U.S. Drivers: Shut Up, Stop Whining, You Don't Pay $8/Gallon

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Fuel price in London, shown in pence per liter, February 2011

Fuel price in London, shown in pence per liter, February 2011

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Turmoil in Libya is making global oil markets nervous. That means higher gasoline prices.

Cue the creeping unease and outright fear that Our American Way Of Life May Be In Peril.

Well, it's Monday morning, and we have a brisk message for our U.S. readers:  Shut up and stop whining.

So gas is over $3 a gallon, maybe even edging close to $4 (depending where you live)? Oh, you poor, delicate, oppressed things!

Your brethren in England--you know, that country we revolted against 235 years ago?--are just about to pay $8 for each gallon of gasoline they buy.

The signs in the photos were snapped yesterday by our intrepid reader "Edward" at filling stations around London.

To explain the math: £1 equals roughly $1.61, and 1 liter is 0.264 of a U.S. gallon. So the sign that shows 130.9 pence per liter of unleaded translates to $7.99 a gallon.

According to Brian Madderson, chairman of the U.K. filling stations trade group, drivers across the U.K. are on track to be paying £6 per (Imperial) gallon, or £1.32 a liter by the end of the week.

(Yes, in addition to the sterling-to-dollar conversion and the liters-to-gallons conversions, the extra-credit twist is that gallons Over There are larger than gallons Right Here.)

The prices shown for London yesterday have all but reached that level already. The problem will be exacerbated because fuel duty (aka gasoline tax) is about to rise, to keep pace with rising gasoline prices.

That's one problem we don't have here in the States. Despite a looming $50-billion-plus shortfall in the Transportation Trust Fund, our own Federal gasoline tax remains unchanged. It has not been raised since 1993, in fact.

Gasoline taxes in the U.S. overall are far, far lower than in any European country. But then, Europeans have alternatives that we don't in the States: frequent urban mass transit, superb and growing high-speed train networks, and far less of the suburban sprawl that makes multiple vehicles per household a necessity and a matter of survival.

Still, those of us with friends or relatives in England may feel a pang of guilt as we liberally slosh our oh-so-inexpensive $4-per-gallon gasoline into the tanks of our larger, less fuel-efficient vehicles.

Or not.

In gasoline wars, perhaps it's each man for himself.

[The Telegraph; photos courtesy of Edward]


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Comments (37)
  1. I've been laughing to myself since gas prices started shooting up, thinking of all the people who let their guard down when prices fell to around three dollars. It's the same people who laugh at hybrids and EVs, and rarely have anything nice to say about them. I'm sure durning this shortage we will see hybrid and EV sales and interest grow as a few more people get sick of our dependancy on oil. Modern society wouldn't be in trouble if we had just gotten into EVs earlier, but thats how we are we sit back, debate changing things, and wait, until things get bad before we get up off our butts and do anything about it. So lets not wait until its to late, start considering EVs, in the meantime I'm sure you'll find a nice selection of hybrids and some EVs at car dealers now ,incase this happens again or just continues to rise from here.

  2. What ridiculous logic. Here's a good parallel, see if you agree. You are 100lbs overweight. You shouldn't do anything to lose that weight because there are o-so-many people in the world fatter than you. Same argument. Someone's else's worse predicament does not make your own any better.
    Just because another (much tinier) country pays more, we shouldn't be concerned about rising fuel prices? Prices that affect the costs of all goods and services in the country. Concern is appropriate and reasonable.

  3. I have always found the argument silly. As for me, I don't believe gas prices have ever been too high. Think about it, you are paying only $3 for this highly refined and engineered substance. It can get the average car to travel 25 miles. You are paying a measly $3 so that you don't have to walk your ass 25 miles. I will never complain about gas prices and neither should others. Considering the average car mileage for one year is 15,000, that translates to $150 per month in gasoline costs assuming 25mpg. I am a college student and I find this to be chump change. Get over yourself America. I am highly patriotic but many Americans do love to always have something to complain about.

  4. Yep, just for comparison, I paid $170 to fill up a Buick Lacrosse... last year.

  5. If you believe $4/gallon is expensive I fear I have some bad news for you. What we have here is a mix of peak-oil, exploding demand for oil in newly developing countries like China, India and Brazil and a wave of revolution throughout the Middle East that despite the optimistic predictions of our ignorant news outlets isn't the start of democracy and freedom in the region but of "Great Satan" hating religious loons taking control of most of the world's oil output. The perfect storm that will turn the gasoline dream into a nightmare. On a more positive note: the current peak in oil prices does coincide nicely with the launch of first crop of EV's like the Leaf and the Volt. Maybe people will realize that at this point an SUV will depreciate like faster than last year's laptop and make smarter choices...

