Captain Capitalism for President!

Captain Capitalism addressed our current economic malaise in his recent post Economic Fail of the Century.

As some of you are aware, the price of oil has become somewhat pricey in recent months. It’s now around $100 and we get to pay approaching $4 a gallon in gas.

Accusations will be made. Big oil will be blamed. Investigations launched. But in the end it is the unstoppable forces of economics and the declining currency of a declining nation that will win in the end of the day and you will continue to have to pay $4 a gallon in gas…maybe $5 or $6 when summer rolls around.

He offers some instructive graphs, but I have a graph of my own that I prefer:

No offense intended to Erkel.

But the Captain doesn’t just come to us to state the obvious (that we have a problem), he comes with a solution.  I have to say, I’ve been practicing his gas saving trick for nearly 6 years.  Despite the fact that I drive a 13 year old 4×4 pickup, I use far less gas than the average Prius owner.

But I’m not going to give his secret away.  You will have to check out his blog post for the answer.

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7 Responses to Captain Capitalism for President!

  1. Anonymous says:

    But it’s still Bush’s fault (don’t forget).

  2. uncleFred says:

    I telecommute everyday. – It works for me, because I have a rather disjoint relationship with the groups with whom I work. It is not a panacea. Nor is it appropriate for everyone, perhaps not even most people.

    Humans still need face time. Video and conference calls don’t cut it. The intangibles of human communication often save a great deal of time.

    I have managed wildly distributed development groups with people working somewhere 24 hours a day seven days a week. It is a challenge. Even if everyone shares a single time zone, managing and leading a group that solely telecommutes is tough.

    Using some study data from various telecommuting studies done in 2006. The most recent that I could easy find the real saving is small. Those estimates were that if everyone who could telecommute did so 5 days a week the total fuel saving would be about $12 billion. We’ll pick a nominal fuel cost in 2005 of say $2.00 the low of that year. So that would be about 6 billion gals. We are hedging because that is a gas price not diesel, but this actually gives greater benefit to the telecommute. In 2008 the US used 71.5 billion gallons of fuel for passenger vehicles, out of roughly 171 billion gals used for “highway transportation”.

    Lets say that in the intervening five years the number of suitable jobs doubled. To reflect that we’ll double the number of gals saved to 12 billion. We’ll assume that fuel use is relatively flat since 2008. We’ll do some basic math.

    Result: Big push to telecommuting saves about 17% of the fuel used to move passenger traffic. That a shade over 7% of the fuel used in highway transportation. Even if you were to double that estimate on telecommuting, you aren’t going to make much of a dent, in our over all energy use. Plus, not commuting doesn’t end daily driving for most people, so I doubt that the real savings, based on telecommuting 1.6 days a week would smoothly scale up to five which was one of my assumptions.

    In my case telecommuting saves me about a tankful a week these days about $60. I used to use 2. Thats $3k a year. I still have to drive for all the other reasons in life. It’s a nice savings, but like I said not a solution that would by itself reduce the market price of gasoline to $.40 a gallon.

    Sources:
    http://www.state.tn.us/tacir/PDF_FILES/Other_Issues/telecommuting.pdf
    http://www.bts.gov/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_04_05.html
    http://www.californiagasprices.com/retail_price_chart.aspx

  3. Dan in Philly says:

    My company is going to a short work week, which means I’ll be home more. To suppliment my declining income, I plan to hang up a virtual shingle for bookkeeping services. Wish me luck!

    [D: Good luck!]

  4. David Foster says:

    Telecommuting can work just fine when applied to a group of people in the same geographical area so they can periodically meet one another in person. It is much more problematic if the people in the group are scattered at random all over the country.

    In general, weak managers don’t know how to set objectives well enough to evaluate people based on goal/mission accomplishment and want to keep an eye on them instead.

  5. Dalrock says:

    @David Foster
    Telecommuting can work just fine when applied to a group of people in the same geographical area so they can periodically meet one another in person. It is much more problematic if the people in the group are scattered at random all over the country.

    I haven’t lived in the same geographic area as my manager for probably 10 years. I’ve reported to managers all over the US (CA, NJ, GA, CO), and my current manager is in France. Of my last four managers, I’ve only met one face to face, and that was after working for him for several years. My colleagues are scattered around Europe. I manage global projects with teams around the world. Even when I went into an office, I almost never met with people face to face. Because of my experience, I’m not sure it makes that much difference. Going into an office wouldn’t really make a difference in a situation like mine.

    In general, weak managers don’t know how to set objectives well enough to evaluate people based on goal/mission accomplishment and want to keep an eye on them instead.

    I think this is the key issue. It exposes weak managers. If you can’t tell if your team is getting done what it needs to you won’t be able to base it off of buts in chairs.

  6. Dalrock says:

    @uncleFred
    Result: Big push to telecommuting saves about 17% of the fuel used to move passenger traffic. That a shade over 7% of the fuel used in highway transportation. Even if you were to double that estimate on telecommuting, you aren’t going to make much of a dent, in our over all energy use. Plus, not commuting doesn’t end daily driving for most people, so I doubt that the real savings, based on telecommuting 1.6 days a week would smoothly scale up to five which was one of my assumptions.

    I’ve never done the math, so you may be right. Two things to keep in mind are the high inelasticity of demand for gasoline, which means small changes in demand can cause a huge change in price. Also, moving 17% of the cars off the road during rush hour would dramatically change the commute for the remaining 83%. They will spend less time and fuel getting to and from where they need to go. And fewer of them will die or be terribly injured in the process.

    Lastly, all he is suggesting is the president publicly encourage companies to do more of this. It is free.

  7. Workshy Joe says:

    How about Ron Paul for US President in 2012. He may actually be running!

    G.W. Bush and B.H. Obama are just the latest in a very long line of establishment puppets.

    The problems with the global economy have their origins in the early part of the 20th century, not just the first few years of this one.

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