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Just Leave me Alone!
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QUOTE
No Mullah Left Behind

By Thomas L. Friedman

By adamantly refusing to do anything to improve energy conservation in America, or to phase in a $1-a-gallon gasoline tax on American drivers, or to demand increased mileage from Detroit's automakers, or to develop a crash program for renewable sources of energy, the Bush team is - as others have noted - financing both sides of the war on terrorism. We are financing the U.S. armed forces with our tax dollars, and, through our profligate use of energy, we are generating huge windfall profits for Saudi Arabia, Iran and Sudan, where the cash is used to insulate the regimes from any pressure to open up their economies, liberate their women or modernize their schools, and where it ends up instead financing madrassas, mosques and militants fundamentally opposed to the progressive, pluralistic agenda America is trying to promote. Now how smart is that?

The neocon strategy may have been necessary to trigger reform in Iraq and the wider Arab world, but it will not be sufficient unless it is followed up by what I call a "geo-green" strategy.

As a geo-green, I believe that combining environmentalism and geopolitics is the most moral and realistic strategy the U.S. could pursue today. Imagine if President Bush used his bully pulpit and political capital to focus the nation on sharply lowering energy consumption and embracing a gasoline tax.

What would that buy? It would buy reform in some of the worst regimes in the world, from Tehran to Moscow. It would reduce the chances that the U.S. and China are going to have a global struggle over oil - which is where we are heading. It would help us to strengthen the dollar and reduce the current account deficit by importing less crude. It would reduce climate change more than anything in Kyoto. It would significantly improve America's standing in the world by making us good global citizens. It would shrink the budget deficit. It would reduce our dependence on the Saudis so we could tell them the truth. (Addicts never tell the truth to their pushers.) And it would pull China away from its drift into supporting some of the worst governments in the world, like Sudan's, because it needs their oil.


TOPICS TO DEBATE:
Is a gasoline tax good for America as a whole?
Would you support it?




Edited to include debate question, with author's permission. smile.gif
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Jaime

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TOPICS TO DEBATE:
Is a gasoline tax good for America as a whole?
Would you support it?


Please enjoy your debate. smile.gif
SWM28WDC
Gasoline Tax, No. Oil Tax, Better, but still, No. Carbon Tax, especially when offset by a reduction in other taxes, Yes.

A gasoline tax is out because folks could easily switch to diesel.
An Oil tax would be better, reducing use of oil & oil products, but leaving coal and natural gas.

I prefer the carbon tax:
It catches all nonrenewable energy sources (exc. uranium, but whatever).
It is, by exclusion, a government-spending free subsidy to clean, domestic, completely renewable forms of energy such as solar and wind.
Because solar & wind power require high technology, high use of capital, they will encourage well-paying jobs in the US. Most of the work in oil was done millions of years ago by earth itself.
It is completely avoidable: you can simply not use carbon emitting products, or, you can offset your emissions by creating new biomass (forests).
It may reduce global warming, which may actually be real.

To make the carbon tax less economically damaging, because it will raise the price of energy, the net revenue from such a program should be used to do three things, in equal dollar amounts: 1) reduce rates on corporate income. 2) increase the personal exemption for personal income taxes. 3) Rebate a portion of the tax, hidden in just about everything to each citizen through a one-size-fits all individual rebate.

Ol Sarge
Is a gasoline tax good for America as a whole?
Would you support it?


I wouldn’t support the tax because it has been proven ineffective in Europe. Anyway America has a gas tax and many states add a state tax to it already. Here in PR we have no tax other than income and SS tax and our gas costs about $1.60 a gallon. In Germany and other European states it is around $7.00 a gallon and has zero difference in use of vehicles compared to here. When a tax is started it is almost never stopped so why beg to be taxed for eternity? Should the tax be successful to correct anything the government would keep it forever like the taxes we are still paying for the war of 1812.
Cube Jockey
QUOTE(Ol Sarge @ Mar 7 2005, 07:49 PM)
In Germany and other European states it is around $7.00 a gallon and has zero difference in use of vehicles compared to here. 
*


Correct about the price, wrong about the impact. The price of gas in the UK and Europe has had a huge impact on the culture there. For one thing, people rely heavily on public transportation to travel long distances.

Secondly cars are much smaller and more fuel efficient due in part to the price of gas. The average car in the UK and Europe is smaller than a Honda Civic (which is one of the smallest cars they make here). It is pretty rare to see someone driving an SUV. If you go to some suburb in Texas it is pretty rare NOT to see someone driving an SUV.

Just as one example of the impact. In the UK if I lived in York and had relatives in London that would be a commute via car of about 3 to 4 hours I believe (as much as 6 with bad traffic). Here that distance is nothing, it is roughly the distance from Dallas to Austin (possibly a little further) and you wouldn't think twice about getting in your car to drive it. However over there, it is actually a pretty big deal, almost one of those things you plan pretty far in advance for. This is partially due to the prohibitive price of gas.

Now that isn't the whole reason for the culture differences but it certainly plays a large part based on my experiences talking with people there.

Is a gasoline tax good for America as a whole?
I would say that it would not be a good thing. I like the intent behind the author's statements, but it isn't a realistic solution. Creating a large gas tax like the ones found in Europe would drastically increase the price of doing business overnight and bring the economy crashing down with it. We don't have the infrastructure in place to support the widespread use of cheaper alternatives. America is a car culture and that isn't something that changes quickly.

The author strikes me as one of those progressive types that wants radical change right now. I prefer to take realistic steps toward an ideal because that way you'll actually get things done and not come off as an extremist.

We definitely do need to take steps towards getting off fossil fuels, building our public transit infrastructure and removing our dependence on mideast oil, but putting some oppressive gas tax in place is not the solution.
overlandsailor

QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Mar 7 2005, 10:41 PM)
...  We don't have the infrastructure in place to support the widespread use of cheaper alternatives.  America is a car culture and that isn't something that changes quickly.

The author strikes me as one of those progressive types that wants radical change right now.  I prefer to take realistic steps toward an ideal because that way you'll actually get things done and not come off as an extremist.

We definitely do need to take steps towards getting off fossil fuels, building our public transit infrastructure and removing our dependence on mideast oil, but putting some oppressive gas tax in place is not the solution.
*




This is the second time in one night that I agreed with CJ! Might be a record. wink.gif You know CJ, you're starting to sound like a moderate. thumbsup.gif

Is a gasoline tax good for America as a whole?

The issue for me in regards to such gas taxes is the sudden impact on every single thing you buy in the store. Most of the goods you by get there by truck. The sudden jump in fuel prices (as I have yet to see a gas tax that did not include diesel) would cause an equally sudden increase in the cost of getting raw materials to manufacturers, getting manufactured goods to the distributers and then on to the stores, not to mention the sudden increase in costs to get produce from farms to cities, etc, etc.

Trains could make up for some of this (if we even had the infrastructure left in that industry to take on a sudden increase in business), if not for the issue that most, if not all freight trains have multiple diesel engines. Shipping and river barges would help, again if not for the fact that most run on diesel.

Of course maybe we could develop electric based freight trains? But then you have to consider how all that new demand for electricity would be met. What would be used to make this electricity? Would there really be an environmental benefit?

Then of course there is the idea that it would jump start the alternative fuel research. Problem here is that once we get used to such tax revenues, it is hard to live without them. We recently had a topic on this issue, regarding the idea of some parts of the west coast seeking to replace the gas tax with a milage tax, thus eliminating one of the incentives to make the move to a hybrid.

No, Gas taxes are the wrong way to go. Their impact is massive. I know the proponents love to point to all the "wealthy" people and their Saves. However, if they would consider the poor and their food budget maybe they would see the error in their ways.

It would not be the first time we created taxes to stimulate change, and target the well to do. Problem is, most times we do that, we end up hurting the poor and middle class a heck of alot more then the wealthy. hmmm.gif
Argonaut
QUOTE
Is a gasoline tax good for America as a whole and would you support it?


Aw shucks and golly gee! And here I thought I was already being taxed 32.4 cents per gallon State (CA) and 18.4 cents per gallon Federal on every single gallon of gas I buy. Ya'all might want to check my figures, but I do believe that comes to ~50.8 cents per gallon. Heck, that's damned near a 25% tax on me gettin' from here to there.

And now you ask if I would "support" a gasoline tax. I must tell ya'all that this is a mighty strange reality to be a' jumpin' into, Lil' 'ol me philosophizin', considering that I was never invited to opine about the existing (and yet apparently unbeknownst to you) 25% tax on gasoline extracted to date.

Your clever inquisition requests the sanction of and implies an increase in an existing tax structure simultaneously non-existant in light of your question as asked.
Ol Sarge
QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Mar 8 2005, 12:41 AM)
Correct about the price, wrong about the impact.  The price of gas in the UK and Europe has had a huge impact on the culture there.  For one thing, people rely heavily on public transportation to travel long distances.

Well I understand traffic in London is so bad from overcrowded auto congestion that heavy tariffs are applied to drive inside of the city. I agree the car sizes are smaller in France and England but in Germany? I think the rush to the mass transit is because the roads are full of cars.

From my experience in Germany they love the car just as much as Americans and while limit themselves to SUV’s they love the big Mercedes and BMW’s. The train system is more suitable for point-to-point in Germany and quite efficient and takes some of the load from the highway. My experience in Germany is the people will maintain their standard of living even if the gas goes to $10.00 a gallon and to maintain it they simply don’t have families or only have one child.

By raising the tax on auto gas in the states the impact on the economy would be devastating and responsible people would have less children while irresponsible people would have more children and the result would be a government ran by the irresponsible ending in doom.
Just Leave me Alone!
QUOTE(Ol Sarge @ Mar 7 2005, 10:49 PM)
Is a gasoline tax good for America as a whole?
Would you support it?


I wouldn’t support the tax because it has been proven ineffective in Europe. 
*


ph34r.gif As earlier pointed out, a gas tax is effective in Europe. Even in Germany where the BMW and Mercedes are more common, the average fuel consumption in 1998 was 30.8 mpg vs 21.6 mpg in the United States. I consider 30% better fuel millage effective.

QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Mar 7 2005, 11:41 PM)
Is a gasoline tax good for America as a whole?
I would say that it would not be a good thing.  I like the intent behind the author's statements, but it isn't a realistic solution.  Creating a large gas tax like the ones found in Europe would drastically increase the price of doing business overnight and bring the economy crashing down with it.  We don't have the infrastructure in place to support the widespread use of cheaper alternatives.  America is a car culture and that isn't something that changes quickly.
*


Agreed that a $1 increase overnight is not realistic. The author clearly states that the US should "phase in" the tax though. Obviously a reasonable timeline would have to be established for implementing this, but I do not believe that it detracts from the overall value that the idea has.

