You've probably noticed that those prices at the pump have risen considerably over the last month or so. But don't worry! It's not that big a deal! Well, according to Yahoo! Finance's Daniel Gross, that is. Why? Well, Americans are consuming less gas per capita than a few years ago, cars are more fuel efficient, and people are just plain getting weary of more and more traffic (and, hence, are driving less):
There's also evidence that Americans' long-running love affair with the road is beginning to wane a bit. Driving is less fun when you're always stuck in traffic. These statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation show the number of miles driven by buses, trucks, and cars from 1957 to 2008. From 1990 to 2000, total miles driven rose from 2.17 trillion to 2.75 trillion, up about 26 percent. But between 2000 and 2008, total mileage rose less than seven percent, from 2.75 trillion to 2.94 trillion. Miles driven fell in 2008.
Oh ho! So, total miles driven between 2000-2008 dropped substantially when compared to the previous decade. I seem to recall a guy named George W. Bush being in the White House then, and don't recall any such pronouncements of "Relax!" from people like Gross. (Although Gross actually debunked conspiracy theories that G.W. Bush manipulated energy prices to coincide with elections, I wonder if he wrote the headline of this Slate article of his ... especially since it isn't until the very last line of the column that he definitively exonerates the administration.) Gross's declaration isn't stand-alone. WRAL.com in North Carolina recently headlined "Economist: Rising gas prices 'good sign.'"
NC State economist Mike Walden sees a silver lining in higher gas prices, saying it means the US economy has regained its footing and is getting back up to speed. "Gas prices going up is actually a good sign," Walden said. "$3 is normal. When we were down in the $2 (range), that was abnormal due to the recession. "I don't see anything diabolical, mysterious or underhanded here," he continued. "I think it's just a sign that the worldwide economy is better now than it has been over the last three years."
Contrast that to some of these WRAL.com headlines from the previous administration:
- Oil Companies Blamed for Gas Prices (July 2007).
- Attorney general to probe gas prices; N.C. average tops $4 (September 2008).
- High gas prices take toll on charity workers (August 2008).
- N.C. gas prices sit high above national average (October 2008).
These are just further examples of what Newsbusters' Julia A. Seymour wrote about back on December 30th. If you haven't yet read her excellent article, be sure to check out how the MSM portrayed increases in gas prices during 2004-2008.