Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Oil and real estate prices

This is not so much for the $3.99/gallon regular (at Olympic & Bundy today), but the $4.69 diesel.

And not only about rising fuel prices embedded into rising consumer prices, reducing consumers' ability to afford houses, but how much stuff that'll get too expensive to get trucked (or flown, or shipped) at all any more. Leading to how many more jobs lost on top of the finance and housing industry recession?

I'd call it part weak dollar, part commodity speculation, and part peaked oil production with rising foreign demand. It will add to real estate's struggles, even on the Westside.

The bears like Nouriel Roubini who called the housing bubble now call a deep recession, while the "soft landing" crowd now calls a second half upswing. Which side has earned credibility?

52 comments:

Anonymous said...

gas prices are just monopolistic consumer gouging. The price of Diesel is exactly balanced with the extra efficiency so you don't get more for your $. Same with Ethanol. Everyone needs to just buy electric 2nd cars and put solar panels on their roof.

we're not in a recession, we just got ahead of ourselves. the green economy is exploding. We're still better of than we've been. Forget about our $ internationally. Look at what you can buy locally with it. Deflation local / inflation internationally. Please would you loan Europe $ or America? we work our butts off and take no vacations. We'll be fine. Just don't vote for any politician who says they can fix anything, that'll make it worse.

Anonymous said...

Roubini isn't unreasonable but I tend to agree with calculatedrisk, he's too pessimistic. The sky is not actually falling! Here's CR's recent Roubini review:

http://calculatedrisk.blogspot.com/2008/04/comments-on-roubini-interview.html

Anonymous said...

Will you please give me the $25000 required for the solar panels for my house?

Oh, and which electric car should I buy?

Man you are really stupid. The "Green Economy" is the next tech bubble. There's no future in green because it's just a fad for middle-class environmentalists.

Everything green costs more money and you don't save a dime. Of course the the greenies demanding government subsidies, the envirowackos claim that being green actually saves money.

I'd rather just keep my gasoline fueled vehicles.

Just wait until the economy tanks. Then lets see how eager people will be to spend scarce dollars on "green" energy.

In case you didn't notice, the L.A. City Council couldn't pass a small rate increase for the DWP--the public roared in anger. Just wait until the public is told that their electric rates will be going through the roof because we're not going to be buying any more cheap fossil fueled electricity.

What a joke.

Anonymous said...

i agree with westside bubble here - 90% of consumers are going to get killed by high energy prices. The great mass of housing in Los Angeles region will plummet

same with the condos in santa monica - look out below

however, where i differ with westside bubble is with respect to the high end - plenty of folks in LA have the cash to buy high end SM houses for their kids

Anonymous said...

7:01 am,
So this is what's gonna hold up current values in Santa Monica -

"...plenty of folks in LA have the cash to buy high end SM houses for their kids..."

You cannot be serious.

Anonymous said...

"Everything green costs more money and you don't save a dime."

Dunno how you can say that. I presently drive a plug in converted Prius, charged from solar.

I did the calculations last year. They break down like so:

Prius: 21500 - 3150 tax credit (got the whole thing): $17950

Home Plug-in Conversion: $5000

Carpool stickers: $8

Total for car: $22958

1kw Solar array (tiny, I have own a fairly high efficiency home): 20000 - 5000 through Solar Santa Monica after tax breaks: $15000

Total annual electric bills: $145

Total cost of car/solar/home electric: $38095

Adjusted automotive MPG: 160mpg

Total mileage: 12000

Total gasoline purchases: 75 gallons

Cost of gas: $251

Total cost of transportation/electic/solar conversion/gasoline during the year of purchase: $38095

10 year predicted cost of this car if gasoline prices stay steady: $42045

Total predicted cost of a Carolla over the same period: $45000

Dramatic savings? Nope.

