June 30, 2008

Cheap gasoline was a social lubricant

In 1968, when my late father-in-law, a classical musician, had to sell his two-flat on the West Side of Chicago because his children were suddenly getting mugged on the sidewalk, getting only a fraction of what it had been worth two years before. He moved 63 miles out of town, but commuted daily to the Lyric Opera House downtown. Why not? Gas was $0.29 per gallon.

Inexpensive oil was a social lubricant in America.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

28 comments:

Jesse helms think alike said...

In 1969 29 cents had the buying power of $2.90 or more of our money.

Modal said...

If the price of gasoline were much more expensive in those days than it was, many things would probably be different. For instance, with the price of gasoline so high, the demand for automobiles would likely have been low. With that, the need for low-wage Southern workers to manufacture automobiles would be unnecessary, therefore easing some of the racial tensions we have today.

Or not.

SavRed said...

Cheap oil created the suburbs.

Shouting Thomas said...

I lived in a music town that is also a leftist town. Hatred of oil and gas is just taken for granted.

I think of this as biting the hand that feeds the town. Oil and gas made the popular music business possible. Musicians need gas to get to the gig. Without gas, the modern touring business would never have happened.

And, yet, you will never hear praise of oil and gas among musicians in my town. No, oil and gas are inventions of the devil.

SFG said...

Y'know, with the soaring gas prices working class white people are going to have to live in the city again. (Middle and upper class whites will just price the minorities out of their neighborhood...and if they can come up with the money, they're probably OK.) I think we are going to see a lot more racial violence ahead.

Arguably the outer boroughs of NYC and the blue-collar parts of Boston might provide a good model for what the country might start to look like, since those are among the few American cities built before the car.

Steve, you should write about this.

Henry Canaday said...

You mean cheap gas lubricated our dispersal from each other and flight from neighborhoods that became barbarian?

Uh oh.

Maybe some big-think journalist is going to have to write a long series on:

"The True Meaning of $200-per-barrel Oil: We Are Going To Have To Learn To Govern Ourselves Again, Instead Of Running Away From Each Other."

For 40 years, well-off liberals and now conservatives could afford to take emotional solace from Supreme Court decisions that applied turbocharged versions of the Bill of Rights against state and local governments, confident that, if crime soared and schools fell apart, they could move away from the consequences. But what if, as in Shakespeare's London, the nobility has to walk the same streets as the serfs and servants?

Double Uh oh.

AJ said...

It's perhaps more accurate to say that cheap *transportation* or cheap *personal transportation* was and is a social lubricant.

We'll see the same kinds of situations once oil gets replaced by cheap electricity derived from solar, wind, tidal, on-board biofuels, etc.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but that 29 cents had the buying power of $1.78 today.

Ronduck said...

This may seem petty to point out, but cheap asphalt was also a social lubricant. As oil goes up in price even repairing streets will get more expensive.

Anonymous said...

I thought the post was going to be about courtship and marriage. I hope we never return to the time when the pool of available wives was limited to the girls living within a day's walk.

neil craig said...

But remember that not only is a 10c comic book now $3 but that mileage is much better than it used to be.

Half Sigma said...

When you adjust for massive inflation, 29 cents wasn't that cheap.

Houses have gone up as much since 1968 as gas.

Blode said...

Yes, high petroleum prices amount to a major blow against commuters. I hope that gas prices don't cause people to move back to Crimeland. Rather I hope the jobs move to other areas - through telecommuting and the like. Not likely, I suppose, but it could happen to some degree.

canson said...

More than inexpensive transport a large, buildable and pleasant hinterland acted as a social safety valve.

At present we have greater restrictions on land use, far larger populations in most urban areas, stagnant wages and three decades of Mexico dumping their surplus population into our country. As much as I would like to see gas at an inflation adjusted price of $0.29/gal there aren’t enough roads or hours in a day to make running for the hills a viable option any more. Consider your late father in-law’s example:

50 weeks/year x 5 days/week x 1.5 extra driving hours/day = 375 hrs/year

375hours /40hours/week= 9.375 weeks of extra work per year.

Add in a similar exercise for fuel at 20mpg and $0.29/gal and he pays an extra $400/year in fuel costs alone.

Examine your own life in a like fashion and be honest, the costs economic and otherwise will astound you.

Anonymous said...

As a percentage of the income of someone like grandpa today, gas is probably cheaper than it was then.

Lucille said...

What were his wages, compared to the average wage for someone in his line of work today?

Anonymous said...

Yes and no. Cheap gasoline also helped promote the suburban lifestyle which certainly contributed to a decline in social capital as people lived further and further apart from each other and in greater isolation. All told, we're probably no further behind and no further ahead due to cheap gasoline.

testing99 said...

Yes Steve, cheap oil, enabling suburbanization, allowed desegregation. Whites in the South and North moved out of the cities to segregated suburbs. Therefore King's moral argument did not run against the physical consequences of the end of Jim Crow -- black majority rule and lax on crime policies certain to follow.

Expensive gas means mass transit, with poor and politically driven policing, crime ridden disasters, and whites angrily block voting. It means racial strife along the lines of South Boston reacting to forced busing. Remember that? How many white kids are bused into the inner city today?

