Bob's Links and Rants

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Thursday, January 29, 2004

Sometimes the ACLU defends Rush Limbaugh...
And sometimes I defend the oil companies. Here's a letter to the editor in today's Ann Arbor News:

Last month I bought gas at $1.42. Now it's $1.65. That's a 16 percent hike. The oil companies say this is due to changing over their formulas due to the weather, and the increased use of home heating oil.

I don't buy that. Winter isn't unexpected, like a volcano. It comes every year.

If increased use means higher prices, then doctors should increase their price per visit, hospitals jump their room prices 20 percent and antibiotics should go out of the roof because of the flu epidemic.

-Dan Den Houter, Whitmore Lake

I try not to devote too much blogging time to the ravings of idiots, except for those in the Bush administration. But this guy wrote in complete sentences, and raised some interesting points despite being extremely clueless. So...

First off, the flu is caused by a virus, so a flu epidemic won't have much effect on demand for antibiotics. Nevertheless, I believe I've read that the costs of health care, including doctor visits, hospital stays, and drugs, have been skyrocketing for some time now. Next, seasonal variations in prices in lots of commodities are to be expected, and shouldn't come as a surprise to Mr. Den Houter.

But the main reason I'm bothering with this at all isn't to shoot down some paper tiger. It's this idea that gasoline prices are high. They aren't. They're outrageously low compared to most of the rest of the world, and even historically when inflation is taken into consideration. And the absurd distortions on the American economy and landscape have done permanent harm to millions of people and their home planet. Wars are being fought for cheap oil. Mr. Den Houter is right to distrust the oil companies. But I'd rather see gasoline selling for $10 a gallon myself. Then we'd have real mass transit, an end to sprawl, and real efforts towards conservation and alternative energy.