But for ever 50 cents gas goes up over $3.30 a gallon (where it was when I ran the numbers), I save another $1400... and if I drive the Prius past it's 120,000 mile mandated minimum warantee (thanks Governor Arnold for that), I save even more.

If gas hits $4 and sticks, I'm looking at $1900, $4.50 nets me $3200... and so forth...

And that's if you factor the entire solar array into the cost of the car and compare it to a Carolla, the overall cheapest car to drive, according to Edmunds.

Better yet, free parking at meters, carpool priviliges, and significantly cheaper home electrical...

Of course this is all just a middle class fad.

Epsilon said...

Now that the secret is out on the 90402, I predict prices there will rise 400% over the next six months, as the cash-out-my-401(k)-to-buy housing-for-my-kids crowd competes with the wealthy Saudi and Chinese buyers...

The anon who posted about the "stages of grief" was very prescient...

NeedleBrain said...

Yale’s Shiller: U.S. Housing Slump May Exceed Great Depression

Yale University economist Robert Shiller, pioneer of Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home-price index, said there’s a good chance housing prices will fall further than the 30% drop in the historic depression of the 1930s. Home prices nationwide already have dropped 15% since their peak in 2006, he said.

“I think there is a scenario that they could be down substantially more,” Mr. Shiller said during a speech at the New Haven Lawn Club.

Nancy said...

"the envirowackos claim that being green actually saves money."

The greenest thing you can do is stop buying shit you don't need. I had this New Year's resolution to only buy stuff made in the USA, and very little actually is, so now I'm hardly buying anything or only buying used items.

Try just purchasing what you REALLY need. That strategy will help the environment, and your pocketbook.

Anonymous said...

Actually, if you really want to be green don't live in California.

Move to Manhattan. The fact is that living in an apartment and taking the subway everywhere you use less than half the energy you would by living in California.

The fact that you choose to live in a place (California) that requires you to drive a car automatically makes you wortheless as far as the environment goes.

You should be ashamed of yourself

Anonymous said...

300 lbs of lead acid batteries dragged around in a Prius. Don't sound so efficient.

Nancy said...

"The fact that you choose to live in a place (California) that requires you to drive a car automatically makes you wortheless as far as the environment goes."

It's not just California, it's almost everywhere in the nation that you can't take mass transit.

People have to look at living close to work, biking, mass transit. If WE ALL MOVED to Manhattan, it would single-handedly kill your mass transit solution...you know, the one that makes you think you are better than us.

And thanks for calling us all worthless! I guess that's why you are Anonymous. :-)

Anonymous said...

Nancy,

you have a choice. You can get a job in downtown LA and live right next to your job and walk to and from work. no one forces you in to the lifestyle you lead right now.

If you drive a car you drive by choice, and you are responsible for the damage to the environment that you do

Anonymous said...

--"If you drive a car you drive by choice, and you are responsible for the damage to the environment that you do"--

Go to hell! No one is destroying the environment by driving a car. Humans are not destroying the environment since we ARE part of the environment.

This notion that humans are inherently evil and are destroying "mother earth" is just a bunch of new age crap.

Tell you what I'll do just for you--I'll make sure and waste as many natural resources as I can during the next month (won't recycle, leave my car engine idling whenever possible, waste water, leave my lights on, ect ect).

It will feel good to throw my beer cans in the trash and not recycle them.

Anonymous said...

"Go to hell! No one is destroying the environment by driving a car."

You go there. But before that, tell the 14% or so of all children in LA that are suffering from asthma caused by car emissions (see http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/03/02/pediatric_asthma_linked_to_car_emissions/) that it's ok, because we are all part of the environment.

But probably that doesn't concern you. Just as little as keeping the discussion on this board sane and polite. I strongly suspect you are the same person who babbled his pseudo-scientific rants against the threat of global warming a few weeks ago. Go away and leave this board to discussions of real estate, and save your personal attacks for your friends (if you have any).

Rob Dawg said...

