Everyone’s talking about high gasoline prices, and unlike the weather, maybe we CAN do something about it. The answer, you see, is conservation, but this is conservation unlike what the enviro-loonies usually suggest. No, you won’t have to buy a hybrid automobile, and no, you won’t have to forgo your car trip, in favor of a Greyhound bus or crowded public transit.
But, before I get into my solution, allow me one digression. Remember back in the “energy crisis” early 1970’s, when we were hearing about alternative sources of oil? Back in those halcyon days (by today’s standards) we were told that once the price of oil went above $15 a barrel, then it would be profitable to exploit the vast resources of tar sands and oil shale. Once that barrier was crossed, the goal posts magically shifted to $25, then $35. Today, the price of oil stands at about $55 per barrel, and we still haven’t done much with tar sands and oil shale.
We were also told that Mexico had petroleum resources that matched the Saudis, and maybe it does, but this has never helped us. Despite the high gasoline prices, we are currently in a pitched battle about whether to open up a small area in Alaska to exploration and production. It seems that the natives are all for it, but I wonder if this will ever happen, since the gliterati and their experts, along with the rest of the useful idiots are against it. Meanwhile, there are so many oversize gas-guzzling SUV’s on the road, that you’d think we had time-traveled back to the 1960’s when gas prices were about 24 cents per gallon. To say that Americans are conflicted on this issue, and to note that the experts don’t seem to know jack about anything, is to have a firm grasp of the obvious.
OK. What to do, then?
Consider how many people commute from home, to work in an office every day. Tens of millions, right? Once they arrive, they log on from their office workstations to a server, and perform their assigned tasks. Certainly, a goodly number of these same folks could just as easily log on from home. Even if they would telecommute in this manner two or three days a week, untold millions of gallons of gasoline could be saved. In other words, the demand for gasoline would finally drop, and so would prices. What’s not to like?
One objection is that it would be difficult to supervise these telecommuters, and they might goof off too much. This assumes that they are presently models of productivity at the office, and I guess that anyone who thought that the movie Office Space (1999) was a fantasy, rather than a fairly accurate portrayal of the American work environment, could get hung up on this. Clearly, whether an employee works at home or at the office, there are ways to measure productivity and performance, so this objection falls flat.
Another objection would focus on opening up the office network to the vagaries of full Internet access, but this becomes simply a matter of security, and it hardly approaches rocket science to implement the necessary precautions. A further complaint would be to harp on the “synergy” that exists when all these wonderful people come together in the workplace. Assuming that this is true—and it probably is not—this could still be accomplished via video conferencing, or weekly meetings at the office.
But wait! There’s more. With millions of cars off the road at peak times, we’ve also just solved the problem of traffic congestion at rush hour.
As to implementation of this plan, it may take even higher gasoline prices, and even worse traffic. Trust me. Economics and human misery, as always, will force us into this long overdue paradigm shift.