03 May 2011

$5 Gas Will Save America

Ok, so I have a theory that, on the whole, five dollar a gallon gas will save America as we know it. 

You all think I'm crazy. You point to the fact that this could cause widespread economic collapse. You gnash your teeth, and rend your garments. You think I've lost what little of my mind remained.

So, sit back, calm down, bear with me, and hear me out.

As you inevitably know, I've spent a moderate to large amount of my words on this humble blog ranting about the downfall of American society. I've ranted about online charter schools and regular charter schools. If you don't want to read those posts, from back when I wrote in larger paragraphs, I don't blame you, so I'll summarize them: I think that charter schools hurt America because they segregate schools by level of parental involvement, and that people should go to traditional public schools because those schools serve an important socialization function. At one point I also argue that letting people choose is bad.

However, this isn't the only problem with American society, although it is related (at least tangentially) to the problem I'd like to discuss with you tonight. Tonight, I'd like to talk about how we're all withdrawing into our homes, and how that hurts society.

We're all withdrawing from society. You and I see it every day. You can order almost anything on Amazon. Grocery stores (and even Wal-Mart) are starting to deliver. You can get a high school diploma, a college degree, and a job all from the comfort of your own couch.

It seems like mere convenience, but it's more dangerous than that. If people stop interacting, except via text, then society will slowly but surely fall apart. Empathy is a skill learned by witnessing, first hand, suffering. The more and more we seclude ourselves, the less we learn to actually feel.

(Right now, you're checking the title. You thought this was about $5 gas, and here I am, ranting about anti-social Internet trolls)

You probably think that $5 a gallon gas is at least partially to blame for this. You think that people seek online and delivered diversions because travel outside the home has become so expensive. 

I would argue that when gas gets more expensive, this trend could actually be reversed. How? Shipping. You see, whenever we order something online, we pay for shipping to get it to our door. However, as gas (and much more importantly, diesel) gets more expensive, that cost will be passed on to you the consumer. At some point, that will cancel out the cost savings that online sales sites rely on to make their profit. Then, it will make sense for you to go out and get the goods locally. When those people go out, society will benefit, especially if they're buying more local goods, since actually making things is one of the best ways to build the economy.

It will no doubt be painful. Society may become more localized (which has it's own set of problems), but I think that having people out, interacting with other people, is a benefit worth the pain of restructuring our society to function with energy prices skyrocketing.

So there I am, arguing for gas at $5 a gallon. I just hope it gets there before the Chinese call in our debt.

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