Why is everyone assuming transit saves energy? The BTS, FHWA, EIA, DOT, Caltrans, NTD and god knows how many others disagree with data going back decades. A very few specific transit corridors manage to barely outperform the average POV but that's about it.

Anonymous said...

"300 lbs of lead acid batteries dragged around in a Prius. Don't sound so efficient."

Ummm... Nickle Metal Hydride, actually, and fully recycled and reclamation by law. And the battery pack weights just over 130lbs.

The curb weight of a Prius is 2765, about a third less than the Camry and a little more than a Carolla.

But then again it's easier to make up random numbers than looking anything up.

Anonymous said...

"Go to hell!"

Always a good way to punctuate your well reasoned arguments...

"This notion that humans are inherently evil and are destroying "mother earth" is just a bunch of new age crap."

Sure, but there are legitimate fiscal advantages to conservation, both as an individual, and on a broader corporate level.

For instance, you can throw those cans away if you want to. It's vastly cheaper to mine aluminium out from your garbage (and from landfills) than it is to get it out of the ground. The reason that you use one of those lovely blue recycling cans is because it saves the city the trouble and expense of sorting your garbage for you. They then pass those SAVINGS on to you in the form of cheaper city fees for garbage collection. Every one of those unsorted cans costs you cash in the long run... but they get recycled either way.

The same thing is true of your other notions "leave my car engine idling whenever possible, waste water, leave my lights on, ect ect." You can certainly do that... but that sound is your downpayment trickling away a few dollars at a time.

I often make the point, I'm environmental not out of ideology, but rather because I'm a cheap bastard. I'm an old school conservative. Conservation is key.

Of course, I also bought a house in Santa Monica at the bottom of the market (mid 1990s), paid it off with the nickles and dimes I wasn't wasting, saved a new downpayment, and I'm waiting for the fall so that I can feel really good about upgrading.

RAISE THE GAS TAX! said...

>gas prices are just monopolistic consumer gouging.

pullease!!!

if the gov't wasn't run by idiots, they'd tax gas to raise the price up to $10/gal. then, people would get rid of their pigmobiles, the tax could fund light rail, and the Arabs would be begging us to buy their oil. imagine that--we'd have no reason to be in Iraq~!

and just think what that would do for the economy...

Epsilon said...

Here, here for raising the gas tax... it makes me sick that we got to $4 gasoline by buying Excursions and Suburbans and Land Cruisers, and making a bunch of middle eastern despots into billionaires, rather than taxing gas to $4 a gallon years ago (or $10 a gallon now), and forcing people to buy smaller cars while using all that extra revenue to build infrastructure, and otherwise provide jobs for Americans...

Anonymous said...

i agree completely with the $10 a gallon gasoline

that is the only way to persuade fat lazy americans to care about the environment .

make them pay for their waste

WarChestSM said...

"I often make the point, I'm environmental not out of ideology, but rather because I'm a cheap bastard. I'm an old school conservative. Conservation is key."

Spot on. I have become more environmental simply through my constant desire to be efficient (and cheap).

"Here, here for raising the gas tax... it makes me sick that we got to $4 gasoline by buying Excursions and Suburbans and Land Cruisers..."

Spot on. People are too shortsighted though. Had someone ask me the other day about why we aren't drilling more off shore or in Alaska. At this point, I think it best to look forward towards sustainable methods of energy/transport. Drilling a few more wells ain't gunna cut it.

What really gets me going is when people talk about buying hybrid SUVs...people just don't get it. And $4 or $5 gas isn't going to force change. Prices need to be higher.

Went to Dodger stadium recently...found out there is ZERO transport to and from the stadium (other than driving yourself). So even though someone could work very close by, there isn't even a shuttle service or bus. Pathetic.

Anonymous said...

Has anybody looked at their SM Water/trash bill lately?
I have a small house, use the smallest available black trash can, have xeriscaping (no lawn) in the front yard, and only water in the back garden 3 x a week. I still pay $75-100 a month. Santa Monica has higher water and trash pick up prices than City of L.A.
And its only gonna go up.