  6. Agreed, Matt - this is foolish logic. Of course people have a right to be upset when it costs more to drive to work or to go get groceries or take the kids to school. Doesn't matter what anyone else is paying.
    And no, it doesn't make me want a hybrid or electric. Diesel, though...

  7. Thank you for including the following sentence that most articles of this type neglect:
    But then, Europeans have alternatives that we don't in the States: frequent urban mass transit, superb and growing high-speed train networks, and far less of the suburban sprawl that makes multiple vehicles per household a necessity and a matter of survival.

  8. In the state, creeping gas prices scare the majority because we depend on driving so much more than Europeans. We all want to be driving hummers and pay 1 dollar per gallon. Alas, the nineties are over, and now we all must suck it up and pay the price.

  9. "US Taxpayers: Shut Up, Stop Whining, Your Public Employee Unions Only Have Created A Few Trillion in Unfunded Pension Liabilities, In European Countries It's ~60% of the Entire Economy"

  10. Really, this isn't about gasoline, is it? Different countries have very different forms of taxes. In the case of England, they heavily burden gasoline, the US does not.
    I once got offered a job in Japan and found it very difficult to compare the taxes there and here, because they are collected so differently.
    Look at property tax and sales taxes in the usa. Some states have them, some states don't. Not always clear show much you are paying for each state. Not easy to compare.

  11. I can't walk my kids to school or take a bike/bus/train to work every day. $4/gallon affects an average American more than eight bucks does a dude sitting in Glasgow or someone enjoying his life in a giant country like Denmark...

  12. JKD
    We are at $4.60 (Can) and rising and we have to go even further than you...where is my Super Charged Electric Ford Focus and "Better Place" battery switcher??

  13. We can whine and complain all we want; we’re American and we have the right to do so. We also have the right to buy a 15 mpg tundra and never use it as a truck, and then complain about it when gas prices shoot up. Step one, diesel. Nothing steams me more than seeing car companies’ bust out a new car and calling it fuel efficient. Europe has been getting over 40 mpg from gas & over 60 mpg from diesel for over a decade. Look at the UKs version of the ford fiesta; the US model gets 40 mpg, while the UK’s model gets 51.4mpg in gas and 76.3 with diesel; and it has 120 horse power!!! (http://www.ford.co.uk/Cars/Fiesta/Enginesandtechnology) Are the alarms going off yet!? The technology isn’t waiting to be discovered, it is already there. Wake up and just look. I’ve provided the link to fords UK site, and you can see how much better their cars are. The Same car, but better mpg. A little loss in horse power is a small price to pay for a huge gain in gas mileage. One thing is for sure, I’m not waiting. I’ll continue to drive my 5 speed scion XA and get 40 mpg until we catch up to Europe.
    P.S: That last line was hard to write.

  14. @Mr. X: Please note that the U.K. mileage figures are given in Imperial gallons, which are 25% larger than U.S. gallons. Also, please note that U.K. diesels do not have to meet the same stringent limits on particulate emissions that U.S. diesels do.

  15. Here in Australia we are paying approx. $5.20/gallon at the moment, which is the highest it's been in a long time.

  16. I sold my car, and moved downtown, close to where I work. I walk to work, I walk to get groceries, etc. Fuel prices still affect transportation costs for goods like groceries, but I try to eat locally. My city is also converting its bus rapid transit network to electric light rail and subway. My province receives electricity primarily from nuclear energy and hydroelectric dams, and they're investing heavily in wind and solar energy. The future looks bright to me. Basically, higher gasoline prices simply make me more smug and intolerable. Hahaha, suckers.

  17. ummm just because your country puts a 400% tax on something doesnt mean thats the same thing. it doesnt cost that much the tax does. and in the usa we drive alot more for everything so we use more per person.

  18. WOW an article by senior editor nevertheless. The dollar is not worth a spit, that's why anyone in the world pays for commodities can not be compared to what it costs here. Latest projected price spikes before 2011 ends, is cost of food to rise 75% in the US. This means a gallon of milk would cost $5.50, a loaf of bread $3 etc.etc. Keep destroying the buying power of citizens by stagnating salaries of an average man, fire the teacher, and keep cutting taxes of corporations which take the jobs overseas and see what happens to our country.