QUOTE(overlandsailor @ Mar 8 2005, 12:17 AM)
Is a gasoline tax good for America as a whole?

The issue for me in regards to such gas taxes is the sudden impact on every single thing you buy in the store.  Most of the goods you by get there by truck.  The sudden jump in fuel prices (as I have yet to see a gas tax that did not include diesel) would cause an equally sudden increase in the cost of getting raw materials to manufacturers, getting manufactured goods to the distributers and then on to the stores, not to mention the sudden increase in costs to get produce from farms to cities, etc, etc.
*


A good point. A question though. If gasoline costs were a very large portion of the total costs of goods sold, would we be able to afford buying manufactured imports from China? The costs will increase, but not on the massive scale of significance that you suggest. As a side note, the tax would eventually encourage more fuel efficient methods of transport from companies as well.

QUOTE(Argonaut @ Mar 8 2005, 04:59 AM)
QUOTE
Is a gasoline tax good for America as a whole and would you support it?

Your clever inquisition requests the sanction of and implies an increase in an existing tax structure simultaneously non-existent in light of your question as asked.
*


Fair enough. I'll take it that you feel gas is taxed too heavily already. whistling.gif I have to disagree with you though because I think that gas taxes are completely justifiable. The reason they are justifiable is that using gasoline puts a burden on the entire US society. #1) It creates a national security situation because the profits finance terrorism. The cost of the military, intelligence, and homeland security resources used to combat terrorism is passed on to all of us, and we need more resources because we are partially financing the opposition with our buying of gas. #2) Interest rates. Oil makes up over 7% of the trade deficit. This trade deficit hurts all Americans in the form of decreased US credit and higher interest rates. #3) Environmental factors. Smog effects us all. Is it not reasonable to expect the people who use the gasoline that causes these adverse effects on society to burden a larger portion of the costs?
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SWM28WDC
Quoth CJ-The author strikes me as one of those progressive types that wants radical change right now. I prefer to take realistic steps toward an ideal because that way you'll actually get things done and not come off as an extremist.

Let me clarify my position regarding this: the federal tax on carbon should start our very very small, with a clear schedule of increases, so that there are no sudden shocks, by the time the tax is significant, the subtle pressure of the tax over the previous years would have changed the majority of behavior: less commuting, smaller cars, closer producers, more efficient freight, cleaner power. It's not an extreme idea, and the idea of taxing someone for burning an irreplacable natural resource and polluting our common atmosphere seems much more acceptable to me than taxing someone for the productive work they do.

Quoth OLS-The issue for me in regards to such gas taxes is the sudden impact on every single thing you buy in the store. Most of the goods you by get there by truck. The sudden jump in fuel prices (as I have yet to see a gas tax that did not include diesel) would cause an equally sudden increase in the cost of getting raw materials to manufacturers, getting manufactured goods to the distributers and then on to the stores, not to mention the sudden increase in costs to get produce from farms to cities, etc, etc.

Exactly because of the widespread effect on EVERYTHING, a very small but growing tax would be effective in changing behavior, without suddenly dumping people into a tax that is onerous.


Quoth OLS-No, Gas taxes are the wrong way to go. Their impact is massive. I know the proponents love to point to all the "wealthy" people and their Saves. However, if they would consider the poor and their food budget maybe they would see the error in their ways.

No doubt that 'the poor' spend a higher percentage of their resources on energy...hence the need for income tax reduction and a universal rebate: therefore those who use less-than-average amounts receive an economic boon, while those who use more compensate the rest. Such a compensation is just, for exactly the reasons mentioned by JLMA. The idea being: you are not taking more money out of the economy, and you are not putting the screws to the poor, 'clean' companies benefit and expand, 'dirty' companies stagnate, or become clean. Actually, such a tax should eventually result in a more larger and efficient domestic economy, as 'externalities' are corrected for, and more demands for American technology, and American workers operating wind & solar farms, or possibly 'clean' coal plants, algae farms, or even pebble bed nuclear reactors. vs. demand for oil beneath some other country.

Economically, such taxes are known as Pigouvian Taxes. A very good background in taxation can be found on Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax

Ol Sarge (and OLS) I agree with the fear of allowing new taxes, however we as a nation should realize that some taxes are better than others, and should shift taxes, as we can, from productive activities wages (income, payroll) and investment (dividends, corporate income taxes) to non-productive activies.
Little-Acorn
Is a gasoline tax good for America as a whole?
Would you support it?


I assume you mean, an increase over the tax that's already on gasoline? The Federal tax is either 17 or 18 cents per gallon. Many states also add their own state taxes.

Is an increase of these taxes, good?

No.

Would I support it?

I'm one of those rare nutcases who does NOT think that Americans don't already pay enough taxes.

Ol Sarge
QUOTE(Just Leave me Alone! @ Mar 8 2005, 12:59 PM)
QUOTE(Ol Sarge @ Mar 7 2005, 10:49 PM)
Is a gasoline tax good for America as a whole?
Would you support it?


I wouldn’t support the tax because it has been proven ineffective in Europe. 
*


ph34r.gif As earlier pointed out, a gas tax is effective in Europe. Even in Germany where the BMW and Mercedes are more common, the average fuel consumption in 1998 was 30.8 mpg vs 21.6 mpg in the United States. I consider 30% better fuel millage effective.

That is a very good point! But the difference in tax is quite significant and it seems millage and polution standards would be more effective.
QUOTE
Fair enough.  I'll take it that you feel gas is taxed too heavily already.  whistling.gif I have to disagree with you though because I think that gas taxes are completely justifiable.  The reason they are justifiable is that using gasoline puts a burden on the entire US society.  #1) It creates a national security situation because the profits finance terrorism.  The cost of the military, intelligence, and homeland security resources used to combat terrorism is passed on to all of us, and we need more resources because we are partially financing the opposition with our buying of gas.  #2) Interest rates.  Oil makes up over 7% of the trade deficit.  This trade deficit hurts all Americans in the form of decreased US credit and higher interest rates.  #3) Environmental factors.  Smog effects us all.  Is it not reasonable to expect the people who use the gasoline that causes these adverse effects on society to burden a larger portion of the costs?

Now you have my attention and I agree totally gas is the villain with you but I simply disagree tax is the silver bullet to kill the beast. I think things will start to happen fast when they start to change but the "players" of the big money have to arrange themselves. Once the "replacement" for gas is revealed the world will be out of wack until the replacement is comfortably in place. One must ask what impact would a "replacement" have on American oil industry and maybe more importantly what would happen to the peoples in the sand that totally depend on it to support their societies? Hydrogen fuel has a lot of hype but the problem is it requires fuel to produce hydrogen. Actually we have few refineries to produce our gas so one could relate hydrogen production centers equal to refineries. Guess what, the waste heat from nuclear power plants could be used to produce hydrogen? The question is how to make the buck and how to corner the market?
overlandsailor
QUOTE(Just Leave me Alone! @ Mar 8 2005, 10:59 AM)
Is it not reasonable to expect the people who use the gasoline that causes these adverse effects on society to burden a larger portion of the costs?
*



That depends. You are limiting the question to those who use gasoline when the effect of the tax will have a far greater reach.

The real question is:

Is it reasonable to increase the cost of living on those who don't even own cars in an attempt to 'punish' the users of combustible fuels?

Perhaps a better approach would be to look into funding options for alternative fuel research.

Of course there are problems with alternative fuels.

After in vesting decades in R&D Exxon/Mobile (formally Exxon) ended the bulk of there research into Solar and Wind power because of the technologies limitations. It takes too much real estate (an expensive commodity itself) to produce power from these sources. The reoccurring costs of the real estate (like property taxes for example) make it impossible the generate power from these sources at a cost that enables resale at a profit (this according the lamp magazine (sorry I don't have a link).

After investing years in R&D of bio fuels, ExxonMobil is drastically reducing it's investment into this research because of the limitations of this alternative. To grow the crops you need land. According to Exxon's estimates, to grow enough to fuel the entire country with 100% ethanol would require 52% of the land mass of the United States. Since this amount of land is simply not available (even if we decide to stop growing food crops) this alternative is not viable.

Exxon Mobile moved a good portion of their investments into Alternative energy research into Hydrogen Cells. However, as has been mentioned many times, the problem with Hydrogen is that it takes an industrial process to produce it. That process requires power, and there are not many "clean" power generation options out there other then Nuclear power, which is has it's own political drama to contend with.

The same holds true with electric propulsion. Something has to generate that power.

Hydro Electric Power generation is efficient, but comes at a major cost to the local environment and the environment down stream (though there are some interesting ideas regarding ocean waves and the use of hydro turbines).

Geothermal power is another interesting source, but the research is a long way off. Currently however there has been some success in the use of geothermal heating and cooling on the small scale.

The bottom line is, we do not really have a viable alternative at this time.

So we tax gasoline to motivate people to accept alternative energy sources that do not currently exist on the scale needed to make the switch. The result is a higher cost of living for all, with the poor being hit the worse because the effects of this tax will be a much higher percentage of their income then the more fortunate among us.

Besides the economic damage it would do, it seems a bit like putting the cart before the horse.
SWM28WDC
Is it reasonable to increase the cost of living on those who don't even own cars in an attempt to "punished" the users of combustible fuels?

Not owning a car doesn't mean you don't use gasoline (or other hydrocarbons), nor does it mean that your lifestyle doesn't burden others through the uncaptured associated costs of the products you consume.

If this question is strictly referring to a tax on gasoline, it's a ridiculous idea, as the substitutes for gas (diesel, kerosene) have the same costs associated with their use.

I really do think that this administration's insistance on fuel cells (which will be very lucrative technology when developed) has absolutely nothing to do with reducing dependence on foreign oil. Even when fully developed, fuel cells will not be an energy source, but an energy storage medium.

Edited to add:

I'm not arguing for a tax that would drastically increase the cost of hydrocarbon fuel, say starting at roughly equivalent <$.05/gal, increasing to about $.75 in 50 years. I say equivalent, because such a tax shouldn't be per gallon of gasoline, but rather per Ton of Carbon emitted. Such a tax could also be made progressive by figuring out how much of a burden to the average family of consumers that would be, and relieving that burden with a combination of lowered income taxes and direct universal rebates.

Note that the price of gasoline generally fluctuates much more than 5 cents without drastic and lifechanging economic consequences.