Anonymous said...

Warchest is cheap and environmental? Hope you are married....you sound like a real bummer to go on a date with.

Anonymous said...

"Here, here for raising the gas tax... it makes me sick that we got to $4 gasoline by buying Excursions and Suburbans and Land Cruisers, and making a bunch of middle eastern despots into billionaires, rather than taxing gas to $4 a gallon years ago (or $10 a gallon now), and forcing people to buy smaller cars while using all that extra revenue to build infrastructure, and otherwise provide jobs for Americans..."


Epsilon is a lawyer AND a communist.

Anonymous said...

$10/gallon gasoline?

What about tripling home heating oil prices too?

And of course we'd have to triple the price of electricity.

Just think what tripling our total energy bill would do for the economy! People would have to turn off their heaters in the winter and air conditioners in the summer!

Factories and farmers and truckers would all have to raise their prices!

And of course airlines would have to double the price of tickets--they're all going broke now with full planes, so what's the big deal in tripling the cost of jet fuel!

You all fail to mention the huge increase in the size of the average American home in the last 30 years (and of course the explosion in McMansions). I saw a stat that said the average size of a new home was around 2700 sq ft. This is almost double the sq feet compared to a 1970's home.

So let's add big energy inefficient homes to the list of fat gas guzzling cars. And of course we'll have to tax owners of ridiculous McMansions since no one needs a 5500 sq ft home--they're the equivalent of a Ford Excursion.

The government will have lots of extra tax revenues and I'm sure they'll spend every nickle instead of paying down the national debt!

We could have NIRVANA just by a massive new ENERGY TAX!

You guys are a bunch of idiots.

Anonymous said...

"Has anybody looked at their SM Water/trash bill lately?
I have a small house, use the smallest available black trash can, have xeriscaping (no lawn) in the front yard, and only water in the back garden 3 x a week. I still pay $75-100 a month. Santa Monica has higher water and trash pick up prices than City of L.A.
And its only gonna go up."

Don't complain since you're paying for all of the necessary services provided by Santa Monica.

Taxes and fees are GOOD for America--it takes the money out of the hands of the stupid energy hog consumer and puts it in pockets of intelligent efficient government officials!

Anonymous said...

Raising the price of gas to $10 is really dumb. I agree that McMansions and Suburbans are a pox on society. However, your tax punishes too many innocent bystanders. Instead, it should be a law that any car made after (pick a year in the not too distant future)needs to get 50MPG. Or, you can have a suburban, but you have a $5,000 annual tax. This tax gets earmarked for light rail, wind power, whatever. This way, you either are energy efficient (w/ the benefit of making OPEC less relevant) or you pay an added tax to various infrastructure programs - boosting employment and improving the quality of life. This way you don't have to arbitrarily raise the cost of goods across the board. (Of course, the collapsing dollar is doing that all by itself).

Anonymous said...

anon, your heart is in the right place, but if the government raised the fuel efficiency of new cars to 50 mpg, people would just drive their old cars forever

bottom line is, any method other than an energy tax will just be avoided and evaded

what is the big deal - energy is taxed in europe and as a result people choose small energy efficient homes, choose to bike to work or walk to work or take public transit

it is just all around better for the environment if you tax energy

Epsilon said...

Actually, 7:15, we want to triple the gas tax to avoid so many of the problems you're mentioning. If oil prices keep going up (and what's stopping them?), we have to pay more for heating oil, jet fuel, gas, etc., just as you fear... and a big chunk of that money goes to the Middle East, Russia, Venezuala... i.e., places not exactly on our top-ten lists.

