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"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein.

Sometimes the absurdity of a columnist leaves me speechless. Take this column from yesterday's WSJ by Holman W. Jenkins Jr.. All I can do is shake my head in wonder.

First he writes a fake letter from Toyota (please see my post on his past column); yesterday he came out with this:

But doesn't saving oil have benefits beyond the dollars saved -- for instance, postponing the doom of civilization?

No: If Prius owners consume less, there's less demand, prices will be lower and somebody else will step up to consume more than they would at the otherwise higher price. That's the price mechanism at work. Oil is a fantastically useful commodity. Humans can be relied upon to consume all the oil they'd be willing to consume at a given price.

More absurdity below.

But wouldn't using less oil make us less dependent on Mideast imports?

Just the opposite: In the nature of things, the cheapest oil is consumed first, and Mideast oil is the cheapest. Drive a Hummer if you want to reduce America's reliance on Arab oil. Indeed, if we could all just pull together and drive gasoline prices high enough, we'd be able to satisfy all our fuel needs next door from Canadian oil sands.

So get rid of those hybrids. And why are you Europeans driving such efficient cars? Don't you see all the harm your causing. Jerome, get a Hummer.

Let it also be noted our primary political interest in the Middle East over the past 50 years has been Israel, which has no oil. Even Saddam would have been delighted to sell us all the oil we wanted if we had been prepared to acquiesce in his extracurricular depredations. Our attempt to reform Iraqi society is costing us many multiples of the real value of Iraqi oil exports to the world market.

To wit, let's not underestimate the degree to which our overseas entanglements are despite our interest in oil, rather than because of it.

Oil has nothing to do with our foreign policy; it's so clear now. This is the Wall Street Journal?

In any case, fuel economy plays an ambiguous role in the fight against air pollution. Our considerable progress against the traditional pollutants has come by specifying allowable emissions per mile driven, not per gallon consumed. Meanwhile, CAFE rules raise the cost of a car while reducing the cost of operating it. Being rational even when they don't meant to be, consumers respond by getting more use of out their cars -- driving 15,000 miles per year, up from 10,000 since the rules were adopted. (And auto makers have met this demand by greatly improving vehicle reliability.)

That leaves carbon dioxide, aka greenhouse gas, to support the increasingly rickety rationale for treating fuel efficiency as a socially desirable end in itself. Here, we can only suggest Prius fans might do the planet more good by convincing the American public of the merits of nuclear energy, the closest thing to a genuinely "green solution" to energy challenges in the real world.

This is part of Toyota's response to Jenkins's last car column:
Mr. Jenkins used some inventive math to try to make the case against hybrids, including saying a comparable car to the Prius costs $9,500 less. I'd like to provide some different numbers that speak to the real heart of this matter -- customer acceptance. This year, a Consumer Reports survey of more than 250,000 car owners ranked the Prius as the most satisfying vehicle, with 94% saying they'd buy one again.

Another significant number is 100 million -- that's the gallons of gas we estimate our U.S. hybrids have saved since the Prius debuted in 2000. That's enough to fuel a fleet of 200,000 delivery vehicles for a year. As much as I'd like to take credit by saying we are brilliant marketers and have painted a green picture to sell our products, the people who purchase our vehicles know the truth -- our cars tell the story for us. And we believe they will continue to do so, which is why we're introducing a hybrid version of the Lexus GS next year, as well as putting a hybrid powertrain in America's most popular car, the Camry.

Am I missing something here? Can anyone assure me that I've not fallen down the rabbit hole? Please.

I'll leave you with one final thought: This is what the people who run our country read. And as Napoleon Bonaparte said: "In politics stupidity is not a handicap."

Cross posted on on European Tribune, the fabulous My left Wing, and Booman Tribune.

Originally posted to Chris Kulczycki on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 03:35 AM PST.


Jenkins is:

48%333 votes
48%331 votes
3%23 votes

| 687 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (4.00)
    Some of the comments to this on European Tribute are amusing, should you care to click over, link.


    Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
    You can kill one, but another is born.
    The words are written down, the deed, the date.

    Czeslaw Milosz

    by Chris Kulczycki on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 03:39:17 AM PST

    •  I can't offer a link because (4.00)
      I read the WSJ through Proquest. There were some letters responding to the last such article that I can't access, perhaps one of you would be kind enough to post any choice bits. And a tip of the hat to Tree Hugger; they saw it first.

      Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
      You can kill one, but another is born.
      The words are written down, the deed, the date.

      Czeslaw Milosz

      by Chris Kulczycki on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 04:25:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Chris, I really like your auto diaries (none)
      as someone who was recently looking for a new car, but gave up, what are the chances of me getting a 7 passenger safe car with average power, that get 40+ mpg (biofuel compatible a plus), and cost around 20K anytime soon?

      Midwest Center for American Values - Progressive ideas in an easy to swallow pill.

      by ETinKC on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 06:53:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  new? (none)
        new at 20k, not good.

        A used desiel volvo or mercedes might be your best bet.

        I would say a desiel chevy or ford passenger van, I don't know their milage numbers but they aren't going to get 40+.

        What i would ask is how often do you carry 7 poassengers, if it is less than a few dozen times a year and the rest of the time you only carry 2, i would get a small car and rent a van those few times a year.

        At any price point, i do not know of a 7 passenger vehicle that can get 40 mpg and have any power at all.....

        The world will end not with a bang, but with a "Do'oh!"

        by Love and Death on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 07:45:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  GMC diesel van (none)
          I've got two GMC (same as Chevy) vans, for my business, 2000 & 2001. I think they are 6.5 or 6.6L. These engines are marvels: smooth, powerful, and somewhat efficient. Of course they rattle like a box full of marbles, but most diesels do. I've never measured the mileage--I'd be surprized if I'm getting better than 20mpg (partly because my drivers have lead feet)--but they are clearly better than my gas V8 Ford van.

          I'll haul 3000 pounds of dry ice and while I can tell there's some weight back there, there's no problem going down the road and uphill. Nice vans, but don't expect seriously high mileage. If you've got a business or farm or situation where you need to move some weight, these are great engines.

          BTW, the design of the side and back doors absolutely suck.

          •  You would get (none)
            much better mileage of you let that dry ice vaporize, it would weigh alot less.

            It's like hauling pigeons - if you get weighed, just bang on the sides of the cab until they all fly up out of their nests to make them weigh less.

            (Before I get dinged by physics prof's, I'm kidding)

            "To know what is right and not to do it is the worst cowardice." Confucius

            by Patriot4peace on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 10:31:16 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  If you move to Europe that might be (none)
        possible. ;<) But I can't think of any such vehicles sold here.

        Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
        You can kill one, but another is born.
        The words are written down, the deed, the date.

        Czeslaw Milosz

        by Chris Kulczycki on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 10:50:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I read something on here quite some time ago.... (none)
      Once a way is discovered that uses a resource more efficiently, the use of that resource actually explodes. The example given was coal use in Britain-back in the mid 1800's I think. A more efficient coal fired engine was developed. Result? Coal used exploded as all kinds of uses for this engine were developed.

      Now I'm not saying we shouldn't use hybrids, I'll buy one as my next car-if something more efficient hasn't come along by then. I'm just sayin' I'm not sure this is panacea people think.

      I'd like to see an entirely new energy source developed :).

      •  Well... (none)
        I understand what you're trying to say.

        But I'm not convinced an example from the 19th Century -- when technological options were so much more limited, and and basic home heating and commercial production were so much more difficult, unless you owned your own timber forest -- is a good basis for 21st Century decision-making.

        I'm totally satisfied with my Prius. Not only do I use less gas and save money, I've become more conscious of my driving habits, and drive less in terms of total miles travelled per year.

        "Animals are my friends--and I don't eat my friends." (G.B. Shaw) Click to read the 'Union'

        by Hudson on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 10:30:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Jenkins is a genius! (4.00)
    What a brilliant philosophy!

    To stop oil consumption, use up all the oil!  Bingo, no more consumption!

    Truly Nobel Prize level thinking!  Let's apply it to all our other problems:

    To stop murder, let's murder everyone!  No more pesky humans to tempt us to homicide.

    To stop obesity, eat all the McBurgers on earth!  No more junk food to get fat on.

    This guy is on to something.  That must be why he works at such a fancy newspaper devoted to people who want to make  money.  

    To make money, sell all the things that make money!  Bingo, no more earth!

    "Johnson knew he was a prisoner in the White House, but Bush has no idea." - former defense official

    by Republic Not Empire on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 03:50:05 AM PST

    •  WSJ = Bush party line (4.00)
      If its printed in the WSJ, you can be sure that this is close to the Bush party line.  Remember Cheney's flat statement that "conservation won't solve our energy shortage".  Just write off the simplest, most economical way to extend our energy use.