  19. Projected by who exactly? You can't just raise prices in the vaccum. If anything goes up by 75% then food prices in Egypt and China will double and people will starve and/or end up buying less, effectively lowering the prices again (just like heavilly-speculated oil.) I'm still optymistic about a lot of things (after all, I've registered to buy the LEAF) but we can feed the world. For all the plastic and electronic crap we get from China, they'll need our soy, wheat, and milk.

  20. @JKD
    China grows enormous amounts of soy and wheat, and 99% of the Chinese people are lactose intolerant...

  21. 4.73 a gallon in Canada

  22. Totally true. The UK has the highest petrol prices in Europe and America. The government doesn't show any remourse of British drivers and when the price goes down, guess what? it stays the same!

  23. I believe it was mentioned before at least once but I would like to reiterate. TAXES. The very reason the united states had its revolution in the first place. Here is an illustrated break down of petrol prices. You reap what you sow, now stop your whining.

  24. @ Daniel Chavez Moran
    I have lived in many different areas from redneck to beach resort and while yes there is the random individual that finds it necessary to own a larger than needed vehicle, for the most part the larger the vehicle is associated with the need. Not only is fuel consumed more by the larger vehicles but the cost of upkeep (oil, tires etc), the insurance and the registration renewal all cost more (naturally making many people weary of them). So for those individuals that find the need to own a larger vehicle when they don't have a large family or work on a farm actually help pay our taxes and keep our roads functional.

  25. Those pictures are taken in Canada! Do your research

  26. The author of this article is an ignorant. You can't compare US and UK in terms of how much the gas cost. People in UK don't have to drive as much as Americans. This means even though UK gas cost more, the total amount that a person would spend on gas might be lower. Also, UK has really good social benefits, whereas US doesn't.

  27. @Fatchik: No, those photos were NOT taken in Canada. They were taken in London on Sunday by a reader who is known to our staff. I have no idea where you get Canada from, but trust me, they're from England.

  28. I think its time for us to start demanding alternative fuels in the U.S.

  29. Hate to say it, but you need to do research on your topic. The reason that prices are so high in Europe is because a massive tax that is put on Gasoline to pay for social services.
    I'm very disappointed you did not even mention it, you probably just saw a picture of a British pump and went full blogger without a second thought.

  30. I'm not going to feel bad for English driver's. Maybe they should lower the tax.

  31. @JoJack: The following sentence is in the article: "Gasoline taxes in the U.S. overall are far, far lower than in any European country." The link contained in that sentence shows the high level of fuel taxes in all European countries. "Britain" is among them, but perhaps you hadn't noticed that.

  32. Well, if the goal of articles is to have them read, this one seems to be a success (at least by comparing similar articles on the site). So what is the list of things that improve readership.
    1) promoting gas-guzzlers,
    2) dissing hydrogen,
    3) telling Americans they should pay more for gasoline.
    4) What else did I miss.
    John C. Briggs

  33. Socialism is peaking in London.
    Free market economies do not exist.
    How stupid are people? Oil is involved in some way in every aspect of our lives. Also, do you really think Americans only pay 3-4 dollars a gallon?
    Do you not understand the cost of protecting supplies in the Middle East and elsewhere?
    Try 7-8 a gallon with military and other costs figured in. This cost is indirect but it's still a cost.

  34. Thanks John for clearing that up, i also realized that after I posted it, but you aren't 100% right either. 1 US gallon = 0.83267384 Imperial gallons. Which means if its getting 76 miles per imperial diesel gallon then it would get around 63 miles per U.S. diesel gallon. Are our diesel particle emissions that much better than that of the UK? And if they are, it would seem better to just change the standard to match theirs, because if we are all getting around 50 mpg, you would think we would become more efficient, and in doing so reduce our waste on the environment. Any thoughts? Because to me it appears that the ends justify the means.

  35. @Mr. X (aka JoJack ??): Whenever we mention models sold in the U.K., we do the conversions from Imperial to U.S. gallons. It's also worth noting that the European combined test cycle varies from the EPA cycles, and as a rule, European efficiencies come out slightly higher than the same vehicles converted to U.S. test cycles--though comparisons are tough because the vehicles aren't comparably equipped.
    And, yes, the U.S. has by far the most stringent particulate emissions limits in the world. The public-health data on the long-term cardiopulmonary effects and costs of fine and ultra-fine particulates are pretty grim, actually. But that doesn't seem to be something that many people are aware of. Yet.

  36. Brits enjoy the slavery of taxes and a welfare state. Cry me a river.

  37. I wish I would pay US prices. Its so expensive here in europe. Hardly can afford to drive my V8 anymore :(

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