Gas prices; Paris Hilton ad...

Behind The News
August 6, 2008 1:52:10 PM PDT
Well well well. Finally, some good news emerging from the high price of gas. We're driving less. That's what the experts say - and it backs up all those theories, which were called wild and radical by many, that the way to conserve - truly conserve - is to have prices get high enough where people look for alternatives.

It's happening with other forms of energy: alternative energy companies are reporting increases in business, firewood companies, as we reported here Monday, are also doing a booming business. And mass transportation is booming, if we can use that word about the arguably poorly run MTA; but, no question, ridership is up as commuters look for an alternative to the automobile to get around.

Which brings us to the main point: New Yorkers have so reduced their driving -- 500 million fewer miles in May than in the same month last year - that insurance regulators say there will likely be no rate increase this year.

In fact, Geico, the largest car insurer, has withdrawn its rate hike request after the state Insurance Dept. asked the company how higher gas prices had reduced car travel.

Then Geico told them.

Then the regulators raised their eyebrows.

Then Geico withdrew its request.

It is - to stretch the point - the same philosophy Mayor Bloomberg tried to employ with his congestion pricing plan: Make it more expensive to drive during peak hours, and people will drive less. There is, to use the economists lingo, price elasticity for most products. The higher the price, the more demand will decrease.

I'm not advocating higher gas prices; I hate paying all that money as much as the next person. But there is something to be said about seeking alternative forms of transportation and energy. And clearly, we're starting to do that.

We'll have the latest on the insurance cost story, tonight at 11.

We're also in Queens tonight, the southeast sections, where a rapist is still on the loose. At least five sexual attacks recently, and tonight a coalition of community organizations is asking women to walk in groups, for safety. It's not a way to live, and the community, rightly, is worried.

And what is this campaign for President turning into to? Negative ads, debates over things that don't affect people, pettiness. Having said all that, I will admit that I was impressed, if that's the right word, with someone I never thought I'd ever be impressed with. The Paris Hilton "ad" on the web, where she's sitting poolside in a bathing suit, is cleverly written and, gulp, cleverly pulled off by the, gulp, actress.

And I know I'm not the only one who is saying that tonight.

If you haven't seen it, you can, by

We'll have the latest from the campaign trail, at 11.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Marvell Scott, in for Scott Clark, with the night's sports, including the latest on Brett Farve -- will he become a Jet?

I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.