Gas prices here and there

Gas prices are tough all over. For years, Europeans have lectured us about our profligate ways with petroleum. We deserved the lecture, no doubt about it, but even so I’ve always felt that judgmental Europeans have portrayed themselves as virtuous and far-sighted when in fact they were simply responding as anyone would when faced with a much higher price. It was economics and not virtue that pushed them onto the moral high ground. Or rather, high enough prices make virtuous environmentalists of us all.

Here’s an LA Times article on the price of gas everywhere else in the world: Gasoline prices hit harder outside the US. As you might expect, the places that have significantly cheaper gasoline tend to be petroleum exporters. In Venezuela, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, gas still costs less than a dollar a gallon. But for the most part, we still have it pretty easy compared to everybody else.

The moral of the story is: don’t whine, it’s much worse elsewhere. That’s fair enough, but there’s an interesting fact hidden in the list of prices: the most expensive place to buy gas in the entire world (according to their list) is Norway. But Norway is an oil exporter. Russia, Norway, Mexico, and Kazakhstan are the world’s largest non-OPEC net oil exporters (data from 2004). This tidbit forced me to update my thinking regarding smug Europeans. I might still begrudge a lecturing Frenchman, but the Norwegians have earned the right to take us to school. They have the oil, and they still tax themselves into the stratosphere.

Well done Oslo! By the way, would you be interested in a slightly used Humvee?