      In contrast to the idiot Jenkins, here's the real story:  If everyone in the US drove a Prius or similar car, our gasoline consumption for transportation would be cut in HALF, and prices would fall because there would be excess capacity.

      The greedy SUV drivers are the ones who are keeping the price of gas high, plus indirectly sending our soldiers off to die in the oil wars.

      •  No kidding (4.00)
        The greedy SUV drivers are the ones who are keeping the price of gas high, plus indirectly sending our soldiers off to die in the oil wars.

        And by refusing to put economic penalties on such drivers (aka taxes), all of us non-SUV drivers are essentially subsidizing the cost of gas for those few who consume more than their share.

        THIS is why I am blisteringly mad at all those SUV soccer moms I see on the rare occasion my wife and I pick up her cousin from school.  I'm paying for their "lifestyle" by driving a more fuel-efficient car and consuming less gasoline, so that they can consume more.

        Instead, if we all consumed less, the cost of gasoline would be cheaper for all of us (and we wouldn't have as much of an energy crunch as we do).  Of course, then, the oilco's wouldn't be making the obscene profits they're making right now, so what do I know?

        People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

        by viget on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 06:35:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, quit being sensible. (none)

          I AM paying attention, and I am so fucking outraged I can't see straight. Besides, TORTURE is not a family value!

          by caseynm on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 07:47:07 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  umm.... (none)
          Just because someone finds a higher value to oil than you do doesn't mean they are using more than their fair share. There already is a "penalty" to using too much oil. You pay too much. It's not up to you to dictate to everyone else how much oil they should use.

          That is why I hate vegetarians, they just drive up the price of fresh produce, by over consuming their share of vegetables. Myself, I eat almost all meat, I conserve my vegetables, I don't want all these veggies driving up the price. If these veggies keep it up soon we'll run out of ariable land and then the price will really go up.

          Do I seem unreasonable? Maybe its because veggies find more value in it than I do and are willing to pay a higher price. Maybe we should put a tax on vegetables to get veggies to stop eating so much.

          Maybe I should just mind my own business and let the market and individual prices dictate what should be done.

          •  Nice Try (none)
            There is no free market in oil.  The military costs of extracting it and the environmental cost of burning it are not borne proportionately by those who use it.  Those who "find more value" in oil are finding it in other people's pocketbooks / air / water / miltaries.

            These externalities are not as fateful in the case of vegetables (though they do exist there, too) and the balance of externalities (pesticides vs. obesity, etc.) between meat and veggies is nothing like the balance between unnecessary SUV driving and sensible auto use and public transportation.  


          •  wrong, beef uses 10X the resources (none)
            You are completely wrong with your attack on vegetarians.  Each pound of beef consumes 10 to 12 times the land and nutrients that a pound of vegetables consumes to make food.  Chickens are more efficient, but they pollute heavily.

            Plenty of food for all and much lower pollution if people switch to a vegetarian diet.

            If you had 10 pounds of wheat and you were hungry, would you feed it to a cow, then eat the resulting one pound of meat?  If so, you are really wasteful, and part of the huge overconsumption that is killing our planet.

            Do some reading before you continue your carnivorous ways, I recommend  "Beyond Beef" for a thorough analysis about where your killed animal products come from.  Eating road kill would be safer than ground beef, there's less chance for contamination if you get to it quickly.

      •  WSJ = Republican Pravda (4.00)
        At least on the opinion page.

        Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

        by Benito on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 07:12:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  You fool! (none)
        Anyone can plainly see that black is white and that down is up.  And clearly bad is now good, and stupid is clever.  

        Does this apply to the budget as well?  In order to save money, you have to spend more and take in less?

        "Passing the gun from father to feckless son; We're climbing a landslide where only the good die young." Leaders of the Free World - Elbow -7.38, -7.59

        by Dave Brown on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 07:30:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  definately (none)
        this exact argument is also being put out there by Rush Limbaugh, almost word for word.  I did suspect he didn't think it up all by himself.  The memo must have gone out recently.
    •  Don't forget the government.... (none)
      If we bankrupt the government, we'll no longer be able to borrow money and we'll have to balance the budget.

      These really are just financially astute Republican principles.  Why can't we Democrats understance economics?  Now go forth and max your credit cards - its the best way to reign in your spending!

  •  Is this guy on crack? (4.00)
    God damn, if I were the editor of the WSJ I'd fire his ass and a bunch of the other crackheads there as well.

    Go Toyota!  

    Well, this shows we know who butters their toast.  What has happened to the WSJ over the years?  They were such a respectable paper at one time?  It's a damn shame the WSJ and others have decided to be GOP shills, and because of it, all respectability has gone down the drain.  What a shame.

    If the people lead, the leaders will follow.

    by Mz Kleen on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 04:02:20 AM PST

    •  The paper (none)
      is respectable. It's the editorial page that's filled with asshats and idiots.

      I want to die like my grandfather, peacefully in my sleep, not screaming in terror like his passengers.

      by incertus on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 04:52:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I absolutely agree (none)
        I subscribed for a year, and then the bastards sent me 3 months for free as some kind of "enticement." Well, that didn't work. I loved the news coverage, but I couldn't stand the editorial pages. It wasn't so much the fact that the publishers are geisha girls for neoconservatism, but that there was never, and I mean NEVER an opposition column. Once Al Hunt retired, after I'd taken the paper for about a month, there simply was no replacement, and every single column became pro-administration. This gets tiresome after awhile. We say "Well we can read the paper, and ignore the editorial page," but really this just isn't possible. You end up treating the editorial page like black-and-white Funnies, but even that has limitations.
    •  If you were on the WSJ (none)
      opinion page, you probably wouldn't be posting here and you'd have a show on PBS to make PBS "fair and balanced".  Like FAUX news....

      I AM paying attention, and I am so fucking outraged I can't see straight. Besides, TORTURE is not a family value!

      by caseynm on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 07:49:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Why does the WSJ hate the market? (none)
      I like Toyota's response: Consumers love our car. We can't produce enough fast enough.

      This strikes right at the heart of the Journal's editorial hypocrisy.

      The Journal is saying: Hundreds of thousands of consumers can't be right. It only says "trust the markets" when it suits their immediate purpose, which in this case is to protect backward-thinking and unimaginative auto execs.

      "Animals are my friends--and I don't eat my friends." (G.B. Shaw) Click to read the 'Union'

      by Hudson on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 10:35:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have a pair of binoculars (none)
    I use to watch wildlife on the surrounding hills. I wonder how Jenkins would use them?
  •  The third choice should have been (4.00)
    All of the above.

    By his logic, all Americans would weigh 600 pounds and rising, and live on beans and potatoes because they are the cheapest food. Not the case (except maybe here in MI.) People opt not for the lowest price but for their own self interest, they use own best judgement, unless perhaps they are Republicans.

    I think this fella is one of those folks who is dipping a little too deep into the government's "income support program" for columnists. I wonder how I can get a gig like that. I can make up stupid shit with the best of them. Somebody tell them I'll work for half of what they pay this joker. Is this a Right to Work state? If so, he's toast.

    -6.88/-5.64 You call this a sig? Why, I've smoked better banana peels!

    by John West on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 04:08:55 AM PST

  •  Consider this, Chris (4.00)
    Yesterday, the WSJ editor was outraged that people could possibly consider waterboarding a form of torture, when it's merely a useful way of breaking people that we don't like in order to extract information from them.

    Now they don't like hybrid cars.

    Two kinds of perfect advice

    The person who is correct 100% of the time...

    ...and the person who is wrong 100% of the time.


    The WSJ's lookin' like a good advisor, so long as you always go the other way. :)

    Heroes Serve - Republicans GET Served.

    by cskendrick on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 04:17:59 AM PST

  •  Reducing our dependence on foreign oil (4.00)
    The way to do this is to use more oil, so the price goes up and American wells become economically competitive???  Can even the Kool-Aid drinkers buy this crap?  

    How about a progressively rising tax on oil, with a differential for imports?  Then we use less altogether, with a relative incentive to keep US production open.  How about a higher gas tax or a carbon tax, for that matter?

    Doesn't the WSJ claim the readership of the business elite, for Chrissakes?  Can even conservative business execs be stupid enough to believe this nonsense?  If they can, it explains a lot about our economy today.