As for alternatives not being ready, OLS, horsehockey! I know that you know the best alternative: frugal use and conservation. Being fair, the others are not quite here yet, but even a 10% reduction in oil used for personal transportation would be significant. Home heating also accounts for a significant portion of domestic fuel use, such a tax shift would encourage AND allow more families to improve the heating unit and the insulation in their homes, to the benefit of largely domestic industries. I forget how much more efficient a train is than a truck, but I do know that the gap has closed, mostly due to the development of high efficiency trucks and the stagnation of train technology. One of the few 'big government' programs I could get behind would be the federalization of railways, similar to the highway system: private users, public (toll) roads. Of course no one 'profits' from conservation, so no political 'donations' ar available....

Wind energy is almost here, wind farms exist, and more are being built: I know of plans in WV, VA, MD, and another in new england. Here's a map of existing generators. Increasing the cost of carbon based fuels by a small amount would make wind energy price competitive.

Ethanol is a bad idea, i've heard statistics similar to yours. Biodiesel is a better idea: Here's a story from the Univ. of New Hampshire on how to replace existing use of transportation fuels with biodiesel using 10 million acres of land, compared to the existing 450 million acres used for crops and the 500 million acres used for grazing.

Aparently there's new technology in the coal industry making new plants much much cleaner than old ones. Exaust gases from boilers can be captured and used to 'fertilize' plants, particularly algae, effectively capturing the carbon emissions. Having a tax shift from income to carbon emissions would effectively subsidize power plants that made improvements. Improvements require investment and workers to implement, adding a positive ripple through the economy, though not as much as the operation and maintenence of wind farms, or even algae farms.

Hydroelectric is pretty much maxed out, all of the good, steep river valleys have been dammed. The verdict on 'tidal' energies is still out, but I'm going to bet the environmental costs of fragile, important, and visible tidal areas will preclude their use there. The wave thing is a neat idea, though it's rough on the equipment.

Geothermal, real geothermal, is a long way off, though ground source heat pumps are the most efficient way to heat and cool your house, and as clean as the energy source. However, you do have to have a certain distance from you're neighbors, there is a limit to howmany GSHP wells you can fit into a given area, unless you want to drill REALLY deep.

All of these methods require more intensive use of labor and capital, which means that someone will get paid for working or building something, being productive, rather than spending money on oil, which goes mostly to the guy with the 'legal' claim to the source.

The best part about a shift from income tax to a carbon tax is that we don't have to decide which combination of these is the best, we merely let the relatively free market decide.
Just Leave me Alone!
QUOTE(SWM28WDC @ Mar 8 2005, 05:22 PM)
It's not an extreme idea, and the idea of taxing someone for burning an irreplacable natural resource and polluting our common atmosphere seems much more acceptable to me than taxing someone for the productive work they do.

Ol Sarge (and OLS) I agree with the fear of allowing new taxes, however we as a nation should realize that some taxes are better than others, and should shift taxes, as we can, from productive activities wages (income, payroll) and investment (dividends, corporate income taxes) to non-productive activies.
*


thumbsup.gif I'm in the same boat here with you SWC.

QUOTE(Little-Acorn @ Mar 8 2005, 07:15 PM)
Is a gasoline tax good for America as a whole?
Would you support it?


I'm one of those rare nutcases who does NOT think that Americans don't already pay enough taxes.
*


ermm.gif Generally I agree that Americans pay too much in taxes as a whole. Would a shift in taxes to gas and away from income taxes appeal to you?

QUOTE(Ol Sarge @ Mar 8 2005, 09:26 PM)
QUOTE(Just Leave me Alone! @ Mar 8 2005, 12:59 PM)

ph34r.gif As earlier pointed out, a gas tax is effective in Europe.  Even in Germany where the BMW and Mercedes are more common, the average fuel consumption in 1998 was 30.8 mpg vs 21.6 mpg in the United States.  I consider 30% better fuel millage effective.

That is a very good point! But the difference in tax is quite significant and it seems millage and polution standards would be more effective.

*


One of the reasons that I prefer the gas tax is over millage standards is that I believe that those who can afford to pay the gas tax, and actually want to should be able to drive a giant car if they choose. I prefer to discourage instead of prohibit.

QUOTE(overlandsailor @ Mar 8 2005, 10:12 PM)
QUOTE(Just Leave me Alone! @ Mar 8 2005, 10:59 AM)
Is it not reasonable to expect the people who use the gasoline that causes these adverse effects on society to burden a larger portion of the costs?
*



That depends. You are limiting the question to those who use gasoline when the effect of the tax will have a far greater reach.

The real question is:

Is it reasonable to increase the cost of living on those who don't even own cars in an attempt to "punished" the users of combustible fuels?
*


huh.gif I disagree with your assertion that this last question is the "real" question? Prices of goods will go up slightly in the short term, but in the long term many product prices will actually go down. Here is why. A two percent decrease in US fuel consumption will drop the price of oil one percent. Less demand drops the price of oil, which is used to make plastics. And plastic prices effect everything from the price of milk to the price of cars. So I assert that you are not punishing those who don't even own cars at all. This talk of economic mayhem and poor people suffering mightily are just scare tactics coming from persons who just do not want to suck it up and take a little pain now to avoid a lot of pain later(sounds a lot like Social Security). The fact of the matter is that the average gas price in the US one year ago was 25 cents less than it is today. The economy seems to have done fine last year and I don't recall seeing any reports of mass starvation. That said, the real question is: Would you rather pay the money to Uncle Sam sooner and do something to fix the problem, or would you rather pay it to OPEC later to prop extremist dictatorships unfriendly to the United States?

edited for: PS - SWC, I'm assuming a tax on diesel as well, perhaps not one as large as on unleaded, but similar.
Little-Acorn
Keep in mind, too, that the only effective way (so far) that most people have found to use less gas, other than radically changing their driving habits, is to drive a smaller, more lightly built car with thriftier gas mileage. And it's a well-documented fact that such smaller cars are more dangerous to their occupants in a crash. Newer designs are making the small cars safer than previous editions, but they are also making large cars safer than previous large cars too.

The fact remain: Crash two small cars together, and you are more likely to get serious injuries and death, than if you crash two big cars together. And if you crash a small car with a big car, you know who loses.

So, perhaps the question should be phrased:

Is an increase in gas taxes, with its decrease in gasoline usage and attendant increase in highway deaths and injuries, good for America as a whole?

Rather puts a different light on the subject, doesn't it.... crying.gif

Just Leave me Alone!
QUOTE(Little-Acorn @ Mar 9 2005, 12:20 PM)
Keep in mind, too, that the only effective way (so far) that most people have found to use less gas, other than radically changing their driving habits, is to drive a smaller, more lightly built car with thriftier gas mileage. And it's a well-documented fact that such smaller cars are more dangerous to their occupants in a crash. Newer designs are making the small cars safer than previous editions, but they are also making large cars safer than previous large cars too.

The fact remain: Crash two small cars together, and you are more likely to get serious injuries and death, than if you crash two big cars together. And if you crash a small car with a big car, you know who loses.

So, perhaps the question should be phrased:

Is an increase in gas taxes, with its decrease in gasoline usage and attendant increase in highway deaths and injuries, good for America as a whole?

Rather puts a different light on the subject, doesn't it....  crying.gif
*


ohmy.gif That is a fair point Little-Acorn. You are only looking at one side of the equation though. Higher prices would cause less driving, and they would cause less large vehicles to be on the road as well. I see little to no correlation between higher gas prices, and an increase in highway deaths and injuries. If anything, I would argue for the opposite. Here is why. The International Road Traffic and Accident Database consistently shows that Britain, Norway, France, and other European countries(small cars and all) have lower fatality rates per person and per mile driven than the United States. This despite having higher speed limits. It's a nice try, but there must be more important factors to highway safety than the size of the general population's cars or Europe would not have lower fatality rates.

flowers.gif I understand your aversion to any taxes. I generally have the same aversion. This is a different animal though because we are going to end up paying more for gas either way. Neither option is appealing but that is what we are faced with. I just think that it is wiser to go ahead and pay the US government now instead of paying the oil companies later.
DaffyGrl
Is a gasoline tax good for America as a whole?
Would you support it?

Since I live in the state with the highest gas tax in the country, I thought I'd add my answers: No and HELL no.

It has already been proven that Americans will pay more for gas. They have to. Our industrial/business centers and living spaces are not as condensed as they are in Europe. This is a big, sprawling country. Until a workable, comprehensive public transportation system exists in major metropolises (metropoli? blink.gif ) or alternative fuel vehicles become more affordable and more widely available (and supported by infrastructure), a good many of us are stuck commuting. An exhorbitant gas tax like the one being discussed would put a burden on those least able to afford it - the working folk.

By the way, regular unleaded in LA is $2.45/gal. (as of yesterday 3/8).
SWM28WDC
QUOTE(DaffyGrl @ Mar 9 2005, 06:14 PM)
[b]Is a gasoline tax good for America as a whole?

It has already been proven that Americans will pay more for gas. They have to. Our industrial/business centers and living spaces are not as condensed as they are in Europe. This is a big, sprawling country. Until a workable, comprehensive public transportation system exists in major metropolises (metropoli?  blink.gif ) or alternative fuel vehicles become more affordable and more widely available (and supported by infrastructure), a good many of us are stuck commuting. An exhorbitant gas tax like the one being discussed would put a burden on those least able to afford it - the working folk.
*



Daffy; the layout of our business/industrial centers and living spaces will not change until it becomes more economically efficient to do so, nor will public transportation be put in place, nor will communities become livable withoute a car.

Unless we empower our government to dictate the location of our houses and our business, a situation I strongly oppose, the only means to encourage efficient communities with efficient transport networks is to capture the externalies associated with oil & road use. The specific structure of such a tax can be made to be progressive, I suggest by rebate everyone an equal amount, coupled with income tax reductions, enough for the poverty-level person to get by with no additional economic burden.
Cube Jockey
QUOTE(SWM28WDC @ Mar 9 2005, 04:36 PM)
Daffy;  the layout of our business/industrial centers and living spaces will not change until it becomes more economically efficient to do so, nor will public transportation be put in place, nor will communities become livable withoute a car.
*


I disagree with the premise of what you are suggesting. Basically you are saying that we won't change our ways until we are financially incented (penalized) into doing so. I think that is a way to accomplish it, but not the best way to accomplish it.

As a perfect example of one of the better ways to accomplish this one only has to look at the city who's love affair with the car is legendary - Los Angeles. If you have ever lived in LA or know even the slightest thing about it you know that it is the very definition of sprawl and bumper to bumper traffic. I recall working there and seeing heavy trafiic on the freeway at all hours of the night.

