Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Gas Is Still a Bargain

While unpacking groceries the other day, I found myself looking at a large bakery loaf bearing the exhorbitant price tag of 3.49 and thinking: That's the same price of a gallon of gas.

For a moment rival sense of indignation at the cost of bread and the cost of gas struggled for dominance in my mind, and then a quircky economic thought replaced both: To walk the 22 miles that my Camry could drive using one gallon of gas would require rather more energy than I would likely derive from eating this loaf of bread. For the entire family to walk the 19 miles that the same gallon would take the van would most definately require more energy than would be provided by the loaf of bread. (This especially because young ladies start demanding piggy-back rides after a half mile walk or so.)

And so in a certain sense, the gas remains a good deal, in that it allows us to do more things than we could currently do without the power of internal combustian engines.

I recalled seeing a news note somewhere a few weeks back about a fellow who had taken to riding his horse about town bearing signs saying that he had abandoned his car in protest over the cost of gas. It's a charming gesture (if you're not the person stuck scooping the streets afterwards) but now I recalled that my friend at work who has two horses had remarked that feed generally costs him $100/week even in the parts of the year when there's fresh grass for grazing as well. (During the winter he has to buy hay as well.)

So I guess at the moment cars are generally a deal compared to horses as well.

The which does not really give me any glowing sense of well being, but somehow the world makes a tiny bit more sense to me now.

14 comments:

crankycon said...

It's hard to get outraged about the price of gas, though it's worrying. As you point out, comparatively speaking, it's still a cheap thing, though the increase in its price is also the cause of the increase in other prices.

It would be wonderful to see an analysis on the true cost of the increase in the price of a gallon of gas. While a say, 50 cent increase really only means an additional $7.00 at the pump (for my car, pity you SUV drivers) - not chump change, for sure, especially if you fill up once a week - but that's not really all it's costing you. That fifty cents more per gallon is being paid by truck drivers, and of course that drives up the cost of food and other goods. So how much does a 50 cent increase really cost you in terms of higher prices for other stuff? I'm sure such an analysis has been done, and I'd love to see it.

John Farrell said...

So I guess at the moment cars are generally a deal compared to horses as well.

They also don't crap on the street or smell as bad.

Anonymous said...

The Blackadder Says:

In Indiana, every single ad I saw from Obama and Clinton had to do with gas prices, with each candidate trying to top the other in terms of the horrible things they were going to do to the oil companies to get them to give us cheap gas. Democracy at its finest.

Amber said...

Wow, $3.49, we haven't seen that in CA for awhile... we're at $3.87 nowadays in this fine state.

But you do have a good point about what that gallon of gas gets us.

Darwin said...

Heh. I wonder if anyone has done a study on the comparative net greenhouse impact of horses versus gas-powered-vehicles. (They breath out CO2 and emit methane, consume plants, etc.) I'm guess it's not a pretty picture -- or smell.

On oil companies -- even among our analytics team here (where people should know better) there's been a lot of indignation about "record profits". Well yeah, if the commodity you sell goes up vastly in value while your profit margins remain the same (or decline only slightly) that will definitely result in "record profits". And? I'm guessing that taking oil company profits down to zero would result in a savings at the pump of cents per gallon at most.

John Farrell said...

I wonder if anyone has done a study on the comparative net greenhouse impact of horses versus gas-powered-vehicles. (They breath out CO2 and emit methane, consume plants, etc.) I'm guess it's not a pretty picture -- or smell.

I kid you not, back in the day when I read from the slush pile for Charlie Ryan (editor of Aboriginal Science Fiction), one of the first stories I went through was about the earth being menaced by the methane gases from genetic super cows.

Darwin said...

Dude. I think I got one or two rejections from Aboriginal. I should go see if they're signed...

Cliff said...

I cant do much about the price of gas, but I have to wonder about the economy of $3.49 loaf of BREAD?!

Buddy, if you can spend that on bread with 3 girls & a boy on the way, you must really be raking it in on the job. Good for you! Keep it up!

We get our bread at the Sara Lee discount store. $1.39 a loaf.

Anyhow, I did enjoy your article, even if I am a tad jealous of someone who can buy $3.49 bread. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a highly-needed glass of perspective and soda.

mrsdarwin said...

Well, $3.49 is the cost of a loaf of specialty ciabatta from the bakery section, bought to bring to someone who just had a baby. So no, that's not how much we usually spend on bread. But still, ciabatta has been less expensive recently.

Darwin said...

When I wrote this, I thought: "Someone's going to call me on spending so much on a loaf of bread." The reason being, in the leaner year 4-5 years ago, I would have called someone on spending so much on a loaf of bread. :-)

Cliff said...

Ah, now I feel bad...:) You bought the bread for a present.

We have some friends here who recently have had their babies. It sure is fun to visit, rock, & cuddle the little ones and then be able to hand them off when they get fussy! Our seven are getting so grown up now and wanting to flap those wings to fly away some day. They are still fun, but its kinda sad too.

Best advice - enjoy them while they are little!

God bless & best of luck with the boy.

robert_m_sykes said...

$3.49 seems high because a few years ago we were paying $1.50+, the all time historic low price.

But consider, the correcting for inflation, the price of gas in the 1960s (when I drove my dad's car) was about $2 to $2.50 per. But my dad's car got 12 city and 18 highway, about what an SUV get today. So, the cost per mile today is about the same as it was 40 to 50 years ago. Finally, real incomes have doubled since the 1960s, which means that back then gasoline had the same impact on the family budget as $7/gal gas would today.

Gas is cheap at $3.50/gal

Anonymous said...

So I guess at the moment cars are generally a deal compared to horses as well.

They also don't crap on the street or smell as bad.


But, says my daughter who is a horse lover, cars don't whinny or nuzzle you with their noses.