    -4.50, -5.85 "To initiate a war of aggression is ... the supreme international crime." ---Nuremberg Tribunal

    by Dallasdoc on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 04:20:53 AM PST

    •  more than just WSJ (none)
      My father-in-law works for a big defense contractor, he swears a lot of his co-workers are of the opinion that the best strategy is to "use all their oil up" and then we can flaunt our domestic oil when everyone else has none.

      War On Christmas 2005
      Happy Holidays People's Front :: Mithras Division

      by voltayre on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 04:35:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Never realizing (none)
        That without serious cutbacks on consumption, we'd use every drop of domestic oil in what, six months?

        I want to die like my grandfather, peacefully in my sleep, not screaming in terror like his passengers.

        by incertus on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 04:53:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  At least that makes some sense (none)
        At least that makes some sense, in a screwed up kind of way.

        The WSJ piece is just gibberish.

      •  Suggested response... (none)
        Here's one way you could respond:

        By the time we "use all their oil up," they'll have all our money.

        And they will use our money for things like bankrolling fundamentalist schools for terrorists and buying shoulder-mounted missiles for the next generation of Bin Ladins.

        "Animals are my friends--and I don't eat my friends." (G.B. Shaw) Click to read the 'Union'

        by Hudson on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 10:41:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Variation of this ... (none)
        is that why not -- even when seeking to reduce oil use -- that we continue to import from 'low cost' producers.  And, perhaps 40 years from now, we might turn to currently protected areas with MUCH better and MUCH safer extraction technologies to then have oil to provide raw material flow into critical goods that require oil for production.

        9/11/05, Day 1469, A count worth keeping? Or, Osama Bin Forgotten?

        by besieged by bush on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 08:50:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Missing the point (none)
      I think I understand the WSJ author. We always consume the commodity resource from the cheapest source first. When that runs out, we then source from the then cheapest source. Speculation has it that the Arab basin leadership has priced its resource at the highest level that will not support further hybrid adoption. If arab oil was consumed, then the oil would be sourced from a more expensive source, increasing the preponderance of hybrid adoption, and so on and more so as we moved to more expensive sources. So, if the goal is more hybrids sooner, then we have to use up the cheaper oil faster. The longer we have cheap oil, the longer we will have people using it in ways considered wasteful by ecologically sensitive types.

      Ban Intolerance Now!

      by brahma on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 10:54:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oil can be made expensive (none)
        Most industrialized nations minimize their dependence on oil by taxing it heavily.  Cheap production will always win out in the market, but overall oil use is economically sensitive.  Tax policy is the obvious answer here, as European countries, Japan and others figured out long ago.

        -4.50, -5.85 "To initiate a war of aggression is ... the supreme international crime." ---Nuremberg Tribunal

        by Dallasdoc on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 11:42:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Tariff? (none)
          Do you accept that it is appropriate for us to do what is best for US? Do you accept that the best strategic position for the US to take is to use other oil before our own? This seems to me to be sound policy both for geo-political/military as well as market reasons.
          The downside is that a cheaper/more effective energy solution may come to be, and our reserved resource may become less valuable.
          Tax increases per se will not put money into the hands of those that will develop the replacement energy source. It may be true that govt funds research, but the solution must be market sensitive to be sustainable, and govt funding does not have the prerequisite urgency that creates market sensitive solutions.
          Also, it leaves the resource in place for a fallback.

          Ban Intolerance Now!

          by brahma on Fri Dec 16, 2005 at 01:21:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't accept your premises (none)
            The "strategic" argument you present sounds economically naive to me.  There's no way domestic oil supplies could come close to meeting domestic needs in the event of a major foreign supply disruption.  They're a drop in the bucket, and can only be sucked out through a skinny straw.  Our oil dependence is rather a reason to play nice with the rest of the world, while we diversify our energy sources to reduce that dependence.

            Tax increases will discourage use of oil, making alternative energy sources more economically attractive.  The money will quickly follow.  Some of those tax proceeds may be used to mitigate the economic damage to those least able to afford increased energy prices, like poor folks in need of heat.

            -4.50, -5.85 "To initiate a war of aggression is ... the supreme international crime." ---Nuremberg Tribunal

            by Dallasdoc on Fri Dec 16, 2005 at 03:56:44 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Domestic supplies (none)
              We've never spent the money to find more than 30 years supply. At that point it becomes unworthy of investment. We've never had much more than 30 yrs of identified supply, but as we use it up and/or increase usage, more supply is found. We don't really know the reserves in ANWR, or off the Cali and Gulf coasts, and it won't be worth developing until we exhaust cheaper supplies. Until we get to a sustainable $40-50-60/bbl, the technology for Syntroleum's stripper well gas conversion plants, and oil sands and shale development will not become widespread. I think the Saudis manipulate the commodity price to maintain the highest prices which don't support this development, which also keeps our environmentally locked up resources stored away. I don't think this is a bad thing. Market forces deliberately keep development of a hydrogen economy and other alternative just beyond widespread adoption. I'm not sure I would do differently were I a Saudi oil baron. Even the Sierra Club says individuals rightly do individual analysis on the proper vehicles for their personal needs. Even they don't presume to proclaim that everyone without access to masstrans should drive a Prius. Are you arguing that we, as a society, should enact a tax structure to force individuals to avoid motorized transportation and energy usage, or at worst only use it in as sparingly a way as satisfies your concept of conservation and ecologically sensitive existance? What do we do with all those toxic spent batteries? What about the traffic deaths due to the tradeoff between safety and efficiency? What about the need to take two cars to transport the fifth person? What about the degradation in lifestyle that will result from lack of personal interaction due to less travel? Are you sure you've got all the unintended consequences worked out?

              Ban Intolerance Now!

              by brahma on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 11:41:03 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  And the way to balance the budget (4.00)
    is to cut taxes for the rich, spend 300-400 billion on a useless war, and build bridges to nowhere in Alaska. We should have a surplus any day now.

    "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition" - Monty Python

    by MadRuth on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 04:28:10 AM PST

    •  watch as the poor freeze (4.00)
      You've summed up the Republican philosophy:

      sink or swim on your own

      Because all the greedy repubs had their SUVs fueled up and ready to leave New Orleans, it never occurred to them that others might not have that option, or they just didn't give a damn.

      Now prices for natural gas and oil heat have gone up by 50 to 100% in the last year- who does that affect?  The rich repubs won't even bother setting their thermostats back, they will try to "use up all the fuel" so that we don't import any more?  What an idiotic statement, the WSJ reflects its reader base- greedy, fat, rich cronies of the Bushite scum type.

      •  "Family-Values Vehicles" (none)
        That's what my brother-in-law calls SUVs. ;<)

        Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
        You can kill one, but another is born.
        The words are written down, the deed, the date.

        Czeslaw Milosz

        by Chris Kulczycki on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 06:32:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  This is exactly what bothers me (none)
        Directly after Katrina I got a "letter" from my friendly neighborhood utility letting me know that this winter fuel/gas will cost me approximately 50% more than last year.

        Made sense, before Katrina gas was $2 and immediately afterwards, it was $3, or 50% higher.

        Now that we know that $3 a gallon gas only served up record profits for Exxon et al, and gas is now back down to +-$2 (more or less - gotta repeat more or less alot for emphasis) I haven't gotten a followup letter from my friendly neighborhood utility letting me know that, ooops, don't worry, we're not going to fuck you in the ass this winter after all.

        You know how the utility refers to you and me? They call us "ratepayers". Really, unapologetically when they talk about the recipient of their invoices, they collectively refer to all of us as "ratepayers".

        I need a big ass solar panel, a windmill, and a long extension cord to avoid bankrupcy this winter.

        "To know what is right and not to do it is the worst cowardice." Confucius

        by Patriot4peace on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 06:37:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Quick & Easy rebuttals (4.00)
    2 rebuttals to the first point (so you don't have to resort to calling someone a wingnut).

    1.  Monopoly power: The oil cartel can manipulate prices prices even though it does not actually control all of the world's oil.  If demand contracts, the oil cartel can simply contract demand a bit, bringing prices back to their original levels.  This therefore conserves oil.  It will still get used, eventually though.

    2.  When some users stop consuming, others users will consume more, because the price is lower.  But on aggregate, they will not consume the same intial amount.  Unless the consumers have very strange long-run preferences.
    •  Also (none)
      Much of our driving is not optional. Those of us who live in places without public transportation and must drive to work have few options for reducing our fuel consumption. We're not going to opt for more time on the road just because the price of gas goes down.

