The Economist has a telling cover this week:


Here’s what The Economist had to say:

"The best long-term solution—for America as well as the world economy—would be higher petrol taxes in the United States. Alas, there is little prospect of that happening. America, unlike Europe, has preferred fuel-economy regulations to petrol taxes. But even with those it has failed abysmally. These regulations have been so abused that the oil efficiency of its vehicles has fallen to a 20-year low. This week, the Bush administration announced proposals for changing the fuel-economy rules governing trucks and sport-utility vehicles, but failed to close loopholes that allow these gas guzzlers to use more petrol than normal cars, a shameful concession to carmakers.

America and China, in their different ways, are drunk on oil consumption. The longer they put off taking the steps needed to curb their habit, the worse the headache will be. George Bush once learned that lesson about alcohol. It is time for him to wean America off oiloholism too."

Quelle surprise . . .

The oiloholics
The Economist,  Aug 25th 2005

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  1. Idaho_spud commented on Aug 28

    In America, unlike Europe, there isn’t a train running every 20 minutes from where you live to where you work.

    If the US were the size of England and had a similar level of land development, these smug statements might have merit. Unfortunately it is not and they do not.

  2. John East commented on Aug 28

    Let’s hear less socialistic comments such as, “The longer they put off taking the steps needed to curb their habit (high oil usage), the worse the headache will be.”

    If we all sell our gas guzzlers and buy bicycles all that will happen is that oil prices will fall and consumption in Asia and the far east will rise. The Chinese will be happy, but what else will we have achieved?

    Why not let the free market do what it does best. As usage increasingly exceeds supply the price of oil will rise, usage will fall, and alternatives to oil will become more competitive.

  3. Jose commented on Aug 28

    Very True. We need to stop overusing energy.
    Smaller vehicles.
    Less cooling and heating at home.
    More efficient lighting and appliacnes

  4. Lee commented on Aug 28

    So, the answer from people with the highest taxes on the planet is higher taxes. Quelle surprise.

    Where will the tax money go? A better quality of life for bureaucrats is my guess. Think Brussels.

  5. M1EK commented on Aug 28


    Urban rail could be working here right now, if we had decided to build our suburbs along the pre-WWII model. Urban rail DID work here during that time; almost every city of non-trivial size had streetcar lines despite the much larger area our nation covers.

    The key is that the overwhelming majority of people in this country do not travel hundreds of miles to get to the nearest big town – Idaho being a notable exception. MOST people live in big metropolitan areas and do most of their driving to/from work or to/from school.

  6. M1EK commented on Aug 28


    Where would the tax money go? Rebuilding our urban rail systems, for one. It’s just plumb stupid how much we invest in highways compared to rail transit, given the apparent end of cheap oil.

    And don’t kid yourself – the suburban sprawl we endure is NOT the result of the free market; it’s the result of the market being warped by tax policy and zoning regulations which have effectively outlawed urban development in most of this country.

  7. Lee commented on Aug 28

    Don’t kid yourself. New gas taxes will be the next pork barrel for special interests and the politically connected.

    There are two problems with taxes as a social engineering tool. The social engineering doesn’t work and taxes never go away.

  8. Danielle commented on Aug 29

    I find it interesting that the same anti-socialists are very often the ones who love the wealth creation generated by the real estate boom which was triggered by at least 3 government agencies: the Fed, Fannie and Freddie. It’s also very often the very same people, with no blue blood whatsoever, who actually think that they would have what they have today without any socialistic policies and government intervention.
    The US is one big socialistic machine and the biggest difference between it and other socialist countries is that Amercicans refuses to see themselves as such!
    If Government is so inefficient today itès probably because everything has to come in through the back door.

  9. The Crooked Links commented on Sep 2

    The oiloholics

    Oil prices could yet go higher—unless the world’s biggest gas guzzlers curb their thirst [via, via]…

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