LA has been silently and diligently building up a public transit infrastructure over the past several years as well as building up apartments, condos and businesses near stops. The result is that people are now evaluating it and saying hmmm, wouldn't it be great if I didn't have to drive in this mess anymore. The behavior modification is voluntary and all it requires is funding of public transit projects which are in our best interests anyway.

There is a good article in USA Today from a few months ago: here

This in my opinion is one of the right ways to do things, but it needs to be a mulit-faceted approach.

DaffyGrl
QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Mar 9 2005, 05:01 PM)
QUOTE(SWM28WDC @ Mar 9 2005, 04:36 PM)
Daffy;  the layout of our business/industrial centers and living spaces will not change until it becomes more economically efficient to do so, nor will public transportation be put in place, nor will communities become livable withoute a car.
*


I disagree with the premise of what you are suggesting. Basically you are saying that we won't change our ways until we are financially incented (penalized) into doing so. I think that is a way to accomplish it, but not the best way to accomplish it.

As a perfect example of one of the better ways to accomplish this one only has to look at the city who's love affair with the car is legendary - Los Angeles. If you have ever lived in LA or know even the slightest thing about it you know that it is the very definition of sprawl and bumper to bumper traffic. I recall working there and seeing heavy trafiic on the freeway at all hours of the night.

LA has been silently and diligently building up a public transit infrastructure over the past several years as well as building up apartments, condos and businesses near stops. The result is that people are now evaluating it and saying hmmm, wouldn't it be great if I didn't have to drive in this mess anymore. The behavior modification is voluntary and all it requires is funding of public transit projects which are in our best interests anyway.

There is a good article in USA Today from a few months ago: here

This in my opinion is one of the right ways to do things, but it needs to be a mulit-faceted approach.
*


Cube's characterization of LA is dead-on. LA County comprises some 4000 square miles, and people have moved further and further away from their workplaces in order to find affordable housing due to the out of control real estate boom. There has been a trend lately of revitalization of urban areas to make them more attractive as residences. I do believe they could have made them somewhat more affordable, but it's progress; more than we had 10 or even 5 years ago. Since even outlying areas are becoming less affordable, gas prices are rising, and the freeway system is hopelessly overloaded, I believe people will either look for public transportation alternatives, or consider moving to some of these revitalized areas. It's a darned shame Metrolink has had such difficulties (many not of their making). Each accident is a setback in changing Angelenos' mindsets from single drivers to public transportation riders.

As a fer-instance, I live 15 miles from work and the commute can take an hour or more on particularly nasty traffic days. I don't know what the solution is to the skyrocketing housing cost. I didn't believe the market could sustain itself 2 years ago when the median price was around $250K. Now it's $470K and shows only minor signs of slowing.
Just Leave me Alone!
QUOTE(DaffyGrl @ Mar 9 2005, 06:14 PM)
Is a gasoline tax good for America as a whole?
Would you support it?

Since I live in the state with the highest gas tax in the country, I thought I'd add my answers: No and HELL no.

It has already been proven that Americans will pay more for gas. They have to. Our industrial/business centers and living spaces are not as condensed as they are in Europe. This is a big, sprawling country. Until a workable, comprehensive public transportation system exists in major metropolises (metropoli?  blink.gif ) or alternative fuel vehicles become more affordable and more widely available (and supported by infrastructure), a good many of us are stuck commuting. An exhorbitant gas tax like the one being discussed would put a burden on those least able to afford it - the working folk.
*


mellow.gif I’m disappointed in hearing that sort of defeatist attitude. I like to think that in a country like America, no one has to be “stuck”. You and I make the choices on how we live and we can adjust them whenever we choose. I can see that you feel passionately about this topic and there is probably nothing that I can say to change your mind here. I have already noted the ill effects to society of using so much gasoline and have mentioned that we are going to pay more for gas in the future with or without an increase in the tax. SWC mentioned offsetting any fuel tax with decreases in other taxes to offset it. Perhaps simultaneously lowering the lowest income tax bracket would help to offset some of the cost?

QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Mar 9 2005, 08:01 PM)
QUOTE(SWM28WDC @ Mar 9 2005, 04:36 PM)
Daffy;  the layout of our business/industrial centers and living spaces will not change until it becomes more economically efficient to do so, nor will public transportation be put in place, nor will communities become livable withoute a car.
*


I disagree with the premise of what you are suggesting. Basically you are saying that we won't change our ways until we are financially incented (penalized) into doing so. I think that is a way to accomplish it, but not the best way to accomplish it.

As a perfect example of one of the better ways to accomplish this one only has to look at the city who's love affair with the car is legendary - Los Angeles. If you have ever lived in LA or know even the slightest thing about it you know that it is the very definition of sprawl and bumper to bumper traffic. I recall working there and seeing heavy trafiic on the freeway at all hours of the night.

LA has been silently and diligently building up a public transit infrastructure over the past several years as well as building up apartments, condos and businesses near stops. The result is that people are now evaluating it and saying hmmm, wouldn't it be great if I didn't have to drive in this mess anymore. The behavior modification is voluntary and all it requires is funding of public transit projects which are in our best interests anyway.

This in my opinion is one of the right ways to do things, but it needs to be a mulit-faceted approach.
*


smile.gif Cube. I have to agree with SWC's premise that our behaviors will not change until it is in our best interests to change. I would like to nudge these better behaviors along through a gasoline tax. You feel that it is better to encourage public transportation. Both would work and I agree that a multi-faceted approach is best. I know that public transportation is not as effective in places in the midwest as it is in large cities though. This oil problem is larger than just getting LA residents to ride the bus(Over 60% of oil consumed in the US comes from foreign countries). How else can we change all of America's behavior?
JeffreyGoines
I've never quite understood why government policy is so anti-incentive. We tax productive activities heavier than non-productive activities with large attendant externalities, thus producing providing little incentive toward productive activity and encouraging the latter.

I'd much prefer to see the income tax go away to be replaced by a consumption tax.
Cube Jockey
QUOTE(Just Leave me Alone! @ Mar 10 2005, 06:30 AM)
smile.gif Cube.  I have to agree with SWC's premise that our behaviors will not change until it is in our best interests to change.  I would like to nudge these better behaviors along through a gasoline tax.  You feel that it is better to encourage public transportation.  Both would work and I agree that a multi-faceted approach is best.  I know that public transportation is not as effective in places in the midwest as it is in large cities though.  This oil problem is larger than just getting LA residents to ride the bus(Over 60% of oil consumed in the US comes from foreign countries).  How else can we change all of America's behavior?
*


That is the point though, it can work for smaller cities. You can check out pretty much any city in California to see that. Many of the smaller cities here in Northern California have public transit systems and they work pretty well, especially when they are able to tie in to regional systems.

The problem is people though, car culture will be very hard to break because people feel their cars give them some sort of independence. They have the power to go where they want, when they want, how they want.

Tackling the problem of oil dependence isn't an easy one. At this point adding in more taxes isn't going to help the situation when there are no alternatives. The only thing that will accomplish is to hurt the people that have the least ability to pay the taxes.

Now if every city in America had a great public transit system already, if we actually had widely accepted cars that got 30-40 mpg in the city or more, if we had alternative fuel cars which didn't use gas or diesel available - then I would say that implementing a gas tax (or a carbon tax as SWM28WDC put it) would be one way to start encouraging people to switch. But that is the key, there has to be something to switch to in the first place or you are just damaging the economy.

As it stands right now, only a handful of major metro cities even have public transit which is widely used. Of those a smaller number of them have good public transit systems. The only vehicles which have high fuel economy are cars like the Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid (although quite a few more are planned for 2005-2006) and we do not even have a single production model of an alternative fuel car.

So if we started raising the price of gas with a tax what are people supposed to do - is everyone supposed to go out and buy a Prius? That just isn't a realistic way to tackle the problem in my opinion.

Build infrastructure first (public transit, high fuel efficiency cars, alternative fuel cars and supporting infrastructure) and then start coaxing people to move over to them with taxes.
DaffyGrl
QUOTE(JLMA)
I’m disappointed in hearing that sort of defeatist attitude. I like to think that in a country like America, no one has to be “stuck”. You and I make the choices on how we live and we can adjust them whenever we choose. I can see that you feel passionately about this topic and there is probably nothing that I can say to change your mind here. I have already noted the ill effects to society of using so much gasoline and have mentioned that we are going to pay more for gas in the future with or without an increase in the tax. SWC mentioned offsetting any fuel tax with decreases in other taxes to offset it. Perhaps simultaneously lowering the lowest income tax bracket would help to offset some of the cost?

I don't think it's defeatist. It's just that the changes you want to make are so drastic and punitive, I think there has to be another way. I'm all for expanding the gas guzzler tax to include all elephantine SUVs and all the other gigantic road hogs people seem to be so fond of. Heck, just doing that would bring in billions! whistling.gif
Just Leave me Alone!
QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Mar 10 2005, 12:31 PM)
The problem is people though, car culture will be very hard to break because people feel their cars give them some sort of independence.  They have the power to go where they want, when they want, how they want.

Tackling the problem of oil dependence isn't an easy one.  At this point adding in more taxes isn't going to help the situation when there are no alternatives.  The only thing that will accomplish is to hurt the people that have the least ability to pay the taxes.

Now if every city in America had a great public transit system already, if we actually had widely accepted cars that got 30-40 mpg in the city or more, if we had alternative fuel cars which didn't use gas or diesel available - then I would say that implementing a gas tax (or a carbon tax as SWM28WDC put it) would be one way to start encouraging people to switch.  But that is the key, there has to be something to switch to in the first place or you are just damaging the economy.

As it stands right now, only a handful of major metro cities even have public transit which is widely used.  Of those a smaller number of them have good public transit systems.  The only vehicles which have high fuel economy are cars like the Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid (although quite a few more are planned for 2005-2006) and we do not even have a single production model of an alternative fuel car.

So if we started raising the price of gas with a tax what are people supposed to do - is everyone supposed to go out and buy a Prius?  That just isn't a realistic way to tackle the problem in my opinion.

Build infrastructure first (public transit, high fuel efficiency cars, alternative fuel cars and supporting infrastructure) and then start coaxing people to move over to them with taxes.
*


tongue.gif This is a chicken or the egg argument we're having here. If there is not enough demand for hybrids and public transportation, why would these things be built? You are starting to see hybrid sales pick up now because prices have increased on their own.

QUOTE(DaffyGrl @ Mar 10 2005, 01:09 PM)
QUOTE(JLMA)
I’m disappointed in hearing that sort of defeatist attitude. I like to think that in a country like America, no one has to be “stuck”. You and I make the choices on how we live and we can adjust them whenever we choose. I can see that you feel passionately about this topic and there is probably nothing that I can say to change your mind here. I have already noted the ill effects to society of using so much gasoline and have mentioned that we are going to pay more for gas in the future with or without an increase in the tax. SWC mentioned offsetting any fuel tax with decreases in other taxes to offset it. Perhaps simultaneously lowering the lowest income tax bracket would help to offset some of the cost?