If we triple the gas tax, and ONLY the gas tax, people will have a huge disincentive against driving, particularly in bigger cars and huge SUVs, but that money can be used for roads, trains, alternative energy resources, etc. Yes, there's some loss of freedom if we all have to drive Prius's instead of Suburbans, but it strikes me as a heck of a lot better than maintaining this dependence on foreign oil ad infinitum... moreover, with a higher GAS tax, demand for oil will drop, and so jet fuel, heating oil, etc., will actually get cheaper.

I agree there is a problem for truckers, although there's no reason you have to do the same to diesel taxes... alternatively, there could be a tax deduction for occupation-related fuel expenses.

Anyone opposed to this idea should answer two questions for me:
1) Do you think a huge dependence on a commodity we can't produce domestically is a good thing?
2) If not, what's your solution for solving it?

Nancy said...

"no one forces you in to the lifestyle you lead right now."

Wait. Did I say I drive? You must have me confused with another Nancy.

And really you can't argue that most of this country has little or no efficient mass transit. That is why I'm buying in NoHo, not the Westside!

Anonymous said...

"Has anybody looked at their SM Water/trash bill lately?"

Look closer, there are other unrelated city fees bundled in that bill (just like your property tax). And, keep in mind, the smaller your population base, the higher those fees are going to be. Anybody who has lived in a small midwestern town (me, my wife), will tell you, city fees are comparatively cheap.

Anonymous said...

"You guys are a bunch of idiots."

Is this the same poster who told somebody to go to hell yesterday?

Anonymous said...

Nancy -

you are admirable for living a lifestyle where you don't drive - a lifestyle where you can get to and from work without driving

i respect you very much

The rest of the claimed environmentalists in LA are worthless posers. They do not follow your example - they drive.

Cheap But Not Green said...

"Actually, if you really want to be green don't live in California.

Move to Manhattan. The fact is that living in an apartment and taking the subway everywhere you use less than half the energy you would by living in California.

The fact that you choose to live in a place (California) that requires you to drive a car automatically makes you wortheless as far as the environment goes."


What's funny about this statement is that the facts state a different story.

California ranks #49 among the 50 states + DC in per capita energy use[1]. Only New York and Vermont rank lower on per capita energy use. New Yorkers use about 6% less energy per capita than Californians. Despite the car culture, we tend to drive a lot less and use considerably less energy than states like Texa for example, which uses twice as much energy per capita as CA.

So, get off your high horse and actually look up facts before denigrating the great citizens of Caulifornia.

[1] http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/states/sep_sum/plain_html/rank_use_per_cap.html

Anonymous said...

The real reason we are entering an economic depression that will far surpass the Great Depression is due to the peaking of oil production. In months, oil production will begin an irreversible decline of 2% a year and oil prices will continue to increase to infinity. Oil is the lifeblood of the industrial age. Oil is in plastics, fertilizers, pesticides, and mainly used for transportation. If you don’t believe me check out the Energy Information Administration website www.eia.doe.gov/ipm/t11d.xls and look at the world production figures. It has been flat for 4 years!

Anonymous said...

i agree with the post about oil.

People that have a lifestyle that depends on driving will get punished - it doesn't matter if the government taxes oil or not - prices will continue to escalate

look for more people in LA to shift to what people in chicago and NYC already do - jump in the train and ride the train to work each day.

look for real estate near the train stations to do better than stuff not near the train stations


another upside from $15 gasoline is that the highways will be much less crowded so if you can afford to drive you will have a much more pleasant experience

NeedleBrain said...

For the limited value of one piece of empirical evidence, I took the limited stop bus #720 on "Earth Day" down Wilshire Blvd to the subway at Western.

If you are curious what passes for a mass transit system, I suggest that you try it.

Simply, if you work outside the home, there is no current viable alternative to driving a car [of some kind]in this county.

If you are driving a vehicle that requires an engine, gas or electric, you contribute to the 'degradation' of the environment.

I guess the policy question is: how to optimize...(not waste, not over-tax, not overspend...). Polemics are useless.

