

RILEY

I would have to agree with just about every point in this article. I see for the first time this spring, a change in local driving patterns. I live in Wyoming, the land of long ways to anywhere from anywhere, so the highway traffic is very fast usually. I had to drive 200 miles yesterday. I found that if I drove at 70, not to many people were passing, except for company trucks working for the energy companies.

Last year, if you drove at 75, the speed limit, then 70% of the traffic would pass you. Driving at 60 is still kind of dangerous though, because the drivers are still not used to that and you just about get run over sometimes. I do it anyway, but keep a close eye on the rear view mirror.

Ron

#RILEY→

It’s good to hear that you’re seeing a change. I know that in many big cities the interstate system is more like a NASCAR qualifying round than anything else!

We’re heading to Wyoming this summer to go to Yellowstone. We’ll be the ones driving 60 mph.

Jeff@My Super-Charged Life

Ron – This is a refreshing look at a sore subject. I stopped to fill up my F-150 last night. I was using my Visa debit card and the pump cut off before my tank was full because of a $75 per transaction limit when paying at the pump at this location. I can’t believe that it now costs over $75 to fill up! Of course, this isn’t news to most people. I live in Oklahoma where gas prices are a little lower than the national average. I know that in other states people are paying 20 cents more a gallon than I am.

I might have to eventually look into other options like mass transit or bicycling if the prices continue to rise. I guess you are right that there are some good sides to high gas prices, but I sure don’t like paying so much!

Ron

#Jeff@My Super-Charged Life→

Yeah, I don’t like it either, but we’re used to cheap energy. If we would open up the supply in various places we would see a price drop because of increased supply.

I personally think there will be some new technology come along in a few years that could make oil less important (and the price will drop like a rock). With energy costs so high, there is too much of a profit incentive to ignore some alternative technology. Battery technology continues to grow and it might be in that area. Who knows? I watched a show on Discovery the other night about a superfast electric racing motorcycle that does a quarter mile in just a few seconds. The battery is so powerful that it can power an entire home, yet it’s very small.

We have a long way to go, but it may not be that far away. Just 20 years ago, no one (in reality) visualized how far Internet technology could take us. Look where THAT’S ended up!

Frugal Dad

Wonderfully refreshing ideas there, Ron! Perhaps the bloated gas prices will force a change in habits amongst the highest gas consumers. Along with the development of new fuel technologies, and more domestic exploration, could really be a silver lining on what many only see as a dark cloud.

David@The Good Human

Great stuff, and I could not agree more. We need gas to cost more, not less, to get people to really start thinking more about these ideas. Fantastic post!

Rosemary

Great ideas in the post. My husband started carpooling last week. What we need are car pool parking lots near major highways, mandatory reduction of speed limit back to 55 (it’s 70 where I live), reduced work week to 4 days. Back in the70′s they rationed gas with odd and even license plates but I don’t believe it worked (not sure).

Rosemary
http://her-home-blog.com

Aaron Stroud

Ron, you left out the number one reason higher gas prices are good for America.

The primary driver of rising prices has been increased demand around the globe! Hundreds of millions of people are rising up out of poverty. And as their standard of living increases, they are going to continue to demand more energy.

Sure energy might get more expensive in the short term, but over the long term we are going to have the opportunity to cooperate with more people to solve today’s problems. Just look at the human creativity from the past century. Now try to imagine what the future will look like with three or four times as many people collaborating.

Ron

#Aaron Stroud→

Wow. Now THAT’S deep! Demand = more people rising from poverty.
What an insightful comment. I wish I had thought of that one!
Congrats for nailing it!

Aaron Stroud

Thanks Ron, but I can’t take the credit. I get most of my best ideas from economists like the two that blog at Cafe Hayek. (which I can’t recommend highly enough; you won’t regret subscribing to their feed)

Ron

#Aaron Stroud→

Awesome site! I have read Russ Roberts book The Choice and have it on my shelf. It absolutely skewers the protectionist, anti-NAFTA, anti-free trade crowd. Thanks for directing me there!

Aaron Stroud

That book is a classic. His second book The Invisible Heart is also an enjoyable read (reviewed on my site) and he’s working on a third book.

Have you ever heard his weekly Econtalk podcast? They are usually interesting as well.

Ron

#Aaron Stroud→

I’ll have to check into the podcast. I read The Choice for my MBA class on global finance and economics but I’ll check out your review of the invisible heart.

Thanks for pointing these out. Man, I’m excited! :my wife’s eyes glaze over:

Mrs. Micah

I’ve heard Europeans saying this for years. I wasn’t sure if Americans could learn to cope, but it seems many are…which is better than I expected. Here’s to a society not dependent on oil!

Elliott - 21st Century Dad

Not everyone has the ability to ride their bike or take the bus. In the neighborhood where I grew up, there was one bus stop 2 miles from my house. That neighborhood continues to be under-served by public transit. Hope is not lost on those folks. There are painless ways to squeeze money out of other areas in our lives to offset rising fuel prices.

magpie

I completely agree. We need to adopt a more European way of thinking when it comes to gas and public transit.

Uncle B

I’m a walker and a cheapskate. I’m putting my money on oil and oil futures and any other way I can get on the oil bandwagon. I am thoroughly convinced that the greater part of the American population is hopelessly hooked on oil, and that’s where the big bucks will be! OPEC knows that they are bleeding oil addicts just like a drug dealer bleeds a drug addict, they give you enough to keep you coming,and when you are selling your own mother in the street they are still not satisfied. We are slaves to the Middle East, we will fight their wars, feed them, build palaces for them, or even force our daughters to go with them, for oil. they know it, we know it, time will prove it!