I don't think it's defeatist. It's just that the changes you want to make are so drastic and punitive, I think there has to be another way. I'm all for expanding the gas guzzler tax to include all elephantine SUVs and all the other gigantic road hogs people seem to be so fond of. Heck, just doing that would bring in billions! whistling.gif
*


shifty.gif A gas guzzler tax would provide a similar solution. I think that a gas tax is more directly related to the problem though. My grandmother drives a big Lincoln, but she rarely ever drives the thing. Should she be taxed as heavily on the vehicle as the soccer Mom who is driving 30 miles a day? I don't think so because she is not causing as large of a problem.

There is not a specific timeline for the tax stated here so I do not see how the idea is 'drastic'. Would a dime addition for the next 10 years be drastic? What about a nickle for the next 20 years? Since the country seemlessly accepted a 25 cent increase last year, we should be able handle similar increases, whether they are artificially forced by the government or by the oil companies. This difference is that we gain nothing just waiting to pay off the oil companies.
Cube Jockey
QUOTE(Just Leave me Alone! @ Mar 10 2005, 12:31 PM)
tongue.gif This is a chicken or the egg argument we're having here.  If there is not enough demand for hybrids and public transportation, why would these things be built?  You are starting to see hybrid sales pick up now because prices have increased on their own. 
*


I don't think that it is. Both things we are talking about here involve the government exerting pressure on society to get it to move in a certain direction.

You are suggesting that we do that through taxes on gas. I would consider that negative reinforcement. Even if we raised the price of gas steadily it does not guarantee or even promote the alternatives. Just because people are paying more for gas doesn't mean everyone is going to demand a Prius, most people will just accept it and it'll eat into their incomes. Furthermore, public transit is not built based on demand, it is built based on government funding. So unless that gas tax is going directly into funding those projects and not funding government in general, it doesn't get you anywhere.

So what you are talking about doing is implementing a punishment (tax) with no alternatives or way to do the right thing. Some change might come about but it doesn't logically follow that society would evolve as you'd like it to with a gas tax.

On the other hand if the government flexes its collective muscles in a positive way the results are better. I am suggesting that we invest more money in public transit projects in cities where they exist and starting them in cities where they don't. This has proven effectiveness in terms of people using their cars less and it creates all kinds of jobs at the same time. Secondly I'm suggesting the government invest in alternative fuel technology and infrastructure either directly by giving money to private companies or indirectly by giving them significant tax credits for doing this work. Finally I'm suggesting that we get extremely tough on fuel efficiency standards which will exert far more pressure on auto manufacturers than a couple of communities buying hybrids ever will.

With my method we are building the alternatives first and at the same time not only not hurting the working class but helping everyone by providing jobs and stimulating the economy. Once the alternatives are in place then you can start forcing people to change that weren't early adopters using taxes.

Of course this assumes you think the government has a role in fixing this problem and if you don't then I doubt you'd support either alternative. But if we do accept that they do have a role in shaping society here then the method I have proposed achieves the same goals without harming people and has somewhat guaranteed results.
SWM28WDC
NOTE to all: I favor an inclusive Carbon Tax over a narrow Gasoline Tax.

QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Mar 9 2005, 08:01 PM)
LA has been silently and diligently building up a public transit infrastructure over the past several years as well as building up apartments, condos and businesses near stops.  The result is that people are now evaluating it and saying hmmm, wouldn't it be great if I didn't have to drive in this mess anymore.  The behavior modification is voluntary and all it requires is funding of public transit projects which are in our best interests anyway.


LA is building transit infrastructure because of the economic and non-economic costs of traffic. A carbon tax captures the externalities of burning carbon fuels, externalities which are readily apparent to anyone who's ever seen air in LA. That public infrastructure has to be paid for somehow, and no one's ever built a transit system that paid for itself on ridership: even successful road networks require a lot of public subsidy as well as the allowance of externalizing costs.

QUOTE(DaffyGirl)
Cube's characterization of LA is dead-on. LA County comprises some 4000 square miles, and people have moved further and further away from their workplaces in order to find affordable housing due to the out of control real estate boom. There has been a trend lately of revitalization of urban areas to make them more attractive as residences. I do believe they could have made them somewhat more affordable, but it's progress; more than we had 10 or even 5 years ago. Since even outlying areas are becoming less affordable, gas prices are rising, and the freeway system is hopelessly overloaded, I believe people will either look for public transportation alternatives, or consider moving to some of these revitalized areas. It's a darned shame Metrolink has had such difficulties (many not of their making). Each accident is a setback in changing Angelenos' mindsets from single drivers to public transportation riders.

As a fer-instance, I live 15 miles from work and the commute can take an hour or more on particularly nasty traffic days. I don't know what the solution is to the skyrocketing housing cost. I didn't believe the market could sustain itself 2 years ago when the median price was around $250K. Now it's $470K and shows only minor signs of slowing.
*



As far as I know there are two solutions to the sprawl you speak of, only one of which also deals with the speculative and overpriced real estate market. The first solution is to grant government the right to control what is built where (they almost always get it wrong), the second is to remove the speculative component in land prices, and encourage highest & best use of (dense building in urban areas, tapering to rural/wilderness further away), through use of a land value tax (LVT).

QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Mar 10 2005, 04:00 PM)
You are suggesting that we do that through taxes on gas.  I would consider that negative reinforcement.  Even if we raised the price of gas steadily it does not guarantee or even promote the alternatives.  Just because people are paying more for gas doesn't mean everyone is going to demand a Prius, most people will just accept it and it'll eat into their incomes.  Furthermore, public transit is not built based on demand, it is built based on government funding.  So unless that gas tax is going directly into funding those projects and not funding government in general, it doesn't get you anywhere.

So what you are talking about doing is implementing a punishment (tax) with no alternatives or way to do the right thing.  Some change might come about but it doesn't logically follow that society would evolve as you'd like it to with a gas tax.

On the other hand if the government flexes its collective muscles in a positive way the results are better.  I am suggesting that we invest more money in public transit projects in cities where they exist and starting them in cities where they don't.  This has proven effectiveness in terms of people using their cars less and it creates all kinds of jobs at the same time.  Secondly I'm suggesting the government invest in alternative fuel technology and infrastructure either directly by giving money to private companies or indirectly by giving them significant tax credits for doing this work.  Finally I'm suggesting that we get extremely tough on fuel efficiency standards which will exert far more pressure on auto manufacturers than a couple of communities buying hybrids ever will.

With my method we are building the alternatives first and at the same time not only not hurting the working class but helping everyone by providing jobs and stimulating the economy.  Once the alternatives are in place then you can start forcing people to change that weren't early adopters using taxes.

Of course this assumes you think the government has a role in fixing this problem and if you don't then I doubt you'd support either alternative.  But if we do accept that they do have a role in shaping society here then the method I have proposed achieves the same goals without harming people and has somewhat guaranteed results.
*


First off Cube, i'm suggesting that a portion of the revenue, say 25%, be split among every american, in the form of a direct rebate, or 'sky dividend', whatever you want to call it. The rest should be used to reduce income taxes, preferably progressively by increasing the individual exemption. It would actually be a monetary boon to the very bottom of the income ladder.

Secondly, while not everybody will go out and buy a Prius, most will alter their behavior in some way, they'll drive less, consolidate trips, and purchase alternative consumer goods that have less shipping cost. People will also conserve electricity in their home, and perhaps use their rebate to purchase more insulation, better windows, flourescent bulbs, etc.

When the government gives out targeted money for alternative fuel, they almost always get it wrong: the vast majority of the 'alternative' fuel federal aid has gone to nuclear programs: no new nuclear plants have been built in 20+ years, and none are planned now. Contrast that with the many new and planned wind farms, as well as the very many houses with passive solar heating, as well as solar water heating, or even PV cells. A revenue neutral tax shift in from income to carbon 'automatically' gives money to non-carbon based alternatives, and allows the market to direct this money to the successful alternatives. Another example of the government getting it wrong was with cars: Clinton had a program that produced nothing, while the unsubsidized Japanese companies came out with the Insight, Prius, and Civic Hybrids. Bush's plan for hydrogen fuel cells is even worse.

"but it doesn't logically follow that society would evolve as you'd like it to with a gas tax."
It follows absolutely that people will change their behavior to get the most out of the money they spend: if you tax carbon emissions, fewer tons of carbon will be emitted. I don't care how they do it, in fact, they'll probably find new and innovative ways to do so.

You call for investing money in public transit, but how do we do that without taking the money from someone in the first place? My plan lets people keep more of their income, and let's them choose what to do with it. I just make them pay for polluting. You call for programs that create jobs, but then do it by taxing income which keeps people out of jobs. If there's money to be made in alternative energy (due to a tax on carbon-energy), they'll be plenty of jobs building and operating wind & solar farms. Likewise, taxing carbon makes it /slightly/ more expensive to ship things: meaning that it's slightly more economic to produce things close to home. Likewise it makes it slightly more expensive to drive to the big box store, so more things will be sold close to home.

Putting pressure on manufacturer's in terms of fuel efficiency does very little to solve the problem: a 10 mpg sportscar driven 5000 miles a year burns as much fuel as a 50 mpg car driven 25000 miles a year. It's not the mileage per car, but the total fuel use.

I still question where the money comes from to pay for the government programs you want: taxing income hurts jobs, first by raising the price of labor higher than individuals are willing to 'sell it', and second by keeping money out of peoples pockets, so they cannot buy the things that let other people earn a living. Taxing investment keeps companies from having the money to build things and employ people. I also question government's ability to 'get it right' as far as what and where money should be spent.

I tend to think that local transit should be funded locally, by ridership fees and capturing the increase land value around transit stops.
Just Leave me Alone!
QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Mar 10 2005, 04:00 PM)
Even if we raised the price of gas steadily it does not guarantee or even promote the alternatives.  Just because people are paying more for gas doesn't mean everyone is going to demand a Prius, most people will just accept it and it'll eat into their incomes. 
*


mellow.gif Sure not everyone is going to buy a hybrid, but more people certainly would. This is basic free market stuff here Cube. You have $10. $2 goes to food, $5 goes to rent, $2 goes to gas, and $1 goes to beer. If the price of gas goes up to $3, are you going to stop drinking beer? Some people would, but others find the beer more important than driving everywhere and would change their behaviors to keep spending just $2 of $10 on gas.

QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Mar 10 2005, 04:00 PM)
Furthermore, public transit is not built based on demand, it is built based on government funding.  So unless that gas tax is going directly into funding those projects and not funding government in general, it doesn't get you anywhere.
*


What city is going to support building a public transportation system that no one needs? Spending the tax revenue gained from the tax on public transportation is not a bad idea. That way you are creating a need and simultaneously offering more options to filling that need.

QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Mar 10 2005, 04:00 PM)
So what you are talking about doing is implementing a punishment (tax) with no alternatives or way to do the right thing.  Some change might come about but it doesn't logically follow that society would evolve as you'd like it to with a gas tax.
*


huh.gif I could not disagree more with the implication that there are no alternatives or ways to do the right thing. Driving a car with better fuel millage, taking a bus, walking or riding a bike, get a motorcycle, carpool, consolidate trips. There are tons of things that we can do right now. As SWC pointed out it absolutely does follow that society will slowly change to use less fuel if fuel is more expensive. Same basic free market stuff discussed above.

QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Mar 10 2005, 04:00 PM)
On the other hand if the government flexes its collective muscles in a positive way the results are better.  I am suggesting that we invest more money in public transit projects in cities where they exist and starting them in cities where they don't.  This has proven effectiveness in terms of people using their cars less and it creates all kinds of jobs at the same time. 
*


hmmm.gif Please define "better". I think that your method alone takes longer, is more expensive, does not address the issue in rural America at all, and certainly does not guarantee a change in people's behavior unless the public transportation is much less expensive than driving yourself(making it even more expensive).
Cube Jockey
QUOTE(Just Leave me Alone! @ Mar 11 2005, 06:46 AM)
mellow.gif Sure not everyone is going to buy a hybrid, but more people certainly would.  This is basic free market stuff here Cube.  You have $10.  $2 goes to food, $5 goes to rent, $2 goes to gas, and $1 goes to beer.  If the price of gas goes up to $3, are you going to stop drinking beer?  Some people would, but others find the beer more important than driving everywhere and would change their behaviors to keep spending just $2 of $10 on gas. 
*


So in doing that you are going to spend a minimum of $5,000 more on your car than you normally would? Or better yet, you have a paid off car and you are going to buy a new one just so you can get a hybrid? That doesn't make sense. As it stands right now, buying hybrids is largely a political statement and a statement of your values. Because they cost so much more than a regular car right now, the price of gas would have to go up a lot higher than it is to make them cost effective.

But the point in all of this is that it doesn't consider the people that will be hurt by something like this the most - the lower and middle class of society. Any time we start talking about a consumption tax of any kind, these people are going to be hit the hardest no matter how the tax is structured.

QUOTE(Just Leave me Alone!)
What city is going to support building a public transportation system that no one needs? Spending the tax revenue gained from the tax on public transportation is not a bad idea. That way you are creating a need and simultaneously offering more options to filling that need.

Seeing as how I work in the transit industry currently I can guarantee you that the city does not build public transit because the people want it, they do it so they can receive funds for the government and create jobs. Public transit funds are not based on supply and demand, in fact they don't even factor into the equation.

As an example, Dallas, TX has been building a light rail system called DART for several years now. I lived there for several years and extensions of the system were never once put to a community vote indicating the city wanted feedback on the system. In fact I don't believe the citizens were ever even asked if they wanted it in the first place. The city acquired some funds for it, thought it would be a good idea and they went for it.

As to the other part of your response - what government agency in the history of this country has ever spent revenue from a tax on the things it was supposed to be spent on and only the things it was supposed to be spent on? Ever since I have been of voting age numerous taxes have been passed, some of them are sold to voters as being for a specific project. In the end it always works out that the project gets underfunded because the tax money was spent on some other crisis.

If your solution requires the good faith of the government to spend taxes on certain projects then you are going to be in for a rude awakening there.

QUOTE(Just Leave me Alone!)
I could not disagree more with the implication that there are no alternatives or ways to do the right thing. Driving a car with better fuel millage, taking a bus, walking or riding a bike, get a motorcycle, carpool, consolidate trips. There are tons of things that we can do right now. As SWC pointed out it absolutely does follow that society will slowly change to use less fuel if fuel is more expensive. Same basic free market stuff discussed above.

I'm not saying there are not alternatives right now, I'm saying there are not desirable alternatives for the majority of the country right now. Those things would have to be in place for something like this to even be considered.

Better fuel economy - ok, so how do you propose we do this? Should everyone just write a letter to GM and ask them pretty please with a cherry on top to make SUV's with better fuel economy? Currently, the only way that increases in fuel economy happen are due to government legislation requiring them. If by this you mean that everyone should start driving smaller cars well good luck getting people to do that. Try selling that message in Texas where almost every car in the parking lot at the super market is a pickup truck or an SUV. It is a huge cultural change and people will be very resistant of it in many parts of the country.

Taking a bus - This goes back to my point on public transit. 1) Many cities do not even have public transit systems. 2) Many cities do not have good public transit systems and 3) In a lot of areas of the country there is a huge social stigma attached to riding the bus, it is for poor people. In the vast majority of America public transit is non-existent or very poorly implemented.

Walking or riding a bike - This assumes things about city infrastructure that just doesn't hold true for the majority of American cities. Here in San Francisco virtually everything I need is within 8 blocks or so and I can and do walk to get it most of the time. But try telling someone that lives in the suburbs of Houston that they have to walk to the grocery store - depending on what area you live in that could be miles. Better yet, try telling them to do that in August (or really most of the year with the exception of about 3 months) when you walk outside and feel like you just stepped into the shower because it is so hot and humid. Most inner cities are not set up to be very walkable, almost without exception suburbs are not meant to be walkable.

Regarding bikes - most cities also do not have dedicated bike lanes and drivers are not accustomed to giving bikes the right of way. In other words it simply isn't safe to ride. I'm an avid cyclist and even here in San Francisco where we have fought for years to get dedicated bike lanes and drivers are pretty aware of cyclists it is still very dangerous riding in the city. By simply getting out there you accept a lot more risk than your average driver.

So, in summary, none of the things above are impossible to accomplish. They will however take a lot of work, desire, time and money to accomplish - some of them are even pretty big cultural changes. These are not alternatives for everyone and until you have reasonable alternatives for everyone, implementing some sort of tax like this would be folly.

QUOTE(Just Leave me Alone!)
Please define "better". I think that your method alone takes longer, is more expensive, does not address the issue in rural America at all, and certainly does not guarantee a change in people's behavior unless the public transportation is much less expensive than driving yourself(making it even more expensive).

Ok then, please explain how your method meets those criteria. I have shown you in the parts of my post above that it doesn't.

The method I proposed does address rural america because they could certainly take advantage of public transit projects, higher mileage cars and alternative fuels.

Public transportation is always less expensive than driving because it is generally partially funded by the government. Plus it is a very easy sell in areas where traffic is bad because it allows people to relax on their commutes home and read a book or get more work done. It can be sold to people by offering things like wireless access and cell phone service on board trains.

Yes this will of course cost money, lets not be naive here. If we are talking about getting off of oil in our society this is not a small change and it is of course going to cost a lot of money to do this. The tax proposed here doesn't address any of the underlying problems with moving off of oil around the country.
Just Leave me Alone!
QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Mar 11 2005, 01:13 PM)
QUOTE(Just Leave me Alone!)
Please define "better". I think that your method alone takes longer, is more expensive, does not address the issue in rural America at all, and certainly does not guarantee a change in people's behavior unless the public transportation is much less expensive than driving yourself(making it even more expensive).

Ok then, please explain how your method meets those criteria. I have shown you in the parts of my post above that it doesn't.

The method I proposed does address rural america because they could certainly take advantage of public transit projects, higher mileage cars and alternative fuels.

Public transportation is always less expensive than driving because it is generally partially funded by the government. Plus it is a very easy sell in areas where traffic is bad because it allows people to relax on their commutes home and read a book or get more work done. It can be sold to people by offering things like wireless access and cell phone service on board trains.

Yes this will of course cost money, lets not be naive here. If we are talking about getting off of oil in our society this is not a small change and it is of course going to cost a lot of money to do this. The tax proposed here doesn't address any of the underlying problems with moving off of oil around the country.
*


smile.gif So you admit that public transportation is more expensive. The tax proposed addresses the underlying problems of cultural change and Detroit making high mileage vehicles. You simply allow the market to bring about these changes. GM will create lower mileage vehicles when people stop buying the high mileage ones. If the price of gasoline were higher, people would think twice before buying a 17 mpg vehicle. They would also think twice before buying a house that isn't close to retail areas. People would also consider taking existing public transportation systems, carpooling. These cultural changes are not going to happen overnight. I'm not suggesting that they are. I am suggesting that they will happen faster and at a smaller cost to society than building entirely new infastructure across the nation.
Schoolboy
QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Mar 8 2005, 05:41 AM)
QUOTE(Ol Sarge @ Mar 7 2005, 07:49 PM)
In Germany and other European states it is around $7.00 a gallon and has zero difference in use of vehicles compared to here. 
*


Correct about the price, wrong about the impact. The price of gas in the UK and Europe has had a huge impact on the culture there. For one thing, people rely heavily on public transportation to travel long distances.

Secondly cars are much smaller and more fuel efficient due in part to the price of gas. The average car in the UK and Europe is smaller than a Honda Civic (which is one of the smallest cars they make here). It is pretty rare to see someone driving an SUV. If you go to some suburb in Texas it is pretty rare NOT to see someone driving an SUV.

Just as one example of the impact. In the UK if I lived in York and had relatives in London that would be a commute via car of about 3 to 4 hours I believe (as much as 6 with bad traffic). Here that distance is nothing, it is roughly the distance from Dallas to Austin (possibly a little further) and you wouldn't think twice about getting in your car to drive it. However over there, it is actually a pretty big deal, almost one of those things you plan pretty far in advance for. This is partially due to the prohibitive price of gas.

Now that isn't the whole reason for the culture differences but it certainly plays a large part based on my experiences talking with people there.

Is a gasoline tax good for America as a whole?
I would say that it would not be a good thing. I like the intent behind the author's statements, but it isn't a realistic solution. Creating a large gas tax like the ones found in Europe would drastically increase the price of doing business overnight and bring the economy crashing down with it. We don't have the infrastructure in place to support the widespread use of cheaper alternatives. America is a car culture and that isn't something that changes quickly.

The author strikes me as one of those progressive types that wants radical change right now. I prefer to take realistic steps toward an ideal because that way you'll actually get things done and not come off as an extremist.