And although it is true that the bus delivered me to the subway, the experience was really quite surprising. I would wager that the bus service has gotten significantly worse in last 25 years (when I last used the bus).

LA's mass transit system is simply grossly defective after spending billions of dollars.

JBR said...

A poster writes:

There's no future in green because it's just a fad for middle-class environmentalists.

...and everyone gets all defensive. Then another poster writes:

Total cost of transportation/electic/solar conversion/gasoline during the year of purchase: $38095

Now, I'm all for green tech but seriously, how many people who aren't upper middle class can afford all that? That's a rhetorical question BTW.

The problems won't be solved by a few Richie Rich'es buying a Prius and solar array. We need solutions that are accessible to the *majority* of Americans. A majority who, even on the westside, can't afford a new car, let alone 23 grand for solar panels. IMHO, some of you folks need to take a peek out of your little cocoons. Buy that setup for your gardner or your kids teacher and then you'll be making a difference

Anonymous said...

it is pretty simple.

if you choose to get a job and then rent an apartment next to your job you are helping the environment. No transportation costs. and the energy usage of an apartment is much less than a SFR.

If you instead choose a lifestyle in which you drive to your job, you are punishing the environment.

by the way, if you care about the environment you won't have a gardener - it is better to have sand and cactus on the front lawn of a SFR than something that requires a gardener.

again, most so called environmentalists on the west side are worthless hypocrites

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"hmmm, If the only people buying home in NOMO are the ones making $600K and up..."

You're not even in the ballpark, that anon was talking about north of wilshire 90403, not nomo 90402. It's $2 million for a decent starter in 90403, which you can afford if your income is around $600k/yr. For nomo, you're really talking upper $2 to $3 million, with a higher income to support that.

April 25, 2008 12:11 AM

____________

with all due respect i think the above poster misses the point - the buyers today , april 08 in 90402 are not people who depend on "income" to pay a mortgage - they are people with assets who depend on those assets to pay for the house

they may be wrong, they may be crazy, but they are not depending on an "income" when they close on the $4 million dollar houses

Anonymous said...

--"If you instead choose a lifestyle in which you drive to your job, you are punishing the environment."--

What utter nonsense. Using your logic, eating food, using the internet, flushing the toilet and turning on the faucet are all acts of "punishing the environment" since they ALL require the use of ENERGY, most of which causes pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Why don't you just go off and put a .45 caliber bullet in your brain. That's the only way a human being today won't be punishing the environment.

dwr said...

"with all due respect i think the above poster misses the point - the buyers today , april 08 in 90402 are not people who depend on "income" to pay a mortgage - they are people with assets who depend on those assets to pay for the house"

Of course you can't provide even a single example that you know of personally, but that's ok.

Anonymous said...

epsilon said:

"If we triple the gas tax, and ONLY the gas tax, people will have a huge disincentive against driving, particularly in bigger cars and huge SUVs, but that money can be used for roads, trains, alternative energy resources, etc."

The problem with your idea is that any politician or group of politicians that enacted such a tax increase would be immediately removed from office since the vast majority of the American public would literally be up in arms over such an act.

Why don't you suggest that everyone in the world just take a "Peace" pill and then we can end war and killing forever?

Or why don't we all just take a magic pill that makes us all agree on everything? Then we'll have Nirvana....

You really are an idiot.

Anonymous said...

"Buy that setup for your gardner or your kids teacher and then you'll be making a difference"

That made my smile. Probably not for the reason you intended...

I'm the PHEV owner (and 90403 home owner)... I _am_ a teacher.

Full disclosure: I make 65,000 a year. I teach Econ/Math/Science, and vote a pretty straight Republican ticket. Grew up, was educated, and married down in Orange County.

The Plug-in Prius made tremendous financial sense. It's the cheapest car on the road when you factor my home electric savings into the equation as well.

Stop being so fixed in your prejudices and you'll see that conservation _frequently_ pays in the long run.

Anonymous said...