Souldrift

Good will come from this. It also illustrates that Americans are clearly information-deprived, or we would have realized that we spent the last 10 years arming our fleet with SUV’s just in time for world demand in India and China to take off. That was GREAT planning!!

Bill

you stingy americans!! :)
you shouldn’t complain at all about “high” gas prices.
i am from europe and i did my calculations:
the gas price in the US is approximately 4,37 dollars per gallon, right?
this is 0,73 euros per litre. do you know how much we pay for gas? 1,27 euros per litre here in Greece and 1,68 euros per litre in the Netherlands!! Greece has one of the lowest gas prices in Europe.
so you buy your fuel in approximately half the price we buy it in europe.
stop complaining then!

Aaron Stroud

Bill, I’m a little confused by your comment. Why are higher costs good? We’re paying higher prices at the pump because of increased demand around the globe, but also because of several factors that make little if any sense.

* The declining value of the US dollar thanks to the gov’t for printing more money
* The federal government is keeping supply artificial low by limiting where companies can drill for oil
* The federal government limiting American oil companies from creating new refineries to process raw crude (we even have to import refined gasoline now!)
* The individual states creating a mess of different gasoline blends that varies from state to state
* The state and federal governments increasing costs through taxes

Affordable energy is what has made modern life possible. Even something as simple as a pencil would not be as affordable or even possible without the assistance of oil.

Frank

In Venezuela, gasoline was recently 14 cents/gallon, so we Americans ARE being ripped off!

Ron

#Frank→
Ask yourself one question…why was it so cheap?

fullogas

High gas prices are a regressive fo those voting democratic! :grin:

WearIt.com

Expanding on point #11, a survey by iCongo and Harrison Interactive discovered that 33% of adults in the US are more likely to shop online as a way to avoid a trip to the mall (and the pump). Will be interesting to see how awareness of free shipping also begins to spread as consumers shop more online. Many sites – particularly in the clothing and apparel space – offer some sort of free or discounted shipping to help attract customers. This helps shoppers save at the pump while avoiding the extra shipping cost typically associated with online shopping.

ABC News

What do gas prices look like in your hometown? Snap a photo of the prices at your local gas station and tell us how rising costs are affecting your daily commute, summer travel plans and lifestyle. We want to see the prices our viewers are experiencing across the country. Your photos and comments may be used on “World News With Charles Gibson.” Get your videos or pictures in asap and they may be used on ABC News!

http://ugv.abcnews.go.com/player.aspx?id=4199016&tb=1

Jeff Schroeffel

Or we could drill and use all the energy we want.

Tian-Hwa

I think this post is just sad, the author is trying to put a happy faced bandage on a bleeding neck wound, and goes as far as telling you that the more gas price increase the more money you save, 2.5% discount, save 10 cent when it’s 4 dollars, and 12.5 cents when it’s 5?! It’s like having the M.D. telling you “don’t worry about the neck wound, the more you bleed the more blood the sponge will soak up”.

Wishful thinking and hoping things would be better “down the road” will not solve any problem, believing that a bad things has positive side will just make the situation worst. there is a difference between positive thinking and just being naive.

Ron

#Tian-Hwa→

Read the post a little more closely and you’ll see that the intent was to see the bright side of things. No where did the post advocate “wishing things would get better” or advocate a naive approach.

Gas prices are not the problem. They have not kept up with inflation for almost 30 years. Now when they finally do catch up, people scream about the sky falling. Gas prices are just recently on par with where they would be if they had kept up with price inflation.

Ed

3. High gas prices cause families to plan their summer vacations closer to home. As a result, families can discover the great attractions offered nearby. They will spend less time in transit and more time enjoying each other’s company as well as more time enjoying the attraction and their vacation.

I saw a new term today for this its a “staycation”. With more people traveling closer to home or in state do you think it will have a positive impact on local economies or would it be offset by lack of out of state visiters?

Ron

#Ed→
It really could go either way. My family and I just traveled over 4,700 miles driving out to Yellowstone National Park so we really splurged! It was significantly cheaper than flying though. When you have 5 in your family, plane tickets add up quickly. The cheapest I could find were $600 each and I still would have to rent a car and pay for gas. As it was, I spent about $800 in gas driving our minivan vs spending about $4,000 in airfare and car rentals.

We DID get to spend a lot of time together, albeit in a car. Driving in Yellowstone National Park we had to stop about every 150 yards to snap a picture of wildlife or of the scenery!

For the rest of the year, though, we’re staying pretty close to home, except for our kids that are going off to summer camp…440 miles away.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

interested

hey I’m really glad you posted this because I know my parents have been complaining about the high gas prices. Recently there was a Time’s article on the benefits of high gas prices and I just then notice the bright side of having high gas prices. The high gas prices really if you think about it, has changed a lot on what Americans do as a habit today. For example, in Taiwan and other Asian countries, they walk and take subways or buses which is good way to lessen the air pollution if everyone took them. However I know, living in Southern California, that is utterly impossible since everything is so spread out. However It think there should be more public transport and the public should think of other ways for transportation such as carpooling. I noticed that the Public’s habits are also changing. Nowadays, there are less cars on the roads and on the freeway which is great change. So basically I think Americans are changing for the better, even if gas is making our pockets empty and our mouths dry from complaining. :razz:

Mark Milner

Please do not drive under the speed limit, it is dangerous!

Previous post:

Next post: