By Andrew Bennett
You can hear it anywhere from presidential debates to small-talk conversations. You may have even heard someone respond to “what’s up” with the clever remark “gas prices.” Gas prices are manifested 24 hours a day on the tall signs outside of stations, there are iPhone apps that will tell you where to find the cheapest gas prices, and many American citizens would change their presidential vote simply based on what a candidate claims they will do to the gas prices. More than any other commodity, Gasoline has nearly every driving-age American obsessing over its prices and the feeling among consumers is almost unanimous and rather obvious: lower prices are better.
Well I’m here to tell you that they’re all wrong; higher gas prices are better. As an American citizen who drives more than 10,000 miles every year, I want to save money on gas just as much as anybody else, but I have come to realize that there may be many benefits to gas prices being higher. There are numerous reasons why Obama should be making efforts to increase the price of gasoline, including climate change, technology innovation, and dependence on foreign countries. The benefits of increased gas prices on the environment are obvious: if gas prices were higher, people would drive less or drive more efficient vehicles, and there would be less carbon emitted in America. Higher gasoline prices would also push auto manufactures to build vehicles that utilize alternative forms of energy, such as electricity or hydrogen fuel cell technology. This does not just mean more Smart Cars and Toyota Priuses on the road; it also means more high-tech super cars like the Audi R8 E-Tron, the BMW i8, and the Fisker Karma. These innovations would boost the economy and continue to lead to a better environmental situation.
One of the biggest benefits of higher gas prices would be a decreased dependence on foreign countries. Not only would Americans demand less oil, but as one writer points out, higher gas prices would lead to increased oil drilling in America. Oil companies will only begin drilling in America if prices are high, otherwise their money spent on new drilling equipment, obtaining land, new oil refineries, etc. would not be a profitable investment.
One of the main reasons why the government may be subsidizing oil prices so much is to simply keep the citizens happy. As with many political issues in America, we find politicians often making decisions based on what will keep them in office, rather than what is truly best for America. Many citizens drive cars that run solely on gasoline power and they don’t want to pay more for gas. If gas prices were to increase in the long term, however, there would be an influx of new technologies to replace consumers’ dependence on gasoline and it would likely be even more inexpensive for consumers.
While higher gas prices may have some adverse implications in the short term, it seems extremely clear that it would lead to a more sustainable economic structure for America in the long term. With so many clear-cut benefits of increased gas prices, it really begs the question: is it really worth it for the government to keep prices low?