October 05 2011

The Automobile: The Real Cost of Subsidizations

The stereoypical American Dream has several different facets: a detached suburban home, white picket fence, a car, a dog, et cetera. A car is a very important piece of the puzzle and the major contributor to rush hour traffic, especially when it is used to transport single occupants. The car is affordable, as is oil, and gasoline; even in the current state of the economy.

However, gasoline prices are far from uniform. In the Netherlands, for instance, gasoline is nearing $6.48 per gallon. In Germany, it is $5.57. And finally, in Venezuela, it is $0.12. In Arizona, where I live and go to school, gasoline is $3.48 (or at least it was last time I filled up).  So, why this variance in gasoline prices across the globe?

One indicator is availability, of course, and this can explain why Venezuela demands $0.12 per gallon. Exchange rates are definitely a player, but more than any other is government policy. Why is gas in the United States so cheap, when it has a relatively small amount of oil and gasoline reserves? Why does every American desire a home with a yard? Why is home and car ownership so inexpensive? The answer is government policy.

For Government-led housing efforts there is a clear trend that a slew of government housing acts have made housing cheaper than it would otherwise be. This is a huge reason why every American wants a house; great value for the money. Also, great resale value due to government manufactured demand. This is why automobiles are desired, why there is such high demand, and why oftentimes a house and a car are inseparable. The hyperlink “automobiles” speaks on massive government involvement and financial bailout when the inefficient American Automobile Industry was failing. A $15,000,000,000 bailout from the government is no small involvement.

Designers have followed suit, as well as those working in brand development, promoting SUVs and a sprawling behemoth of a house; promoting suburban life, and oil wells. Environmental Planners’ activities are also determined by government policy. If Sustainable Design was subsidized as greatly as oil has been, then design would follow suit. The designs that would be made and improved upon would be the ones that can be done cheaply.

The question I pose is, what is the benefit of making something so inefficient, so cheap? By subsidizing inefficient technologies, progress slows, and the government will progressively destroy the national fabric by bounds. Is this the fabric we desire?

Jeff P Jilek

Jeff Jilek has earned a B.S. in Architecture with a Minor in City & Regional Planning from the Ohio State University. He has been involved with architecture since his junior year of High School when he attended Eastland Career Center’s Architecture program. Sustainable Design is something that he is most interested in but also has taken many college level courses in psychology, political science, and philosophy. He will be attends Arizona State University for continuing education. He is pursuing both his M.B.A and Master of Architecture degrees. He blogged about pertinent issues in design and how design relates to global dynamics, culture, and economy.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 5th, 2011 at 8:59 am and is filed under Environmental Design, Government/Politics, Infrastructure, Land Use, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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