Talk me through this…

Bryan and I had a spirited discussion over rising gas costs at lunch today. When I say “spirited,” I mean “Bryan explaining things that have more than two syllables to Aimee.”

But in truth, we both don’t really get it.

First of all, let’s put this right out on the table. I am pissed of as the rest of you at paying over $4.00 per gallon. But I also am of the camp who is not really surprised, knows people in other countries have paid similar for years, and also is secretly loving the shift in focus to more environmentally-sound thinking.

At the same time: WHAT THE FUCK?

Now, I don’t claim to understand the economy, and I didn’t really think the gas windfall tax was the solution, but in some ways, I appreciated that at least someone was waving their hands at Big Oil and saying “Wooo hooo! We see you! What the HELL is up with all that money you are making right now???”

I mean, how much money do people really need?

As Guy Kawasaki tweeted this week, the gap between CEOs and the average worker has increased enough to make my head explode. And apparently the guy in this animation as well. In 1970, a CEO earned 28 times what Average Joe did. Now? 465 times. FOUR HUNDRED AND SIXTY FIVE TIMES.

I repeat, how much money does a person NEED?

Which brings me back to the gas thing.

I kinda see how these companies are screwed. I mean, they built their companies, and now, unless the ANWR assholes get their way, they are backed into a corner. Limited supply. So why not make the money while there is money to be made? And if they reinvest the money into another source, do R&D, say, on renewable energy, stuff that won’t see a profit for a while, their shareholders will get pissed and take their money elsewhere, giving them less money to do stuff with.

I am not being entirely facetious. This does suck.

So, why not just make the money, be happy, and screw everybody else? It seems to be working.

And we have no choice but to smile and say, “Thank you sir, may I have another?”

This article has 43 comments

  1. Sizzle

    All I know is that I am getting a discounted bus pass for July. I can’t stand spending so much on gas and my commute isn’t even really a “commute” compared to some. Each day I drive by and see it goes up. Sometimes it goes up from my morning drive to my evening drive. It’s out of control.

  2. Backpacking Dad

    I am not comforted by the fact that people pay more for gas in other countries.

    People pay more for gas in many other countries because gasoline is taxed higher than it is here. If we end up paying as much here as they do there, it will be because somebody is making huge money off of it, not because that money is going into the public fund.

  3. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Good point Backpacking Dad, ARRRGH!!!!

    My reason for saying that is I didn’t want all my German relatives emailing me in a snit, telling me what a big whiner I am. 😉

  4. treesflowersbirds

    Yes, nice point Backpacking Dad. All these years of paying higher prices in Europe has allowed them to build a much nicer infrastructure – public transit anyone?? – and reduce pollution. Us? Oh, just fatter fat cats.

    Something I heard on Thom Hartmann’s show last week about ANWR drilling is that the whole issue is a political red herring. There are apparently dozens of existing, approved drilling contracts which have been left completely unexplored. Maddening.

  5. natala

    the gas prices aren’t really about oil or gas companies (although YES they have profited way too much off of all of this)
    this is more about futures and investors and speculators and a bunch of other economic stuff, and world wide inflation like we’ve never seen it before. it’s the same dilemma as the housing markets as far as the investing goes.
    here is a good article about it:,1518,559550,00.html

    Still, totally not fair and is going to hurt a lot of people. Because there is not much end in site in the near future. Spectators went wild, and things are a mess.

    The silver lining (if any) is that there seems to be an even bigger push for green energy. I see more and more alternative energy ads than ever before, public transit riders are up a lot in our area, the technology is now being pushed to do something.

    okay that’s all. 🙂

  6. Listen Up, MoFos!

    I just paid $4.53 a gallon to fill up my little PT Cruiser. It came out to $46.99. Are you freaking kidding??? At least we traded in the Avalanche right before the $4 gas. I actually wrote a similar post some weeks ago, now I laugh when I read it, I was outraged at gas that was $4.29 and you could still find gas for $3.99! Seriously, those were the days…

  7. Anonymous

    NO KIDDING. It’s all such crap.

  8. mothergoosemouse

    You know I’m a capitalist, but I think big oil is full of crap. I’ve read too much propaganda from them – they epitomize that Upton Sinclair quote: It is difficult to get a man to understand something if his livelihood depends upon his not understanding it.

    Also being a capitalist, I don’t think it’s the government’s role to intervene in what big oil does. I think it’s our role as consumers and citizens to minimize our individual reliance on oil. That’s why I drive a hybrid, why I walk/bike as much as possible, why I consolidate errands, why I’m meeting you and carpooling up to Boulder. 😉

  9. joansy

    Your Commie, or is that Commy, friend here. I don’t understand why the oil companies get to own the oil in the first place. Why doesn’t it belong to all of us? Why doesn’t the government take it over and handle it in a manner that gives a fair amount to today’s population while also ensuring that it will be around for future generations? A girl can dream.

    And a girl can get pissed off that she still can’t buy an electric car. I’m driving the most reasonable fuel car I can find – a 2001 VW Beetle that runs on diesel and gets about 45 mpg – but fuel prices are now over $5.00 per gallon for diesel and it’s crazy expensive. I want an electric car and then I want to generate electricity through solar panels and windmills and then I want to tell big oil to fuck off forever.

