I Love High Gas Prices

I’ve been commuting by car to work for about 1.5 years now, and I still hate driving. As a regular driver though, one would think I’d favor access to cheap fuel and find a common bond of complaint with my co-workers, TV advertisers, and politicians over the misery that is high gas prices. In fact, I’m happy to see prices skyrocket, revealing the true cost of car commuting.
Friedman correctly points out that reducing the price of an addicting substance is no way to cure the addiction. I agree, and I’m happy to see high gas prices having an effect on the kinds of cars people are buying. People used to talk about “hybrids” being environmentally friendly, disregarding the fact that there are many small cars that are more fuel efficient than certain hybrids. Now that efficiency actually matters to people, I hear actual fuel efficiency numbers much more frequently than I hear the assumption that hybrid *means* efficient.
High gas prices has made efficiency one of the most important factors in new car buying. It has also reduced the amount that people are driving. What’s not to like? I do wish that gas prices were allocated appropriately (i.e. taxed more), benefiting public transportation and alternative fuels rather than oil companies, but for now I’m happy that there’s at least some incentive for car makers to step up their technology and for fuel consumers to consume less. In the US, we’re still getting a bargain compared to European prices.