Steve Mufson has a good item up on the Washington Post website about how many countries, especially in the developing world, actually subsidize gasoline consumption which, among other things, keeps demand high even in the face of soaring oil prices because customers don’t necessary see the price at the pump.
From an environmental point of view this is, obviously, terrible public policy. It’s also not terribly sound economics. Particularly damaging, however, is the long-run implications of this sort of thing. China has a golden opportunity to look at the problems currently afflicting the United States and decide to pour its burgeoning wealth into building sustainable transportation infrastructure and lifestyles from the ground up, instead of first building all-cars-all-the-time and then trying to retrofit to 21st century realities. Instead, though, they’re subsidizing gas consumption.