Want to live forever? Raise the price of gasoline!

You remember the old joke about your boss making you do more with less until you end up doing everything with nothing?

An Atlanta Journal Constitution writer has found practical applications for that principle, sort of -- the solution to the health care crisis, the exploding costs of health care and the national debt. His solution: Higher gas prices!

In an article entitled "Who Wins with Higher Gas Prices," Dan Chapman of the AJC offers statistical proof of the relationship between high gas prices and public health.

Chapman reports that, when gas prices are high, people drive less and walk more.

Other health benefits accrue to higher gas prices. Charles Courtemanche, an economics professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, recently published a study showing that a sustained $1 increase in the price of a gallon of gas results in a 10 percent drop in the nation's obesity rate.

Americans who walk and bike more often and eat at restaurants less often will suffer fewer obesity-related diseases. Every $1 uptick in gas prices saves 11,000 lives and $11 billion in health-care costs annually. [Emphasis mine]

In other words, if gas prices increase by $40 per gallon, we can virtually eliminate obesity in America (do the math). But even better, if we raise the price per gallon by $27,275.00, we can save the lives of every American, presumably in perpetuity, and erase the national debt.

Note to professional statisticians and math hobbyists: I know, context is everything, but the way I look at it, I'm no more guilty of egregious abuse of the content of Mr. Chapman's article than he is of ignoring the larger issues associated with high fuel costs in an energy-driven economy already in slowdown.

For the record, the prospects for famine in America aren't mentioned in Chapman's article.