We definitely do need to take steps towards getting off fossil fuels, building our public transit infrastructure and removing our dependence on mideast oil, but putting some oppressive gas tax in place is not the solution.
*


I pretty much agree with everything you've said here.

The US, more than any other Western Nation, has been bedded in cotton wool with low gas prices. This has meant gas costing less than milk! A renewable form of nourishment against a finite polluting fuel. Weird. So people in the US have never thought of it as a nice to have but simply taken it for granted. In Europe, we have smaller countries, cars and roads and higher fuel taxes. The UK has its own oil fields (like the US) but (like the US) they are running dry. But we have never enjoyed $1 gallons. The fuel tax works to make people think about every gallon/litre they burn and forces car makers to maximise efficiency. How can this be bad?

The US economy, too, has been living in a dream world where goods are artificially cheap partly due to low transport costs. This guzzling of oil has meant earlier exhaustion of US oil fields and world supplies. The US has 5% of the world's population but uses 25% of its resources (I believe it is about half of all natural gas supplies) each year. This mismatch can only be because of the low energy costs.

In the UK, we pay about $7 per gallon!! Not kidding. Easily five of this is tax. Our right wing party (Thatcher's) when in government created a fuel tax escalator which saw above inflation increases in this tax year on year.

We still have seen previously unseen stretches of low inflation, low interest rates, low unemployment and economic growth. Even though gas in the pumps has increased by over 35 cents in the last five years alone (even with an increasingly favorable dollar/sterling exchange rate) we have not seen even faint signs of this affecting economic development. We're still the 4th largest economy in the world despite representing only 1% of the world's population.

Don't get me wrong, there have been recent protests at fuel prices, but it was mainly about the taxes but since prices have risen again due to oil prices, little has been done to protest about it. But the taxes haven't killed the economy, not by a long shot.

And we still have the government directly confronted on environmental policies.
overlandsailor
One thing to think about when considering higher gas taxes in the US vs. Europe is that the transportation costs of goods is higher because they are transported father. The middle of the country (for the most part) is where the food is produced, but the highest populations are on both coasts.

Consider that England is roughly 600 x 300 miles. (about 1000 x 450 km) I believe. In the US for me to travel from my home in St. Louis, MO. to my Mother's Home in New Jersey is just over 1000 miles, and it is roughly 3000 miles from coast to coast. To get food from the fields to the population centers is a longer trip on average then any trip from one coast to another in England, and typically it is twice as long. So higher gas prices will likely impact the costs of goods to a greater degree in the US.

Another thing to consider is that the US has no where near the public transportation infrastructure of Europe. Some places like New York do well here, but most do not.

My biggest concern when discussing increased fuel tax is who will be effected. The wealthy will deal with it, the companies that produce goods will pass the burden onto the consumer, and our government officials pay for gas with tax dollars. That pretty much leaves the middle class, who have a hard enough time as it is, and the working poor, who, if gas taxes are increased in major way would likely have to drop the working part of their description because they simply would not be able to afford to get to work.

Add to that the increased costs of goods and services and we will be crippling the working poor, those who are struggling day to day to stay on their own two feet as it is.
Schoolboy
QUOTE(overlandsailor @ Apr 27 2005, 01:28 PM)
One thing to think about when considering higher gas taxes in the US vs. europe is that the transportation costs of goods is higher because they are transported father.  The middle of the country (for the most part) is where the food is produced, but the highest populations are on both coasts. 

Consider that England is roughly 600 x 300 miles. (about 1000 x 450 km) I believe.  In the US for me to travel from my home in St. Louis, MO. to my Mother's Home in New Jersey is just over 1000 miles, and it is roughly 3000 miles from coast to coast.  To get food from the fields to the population centers is a longer trip on average then any trip from one coast to another in England, and typically it is twice as long.  So higher gas prices will likely impact the costs of goods to a greater degree in the US.

Another thing to consider is that the US has no where near the public transportation infrastructure of Europe.  Some places like New York do well here, but most do not.

My biggest concern when discussing increased fuel tax is who will be effected.  The wealthy will deal with it, the companies that produce goods will pass the burden onto the consumer, and our government officials pay for gas with tax dollars.  That pretty much leaves the middle class, who have a hard enough time as it is, and the working poor, who, if gas taxes are increased in major way would likely have to drop the working part of their description because they simply would not be able to afford to get to work.

Add to the the increased costs of goods and services and we will be crippling the working poor, those who are struggling day to day to stay on their own two feet as it is.
*


It is true that America's poor are poorer than most of Western Europe's poor. And it is true that America as a single country is huge. But America has more consumers so the cost added to food would be much smaller than a country like the UK. Also, the UK imports much more food than the US - you are virtually self sufficient in food terms - so we get higher food prices overall anyway.

The gas tax can be regionalised and can be fair, especially if it is carefully phased in to allow more efficient cars to be bought by people. Don't forget that the spend on gas could fall for Americans if they had cars that gave them 30 - 40 miles to the gallon. the tax should make this a priority. Diesel, of course is more efficient than gasoline anyway but we have diesels that get us 50 or more miles to the gallon in Europe. Don't forget, too, that huge swathes of France, Germany and Spain are as spartan as the US Midwest with virtually non-existant public transport.

So there will, of course, be issues with introducing a tax like this, and it would be electoral suicide. So it ain't gonna happen. But I think, in the long run it would effectively extend the life of oil reserves and potentially save Americans money in total.
overlandsailor
QUOTE(Schoolboy @ Apr 27 2005, 08:37 AM)
It is true that America's poor are poorer than most of Western Europe's poor. And it is true that America as a single country is huge. But America has more consumers so the cost added to food would be much smaller than a country like the UK.


I am not sure how you come to this conclusion. There is a limited amount of space in a truck. More goods means more trucks. Overall, other than specific taxes, tolls, and of course the distance issue, ground transportation of goods should be about the same per-capita. Could you elaborate?

QUOTE
The gas tax can be regionalised and can be fair, especially if it is carefully phased in to allow more efficient cars to be bought by people. Don't forget that the spend on gas could fall for Americans if they had cars that gave them 30 - 40 miles to the gallon. the tax should make this a priority. Diesel, of course is more efficient than gasoline anyway but we have diesels that get us 50 or more miles to the gallon in Europe. Don't forget, too, that huge swathes of France, Germany and Spain are as spartan as the US Midwest with virtually non-existant public transport.
*



You forget the taste for money of government. The gas tax was sold as a way to promote conservation and a way to promote the use of hybrids and public transportation. In California it seems to have worked to some degree. However, rather than cheer this success, the government of California is considering a milage tax on vehicles to make up for lost revenue. So those that chose to buy hybrids to save money would then have to pay the same taxes as the guy driving the 1950s era ford.

The problem with using taxes to push social change is that the money gets used and then if they effectively create the social change, there is a budget gap that then needs to be filled.

Electorial suicide or not, it is bad economics and bad policy.
Schoolboy
QUOTE(overlandsailor @ Apr 27 2005, 02:57 PM)
I am not sure how you come to this conclusion.  There is a limited amount of space in a truck.  More goods means more trucks.   Overall, other than specific taxes, tolls, and of course the distance issue, ground transportation of goods should be about the same per-capita.  Could you elaborate?


The US has bigger trucks than in Europe, for one. But the economies of scale still apply. Scale, always smooths out expenses. More trucks, more consumers, more profits etc.

QUOTE(overlandsailor @ Apr 27 2005, 02:57 PM)
You forget the taste for money of government.  The gas tax was sold as a way to promote conservation and a way to promote the use of hybrids and public transportation.   In California it seems to have worked to some degree.  However, rather than cheer this success, the government of California is considering a milage tax on vehicles to make up for lost revenue.  So those that chose to buy hybrids to save money would then have to pay the same taxes as the guy driving the 1950s era ford.  

The problem with using taxes to push social change is that the money gets used and then if they effectively create the social change, there is a budget gap that then needs to be filled.

Electorial suicide or not, it is bad economics and bad policy.
*


What the taxes are spent on decides whether the policy is bad economically or in any other way. If the taxes are spent on something that will suffer when the revenue inevitably falls (because of measures taken to avoid spending so much on gas) then that was a short-sighted mistake. But that is not inevitable if governments are sensible.
overlandsailor
QUOTE(Schoolboy @ Apr 27 2005, 09:41 AM)
QUOTE(overlandsailor @ Apr 27 2005, 02:57 PM)
I am not sure how you come to this conclusion.  There is a limited amount of space in a truck.  More goods means more trucks.   Overall, other than specific taxes, tolls, and of course the distance issue, ground transportation of goods should be about the same per-capita.  Could you elaborate?


The US has bigger trucks than in Europe, for one. But the economies of scale still apply. Scale, always smooths out expenses. More trucks, more consumers, more profits etc.


The trucks may be larger, but scale also effect expense. 5 trucks vs. 1 truck means 5 times the fuel expense, 5 times the labor expense (wages benefits, etc), a marginally higher warehousing and overall management expense (that is where the economics of scale help), etc.

There is no getting around the fact that one of the largest expenses associated to the transportation of goods is the fuel used. Economics of scale does nothing to help that because more trucks still consumer more fuel and there is no way to apply a larger purchasing power to fuel.


QUOTE
What the taxes are spent on decides whether the policy is bad economically or in any other way. If the taxes are spent on something that will suffer when the revenue inevitably falls (because of measures taken to avoid spending so much on gas) then that was a short-sighted mistake. But that is not inevitable if governments are sensible.
*



This is true. However, we have a long history here of saying that taxes collected on one activity or another will only be applied to one issue or another, just to pass legislation sometime later to allow those revenues to be used on other things, or simply added to the general revenue fund.

Taxes as an instrument of social change have a horrible track record here, do mostly to the actions of the legislators, who I don't think we can expect to have a change of heart anytime soon.

The only way to pass such a tax without the issue of legislation changing it in the future is to pass it as a constitutional amendment. Something that would likely never happen.
Schoolboy
Walmart gives lower prices to customers because of buying power. Scale matters. All companies sell goods that need transporting but certain (bigger) companies still manage to charge less than others. I don't see how this can't apply.
overlandsailor
QUOTE(Schoolboy @ Apr 27 2005, 09:54 AM)
Walmart gives lower prices to customers because of buying power. Scale matters. All companies sell goods that need transporting but certain (bigger) companies still manage to charge less than others. I don't see how this can't apply.
*



Yes, when you buy 1 million shoes you get the shoes from the manufacturer cheaper then the guy who buys a dozen.

However, the price difference is based on that level, the transportation costs per shoe DO NOT change.

As I said, there is practical NO WAY to apply purchasing power to the cost of fuel. The cost of fuel is a key factor that drives the cost of transportation, the cost of transportation is one of the major factors that make up the cost of goods on the shelf.