      "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition" - Monty Python

      by MadRuth on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 06:59:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  right... (none)
        Well, in the short run.  In the long-run, if gas were really expensive that might make the stereotypical suburban/exurban migration unaffordable and more people would live in urban areas.  Of course, there would be all sorts of pain that you're implying in the short run.
        •  It's all about the elasticity of demand (none)
          We have some historical evidence about how the worldwide demand for gasoline changes with price:

          In American consumer doesn't seem to be affected by price until it hits $3 a gallon, at which point they will finally start to reduce usage. So any price below that is essentially equivalent. Americans will use as much as they need to do all their daily things. But they don't use energy just to waste it.

          There is a lag of 60 to 90 days between big price changes and genuine behavioral changes. That's because it takes time to change these practical realities of how we use energy on a day-to-day basis. The bigger changes take even longer (witness the Louisiana discussions going on right now about whether to rebuild the bridges wider (encouraging sprawl) or narrow (encouraging a tighter, more compact urban area.))

          The Chinese thirst for oil is only secondarily a question of transportation. Most of the oil in China is going into the creation of plastic for consumer goods that we buy here.

          Mostly, I just see this argument as a fancy tautology that is one more of the tools being used by the fiscal elites to prop up the status quo. The tautology is implied, but it's there: "If you all buy hybrids and use less gas, you're going to use less gas! And my world view depends on all you peons using gas as fast as you can, and that's bad! So stop buying hybrids!"

          As for me, I just traded my VW Passat in for a Civic Hybrid, and I don't give a flying fig what the god-damned Wall Street Journal thinks about it.

          -- I share no man's opinions; I have my own. -t -6.75 -3.79

          by tergenev on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 08:11:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  totally agree (none)
            Although I meant long-run as in like 5 years for switching cars or 15 years for switching houses.

            The amount of plastic that I use and throw away on a  annoys the hell out of me.  The amount of excess packaging is boggling.

    •  a few more points (4.00)
      Regarding Mideast Oil being the cheapest.

      Externalities.  Although we pay a price for oil, it does not include the value (or cost) of the soldiers we send to protect our oil interests, or the corrupt and anti-democratic regimes that we support implicitly (excuse me for sounding a bit like a neocon).

      Driving the price of oil up on purpose:
      The underlying principle is correct.  It's not efficient to use a low-grade energy source (canadian tar sands, hydrogen, or solar) until the price of energy is high enough.  Instead of wastefully overconsuming, the government could artificially lower the cost of using those sources.  And it already does through subsidies for research and development.

      Inequality.  Only the rich will be able to afford energy.  

      Regarding CAFE standards and air pollution:

      1.  The author comes periously close to suggesting that the ideal way to lower air pollution would be to increase the "operating costs" of a car.  So, an increase in petroleum taxes or a "miles driven" tax.  I'm not even sure how much compliance with CAFE standards increases the cost of a vehicle anyway.

      2.  Spurious correlation.  During the time period that the author is "analysing", there were many demographic and other changes in the US.  The suburban/exurban flight.  Increased GDP and takehome pay.  Decreased or flat costs of fuel. It is wrong to suggest that the increase in miles driven is soley due to changing CAFE standards.
  •  A dumb article, to be sure... (4.00)
    However, a hybrid car is only worthwhile if you decide you're willing to spend $X on a car, and you spend that $X on a hybrid instead of a similarly-priced automobile. Almost invariably, you could buy a Honda Civic, spend less money than you would have on a Toyota Prius, and the money you save on the car could easily pay for the extra gas, for most consumers.

    At issue is this-- we use too much oil. Stop using so much gas when you drive, and oil consumption will fall. In a world where oil is a limited resource and the world keeps demanding more of it, not using so much can only help you... because while buying that Honda Civic might make sense now, if gas prices double in 5 years, you might have wished you shelled out the money on that Toyota Prius.

    •  It's Not Just The Money (none)
      However, a hybrid car is only worthwhile if you decide you're willing to spend $X on a car, and you spend that $X on a hybrid instead of a similarly-priced automobile. Almost invariably, you could buy a Honda Civic, spend less money than you would have on a Toyota Prius, and the money you save on the car could easily pay for the extra gas, for most consumers.
      The dollars may come-out even, but the hybrid will cause less environmental damage. That's the reason most hybrid buyers buy hybrids to begin with.

      This is CLASS WAR, and the other side is winning.

      by Mr X on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 07:43:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Toyota Prius in particular (4.00)
      I think there are other reasons the Prius is worth the money.  Of course it depends entirely on what you are comparing it to.  Based on my experience with it, so far I would compare it to the Accord or Camry not the Civic.  It may be an economy car in terms of gas sipping but in many respects it is a nice mid-size sedan.  I particularly like how quiet it is even when the engine is running.
  •  There is a thin coating of truth here (none)
    Reduced demand could conceivably push prices down a bit, although as others have said the petroleum industry is not a classic free market.

    But the fundamental claim here is: economics doesn't care about efficiency. Which is an absurd claim.

    •  How the heck can prices ever come down (none)
      1. india and china's exploding consumption
      2. oil companies "riding the spigot" to keep prices high?

      Reduced demand only buys a little time, prices will continue to climb...

      •  Yeah, I said "push prices down." (none)
        Perhaps I should have been more precise. Reduced demand in the US automotive sector would push prices  down, other forces would push demand and prices up. As you suggest, the net effect is prices rise, but by a little less than they might otherwise.
  •  I got a headache (4.00)
    trying to make sense out of that crap.

    What is wrong with the editors at the WSJ?

    If you tried to turn that in as a paper in any class, anywhere, the teacher would hand it back to you and tell you to try again.

    This article reads like one that they would put in their April 1st edition to see if anyone would catch it.

  •  Repetion & Redundancy in the Poll (4.00)
    In my mind, "Beyond Stupid" and "Just a typical Republican response" are equivalent answers. Here's why:

    "Normal", respectable Republicans - ones with ethics - appear to have drowned or been completely marginalized by the NeoCon inspired 'culture of corruption', so the 'typical Republican response' is now one of utter b.s. - beyond stupid.

    Of course, I could be missing something.

    BTW - nice job.

  •  Okay, that first cup of coffee (4.00)
    didn't take, or that article was not written in English, because all i can say is huh?

    I know newspaper journalist are supposed to write to a 5th grade level, but are they supposed to reason to a pre-school level.

    Midwest Center for American Values - Progressive ideas in an easy to swallow pill.

    by ETinKC on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 06:24:19 AM PST

  •  Silly me (4.00)
    I thought we wanted to "save" things, like oil, our environment, save our money for retirement, all those things.  Of course, this WSJ article makes perfect sense if you have your head in the sand, if you think that we should continue to waste until there is no more to waste.

    The WSJ has no basis in reality, they live in that same bubble that Bush does, and when it does burst on them they won't know what happened.

    "September 11, 2001, already a day of immeasurable tragedy, cannot be the day liberty perished in this country." Judge Gerald Tjoflat

    by SanJoseLady on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 06:24:59 AM PST

  •  That does it! (none)
    Now I'm definitely going with a Hybrid or EV for my next vehicle.  Glad to put up som profit for companies not too myopic to see the future we are facing.

    As for the WSJ....well, what do you expect?

  •  Holy Shit (4.00)
    What a load of crap.

    The writer assumes that the only reason anyone would buy a Prius is to save money on gas. I bought my Prius to be part of the solution. I live in the South where having a car is not optional. I figured the least I could do was to emit less toxins into the air. Also, it fit my needs for size and comfort. And I could afford it, so I did it. I love it. Wouldn't trade it for anything. Just ask my husband, who has to beg to drive it.

    My dad, who is a die-hard right-winger, turned to me the other day with his local paper, shocked at an article he was reading. It was about taxing hybrid owners on miles driven rather than gas consumed. He was amazed that anyone would even think up anything so obviously counter-productive. So, there. He's not hopeless.

  •  I can believe... (none)
    sure...any oil not burned by a prius is likey to be used up by someone else...sure...fine

    but the rest is BS

    and I thought developing new technology was a good thing -- silly me

  •  Thanks Jenkins (4.00)
    I see that Jenkins is using his own product.

    You see, if he had if he had put less stupidity and misinformation into his column then someone else would have used it leading to an overall increase in stupidity and misinformation. Jenkins has, in fact, done us all a favor by including the maximum amount of stupidity and misinformation in his column, he keeps it from appearing in other columns.

    We should thank Jenkins for flinging himself mentally onto the grenade of twisted reasoning and deep ignorance in order to save us all.

