News Flash: We're Running Out of Oil. Get Used to It.

By Warren Brown
Sunday, May 28, 2006

There is no cheap gasoline.

Accept that.

Now get on with your Memorial Day weekend and summer travels, and have a good time.

I'm serious.

End the silliness. Stop worrying about whether gasoline will go up to $4 a gallon. It will. In some California communities, the price is already there. Stop running around all over the place wasting time and the gasoline you have looking for fuel a few cents a gallon cheaper. What's the point? You save 10 cents and lose 10 minutes. You can always find another 10 cents. What about the 10 minutes?

And while you're at it, stop listening to those goofy TV news reports about "price gouging," or "finding the cheapest gasoline," or about worried consumers switching to hybrid cars. It's all ratings hype that has little to do with reality.

Take the hybrid car thing. Gas-electric hybrids constitute barely 1 percent of the nearly 17 million new cars and trucks sold in the United States. They are a marginal percentage of the fleets of Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Ford Motor Co., the three major car companies that make them. Hybrid battery and related technologies are changing so quickly, the hybrid vehicle you buy today might not be the one you'll want to keep tomorrow.

There is also the matter of fiscal common sense. I've grown weary of people who owe more on their current car than it's worth asking me about the feasibility of trading in their automobile for something more fuel-efficient. Doing that is neither feasible nor sensible. Here's why:

Presumably, your goal in getting a less fuel-thirsty car is to save money. But how can you save money by wasting it? Do you think a dealer is going to give you the new car free? Do you think a bank or financial company is going to forgive the debt on your current car? Do you believe the bank or other financial institution will allow you to roll that existing car debt into a new auto loan at an annual percentage rate that is disadvantageous to the lender? Are you serious? Get real!

Here is the hard truth:

Oil is running out.

It probably will not disappear before many baby boomers and their immediate progeny run out of life. But it will disappear.

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