The Price of Gas

I have been sad to see gas prices drop down to nearly half of what they were just a month or two ago. I know I’m most certainly in the minority in my opinion. But I think the auto makers need a shakedown – and that’s exactly what they’re getting right now, and I believe it’s because of their hubris.

This is just like the situation with American automobile companies in the seventies. I’m reading An Empire of Wealth by John Steele Gordon, and this seemed to summarize the dilemma very well.

With no need to take the risks and expenses of innovation, the industry had stagnated technologically. The last major technological advance had been automatic transmission, first introduced in 1948. Instead the automobile companies concentrated on appearance, size, and power. American cars in the postwar years became larger and often sported such nonfunctional features as tail fins and much chrome. The evolution of American automobiles in these years is strikingly analogous to the tendency of living things isolated from competition on lush islands to evolve into giant and often grotesque forms.

When I read that, I picture SUV’s and other awful vehicles. How about you?