Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Future?

I feel like I've been robbed. I grew up watching the
world fly by in lighter-than-air cars. We would all
be flying to work and eating pills for our meals. As
I get older, I realize that none of this is going to
happen in my lifetime. Instead, my world is staring
down the barrel of $4.00+ per gallon gasoline and all
of the headaches that accompany it. Held hostage by a
hundred-year-old technology that the powers that be
seem either unwilling, or unable to improve on. I found
this interesting photo of the Ride the Drive event held
in Chicago each year where Lake Shore Drive is closed
to motorists and opened to cyclists only. It reminds
me of those photos I would see of China twenty years
ago or going back even further to those idealistic photos
from the 50's showing grand boulevards where cars aren't
necessary any more. Ha. What a joke that turned out
to be. Some people ask why we keep coming down to the
Ice. The first few years I would tell them that it's a
really neat place to work. Now I tell them it's because
we can save money while we're here and travel fairly
extensively when we leave. In all seriousness, one of
the main reasons we work here now is to avoid all of the
high costs of living in the Western World. This includes
gasoline of course but also groceries, utilities, etc. It
makes us look into options like living in less developed
nations while we are off the Ice to stretch our dollars
further. I love my country. I just can't afford to live


Greg said...

Tom, I find a lot of people feel as you, that "the powers" are unwilling/unable to improve on automotive technology. I also find that many more are unwilling to give up the power--the zoom-zoom--provided by the big displacement gasoline engines. And I believe that "the powers", operating under the rules of the free enterprise system are committed to give the customer what she/he wants, not that which will be good for the customers grandchildren. The news today ran a report that car dealers are again charging a premium on hybrid autos; that high mpg standard technology small autos are selling off the used car lots at unheard of resale prices. Add another dollar to gas prices and only the wealthy will drive SUV's. Add a couple more, or watch as falling supply drives in rationing and we might be on the verge of hydrogen fuel cell autos.

As to your situation in the cold, of course fuel, food and utilities costs seem a thing far away for you, but actually you pay far more for them than we in the States do, since they must all be delivered to you at the end of a long supply chain. It's only that, as a part of your employment compensation, they are subsidised by your employer.

David said...

$4's! Try $10's a gallon in the UK!

Greg said...

Sure, fuel's expensive in Great Britain, but as I understand it, the current pump price is around 110p per liter, about $8.20/US gallon, and about 60% of that is tax. GB and Europe tend to tax fuel highly to discourage use--thus the preponderance of mini cars and scooters (OK, narrow streets and lack of parking have an effect, too). Taxed at US rates, 18¢ federal plus state sales tax, GB gas would be closer to $3.70.