  10. Felicity

    Gas $6.50
    Global Warming $5billion
    Just bend over and take it all…priceless

  11. kathryn

    just had to delurk and say- I have been thinking that same kind of thing, but could never really put it in words.

    You hit the nail on the head. Us little people just get to grin and bear it.

    Hopefully, we’ll (as in the leaders and powers that be of this great Country of ours) learn something from this crappola experience.

  12. crunchycarpets

    You nailed is all short term profit and thinking in the now.

    Rather than seeing how they can reshape not only their giant companies but how they can reshape technology and our society as we know it.

    So they reap huge profits now….but there will be no future generation to enjoy the wealth if we all keep going like this.

  13. tiddleywink

    Step One to refine a gallon of gasoline for your car: Grow DINOSAURS. Wait for them to die, then give them 65-230 MILLION years to compress under heat and pressure. Spend a ton of money to search and drill for the resulting crude oil, then pipe that oil hundreds of miles to refineries which run 24/7 to squeeze the fuel for your car out of the raw goo. Gasoline costs $4 a gallon? I’d say that’s still pretty damn cheap. Nobody complains about the cost of a gallon of milk, and that comes out of a cow ready to drink.

  14. gorillabuns

    I repeat your sentence, how much money does a person/company NEED?

  15. Karen

    Over here the it’s not the fact the prices are increasing so much, it’s the percentage VAT the government takes from it. If the government reduced the revenue it took from the cost we’d be paying less for our fuel. Food’s horrendous here too because they’re shifting the cost of transporting it to the cost of the produce and sinking onto the consumer. It’s a fine line now between eating and driving.

  16. apathy lounge

    You said it better than I could. I’m pissed, too.

  17. Mitch McDad

    I’ve read a few places that the weak dollar has a lot to do with the rising oil prices. I don’t know how or why, but I do know the weak dollar has a direct effect on the really expensive drinks I bought in Europe.

  18. Phil

    It’s quite the pickle we’re in now, isn’t it. Historically speaking, we should have seen this coming 30 years ago, but the issue was set aside until the future. So we’re in the future now, and paying the price.

    Like you, I’m all for more environmental thinking, but still don’t like paying for gas. Hence, I’m biking like crazy, despite the heat. I guess I don’t mind paying the price for gas, but would rather I be able to make it worth it… oil is used for so much more than fuel for cars, so I’m happy to drive less so everything else can still hang in there.

  19. Tree

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  20. Tree

    I agree with mothergoosemouse and having worked for an energy company some time ago (wait! so did you!), I feel like I no longer have to tow the company line that proven reserves are infinite.

    As consumers, we have the power to direct our dollars where we want them and to reward those companies with whom we most agree.

    Joansy – check out these microturbines. They are very cool.

  21. Tree

    Oh, and why was the conversation so spirited?

  22. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Thanks for all the fun and thoughtful comments, guys.

    I liked what Phil said about rather making it worth it. I think if I felt like the money was going onto companies that gave a shit (and like Tree said, I used to be there, GASP!!! 15 years ago when I was young and desperate, so I saw the inner workings firsthand) – but no, I actually sat through corporate meetings that literally compared gas prices to milk and Visine and what are consumers whining about anyway??? And that was 15 years ago! So, no, in my experience, they don’t give a shit, all they want to do is make money, and even having been on the fringes myself when I was young and stupid, I still have no idea how it all works.

    But thanks for that article Natala, I will try to go read that later today.

    And Julie, as you know, I do believe in capitalism to a point. I really do believe in hardworking people making their money and I understand when they don’t want the govt taking it away, etc. But, I guess I was also just wondering when do we as a society just self-combust from some people getting so damn rich?

    Of course, then I realized what a hypocrite I am because yesterday NoWatchMe tweeted about Al Gore making 100 million off his movie and I was all “but I am sure he used a bunch of it for environmental causes!” And then I realized, what do I know of what these oil execs are doing with this money. Then of course I had to stick my head between my legs and hyperventilate because I was coming even remotely close to trickle down economic thinking. Then I felt better when I reminded myself these oil execs are probably just buying lots of shit for themselves, because if they actually cared about others they would have started working on renewable energy sources 30 years ago, SO THERE. 😉

  23. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Oh, and Tree – it was spirited, not AT each other, more WITH each other. As in we are just pissed at the state of things. And, we kept raising our voices and then realized we were bothering the other patrons of California Pizza Kitchen.

  24. Tree

    This has hit a nerve with me in many ways as I want to buy a more efficient vehicle, but I grapple with a number of issues. For example, the so-called efficient vehicles are really not that efficient by standards of 15-20 years ago or even longer. The 1992 Pontiac Grand Am I bought as a college grad achieved 45+ mpg! The government mandated 35 mpg by 2020 (Energy Independence & Security Act of 2007). That is ridiculous! Why set our standards so low?