    An empty limosine pulled up and George W. Bush got out.

    by beerm on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 06:40:44 AM PST

  •  Econ 101 (4.00)
    Jenkins is exaggerating a known effect to the point of absurdity. Unless the WSJ's standards are much lower than I think, he knows better. Here's the deal:

    There's a demand curve and a supply curve. The demand curve traces the amount of a product that the public will consume at any given price. (It goes down as price goes up.) The supply curve traces the amount that producers will produce at any given price. (It goes up as price goes up.) Since one curve is going up and the other going down, they more-or-less make an X.

    The theoretically correct price and production level is the point where the curves cross -- at that price, the public will consume the exact amount that producers produce.

    Jenkins is arguing that consuming less doesn't shift the demand curve -- which is nonsense. When you consume less, the demand curve shifts downward, the supply curve stays the same, and the intersection point moves down. Translation: Supply and demand now intersect at a point further down the supply curve: a lower price and a lower production level.

    The grain of truth in Jenkins' argument is that it's not a one-to-one thing. If you consume a gallon less, maybe the price goes down to a point where somebody else decides to consume half a gallon more. So the actual saving to the economy is half a gallon rather than a gallon. But under no rational analysis is the savings zero.

    •  Good points if all demand is local (4.00)
      The major flaw in the argument is that the demand curve will shift downward as more people switch to Hybrid cars.  This would be true if demand was only determined by the behavior of those who already regularly purchase and drive cars.  That is, no new consumers come onto the market.

      In a global economy, as newly developing countries start consuming and buying cars, demand is actually more likely to shift higher.  Since these countries are significantly more populous you would have to have an extraordinarily high number of people switching to hybrids to effect demand in the way suggested.  Instead it is more likely that switching to hybrids will merely soften the increases in price caused by the gradual upward shift of demand created by rapidly increasing global demand.

      The WSJ analysis is so bereft of intelligent economic analysis as to be ludicrous.  How can they employ someone with so obvious a lack of intelligence and understanding of such simple supply and demand interaction.

      •  down is relative (none)
        When you conserve, the demand curve shifts down relative to where it would have been if you hadn't conserved. I'm assuming that if I decide to buy a Prius, that doesn't change the number of Chinese who are entering the car market.
    •  nicely done (none)
      the rule of consequences that idiot at the WSJ used is specious precisely because he left out other consequences that do not fit his political ideology.

      he might as well state that auto accidents increase GDP because it provides jobs to folks working in auto repair shops, leaving out of course the negative effects the accidents have on the victims.

  •  This guy likes 'em (4.00)

    ..even if this is the true picture of his Presidency and alternative fuels.

  •  The David Brooks School of Journalism (4.00)
    Another fine graduate from the David Brooks School of Journalism, I presume. What a cushy gig. Say things that defy logic, and get to shape public opinion.

    It reminds me of the suggestion that to get rid of the problem of teens hanging out on corners in SW Detroit, they should get rid of corners.

    I wish I could come up with stuff like this. But I guess I'll have to stick with my day job which involves real logic.

    unbossed investigative blogging

    by shirah on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 06:41:37 AM PST

  •  A false argument overall, I think. (4.00)
    If Prius owners consume less, there's less demand, prices will be lower and somebody else will step up to consume more than they would at the otherwise higher price. That's the price mechanism at work.

    I wonder, historically, what kind of similar arguments were made against progress.  Fear and especially fear of change drives many people to make ridiculous statements.

    I think, however, that your diary overlays nicely with Stirling Newberry's diary (also on the rec list) where, as I read it (and as most people instinctively know), oil dependence is a key requirement.

    Aside, in Virginia, owning a hybrid car had some intrinsic advantages.  For the uninitiated, we have horrific traffic congestion here in the Northern Virginia area - second only to Los Angeles in terms of average commute time.  We also have a series of HOV lanes all over Virginia.  The main east/west highway from N. Virginia into DC is all HOV only inside the beltway eastbound in the morning and westbound in the evening... The main north/south artery, 95, has HOV-only lanes.  People who purchased hybrid cars were allowed to use these lanes regardless of how many passengers they had - it was a great incentive.  I am led to believe that that incentive is being rescinded by the legislature in 2006.

    HEY - why haven't you visited my blog?

    by RenaRF on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 06:42:44 AM PST

  •  Ford's big new SUV (none)
    Well, those who soak this WSJ slop up can get a head start by buying Ford's BIG new SUV. I saw it spoken about on CNBC the day before yesterday (sorry, can't remember the name of it,) but it appears Ford is being hush hush about it so as not to appear that they don't care about the environment...

    Hmm, I wonder what the idiot who wrote this article thinks we will have once all of the oil is gone, and he hasn't supported alternate energy sources? Does he realize that oil is a NON-renewable resource? Do the words economic collapse come to mind? So by his logic, and if that is what this administration believes, then we know who was really setting all of the oil wells in Iraq on fire... Use it up, right? Then they can sell our oil after they drill us into oblivion for a higher price and control the market. Only, the oil they would get here won't even last six months...Wow. Yeah, Bush lovers, buy that SUV and continue to also pour all of those greenhouse gases into the air while you cut down all of the trees... Then when another monster hurricane strikes us and kills innocent people, you can be rest assured you had a hand in it.

    This was above being a totally ridiculous article, it was also morally irresponsible.

  •  Energy required to build a car? (none)
    Anybody know of studies/calcualtions of the amount of energy needed to produce a car?


  •  Does this guy have kids, (none)
    I wonder? And if he does, why does he have such a deep loathing for them? Why does he want to use up all the oil before they're adults, with no alternatives to be had (because the "grownups" were too busy driving SUVs and keeping gas prices low to worry about finding alternatives).
    And I still can't wrap my head around the "logic" that using up a product will keep the price low.
  •  I think Jenkins has a conflict of interest (none)
    The author is hoping when Saudi Arabia's oil runs out, they can drill in his head for oil.

    Obviously, the jerk is sorely mistaken. Doctors found he lacked even gray brain matter.

  •  Environmentalism isn't even the only reason to (4.00)
    make the switch to hybrid cars.  Oil prices may fluctuate significantly as they have done recently.  We don't have to blame price gouging entirely--which I do believe is partly to blame for the sudden rapid rise of prices in the US this summer--I emphasize partly, however, because it is not entirely to blame.

    It is natural that gas prices will eventually go up just because global demand for oil is increasing.  Not only does population continue to increase, large countries like China and India are increasing energy demand as they develop sophisticated economies.

    Oil remains a limited resource.  Simple supply and demand would suggest prices will rise over the long run.  The only way switching to more fuel efficient energy usage will stave off these price increases is if fuel efficiency lowers the level of energy consupmtion sufficiently not only to offset the depletion of the natural resource, but also the increase in demand caused by population increases and new consumption by people in developing economies.  Currently, no country or basket of countries have a fuel efficient economy sufficient to counterbalance these other forces.

    Period!  Jenkins, you are a dumbass who does not deserve to write about economic forces!!!!!!!!!!

  •  A Modest Proposal? (none)
    Hey, I got an idea!  If we had the homeless eat their own children, it would simultaneously solve the hunger problem and reduce crime!
  •  Paradox (none)
    There is a paradox (Jarvin's, I believe) that says as energy prices decrease, consumption increases.  As cars become more efficient, people drive more.

    Although many conservatives argue that gas prices are so low that people don't consider mileage when making a vehicle purchase, Jenkins seemed to have missed the memo.

    And,with Americans driving on average 15,000 miles per year, I don't think they have any more time to drive more.  I certainly would not drive more if someone paid me to drive, since I would rather spend my remaining hours in a day sleeping, eating, relaxing, etc.  Who can spend even MORE time in a car?  

    •  Paradox (none)
      A good point, people are unlikely to increase their driving significantly even if gas prices do drop. Gasoline usage seems to be fairly inflexible. If what people spend for gas decreases, they will use just as much has, but will have more money to spend on other things, which would stimulate the economy.

      His article seems to represent the interests of the oil industry, in that hybrid vehicles mean less of their product sold.

  •  Don't hate the SUV owners (completely) (none)
    First, this author is a complete jackass and a total shill for the 'drill-n-fill' / nutfundie crowd who will NEVER get it.

    Second, living here in the midwest (and northeast/northwest), folks have a very real need for 4x4 transportation -- we're getting 8" of snow and ice today.  There is no reason, imho, why consumers can't have hybrid engines and 4x4 performance (well, and coddled luxury as well) -- more than the meager offerings currently on the market.  They could be much lighter and much more fuel efficient, to be sure.

    So, yes, I also get angry at all those SUV-driving fools, but sometimes an SUV is the right answer for one's transportation needs.

    Energize America: Demand Energy Security by 2020!

    by Doolittle Sothere on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 07:55:50 AM PST

    •  I have a word for you: (4.00)
      "snow tires"

      you really do NOT need FWD, let alone an SUV to drive in bad weather.

