Slipping Backwards (and not in a good way)

I am an outspoken proponent of high gas prices. So, therefore, when NWCN tells me that gas prices are coming back down, I get frustrated.

Why am I against low gas prices? A few reasons, though don’t expect these to be well-explained:

  • Gas fails to reflect “true cost”. “True cost” is my name for what is usually coined “social cost“, or the actual, social consequences of the manufacture and sale of a particular commodity. A good example from the Wikipedia article linked to above:

    Negative externalities (external costs) lead to an over-production of those goods that have a high social cost. For example, the logging of trees for timber may result in society losing a recreation area, shade, beauty, and air quality, but this loss is usually not quantified and included in the price of the timber that is made from the trees. As a result, individual entities in the marketplace have no incentive to factor in these externalities. More of this activity is performed than would be if its cost had a true accounting.

    The same can be said for the production of petroleum; we don’t consider the loss of precious natural resources or the pollution cost in refinement (not to mention social consequences that stem from refinement, the economic costs required to transport petroleum, etc.). If these were accounted for, the cost of gasoline would be much higher.

  • Low gas prices promote fuel-inefficent vehicles. Keeping gas prices low offer no disincentive for the purchase of sport utility vehicles or other cars with very low MPG ratings (sports or “exotic” cars in particular); certainly, while those who can afford an SUV can likely afford higher gas prices, keeping those prices low isn’t likely to make people think about the amount of money they waste on gas instead of taking a number of measures to lower fuel cost.
  • Low gas prices only prolong our dependence on oil. Now, I’m not one of those “we must abolish oil usage yesterday” freaks, though I do believe that we have to conserve our natural resources as best as possible for future generations. The development of alternative energy, whether that be biodiesel, electric vehicles, hydrogen vehicles, or fuel cell vehicles, is a worthwhile exercise in preserving our children’s future. It doesn’t matter where the solution comes from; fuel/electric hybrids are a great first step for transportation, but they are not the end-all of energy problems. They are also only one of many possible solutions.
  • As long as the “panic mentality” of high gas prices is maintained, no progress in bettering the world can be made. The issue of high gas prices affects far more than cars. It also has direct impact on the overall costs of running businesses, the ability of groups to cope with emergencies, and, rather indirectly, the development of community. That last point is a rather interesting one — so long as we can travel far on low gas prices, we aren’t as likely to pursue options that develop community: carpooling, living closer to an urban center, reducing the amount of distance between us and our everyday destinations (work, the grocery store, the bakery, the mall).

I admit, I drive a hybrid; I do this because of some of the reasons above, but also because I like to keep my costs low (and driving a hybrid car does, in fact, help me do this). I hope I will continue to drive hybrids as my primary vehicle for as long as I can drive.

Graduate School Updates

I thought I’d post an update to my musings on the future done last month. I’m scheduled to visit Bainbridge Graduate Institute (BGI) on November 5th to take a look around. My running questions list for these guys so far is as follows:

  1. What is sustainable business?
  2. What sort of impact do you envision BGI graduates having upon the practices of a non-sustainable business?
  3. Upon graduation, what jobs do BGI graduates usually take?
  4. Does BGI routinely create MBA students that are as well or better prepared than MBA students from other schools?
  5. How well does BGI prepare students to challenge the perceptions of business leaders and innovators?

I have basically ruled out Teach for America as an option for future work. I realized that, while I wholeheartedly support the social vision and ideology that Teach for America represents, that I have heard a lot of stories about Teach for America students who are not well supported or prepared for their work. I applaud their efforts, but such a program doesn’t fit who I am.

I am, at some point this fall, going to attend an information session for Evergreen’s Masters in Teaching program. I haven’t figured out exactly when yet — it depends upon my ability to fit it into my work and class schedule.

Class Progress and Musings

The last two couple of weeks in Student Originated Software have consisted of a lot of stress where it didn’t belong. I think part of this is because I’m still very overwhelmed from summer, but another part of it has to do with my own level of personal engagement with the material, which, at least for some portions of the class, is nonexistent.

I’m basically feeling like I’m getting nothing out of specific parts of the program other than a lot of frustration. I’m just plain not interested in the programming component, which is what I’ve realized over the last couple weeks, but the object oriented analysis and design, seminar, and project stuff is interesting. I’m actually in the middle of trying to chase down the possibility of submitting a software development project on behalf of the Writing Center, which I could get really excited about.

I think I could very well be a very engaged member of SOS, but I’m also feeling like there’s way too much on my plate academically — I’m only enrolled for 16 credits, and I’m not happy with my own engagement and interest in the program which is being clouded severely.

It’s a great program, but I need a little less academia in my life right now in order to pull this quarter off. I haven’t even started to consider whether I’m remaining for the entire year or not. This is dependent upon whether programming continues to be a central part of the credit allocation or whether it becomes an integral part of the projects. I think I’d do a lot better at the programming side of the program if it were self-driven.