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Old 10-25-2011, 08:02 AM   #1 (permalink)
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The Energy Trap...what does driving cost you?

Studying the Energy Trap | Energy Trap

How do Americans cope with high gas prices? What are the keys to driving costs down? The Energy Trap did scores of interviews, scrutinized historical spending data, and surveyed 2,000 households. The stories on this site share what we've learned.

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Old 10-25-2011, 09:55 AM   #2 (permalink)
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What high gas prices? gas prices here are cheap and always have been.
That guy is spending a ton on vehicle ownership, his monthly budget is nearly my yearly budget, as I figure my car is costing me around 20 cents per mile including full coverage insurance and vehicle up keep, of course I only have one part time job and my vehicle ownership is not 50% of my income, it might be 10% of my income, 15% of my income if you include all of my vehicles.
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Old 10-25-2011, 10:49 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suspectnumber961 View Post
Studying the Energy Trap | Energy Trap

How do Americans cope with high gas prices? What are the keys to driving costs down? The Energy Trap did scores of interviews, scrutinized historical spending data, and surveyed 2,000 households. The stories on this site share what we've learned.
I agree with Ryland. My eye's popped-out at the realization he spends each month or two what I spend each year to operate and maintain my 1998 Civic. It seems amazingly irrational for someone to be willing to spend so much...

So this is where a cultural analysis of economic choices becomes important. Several things about his choices exceed "normal" lines: car payment is damned large, daily commute is twice the US average, miserable gas mileage of maybe 14 MPG (pickup?). The way he tells the interviewer these things often suggests he's aware his choices are unusual. Since many economic decisions are actually made on emotional/social assumptions based in biographical and cultural histories rather than "economic" grounds, I would want to explore how he got into this situation with discussions of which decisions came in what order, why he made those he made when he made them, how he felt about the situations. Would reveal a lot. But at the center, I think we would find local variations of the American dream, of manliness, of community history--all run through the meat grinder of infrastructure planning that emphasizes sprawl.

I think the street interview tactic of the camera, white board, and market is smart. Sets up great testimonies and establishes contact with interesting people.

BTW, part of examining it and helping the guy too would have to be unequal power and how it enforced some of these choices. What were the job requirements for him in terms of vehicles? Does he need the truck to keep the job? Had it better be a reliable (read "new") truck?
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Last edited by California98Civic; 10-25-2011 at 11:01 AM..
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Old 10-25-2011, 11:08 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Old 10-25-2011, 11:32 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Interesting that they present the case as if he is "trapped" in his situation and "has" to pay that much in order to commute.

How about providing some solutions for his problem such as:

1. Get parttime jobs that are closer to home.
2. Dump the pickup and get a car or motorcycle that gets far better fuel mileage.
3. If the pickup is necessary for his line of work, dump the current pickup for an older and/or smaller pickup that costs far less in payments and to insure and gets better fuel mileage.
4. Move to where the jobs are.
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Old 10-25-2011, 12:10 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick View Post
Interesting that they present the case as if he is "trapped" in his situation and "has" to pay that much in order to commute.

How about providing some solutions for his problem such as:

1. Get parttime jobs that are closer to home.
2. Dump the pickup and get a car or motorcycle that gets far better fuel mileage.
3. If the pickup is necessary for his line of work, dump the current pickup for an older and/or smaller pickup that costs far less in payments and to insure and gets better fuel mileage.
4. Move to where the jobs are.
I agree about providing solutions but I think to really solve these problems we need more systemic solutions. Each of your recommendations has pitfalls. 1) the unemployment rate is up over 12% in some parts of the USA and part-time jobs never have benefits and might require as much or more driving depending on distances between them. 2) Is answered by three. 3) I totally agree but it's not hard to imagine this guy's seven-day per week job plus family life making that switch significantly more difficult to actually accomplish in his favor, with a reliable second-hand vehicle. 4) And if his house is underwater? If the jobs are in an area with poorer schools? If moving would take him far from elders to whom he's beholden, or would have to commute back to look-in upon?

There's a lot left unanswered by the video, stuff that matters. There is a need for the kind of systematic thinking and planning that our politics seems incapable of now.
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Old 10-25-2011, 01:24 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by California98Civic View Post
ISeveral things about his choices exceed "normal" lines: car payment is damned large, daily commute is twice the US average, miserable gas mileage of maybe 14 MPG (pickup?).
Maybe they should have interviewed me as a counterpoint: haven't made a car payment since sometime in the early '80s, telecommute to work, when I do drive it's mostly in a car that gets over 70 mpg - heck, even the truck gets over 25 mpg, and that's loaded with firewood.

It's all about choices: if he's stuck in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging :-)
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Old 10-25-2011, 02:02 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I think he said his job was as a security guard, no need for a truck for that job and even if he owes more on his house then it is worth letting it get foreclosed on is still an option then rent a house or an apartment closer to work and you are debt free and saving money.
AAA did a cost brake down a while back and figured that for a brand new SUV or truck that your cost per mile was up just over $1 per mile, I think that people get in situations where all their money is being spent on their vehicle because they can't do math, if you had to put $1 bills in to a slot in your dash for every mile you drove you would rethink all of those little trips you take, you would rethink your whole driving pattern!
I'll have to pull out my gas log note book, but after putting down some figures I think my cost per mile is closer to 10 cents, not 20 cents per mile and I figure my car should last me another 10 years before it wears out.
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Old 10-25-2011, 02:37 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
It's all about choices: if he's stuck in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging :-)
It's all about choices, sure, but within constraints. Nobody is absolutely free. There is a systematic issue about development and relative power that is irreducibly part of our consumption problems. Agreed, though, if he does not need a guzzler, then get rid of it and its loan!

Ryland, I laughed out loud at the "dollars in the dashboard" idea. Awesome!! There is a great premise for an efficient car ad campaign in that image too.
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Old 10-25-2011, 03:06 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Hi there,

this guy should live in Europe, perhaps in good old Germany, where a litre of premium unleaded (no cheaper gas on the market any more) costs 1,50 Euros at the moment if you can get it cheap (monday). Thats 7,86 USD per gallon.

Anybody buying a guzzler around here has the money to spend, nobody in his right mind would buy such a thing if he cannot afford to support it. People who like american cars or other makes with big gas engines convert to lpg to save some euros.

In my opinion, instead of whining people should drop their fuel monsters and get an older but fuel efficient car to replace it. Or go hypermiling :-)

so long

tinduck

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