      Never mind the fact that most people don't know how to  USE their FWD, or drive safely in an SUV.

      When I lived in Montana, a local paper used to periodically run stories sent in by readers:  "how I got stuck in my FWD"

    •  so what did you do in 1990 (none)
      before SUV's?

      Snow tires?  Chains?  I've seen more SUVs (I don't know if they have 4wd or not) piled on snowbanks than regular cars...mostly because people don't realize that 4wd doesn't help you stop.

    •  BS (none)
      I've lived in Minnesota for 17 years. I've never driven anything bigger than a 2-door hatchback and I can say quite emphatically that you do not need 4WD to get around. I rarely, if ever, get stuck in my Honda Civic. The occasional inconvenience of spinning one's wheels is nowhere near enough justification for driving a 15mpg behemoth 365 days a year.

      For 95% of the people on the road, SUVs are nothing more than a convenience or a fashion statement. The other 5% are directly involved in farming or the construction trades and have a demonstrable need for a big truck.

      And while I'm slinging around anecdotes, let me say that it seems the majority of the vehicles I see upside-down in the ditch are SUVs. That 4WD drive is great for getting you up to speed, but it doesn't do jack to help you steer or stop the vehicle.

      •  And I have lived in Minnesota (none)
        my entire life (50 years at the end of this month). I drove a Pinto in college, and rarely ever got stuck--when I did it was easy to find 2 or 3 passersby to help push me out, because the car was so light.
        I have never bought the argument that you need a big, heavy vehicle to get through snow; common sense and experience tell me the opposite.
        Global warming has drastically reduced the amount of snow we get in central MN, but our Prius drives through the drifts like a little sleigh.
    •  disagree (none)
      I live part time in the foothills of the Adirondack mountains in NYS.

      People that shill out (pun intended) the extra cash for an SUV are constantly rationalizing their decision with drive-ability in the snow.


      I tell the kids all the time, there are reasons and there are excuses. Tell me reasons, not excuses.

      Safety excuse:
      You cannot stop faster than a 2wd car in the snow, you can only accellerate faster. That's not safer.
      Your vehicle weighs alot more, but is also top heavier - you roll over more often. Not safer.

      Handling in snow excuse:
      How many hours a year are you driving on unplowed snowy roads versus how many hours per year you're "Wasting" the 4wd capability by driving on cleared roads in the winter and summer? Hmmm?
      Now, you must remember that you're sharing the road with 2wd cars that don't handle worth a damn without snow tires and chains. How are you going to avoid all of those poor bastards that got caught on the road in the snow?

      I think there's a false feeling of security in a big heavy vehicle with 4wd, and that's why SUV drivers end up in the deep snow in the median after driving 70mph in the snow in the left lane.

      "To know what is right and not to do it is the worst cowardice." Confucius

      by Patriot4peace on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 10:47:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There are plenty of alternatives... (none)
      Subaru, Volkswagen, Volvo and Toyota all make AWD cars, some of which are very efficient.

      While there are legitimate reasons to drive SUVs, weather is not one of them. In fact, people's false sense of security they get from their SUVs might make them more accident prone in bad weather. We've all seen the idiot who thinks that his Escalade somehow makes it safer for him to do 90MPH in an ice storm.

      I live on a class 4 road (public, dirt road, no maintenance whatsoever) in Vermont and we've gotten by for the last three winters in a 94 Corolla with a $200 set of Nokian all-season tires. This winter we have a 12-year-old Acura with a dedicated set of Michelin X-Ice tires. These are both 2WD cars. I live on a decent-sized hill. I've never gotten stuck in either of these cars.

      I drove in Michigan for 10 years, mostly in a Toyota Tercel with cheap-ass tires. Again, I never got stuck. I did, however, pass my share of Explorers and Durangos on their sides in the median of US-69 on my way to work in the winter.

  •  I LOVE satire! (4.00), what do you mean he's not kidding?
  •  Supply side stupidity (none)
    Jenkins: If Prius owners consume less, there's less demand, prices will be lower and somebody else will step up to consume more than they would at the otherwise higher price. That's the price mechanism at work.

    The dumb fuck either forgot -- or more likely ignores -- the supply side of the price mechanism, i.e. if supply is constrained, or falling, then demand growth has to be slowed, or reversed, in order to keep the price from rising, which will REDUCE consumption, and probably in more painful ways than switching from a gas hog to a hybrid.

    Ironic that the fanatical supply sider would ignore supply.

  •  I agree. Read my other post in this thread (none)
    for details. It is my position that even though conservation pushes down demand relative to where it would have been its still moving against the current.
  •  "customer acceptance" (none)
    what, is Toyota joking?
    what does "customer acceptance" have to do with the free market?

    </end snark>

  •  A hybrid powertrain in a Camry? Cool! (none)
    That means when we have to buy our next car (which won't be for a few years yet, since we tend to drive vehicles until they're not drivable, and our current car is still in great shape), we might not even need to switch brands!

    I only detected one partially-true statement in the quotes from Jenkins here. Americans are going to have to stop demonizing nuclear power. For my own health, I'd far rather live next to a self-contained nuclear power plant than a poison-spewing coal-fired generator. No air pollution, no acid rain, no greenhouse gases, and tiny little rods of solid waste that can even be recycled now to generate more power. Natural gas is the stupidest choice of all for power generation; what the hell were the power companies thinking to build so many? Natural gas is limited. There's only so much left, and I'd rather see it used in furnaces to keep people from freezing in their homes, than gulped down and wasted by huge electric generators.

    But: wind, solar, hydroelectric, and nuclear components are all good. So is fuel conservation in automobiles. What, Jenkins thinks it's too hard to walk and chew gum at the same time?

    Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

    by Canadian Reader on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 08:34:39 AM PST

  •  What!? (none)
    Using less of a commodity makes you more dependent on the cheapest suppliers of that commodity? How does that work? If all that was left was Canadien oil it would cost about $1000 per barrel or more and the vast majority of consumers couldn't afford it at all. Whereas if we need less oil then Middle Eastern countries need to make compromises to sell their number one commodity.

    Does his statement make any sense at all? Am I missing something?

    We also can realize the dream of a world without war, but only by stubborn persistence, only by a refusal to surrender that dream -Howard Zinn

    by Jawis on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 08:52:00 AM PST

    •  That part makes some sense (none)
      If the market clearing price is X, then only people who can produce at less than X can stay in business.

      Canadian tar sands have HUGE quantitites of oil, but  that oil will only come to market when suppliers can be CONFIDENT that oil prices will remain high for the long term.

      That day may be here sooner than they thought, BTW.

      •  That day... (none)
        is going to come sooner or later either way. It also certainly doesn't make us more beholden to them. We could choose to screw the jerks since we are less dependent in general and then just pay the higher prices to friendly regimes to fulfill the small need. That's how I think it would work. If I need very little of some commodity X I'm much more willing to spend a little more than if I desperately need as much of X as I can get.

        We also can realize the dream of a world without war, but only by stubborn persistence, only by a refusal to surrender that dream -Howard Zinn

        by Jawis on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 11:34:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Idiocy (4.00)
    I would like to see the WSJ moron do an economic analysis of buying a giant $40,000 SUV like a  Ford Expedition.  He'd have to note that first that buyers pay a huge premium to drive such a vechicle since automaker profits are huge on such a vehicle.  I've seen numbers that automakers make a profit of $14,000 per large SUV, much larger than on a comparably priced car  Not to mention all the extra fuel cost to drive a fuel guzzling behemoth.

    The two main justifications I've heard from people who drive around in these vehicles are 1) they are safe than cars which is false because they have higher single vehicle accident and fatality rates due to roll over and 2) they like sitting up high so they can see over other cars.  Essentially SUV buyers are paying tens of thousands of dollars for the delusion they are safer and to sit up high while driving around in a big lumbering vehicle.  I think the sitting higher up connects with humanity's origins.  Chimpanzees  like to be up in the trees so they don't get eaten by a lion.  Guess humans haven't evolved passed this preference to be up high.

  •  Ironic. Or not. (none)

     Maybe it's ironic that the Publishing Cornerstone of Capitalism, Free Enterprise and Socio-Economic Darwinism is trashing innovation, efficiency, long-term economic planning, and conserving valuable resources.

     Again, maybe that's ironic.

     Or, perhaps, the WSJ is just peopled by a bunch of lazy-ass, backward-looking whiners who wouldn't know or understand concepts like those noted above even if they were described in monosyllabic fingerpaints and color crayons on even-Bush-can-'get'-it educational level.