OK, I think this message board is going down the drain. I have so far enjoyed the discussions on here, which were, for the most part, polite and intelligent. But I am getting sick by the aggression of Mr. or Mrs. "I-am-doing-cancer-research-for-a-living-and-hence-I-am-an-authority-on-global-warming."

"Why don't you just go off and put a .45 caliber bullet in your brain. That's the only way a human being today won't be punishing the environment."

I think you don't want to understand. There are many good reasons why we would want to limit our toil on the environment, right? Being the smart scientist that you claim to be, you haven't said anything constructive about how YOU would approach the end of our supply of oil (which is certainly finite, and will possibly be exhausted during our lifetime). Or even just about how you think about our continued dependency on this commodity which is mainly produced in countries with not-so-kosher regimes. Throwing your arms up in exasperation about the hypocrisy of your contemporaries is one thing. Tag- you're it.

Epsilon said...

"Why don't you suggest that everyone in the world just take a "Peace" pill and then we can end war and killing forever?

Or why don't we all just take a magic pill that makes us all agree on everything? Then we'll have Nirvana....

You really are an idiot."

And you just made an ENORMOUS concession, from saying this was a bad idea, to saying this wasn't politically feasible.

I agree, there's no chance of any government entity... probably not even the city council of Berkeley... passing an immediate $6/gallon gas tax. But that's such a narrow point it's silly. Higher gas taxes are passed all the time; it's a big part of why gas is so much more expensive here than in New Jersey, for example.

It's also just a really sophomoric way to debate if every time someone says, "this would be ideal," if you say, "ha! we can't do that tomorrow, so let's never try to do even a part of it ever, you stupid idiot." I'm simply saying we should raise gas taxes to the extent feasible, and we should sell it as a way to send less money to the Middle East (rather than as some environmental thing, which, as the debate on here proves, too many people get too angry about).

Anonymous said...

I hear you, Epsilon. You have good intentions on this one, but I have to agree with the "not politically feasible" side of this argument. Our country has grown lazy and can't stomach the increase in gas prices. I think that without an increase in tax and just by way of the current oil price trend, people will start coming over to the greener side of the pasture.

Anonymous said...

The population of the 90402 is 14 thousand.

How many of those 14 thousand claim to be environmentalists?

Anonymous said...

I thought this was a discussion with a somewhat wider scope than 90402-bashing.

Lex said...

PLEASE! Adding the price of solar panels onto the cost of living here in LA is NOTHING! You minus out gasoline/nat.gas/electric bills from the solar energy and finance your solar panels over 30 years and I'm sure we're already beyond a break even. It should be the law that we put solar panels on every home sale over that break even price.

Epsilon said...

I agree that the political feasability issue is huge, but I don't think it's unworkable.

I think a way it could pass would be to say, "We know that middle class families are hurting right now, with gas prices through the roof. Even worse, we're basically just sending all that money over to Iran, and Saudi Arabia, and Venezuala, and a lot of other countries we don't want to be doing business with. Because we can't make enough oil here at home, we have to send our dollars abroad to buy it, and that makes our dollars even weaker. That makes bread, and milk, and everything you buy at the grocery store that much more expensive. We have absolutely got to cut our dependence on foreign oil."

"So, we've got to keep the cost of gas in this country instead of sending it over to the middle east. To do that, we've gotta raise the gas tax. Now I know a lot of you are saying you can't afford any more... it's killing you as it is. That's why, for everyone in the middle class, we're going to send that money right back to you. If you make less than $100,000 a year, we're going to send you a $600 check to pay that extra gas tax for you."

That $600 would pay for a one dollar a gallon tax increase on gas for someone driving 12000 miles a year on a car that gets 20 miles per gallon. Of course, the beauty is, that since you're just sending people $600 checks regardless, it still helps them to drive a much more fuel efficient car to keep more of that $600. Not everyone will, granted, but I'm betting a lot do...