[Carfreeliving] Gas tax supported by NYT
jhenders at sbcglobal.net
Mon Oct 24 09:15:40 MDT 2005
Today's New York Times supports gas tax (pasted below). Notice they
focus on keeping price at $3 per gallon. (It is now back down to $2.60
My problem with NYT is when they talk about using gas tax to buy back
Suvs. We should not coddle suv owners in any way, it sends the worst
signal. We should tax them double for the road space they consume!
I suggest 50 cents per gallon for Southeast Louisiana sustainable
rebuild and reconfiguration.
Gas Taxes: Lesser Evil, Greater Good
Published: October 24, 2005
There's no serious disagreement that two major crises of our time are
terrorism and global warming. And there's no disputing that America's oil
consumption fosters both. Oil profits that flow to Saudi Arabia and other
Middle Eastern countries finance both terrorist acts and the spread of
dangerously fanatical forms of Islam. The burning of fossil fuels creates
greenhouse emissions that provoke climate change. All the while, oil
dependency increases the likelihood of further military entanglements, and
threatens the economy with inflation, high interest rates and risky
indebtedness. Until now, the government has failed to connect our
our consumption in a coherent way. That dereliction of duty has led to
policies that are counterproductive, such as tax incentives to buy gas
guzzlers and an overemphasis on increasing domestic oil supply, although
even all-out drilling would not be enough to slake our oil thirst and
require a reversal of longstanding environmental protections.
Now, however, the energy risks so apparent in the aftermath of Hurricane
Katrina have created both the urgency and the political opportunity
nation's leaders to respond appropriately. The government must
the end of the era of perpetually cheap gas, and it must do so in a
makes America less vulnerable to all manner of threats - terrorist,
environmental and economic.
The best solution is to increase the federal gasoline tax, in order to
the price of gas near its post-Katrina highs of $3-plus a gallon. That
put a dent in gas-guzzling behavior, as has already been seen in the
dramatic drop in the sale of sport-utility vehicles. And it would help
oil dependency in the long run, as automakers and other manufacturers
responded to consumer demand for fuel-efficient products.
Still, raising the gas tax would be politically difficult - and for very
good reasons. The gas tax, which has been at 18.4 cents a gallon since
is painfully regressive. It hits hardest at poor people for whom fuel
consume a proportionally larger share of their budgets; rural dwellers for
whom truck-driving over long distances is an everyday activity; and the
gasoline-dependent middle class, particularly suburban commuters, who, on
top of living far from their workplaces, have been encouraged by
cheap gas to own large, poor-mileage vehicles.
Fortunately, those drawbacks can be overcome. A bolstered gas tax would
raise huge amounts of revenue, roughly $1 billion for every penny of
additional tax. Some of that money would have to be used to provide
offsetting tax breaks to low-income households, such as an increase in the
earned income tax credit. Another offset that lawmakers could consider
be to use some of the revenue to buy back S.U.V.'s. The buyback notion
variation on the "scrappage" idea from earlier crises, when it was
that the government buy up old clunkers so that their owners could more
quickly upgrade to less-polluting cars. Eventually, the gas tax would
consumers less, as revenues from it are used to finance long-term
changes to reduce oil dependency, including mass transit and research into
alternative fuels and technologies.
There is a also a good possibility that, over time, higher gas taxes would
not hurt consumers as much as is generally feared. Oil exporters dread gas
taxes because the higher gas prices go, the greater the incentive for
companies and governments to invest in alternatives. For that reason,
economists assume that raising the gas tax - say, by a dollar or so -
not necessarily raise the price at the pump by the same amount. Rather, a
tax increase could induce exporters to allow the price of oil itself to
fall, in order to keep the price at the pump below the level at which oil
alternatives begin to look attractive.
"We know that the days of unlimited, inexpensive gasoline are over,"
Clay Ford Jr., chairman and chief executive of the Ford Motor Company,
last week. So be it. Cheap gas is no longer compatible with a secure
a healthy environment or a healthy economy - if ever it was. The real
question is whether we should continue paying the extra dollar or two per
gallon in the form of profits to the Saudis and other producers, or in the
form of taxes to the United States Treasury, where the money could be used
to build true energy independence.
San Francisco CA
jhenders at sbcglobal.net
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