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Saving at the Pump Means Paying More for Vehicles


Gas Hysteria

Saving at the Pump Means Paying More for Vehicles
Media continue to refine their talking points about failure of new CAFE standards.

By Dan Gainor
August 25, 2005

The gas crisis has taken on vestiges of the way the media covered the Iranian hostage takeover during the Carter presidency. America is held hostage once again, this time by endless media reports of record gas prices where none exist. Here are some of the latest high and low points:

    California dreaming: Danny Hakim of The New York Times put forth the idea that Californias fuel standards would save drivers more money than new proposed guidelines from the federal government. In the August 25 article he claimed Californias rules would save far more at the pump for the states residents than the White House plan. However, note the caveat at the pump. Already car manufacturers are estimating a $6 billion expense just to meet the federal guidelines. Businesses would be savaged by super-expensive fixes and those would be passed along to consumers.
    Capping stupidity: The state of Hawaii moved to cap the wholesale price of gas. According to an August 25 article on CNN.com: This marks the first state cap on gasoline prices since the 1970s energy crisis. Another article by the Associated Press that same day gave the free market view: But John Felmy, chief economist of the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry's main trade group, said Hawaii should be prepared for negative unintended consequences. They are basically assigning different amounts of revenue to different areas of the supply chain, Felmy said, and that could have a chilling effect on attracting supplies or new investment in the market. Thats what happens when government intervenes in a free market.
    It must be a crisis: CBSs Jim Axelrod continued his cross-country road trip with a visit to Elkhart, Ind.s recreational vehicle industry. Contrary to Axelrods preconceived ideas about the RV business, that industry is doing well. But that wasnt the point Axelrod emphasized: You think you've got a little pain at the pump, try filling up one of these a 100-gallon tank at $2.50, $2.60, $2.70 a gallon. You need a second mortgage just to take a summer vacation. So, trouble for the RV business? Hmm, depends on who you talk to. But it didnt. Industry representatives said business has been great, with 2004 the best in 25 years. Nevertheless Axelrod emphasized the negative, Yes, sales are still strong this year, but down 8 percent from a year ago.
    I cant afford my gasoline: CBSs The Early Show tried a lighter way to scare viewers about oil prices with its August 25 broadcast. Leading into the segment with an Internet song and video called I Cant Afford My Gasoline, Rene Syler then showed several T-shirts that continued the theme including one with Uncle Sam saying I want you to give me gas money. Syler said, This is a good diet, as an introduction to the T-shirt slogan Im on the gas can diet I can either eat or drive!
    Latest culprits: The list keeps getting longer. Good Morning Americas Bob Woodruff got added to the list as the August 25 broadcast showed him claiming incorrectly Another record high for oil prices. CNNs Ali Velshi referred to the oil price increase as setting a new record on the same days American Morning. The night before, CBS Evening News anchor John Roberts sang a similar tune, telling how crude oil had soared to a record high $67.32 cents a barrel. ABCs World News Tonight did the same as Charles Gibson explained: Another day, another record high price for oil. NBCs Brian Williams also joined the chorus, mentioning another record high for oil.