Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I, too, generally get a bit puzzled about Kunstlerish views about the future of America in a world of rising oil prices. Certainly rising oil/gas prices, over time, might impact peoples' behavior in terms of what kind of car they use and how much they use it. Over a longer time horizon high prices might impact to some degree our land use and transit policies, and the relative desirability of certain locations. Obviously high oil/gas prices would cause economic pain for lower income people with a heavy reliance on automobile usage, and potentially tip the economy into a nontrivial recession.

But when I think through how various levels might impact behavior, and I've done informal polling on this blog about it before, it's just hard to see how any realistic scenario leads to the kind of of economic and social Armageddon that some authors predict. Even if there was a major price discontinuity, with gas shooting up to $10/gallon tomorrow, I just don't see the country going through a sudden wrenching overhaul. People would be pissed. Stuff would be more expensive. But I really don't see it in revolutionary terms.