Rising gas prices are good!

Warning: This blog posting will probably make you mad. If your blood pressure rises in correlation with gas prices, stop reading now!

Gas prices have been increasing over the years, and I personally think it’s great! Don’t get me wrong. I have a car, and I love driving, but I also think people (including me) drive way too much.

Why do we drive so much? Because it’s still too cheap! Even with the price more than doubling in the past five years, there are more cars on the road, more drivers, and people driving further distances each day.

Obviously people need to do a certain amount of driving, but it’s the long distance commuters that really confuse me. Apparently they think it’s more economical to travel hundreds of kilometers and spend 3-6 hours in a car every day than to move closer to their workplace.

I think if you added up all of the costs very carefully (including car ownership and lost productivity due to travel time) you’d find this type of commute is actually way more expensive than moving.

Never mind all of the external costs (ie. costs that drivers don’t directly pay) including road maintenance, emergency services, and environmental impact.

Now, I agree there’s no easy solution to this. City planners need to encourage more mixed commercial/residential buildings. They also need to provide better mass transit.

But nobody is going to bother with any of that when it’s just so darn cheap to hop into the car and drive!

Ok, I think I’ve upset enough people by now :) At least a few others agree with me:
http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/06/18/hurray-for-high-gas-prices/
http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/2006/10/pigou-club-manifesto.html
Traffic congestion

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