Wednesday, July 5, 2006

It's been a while! My thoughts on fuel.

So, I have been carrying around the MONEY section of USA TODAY since May 16th, 2006 so I would remember to do a BLOG on an article.

"Most Americans aren't likely to make big cuts in gasoline use"

The gist is simple; Despite the high fuel prices, Americans will continue to use gas at about the same rate. The article says the following:

"Many factors play into America's reluctance to conserve, but two facts of human behavior dominate, psychologists say: We get used to high prices that are reached incrementally. And we're more afraid of losing something than we are motivated by the advantages of giving it up."

I am forced to wonder if newspaper authors (it took three to write this short story) and psychologists need real jobs for a week.  I can assure the world that I am neither "used" to incrementally increased to $3 a gallon fuel. However I am certainly motivated by the second part.

I am much more afraid of losing my job than I am motivated to stop driving to work and thereby use less gas.

I am sure there are some people out there who "waste" gas.  (Leaving the car idle when they run into a store or making a few trips rather than trying to plan ahead to make only one.) However, everyone I speak to spends almost all of their car time (and therefore the fuel they use) getting to and from work.

Perhaps USA TODAY and the other publications that are attacking the American people as wasteful should use the space in their newspaper (or wherever they are spreading their "news") and encourage business to find creative ways to help employees use less gas. Just some ideas:

    1. Longer work days. By extending the work day and having fewer of them, employees will need to travel back and forth with much lower frequency. This would save gas.

    2. Telecommuting.  I would save in excess of $5,000 a year if I could just stop driving 90 minutes (each way) back and forth to work. It would also improve my quality of life and make me a happier employee.

    3. Time Shifting. If employees were allowed to shift their times, rush hour would be spread out and people would spend less time sitting in traffic- and wasting gas.

    4. "Grouped" offices.  Large companies could set up many area offices and have employees from various companies working side by side.  This localization of offices will let employees travel shorter differences to work while having many people at those local offices will result in the benefits of scale for supporting any particular office space.

There are others, I am sure, that people smarter than me have come up with.

Anyway, the point is, USA TODAY shouldn't be blaming Americans for their consumption of gas without looking at how that gas is used.  Writing an article that people are wasting gas without any kind of proof that there is widespread gas wasting in the first place. I refuse to accept that people are wasting gas in huge quantities- people use what they need to use to survive in a world that's moving opportunity further and further away from where we live.  People can no longer afford to live in the community where their office is located.

There's so much more that needs to be addressed before we start pointing fingers at the general public.


Anonymous said...

There should be more stay at home dads, todays children need a perent that cares.
 Just my take, what is yours?

Anonymous said...


You might have noticed I link to I am the founder of that web site which has been online for over 10 years.  The first online resource for Primary Caregiver Fathers.

Unfortunately, The money didn't roll in like it did for sites like Parent Soup. I couldn't find a reasonable and reliable advertiser and "Affiliate" programs don't pay the bills.  I had to go back to work to make ends meet. These days, my wife stays home.  None of that, however, has anything to do with fuel usage - which is what the subject of this entry.

Having a parent at home is not about saving fuel- it's about doing what's best for the kids.  It's a shame the society doesn't value the only thing that really will help most kids grow up well- an at-home parent.