It also means the death of the Coastal Elite as Brooks column in the NYT today illustrates. Replaced not by the inland elite but rather a Jacksonian revolt. Probably to have a "real" "war for oil" and simply pump the ME dry. With ruthlessness.

The social fabric can't and won't take middle and working class whites from Temecula forced to sell their homes at a loss, move to East LA, and live among gang-ridden Mexicans (or Blacks in places like South Central). Elites delude themselves on the costs of this -- given that forced busing and the costs of desegregation for the working class whites elected Nixon, and nearly Ford.

dearieme said...

My own scheme is that we should freeze all the rivers and skate to work.

none of the above said...

Telecommuting is a good solution for some people, but it will further increase the gap between the high IQ elite, the normals, and the low-IQ underclass. If I can telecommute, but Fred the factory worker still has to drive an hour into work and an hour back every day, his effective wages go down relative to mine--he's working ten hour days, his house is likely in a more-expensive area than mine, etc.

I wonder if it will be possible to telecommute for some factory type work, too. The problem is, it's going to be very hard to restrict that to American workers--if you can allow telecommuting for anyone literate with a web browser and internet connection, you'll be hiring your factory workers from Bangalore.

Half Sigma said...

I wonder if it will be possible to telecommute for some factory type work, too.

Absolutely. Guy at home wears a virtual reality robot suit that controls a robot in the factory. It's really easy to predict that these sort of robots will be perfected long before the self-controlled ones that you see in sci-fi movies.

But as you point out, once that technology is perfected, the guy in the robot suit will be in India making a small fraction of what an American makes.

Anonymous said...

Many commenters here are predicting a Jacksonian revolt of the white working clas in the event that whites and NAMs have to live in close proximity due to expensive fuel. The events in Europe would indicate otherwise.

Rather than a white revolt, such as we saw in Boston due to busing. I think it is more likely thyat things will take the shape of events in the streets of Paris and London. The government and its anti-white ideology, will suppress whites in order to maintain control, while allowing NAMs to wage low intensity tribal warfare in the poorer districts of the cities. Truth and free speech will be suppressed in order to keep the whites cowed and confused until they are no longer a majority.

The future, as decreed by the cultural Marxists that now run the government, will be one of anarcho-tyranny and suppression.

testing99 said...

Anonymous, you don't know much of Europe. In Paris for example, whites live in either the expensive part to the central city (mostly young yuppies and old money types) or way the hell out in the boonies, and commute to work -- by car!

As of now, Europe faces a social revolt due to ever higher gas prices, ever-creeping out crime from the banlieus and no-go areas and lack of welfare money to smooth things over.

Moreover, the classic "pre-Revolutionary conditions" are rising expectations dashed by lowered living standards.

headache said...

testing99
You don't know much of Europe. Everyday I commute with the Bus and tram. I do not own a car because I do not need one. I have never owned a car and could get anywhere I needed to, whether it be work, sports, friends, university or church.
In addition the only nuisance of the Turks so far is that they have stuffed up 2 neighborhoods in my city and sit in the tram with their headscarves. But fortunately most Germans also don't like them,. So the future is filled with more anti-immigrant legislation in spite of the machinations of the elites.

Public transport is alive and well here in Germany. We want you to buy our cars so we can have your useless dollars, but we will travel with public transport run on electricity off nuclear power plants and wind propellers.

william1066 said...

Expect to see an acceleration of the recent trend in US inner city gentrification.

Germany doesn't have much nuclear power these days. They don't like coal much either because of the acid rain harming the Black Forest (fact) and the global warming hysteria (fantasy). I wonder what their long-term energy plans are.

I think it is linked to the philosophy of no-babies = no-new energy-needs.

Anonymous said...

"The social fabric can't and won't take middle and working class whites from Temecula forced to sell their homes at a loss, move to East LA, and live among gang-ridden Mexicans (or Blacks in places like South Central). Elites delude themselves on the costs of this -- given that forced busing and the costs of desegregation for the working class whites elected Nixon, and nearly Ford."

I think Testing99 is absolutely right on this; Americans have more kids, or more accurately, are more likely to be parents and of more kids, thus our behavior and tolerance level is different. I don't know what will happened, but I think most of us agree that our society will change and soon. When these discussions come up, one can tell the parents from the non-parents, especially of small children. If our primary needs are food, clothing, shelter, and safety, the flight back into the cities will not occur; time will be sacrificed for safety. The big wrench, however, is the dissolution of public housing and those folks and other poor people going to the suburbs. I don't know what will happened, but the only thing that will never change is that parents will ALWAYS run away from the underclass even if they have to go broke doing so.

none of the above said...

If we see a massive move back toward the cities and out of the exurbs, I predict a big boom in private schools. Families with kids want their kids going to decent schools (it's not really necessary that they be world-class, but they need to be safe and reasonably good).

Proofreader said...

Cheap oil and cheap land meant White Americans could flee their problems instead of facing them.
As some posters have pointed out, cheap oil allowed for segregation to continue in a subtle way: living in the suburbs and choosing the right school for the kids.

You can run but you can't hide forever. Only the richest can afford to be liberal nowadays.