Posted 6 months ago on Nov. 26, 2012, 12:26 a.m. EST by Misaki
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
Cars are very popular in the US. Maybe you also know that they are less popular in other countries, in part because of much higher gasoline taxes (in the range of about $4 per gallon, compared to around $0.50 in the US).
Oil is a scarce resource. It only exists in certain places, and the amount that can be extracted is unrelated to the population of a country. This means that concepts like "production efficiency", the kind of thing you see to justify comparative advantages in international trade, has no meaning here. People in Korea cannot make oil no matter how skilled they are.
(You can make a tiny bit of oil artificially, but it is no where near being commercially competitive.)
The same applies to every other type of resource. The concentration of things like copper in ore, mined in the US, has been dramatically decreasing over time. We might eventually have to recycle most things. For certain things, like uranium, it may be economical to extract from seawater where it ultimately ends up after being dissolved from the continents, but this is not possible for many materials.
If the standard of living in other countries goes up, there is more competition for resources. This means that the average standard of living in the US will go down, measured in the amount of resources consumed.
If you have been following along with the idea of working less, you should understand how it works. If the US uses it, inequality will be reduced and there will be less spending on foreign luxury goods. So if this is all that happened, we would consume more resources unless there was society-wide agreement to do things like increase the gasoline tax.
But if other countries see the US using it, they will probably use it too. This will lead to inequality decreasing in every other country, such as China with its 1 billion people, which causes the same effect of increased consumption and competition for resources. Oil prices, and therefore gasoline prices, will probably rise significantly until people start driving less. The prices of other resources would also go up.
So we would have less people in prison, less homeless people, and less 'suffering' overall, but gasoline would become more expensive.
Is this worth it?