If you increase the cost of transportation by 10%, you do so across the board. You WILL see an increase in the cost of goods on the shelf. However, that will also be across the board. So Walmart's prices will go up, but they will still be better then most because of their buying power at the manufacturing level.

You're applying an economic model to a part of the economy that does not follow it.

Let me ask you this: How would Walmart be able to reduce the cost of fuel, regardless of their buying power? How would they not be effected by an added fuel tax?
Schoolboy
I didn't say they wouldn't be affected. Prices would rise.

There is nothing to stop walmart buying fuel en masse. The British Police do it.

But America has cheap fuel partly because it consumes so much. But as supplies are stretched the opposite affect is coming into play. Should prices be higher still with taxes then consumption must fall, which would, therefore, reduce the price of oil (demand falling). So fuel prices would fall plus tax.

But it isn't going to happen, so it's kinda a waste of time debating it. When oil dries up the real debate will happen.
overlandsailor
QUOTE(Schoolboy @ Apr 27 2005, 10:15 AM)
I didn't say they wouldn't be affected. Prices would rise.


Ok, so then we can agree the the prices of goods, including food would be effected.

So then, how do we address the issue this creates for the retirees on fixed incomes, the working poor, etc?

QUOTE
There is nothing to stop walmart buying fuel en masse. The British Police do it.


The main barrier here is federal and state regulation, primarily in the area of storage. The costs to created legal storage facilities for the fuel bought en masse would probably make the savings minimal. Add to that the issue of the public and the concerns they would have about having these new, potentially dangerous, fuel storage facilities around. The danger would be minimal at worst, but you would have a hard time convincing the public of that.

QUOTE
But America has cheap fuel partly because it consumes so much. But as supplies are stretched the opposite affect is coming into play. Should prices be higher still with taxes then consumption must fall, which would, therefore, reduce the price of oil (demand falling). So fuel prices would fall plus tax.
*



And part of that reduction of demand would be those who had to leave their jobs because they could no longer afford to get to them. How do we deal with the problem of moving the working poor out of the workplace by making it to expensive for them to get there. It is unlikely they can afford a new car (I know I cannot) and hybrids have not been around long enough to have inexpensive used models around in any kind of volume.

The biggest problem with approaches like this is oft times, those that create them fail to look beyond short term, tunnel vision to see what sort of effect this program might have in other areas or on other people.

If a real cost / benefit analysis was conducted on this proposal on a societal level, I doubt the pros would outweigh the cons.

A better solution, IMHO is to create tax incentives, and possibly government backed loan programs to help more people who wish to, to move in to hybrids, and to create grant programs from the federal government to help fund mass transit options. This approach would have a much smaller negative effect on society, as well as the economy, while addressing the same goals.



Schoolboy
QUOTE(overlandsailor @ Apr 27 2005, 04:34 PM)
A better solution, IMHO is to create tax incentives, and possibly government backed loan programs to help more people who wish to, to move in to hybrids, and to create grant programs from the federal government to help fund mass transit options.  This approach would have a much smaller negative effect on society, as well as the economy, while addressing the same goals.
*


So you would think Bush is getting wrong too, then.

QUOTE(CNN)
The [energy] bill, which passed the House by a 249-183 vote, reflects many of President Bush's energy priorities. It would open an Alaska wildlife refuge to oil drilling and provide $12 billion in tax breaks and subsidies to traditional energy industries, including oil, natural gas, nuclear and coal producers.
From: http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/04/23/dem...o.ap/index.html

If action needs to be taken then America has voted for the wrong president.
overlandsailor
QUOTE(Schoolboy @ Apr 27 2005, 12:11 PM)
So you would think Bush is getting wrong too, then.


Do you think me a Bush supporter? A Republican? A Conservative? w00t.gif

Of course he got it wrong.

Solutions to problems are not limited to one side or the other. Usually the best solutions can be found by taking a little of both.

QUOTE(Schoolboy)
QUOTE(CNN)
The [energy] bill, which passed the House by a 249-183 vote, reflects many of President Bush's energy priorities. It would open an Alaska wildlife refuge to oil drilling and provide $12 billion in tax breaks and subsidies to traditional energy industries, including oil, natural gas, nuclear and coal producers.
From: http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/04/23/dem...o.ap/index.html

If action needs to be taken then America has voted for the wrong president.
*



Well that may be the case, but the President does not write legislation, that is the job of the Congress, the President can suggest legislation, advise on legislation, and, if the President feels a particular bill is wrong-headed then the President can veto legislation.

Wrong President or not it is the Congress that is responsible here.
Schoolboy
In know you're not a conservative. Just indicating how far in the opposite direction to sensible the US is now heading.
overlandsailor
QUOTE(Schoolboy @ Apr 27 2005, 03:49 PM)
In know you're not a conservative. Just indicating how far in the opposite direction to sensible the US is now heading.
*




You won't get an argument from me there, though I felt the same way back when the Democrats held all the cards. It seems to me, that the best solution when it comes to getting sensible policy past, as well as protecting the rights of our citizens is grid-lock. With grid-lock the politicos HAVE to compromise in order to accomplish anything, and compromise usually brings the solution closer to the center of the political spectrum, where all the best solutions reside. cool.gif
Jaime
Let's avoid one-liners, please.

TOPIC:
Is a gasoline tax good for America as a whole?
Would you support it?
ralou
Is a gasoline tax good for America as a whole?

It could be. If and only if every dime of that tax was matched by every car company that sells gas hogs and then every dime of the combined tax revenue went to implementing a biodiesel infrastructure right now. Today. Get the trucks carrying used fryer oil to filtering facilities. Put biodiesel pumps at every gas station. Pay people who own diesel engines to switch their cars over. Give people who buy biodiesel ready cars or convert their cars and who then run their cars on biodiesel huge tax breaks. Heck with tax breaks, outright pay them to do it. Meanwhile, work on even more sustainable fuels, and reward companies who create and then continue to make available these alternative fuel cars.


I agree with those in this thread who have essentially said: You can't stop someone from breathing by making them pay a tax for every breath. Gas prices have soared, yet American consumption hasn't nosedived. Because it can't. Not while we run everything off of fossil fuels. I drive forty minutes to work and class each way, each day except Sunday. Do I have a choice in the matter? No. I wish I did. I actually tried to buy a diesel engine car the last time I needed yet another used car. I had the mechanic set to convert whatever I bought to run on a switch with the ability to also run on a mix. It would have cost me five hundred dollars or less (but I knew it would also cost me, in the end, to replace various engine parts, because converting a used car tends to mean replacing rubber tubing and rings and such, afterwhich, it's usually okay for a good long while). I could not find a used diesel engine car. Not one. I couldn't afford a new car, either. Plus, it would have been a huge pain (and not one most people will deal with) to fill it, as there are no biodiesel pumps at gas stations in South Carolina!



Would you support it?


Yes, but only under the above conditions.
SWM28WDC
It is possible to have a gas tax without crushing our economy or burdening the poor.

OLS is correct in that much of our 'stuff' is shipped great distances. Raising the price of gas will change where we make 'stuff', how much 'stuff' we buy, and where it is made. But, this is exactly what we want to happen. We want to shift away from an energy intensive economy to a less energy intensive economy.

Higher energy prices, whether by tax or by other causes, will encourage more local production, more rail v road transport, more efficient trains and trucks, and development of mass transit.

However, the current landowners will have to be bought out to build railways, metro systems, close - in farms, etc. These people will benefit from their advantage of being born first, or to people who owned land years ago.

In the mean time, those people who are in rural and suburban areas can start dealing with higher energy costs by insulating their homes, shading their windows, changing the thermostat, and consolodating automobile trips. As for food, you can grow most of the vegetables eaten by a family of four in a 10' x 10' plot.

Rather than wait for energy to get expensive to cause these things, where all of our money is going to texaco and the Saudi royal family, we can raise the tax now and give it to ourselves. A carbon tax of ~5 cents a gallon could be used to give $250 to each American family to deal with higher energy costs, or used for domestic conservation projects.
Just Leave me Alone!
QUOTE(overlandsailor @ Apr 27 2005, 11:34 AM)
QUOTE(Schoolboy @ Apr 27 2005, 10:15 AM)
I didn't say they wouldn't be affected. Prices would rise.
*



Ok, so then we can agree the the prices of goods, including food would be effected.

So then, how do we address the issue this creates for the retirees on fixed incomes, the working poor, etc?
*


Retirees? How much driving do retirees do? OLS, I thought that we have gone over this. You still contend that there will be great economic damage if gas prices slowly rise? That is just flat out NOT TRUE. If it is true, how do explain the American economic growth the past 3-4 years while gas prices have risen over 50 cents a gallon in that time?
QUOTE(overlandsailor @ Apr 27 2005, 11:34 AM)
QUOTE
But America has cheap fuel partly because it consumes so much. But as supplies are stretched the opposite affect is coming into play. Should prices be higher still with taxes then consumption must fall, which would, therefore, reduce the price of oil (demand falling). So fuel prices would fall plus tax.
*



And part of that reduction of demand would be those who had to leave their jobs because they could no longer afford to get to them. How do we deal with the problem of moving the working poor out of the workplace by making it to expensive for them to get there. It is unlikely they can afford a new car (I know I cannot) and hybrids have not been around long enough to have inexpensive used models around in any kind of volume.

A better solution, IMHO is to create tax incentives, and possibly government backed loan programs to help more people who wish to, to move in to hybrids, and to create grant programs from the federal government to help fund mass transit options. This approach would have a much smaller negative effect on society, as well as the economy, while addressing the same goals.
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People will be forced to quit their jobs because of a nickle gas increase each year? Could you be any more dramatic? Show the unemployment numbers OLS. Gas went up 25 cents last year. Where is the resulting rise in unemployment? It amazes me how far people will go to reconcile the reality of the oil situation in America with their unflappable desire for a slightly cushier lifestyle in the short term.

A gasoline tax is a tax incentive. The difference is that it brings in revenue instead of paying it out. Both would be effective. Taxing the problem directly is simpler, fairer, and doesn't increase our oversized budget deficit though.

QUOTE(SWM28WDC @ Apr 27 2005, 10:00 PM)
Rather than wait for energy to get expensive to cause these things, where all of our money is going to texaco and the Saudi royal family, we can raise the tax now and give it to ourselves.   A carbon tax of ~5 cents a gallon could be used to give $250 to each American family to deal with higher energy costs, or used for domestic conservation projects.
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Exactly. It is better to pay the money to ourselves while becoming more efficient than sitting around waiting to pay off the Saudi's.
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