    Then I think that if I buy another car, then someone is going to buy my car and it is going to continue emitting. I have no control of what happens to it once it leaves my possession. If I buy a new car, what is the end result of that? The entire life-cycle boggles the mind!

  25. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Lisa, I am one of those crazy liberal environmentalists and I think drilling and continuing to look to oil as a fuel source in general is incredibly short-sighted. I was trying to get at, which I never really articulated in relation to what Phil said, is that I wouldn’t mind paying extra high prices for gas if I felt confident that the money was going to the purpose of getting us AWAY from gas ultimately. But, I am much more confident that the money is simply going to line a lot of people’s pockets.

  26. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Oh, by the way – there are a few companies trying, so I guess I should not generalize. Honda is releasing the first Fuel Cell car in 2008.

  27. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    And if I have to argue about ANWR one more time I think my head is going to explode. Can we PLEASE close that door once and for all???

  28. Shelly

    Isn’t there bus and light rail in your area? You could get a wicked deal on EcoPasses for you and your employees.

    For commuting to work, I have driven my car 2 miles so far in the whole month of June. That was the day it was pouring rain. And I drove to the park n ride.

  29. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Coincidentally, I just found this in my inbox!

  30. Ashmystir

    ARRRGGGGH! This gas crunch sucks the big one!

    Yes…I would like another!!


  31. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    James sent some great gas-saving tips around to work today:

    105 tips on increasing gas mileage

  32. Lisa

    The only way to lower gas prices is to drill for oil in our own country, which the crazy liberal environmentalists won’t allow. Here’s some reading for you:


  33. J at

    It’s frustrating as hell, because I honestly don’t think oil is in any shorter supply than it was a few months ago. It’s about $4.60 a gallon in my neck of the woods. Can you say, new walking shoes? Crazy.

  34. Shelly

    I agree with alphadaddy that it’s interesting to see people stopping to think about their transportation. People think they *need* their cars, and in reality, they really don’t. If we had to, we could find plenty to do right in our commmunity each day, rather than driving to the next town. Right now we are able to drive to the next town for mountain bike camp or water sports camp, but we certainly don’t need to.

  35. alphadaddy

    I’ll say–as somebody who doesn’t travel much or drive a car to work–that it’s interesting to see the effects this is having on the way people are getting around. Americans, in general, love their (usually much larger than necessary) cars; and I’ll admit that part of me is a little bit excited to see so many more bicycles and crowded buses on my daily commute.

    That said, this problem scares the bejezus out of me–the effect this is having on the overall economy. We’re already seeing the increase of price of everyday products. What’s going to happen, not if, but when the average gallon of gas is $10?

    We’re scrambling to find efficient ‘green’ energy sources, but one of the issues is that the current infrastructure (the number of existing gas-powered cars and gas stations on every other corner) will require an ENORMOUS investment in order to have any sort of positive impact. Not to mention that none of the current leads on clean burning, renewable fuels are nearly as efficient as oil.

    All this aside, I compleeetly agree with you that something MUST be done to prohibit oil companies from sucking so much out of our already-weak economy. Step one: remove Bush/Cheney from the White House.

  36. Kim

    In Holland we are trying something else now. There is a mailing going around that is we stop getting gas at 2 suppliers (here Shell and Total) and start getting gas at the so-called White Pumps, we might start a price-war? We hope? Here 1 liter today hit Euro 1.65. Diesel is already 1.45/liter (which is about 1/4th of a gallon). Will let you know if it works 😉

  37. Kim

    Oh by the way, that is 41% taxes and 19% VAT. Backpacking Dad had a point indeed.

  38. Bryan

    Not to mention people use their cars as an extension and/or expression of themselves.

    Can’t we do that with mobile phone/devices now? Cool backpacks? Hats? Who’s with me!!!

    BTW, I love reading about serious issues with all the wonderful names we have online!

  39. painted maypole

    but, haven’t these CEOs made enough to live relatively comfortable existences for the REST OF THEIR LIVES even if they never earned another penny? couldn’t THEY take a pay cut so the average Joe and the people at the pump don’t have to get quite so F***ed over. I mean, at least split it 50/50 or something? LIke, instead of buying 4 new cars this year, they could just buy 2, and we could also afford to buy a gallon of milk with our gas?

    but then again… people pay $5 for a 20oz coffee, and this does not seem outrageous to them?

  40. Bridge

    YEP! Nice to see people car pool. Take longer trips rather than make short trips all the time. I am about to puke when it comes to the companies, however.

  41. Lisa

    I think what alarms me is that while CEO continue to make outragously high salaries, the average wage has been declining over the past several months.

    So now we are in a situation where gas prices are increasting, which is causing EVERYTHING else to increase AND the average JOE (like myself) is making less money.

    Before I got laid off, thanks to the economy, I was making the same exact salary that I made in 1989.

    And that’s with a college education and the beginning of my M.B.A.

    $10 an hour.

  42. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    lisa, you should have just written my original post for me, because you captured so much of what I was trying to say!

    And I am sorry about your layoff.

  43. Shelly

    My bad, EcoPasses are only for Boulder County residents.

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