     Looks like the adults need to start running things, not only on Capitol Hill and in the Executive Branch, but at the WSJ as well.  Right now we've got nothing but Romper Room and a bunch of bottom-lip-sticking-out brats in dire need of a nap.



    . . . religion is not a syllogism, but a poem. H.L. Mencken

    by BenGoshi on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 09:14:31 AM PST

  •  higher prices (none)
    While I don't agree with the article, I do agree that higher gas prices lead to more conservation.  The reason they drive more efficient cars in Europe is partly due to higher gas prices.

    If gas prices went up to $4 a gallon, the sales of hummers and big trucks would go down and the sales of more efficient vehicles would go up.

    While I don't welcome higher gas prices, I think it is an economic fact of life that people aren't going to conserve (especially Republicans!) until it hits them in the pocket book.

    So I say, it may be better to have a price scare now to prompt more enery savings rather than a huge supply problem down the road.

    So, I think complaining about higher gas prices is a catch-22 for Democrats. On the one hand, higher gas prices hurt the party in power. On the other hand, higher prices are necessary if we are really serious about dramatically affecting the way people consume fuel.

  •  If folks in (none)
    areas where famines eat less, then food will cost less, and so demand in other areas of the world will just increase.

    Same goes for heroin. Come to think of it, is there any commodity to which we can't apply this logic? Higher education? Good beer (I wish those former Bud drinkers would just stop buying my microbrew).

  •  Lying sack of shit (none)
    Even Saddam would have been delighted to sell us all the oil we wanted if we had been prepared to acquiesce in his extracurricular depredations.

    Uh, actually we WERE consuming oil from Iraq right up to the beginning of the invasion.  So much for his "argument" in the next paragraph.  

    If the Wall Street Journal is such a bad source of information, why does it have the audience it has?  

    Oh, that's right.  I forgot what a miserable failure this generation of business leaders has been.  Back to fantasy land with you, parasites, and try not to grope the Tax-Cut-Led-Growth Fairy.  There've been complaints...

  •  He's partly right (none)
    The problem isn't that all of his premises are false, the problem is that the conclusion doesn't follow logically from his premises.

    I actually agree with him that increases in efficiency lead to increases in consumption (all other things being equal). The reason is the expanding economy. It is true that if the transportation sector uses less oil, more will be consumed elsewhere. But that is not a reason not to use a hybrid car. Those other uses may be better uses. They certainly provide more jobs and income (somewhere) in the world.

    I also agree that the cheapest oil gets used first, but that is not a reason not to use a hybrid car. At some point, the energy supply will constrain the economy. The available energy will shrink. And guess what? The more efficient the economy is, the slower and less extreme will be the impact.

    So, yes, while it is true that conservation somehwhat counterintutively leads to increased consumption, this is only because of our ravenous addiction. It is still the case that efficiency will determine the slope of the downside of Hubbert's Peak. I would argue that the few true premises of his argument lead to the opposite conclusion: More efficient and alternative fuel vehicles MUST be embraced, and the sooner the better.

    [-7.13, -8.41]

    by evilpenguin on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 09:42:08 AM PST

  •  Return of lying sack of shit (none)
    Meanwhile, CAFE rules raise the cost of a car while reducing the cost of operating it. Being rational even when they don't meant to be, consumers respond by getting more use of out their cars -- driving 15,000 miles per year, up from 10,000 since the rules were adopted.

    Right.  Because this has nothing to do with the cost of real estate.  


    (And auto makers have met this demand by greatly improving vehicle reliability.)

    A demand unmet?  Is such a thing possible?  

    That leaves carbon dioxide, aka greenhouse gas, to support the increasingly rickety rationale for treating fuel efficiency as a socially desirable end in itself.

    No, it only seems rickety because you did such a shoddy job of identifying the causality in the first point.  "Rickety" is when you build bullshit on nonsense, see "You."  

    Here, we can only suggest Prius fans might do the planet more good by convincing the American public of the merits of nuclear energy, the closest thing to a genuinely "green solution" to energy challenges in the real world.

    Right, because if my car gets too much more efficient I'm gonna have to start driving rings around the whole fucking planet, thanks to dingbat's half-remember Econ 101 "laws."  I'll be helpless to do otherwise!  There is no will, only magical price mechanisms!  AAAAAAAAAAAA!!!

  •  The WSJ is correct in a way... (none)
    It is very likely true that oil saved from using a hybrid will just be consumed elsewhere. It's called Jevon's Paradox. Remember, two Priuses are as bad as one SUV.

    Where I disagree with them is this. We need to be thinking bigger than just hybrid cars. What the WSJ has just unwittingly illustrated is the complete failure of lassaize faire capitalism, which causes inordinate depletion of resources by keeping growth unconstrained.

    Unfortunately, the only way I think we are going to get around this is by doing anti-market things, and possibly by taking severe steps. We've made a few small steps (such as environmental laws), but it's too little too late. For example, it may be necessary to:

    • Artificially halt or limit economic growth (possibly permanently), or require that ALL new energy sources are renewable (i.e. outlaw building new oil, natural gas, or coal power plants).

    • Severely limit the number of new cars that anyone is allowed to manufacture, and place severe fuel economy restrictions on those.

    • Completely stop population growth on the planet, hopefully by merely having to use voluntary incentives (sex education, condoms, etc). Encourage if possible a gradual decline in population levels.

    The above may seem disturbing, but it might be necessary! Just buying a lot of Priuses is not going to solve the problem!
  •  heheh (4.00)

    what a dumbass.

    But doesn't saving oil have benefits beyond the dollars saved -- for instance, postponing the doom of civilization?

    Actually, he's technically right.  The answer is no.  But... duh.  The dollars saved is the whole frigging point.  No, we won't wake up one day to find out that the oil doesn't come out of the oil tap anymore.  It won't ever just stop all of a sudden.  It'll just continue to get more and more expensive.  Habits of convenience and necessity will become un-economical, and people will suffer, and some people are already suffering.  So the whole point is to continue to find ways of reducing demand, so we don't experience that supply squeeze that is inevitably happening for other reasons.  So he just sort of waves his hands and declares it irrelevant.  Kind of like asking, "Does war really have any downside other than all the killing and wounding and destruction and bad feelings?  Well, no!"

    Beatpaths: automatic graphical sports power rankings.

    by tunesmith on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 10:12:50 AM PST

  •  Dead Dinosaurs (none)
    The problem with dead dinosaurs in the ground is that they're harmless.  When you fuel your economy on them, however, they have a bad habit of going up into the sky and staying there as a kind of dust.  Scientists call that dust a gas - like you get when you have too many New York street vendor hotdogs.  

    Now unlike you, Mother Earth can't take an Alka Seltzer to get rid of her gas.  Mr. Ocean has to do that for her by eating all this gas.  But Mr. Ocean is a very slow and picky eater and it takes him a long time to eat it all.  

    In the meantime, all that dead dinosaur dust is like a big, heavy wool coat that Mother Earth can't take off.  It's nice in the winter, yes!  But in the summer it makes her extra hot.  And when Mother Earth is very hot, Mr. Ocean and Ms. Terra are extra hot too!  

    Now, Mr. Ocean has all that extra eating to do and besides, it's very hot and all the ice that Ms. Terra wears (like jewelry!) starts to melt and it makes Mr. Ocean very fat.  Oh no!  Some parts of Ms. Terra will start to drown in Mr. Ocean.  

    Some of those parts of Ms. Terra that might drown are called New Orleans, Japan, Australia, Los Angeles, and even New York City, where all the Wall Street Journal reporters like to play!  

    So, what's the moral of this story?  The more dead dinosaurs we can keep in the ground the easier it is for Mother Earth to keep her cool.

    See?  You can explain this stuff to journalists.  

    No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices. - Edward R. Murrow

    by CrazyHorse on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 10:22:33 AM PST

  •  Dumbest. Logic. Ever. (none)
    "Drive a Hummer if you want to reduce US dependence on foreign oil..."

    And while you're at it:

    • Run with scissors if you don't want to put out an eye.

    • Pet strange dogs if you don't want to get bit.

    • Wear a condom if you want to have a child.

    • Eat lard if you want to lose weight.

    • And read the Wall Street Journal if you want untainted news.
  •  Can I choose A and B? (4.00)
    This guy is both beyond stupid, and just your average Republican- that's just two different ways to say the same thing.  Oh, and a tool of the corporate elites- but I repeat myself.

