Oil = $1.78 / gallon (US avg.)
Bottled Water = $3.00 / gallon (generic, by the gallon)
Dasani Bottled Water = $7.50 / gallon (sold as single 16.9oz. bottles)
Though it is traded as a commodity on the free market, Oil is priced in the US as if it were a ubiquitous public utility. The manufacturers of bottled water, on the other hand, have invented a high-priced luxury market around the packaging of a actual ubiquitous utility.
Water is renewable and costs next to nothing to process; Oil is non-renewable and must be refined into gasoline. And here’s the greatest irony of all: bottled water is delivered to market in oil-based plastic bottles, by vehicles that run on oil!
Why do we pay $7.50/gallon for water that costs nothing? It comes down to convenience, luxury and perceived quality control, even if most tap water is already very clean. When we purchase bottled water, we are paying for portability and 100% guaranteed peace of mind.
The Functionality senses an half-opportunity: as we transition from fossil fuels to renewables, what if all gasoline were not created equal? How could we utilize taxes and services to sell some, if not all, gas at high "premium" prices? Some people will not be able to afford expensive gas, but others will. Do we tax the hell out of premium? Designer gas? gas-offsets? Or will we face Jeffrey Sachs' economic "shock-therapy" and suffer the consequences? Unclear. The new energy economy is one thing, but how we get there will be messy.