Saturday, August 16, 2008

Meanwhile, In America - And It Came To Pass They Prayed to God For Cheap Gasoline - Die Tageszeitung Germany Via Watching America

In a deep sotto voce:
"And it came to pass"
Praying to God
For Cheap Gasoline

By Karin Deckenbach

Translated By Ron Argentati

August 15, 2008

Source: Die Tageszeitung, Germany

As usual, the world’s most powerful nation exaggerates: First, gas was ultra-cheap at $1 a gallon. Now it’s super-expensive at $4.40 a gallon. When one considers that the average American drives 20,000 miles a year and their beloved monstrous SUVs only get about 7.4 MPG, it was obvious something had to be done.
And it came to pass that Rocky Twyman, leader of a Washington church choir, stood in front of a filing station and prayed. "God is the only one we can turn to at this point," Twyman prayed at the pump. "Our leaders don't seem to be able to do anything about it. The prices keep soaring and soaring." Anyone who wished to follow his example-–and this was broadcast far and wide on American television--was advised to keep it simple: "God, deliver us from these high gas prices," Twyman said. "That's all they have to say." But Twyman quickly added a couple of secular tips: "People have to walk more, leave their cars at home, and carpool," he said.

Gone were the believers. Trying to get around without a car isn’t practical in a country where there aren’t even any sidewalks in the suburbs. In rural areas, there are only long-distance buses, and even in a big city like Los Angeles there’s no subway. The fact is, many commuters now avoid getting stuck in traffic jams by hitchhiking on those freeway lanes designated for two or more passengers per vehicle only.

Just a couple of months ago, congress set new fuel efficiency standards for the auto industry by mandating a fleet average of 35 MPG by the year 2020.

Meanwhile, a popular new sport has developed: “hypermiling.” Brake as little as possible, shift into neutral as often as possible, draft the vehicle ahead of you, turn off your built-in refrigerators and rooftop floodlights-–the internet is brimming with such tips to save fuel. All these things so people won’t have to sell their over-sized Ford Ranger Pick-ups (there’s no market for them now, anyway) and meanwhile, sales of hybrid models have tripled within a year.

Dealers react to the crisis with typical American marketing gimmicks: in Virginia, a supermarket promised free gasoline vouchers at their grand opening. Expectant customers had already created a tent city in front of the store the night before the event. In Nevada, a bordello enticed customers with promises of discount gasoline, although no customers would admit to taking advantage of the offer. The fast-food chain “Five Guys” offered to give customers 6 gallons of free gasoline for every 100 hamburgers they ate. If they haven’t exploded in the meantime, they’re probably still driving today.

But maybe Rocky Twyman’s prayers did manage to help. In June, Americans drove 12.2 billion miles less than the same period the previous year, a reduction of about 4.7 percent. Just like that, the USA was able to lower its crude oil consumption over the first six months of the year by 800,000 barrels a day as compared to 2007.

See? It worked.

Source, and link to original in German:

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