    I seriously think the corporatists, the economic elite, which includes the people in the White House and the people at the Wall Street Journal, are trying to engineer an economic collapse of the US.  No other explanation makes sense.  I mean, you'd think the auto industry and oil industry would be all behind the switch to hybrids.  Hybrids cusion the shock when oil goes to $5 a barrel.  Hybrids hold off the comming of peak oil, or at least make it less painful.  And hybrids slow the arrival of true alternate fuels, like hydrogen.  Hybrids also help sell cars- you're still driving that gas guzzling two year old SUV?  Man, you gotta get with the times, and get yourself a new hybrid!  Not to mention the good publicity.

    Likewise, it's hard to see how the US Goverment being in default is good for anybody.  And Bush has been terrible for the stock market- the stock market today is still at the same level it was when Bush took office.  And 70% of the economy is consumer spending- having a healthy economy is good for everyone, but mostly good for the rich.  The average CEO's pay rate grew 10x faster in the 90's than did the average worker's.

    The problem with all of these is that they're purely economic arguments.  It is beyond argument (to anyone who deals with reality) that Democratic governance is better economically for pretty much everyone than Republican governance.  But this isn't about money- it's about power, and it's about society.

    If Bill Gates lost fifty percent of his net worth, he'd still be worth tens of billions of dollars.  He wouldn't notice, except when he read his accounting statement- he wouldn't have to sell his house, or give up his private jets, or anything.  His lifestyle wouldn't be signifigantly changed even if he lost 90% of his networth.  For most people, losing 50%, let alone 90%, of their networth would be devistating.

    So in a very real sense, the rich aren't going to be hurt by an economic collapse.  Their children are going to have a good education whatever happens to the public school system.  If abortion is illegal in the US, and their daughter needs to fly off to Europe for an abortion, no problem.  They won't go without healthcare single payer or not.  They have the money to hire private security forces even if the police are worthless.  They can create their own secure green zones.  Twelve hour warnings of comming hurricanes is sufficient for the family to get into the private jet and fly somewhere safe- and if one home is destroyed, they have the money to rebuild it while being forced to live in one of their other homes.  So other than the bank statement, general economic collapse won't really hurt them.

    On the other hand, general social and economic collapse has a number of social advantages.  First of all, it increase their perceptual wealth in comparison to the rest of the population.  Not to mention making it a lot easier to get servants, especially servants who don't talk balk quite so much.  But it also opens up the possibility of switching out our current goverment, which always runs the risk of actually being responsible to the hoi poi at least occassionally, with a proper corporatist dictatorship (aka facism) or theocratic neo-feudalism.  I.e. with a goverment by rich people, of rich people, and for rich people (even more so than what we have now).  As God intended (just ask any of his so-called servants).

    Economically, general social-economic collapse is bad for everyone.  Socially, there are possibilities.  Which is why I think the economic elite are generally pushing for it.

    "History does not always repeat itself. Sometimes it just yells, 'Can't you remember anything I told you?' and lets fly with a club." --John W. Campbell

    by bhurt on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 10:31:18 AM PST

  •  he's oversimplifying (4.00)
    First off - oil is a weird market because it's a cartel.  It's not like demand goes down and prices go down too.  OPEC can decide the quantity it is going to produce and that will affect the prices along with the demand.

    Also, let's say there are 2 possible oil prices: $2/gal and $3/gal.  With low demand it goes down to $2/gal.  When we all drive hummers it's $3/gal.

    Say a Prius driver gets 60 mi/gal and drives 15,000 mi/yr. Under low demand they spend $500/yr.  With high demand they spend $750/yr.

    A Hummer driver gets (I'm making this up) 9 mi/gal and they also drive 15,000 mi/yr. Under low demand they spend $3333/yr and under high demand they spend $5000/yr.

    Ok, so a bunch of people get Priuses and demand goes all the way down to $2/gal.  You are buying a new car and you can pick either Prius or Hummer.  Think about it: $500/yr or $3333/yr on gas?  Which do you pick?

    I re-did my website! See how pretty is now.

    by OrangeClouds115 on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 10:36:58 AM PST

  •  Rush Limbaugh was saying this in early 2003 (none)
    first place I ever encounterd the argument.

    Could not seriously believe that the college educated people I was working with, took him seriously and thought this intelligent argument. (I also thought he was drunk, wondered how come no one else realized he had a bottle of Johnny Walker in the desk drawer; shows how little I knew.)

    "Don't be a janitor on the Death Star!" - Grey Lady Bast (change @ for AT to email)

    by bellatrys on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 10:54:10 AM PST

  •  this guy is being willfully stupid (none)
    It's stupid to assume that saved oil and gas will always be bought up as if always in a steady state.  Saved gasoline will lower the price of gas, over the long run, since leaving more supply, and there is no reason to assume that the lowered price will automatically drive people to buy more gas, and drive more, as opposed to just less gas being used.  Obviously, at a certain level, high gas prices do discourage driving, and if hybrid cars merely cut into these high gas prices (a particular spot in the curve) than the overall effect may not be what we think, in that the saved gas just relieves other people from driving less by depressing the price, but that just begs for more comprehensive reforms and standards for vehicles, not more Hummers.

    Further, no price or product is ever in steady state.  When prices come down for one product due to increasing supply with steady demand, the dollars previously spent on this product may be redirected to other products and services, and not necessarily be reinvested in only this one product.  This is why we have historically varying changes of prices and even wholesale change in pricing and usage of particular products/services that bifurcate and enter a different equilibrium phase.

    The key is to try and analyze where on the supply/demand "curve" we currently are at, and where we would like to be, and why, and draft a strategy to get there.  At worst, if the gas "curve" is at a high point, discouraging driving, and increasing hybrids effectively help depress this high price, then the influence of the hybrid alone, in just this sense of saving gas, will not be what we think in the short-term.  But in the long-term, there is still great progress being made, and we may need to supplement these efforts in order to assure we reach a more sustainable balance of energy reliance and consumption.

    free the information

    by freelixir on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 11:15:43 AM PST

  •  $9,500 less? (none)
    I just ordered a 2006 Prius with a fairly spiffy options package (although not the super-spiffy GPS navigation system) for a price of $23,780.

    Where does this idiot think anyone's going to be able to get a really nice, mid-sized car (that gets ~50 MPG) for $14,280?

    That's only a couple thousand more than what I paid for my much-smaller VW New Beetle in 1999.

    I can't wait to get my Prius, and it seems like a pretty damn good deal.
    Bia agus deoch, ceol agus craic.

    by Sazerac on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 11:27:23 AM PST

  •  It is getting to the point... (none)
    that you can determine what would be best for America and its people by doing exactly opposite of what the WSJ proposes/supports.

    Blatant plug:

    by stumpy on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 11:29:42 AM PST

  •  Insane (none)
    The more people buy hybrids the smaller the price premium.

    More than 173,000 hybrids had been sold in the USA in 2005 (through October), more than doubling the total for all of 2004.

    Every taxi and every rental car should be a hybrid. While I may drive my car (Escape hybrid) for 6-7,000 miles/yr, cabs are driven more than that in a week.

    •  Check numbers ... (none)
      No way that taxis average 6-7000 miles / week.  Think of it this way, there are:  168 hours in a week.  To meet your figures, the car would need to drive over 35 miles an hour, 24 hours a day, every day of the year.  1000 miles a week ... perhap even 2000 ... but no way is the average fleet at 6-7k per week.

      9/11/05, Day 1469, A count worth keeping? Or, Osama Bin Forgotten?

      by besieged by bush on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 09:03:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Efficiency Is Bad. (none)
    That's the thrust of his argument.

    "Efficiency is Bad."

    Wow. Doesn't really dignify any further response, does it?

  •  toyota (none)
    my family's owned corollas, a camry, and a prius, all great cars.  and I have toyota stock, that's been doing really well this year.  bought because the long term strategy is much better than gm and ford with their giant suv focus.  btw, even toyota's non hybrids have superior mileage. as for pollutants - it's not like the new toyotas are polluting more per mile than cars with worse gas mileage.

    btw the newer priuses are midsize - so compare them to an accord or camry, not a civic or corolla.  probably not the baseline models either.

    he's only got 1 legit point (that I have heard in economics classes before) - selling priuses raises toyota's overall mpg so they can sell more suv's. however, hybrid drive is used on suv's also.

    maybe this guy is short toyota, or someone powerful at wsj is? that might be one reason why the wsj is bashing them.  toyota's a huge multinational corporation, they can afford expensive wsj ads, I don't think ideology would trump potential loss of that large of a client.

    "It's OUR money".no it ain't. It's the Peoples Republic of China's money. You just borrowed it-and anybody want to bet they probably will want it back? -daulton

    by Eric Novinson on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 01:09:21 PM PST

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