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High Gas Prices Change Lives

A few weeks ago I wrote about the scattered attempts in California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One person said reducing GH gasses was actually pretty simple. All you have to do is raise the price of gasoline.

An increase in vehicles miles traveled is a sure sign of an improving economy, but also more traffic jams and greenhouse emissions.
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Above: An increase in vehicles miles traveled is a sure sign of an improving economy, but also more traffic jams and greenhouse emissions.

Well, that’s been done… by mistake or conspiracy if not by official design. And it’s having an effect on the amount of gas guzzled, the amount of money spent on other things and the way people live. This story in the New York Times does a good job of telling us some of the consequences.

Sales are down at Walmart and Lowe’s. Some people have moved closer to work. Car sales are doing well, given the new demand for smaller vehicles. Generally, the impact on the economy of pricey gas has been moderated by job growth and a federal payroll tax cut.

We’ll see how long this reduced demand lasts. Brief spells of high-priced gas can do something to change people’s habits, but it’s nothing like the constant cash drain of paying $50 to fill up.

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