Whether the country that you live in is wealthy or not, the choice to embrace a harmful way of life includes a wide range of expenses which are usually hidden for the average person.

Moo money, moo problems

Beyond just the dangers from pollution, both farmed animals and driving cause a massive financial drain on all of us. These costs are downplayed or ignored by the industry and instead show up only when tragedy strikes. It’s a great irony that the 'cheap' and 'easy' lifestyle brings an external debt that runs in the hundreds of billions (USD).

For driving, the expenses include:

  • Car payments, fuel, and repairs
  • Cost of parking
  • Tickets
  • Insurance
  • Congestion
  • Cost of car crashes
  • Theft
  • Building and repairing roads, bridges, & tunnels
  • Tax subsidies to the oil industry
  • Cost of sprawl
  • Medical care

Car full of money

Sadly, while the known costs of owning, maintaining, and fueling a car are considered unavoidable for people, these payouts are only pennies on the dollar.
In the U.S. driving is usually tagged at 56 cents per mile in 'predictable costs.' (link) But when we look at the various unexpected costs that go with a daily driving addiction, we realize that the picture is much broader then people realize.

Road cost per mode

Travel cost per mile, from ‘VTPI

Netherlands bikepath

A similar study out of Copenhagen finds that the cost of cycling is six times lower then that of driving even when the slower speed of the bike is taken into account.

The full cost of driving is a massive elephant in the room that typically doesn’t become clear until someone is in an 'accident' or gets hurt. Even before looking at tax subsidies, the personal cost dwarfs any other travel option (except maybe a personal helicopter).

Oil subsidies
Close Oil subsidies

U.S. oil subsidies -

On top of the regular cost that goes directly to cars and roads, are the enormous amount of money distributed to oil companies.
Estimates for the U.S. government subsidies range from $10 billion to $15 billion (USD). This doesn't include the cost of the wars fought to secure this oil (more on that later). But the U.S. isn't the only country 'makin it rain.'

Plane lands for cheap gas

Nations around the world collectively spend $400 billion dollars subsidizing drilling and shipping that 'black gold' from the wells to the gas stations.
Sadly, these are only the direct subsidies for drilling, shipping, and paying for equipment. Other damage like pollution of the air, water, and soil are left out. Along with regular handouts, these bump up the estimated cost to $5.3 trillion. So when a person tells you that gas prices are falling, don't fall for it.