Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Gas tax

I'm gonna skip this post ahead of several others because it's more time sensitive.

Way back in college I was advocating some new gas taxes because, quite frankly, you people aren't gonna cut back on your driving or invest in more fuel efficient vehicles unless you get stabbed in the wallet. And now the gas prices are climbing on their own.

Now McCain is pushing for the temporary lifting of the federal gas taxes (18.4¢ on gasoline, 24.4¢ on diesel) between Labor Day and Memorial Day. Since Obama is taking the opposite position Hillary is siding with McCain.

If that doesn't define this election I don't know what does. Obama is trying to do the right thing and Hillary is trying to do whatever it takes to win votes. Or you can be really cynical and say Obama is trying to win liberal votes while Hillary is trying to win more moderate votes.

But lets see what else is in the news.
GM Cuts Jobs amid Slow Truck, SUV Sales
GM is cutting SUV and truck production at 4 plants. They already made 100,000 SUVs less than expected due to a strike at one of their suppliers plants and much of their remaining inventory is going unsold.
GM will be cutting truck and SUV production by 138,000 (88,000 full-size pickups, 50,000 SUVs).

THANK YOU $120/gal oil prices!!!

Rising gas prices work. This is what must be done.

I thought by now that everyone would have had a chance to poke around inside a Prius. DC is littered with the damn things. But when I rented one and drove it back to Wichita for Thanksgiving it was a great point of interest since many hadn't seen one before. I drove around my grandparents and let other members of my family take it for a spin. Grandma wound up buying one herself. She immediately hated it since it wasn't the same make and model of the last 4 cars she's owned. But just meant Mom inherited a practically new, fully loaded Prius that she's practically giddy about.

Of course, the rising gas prices also effects the truckers. And by extension it impacts the price of milk, fruit... well, everything really. So I would approve of lifting the tax not on diesel, but on truckers and farmers. Yes, that means practically lifting the tax on diesel. But there's still buses, most of which are converting to hybrid and liquid natural gas anyway. Gotta keep encouraging that. And there's still small diesel vehicles who'll still have to pay.

We still need to find a way to move from semis for shipping or change what the semis run on. Higher gas prices should help with that. I can afford to pay more for food. Many of my neighbors will not.

Here's more reasons to oppose the gas tax moratorium. Used without permission from Bird Brains: Comics and Commentary.

1. The Highway Trust Fund, which funds highway infrastructure, would lose revenue. Americans apparently have short memories; the I-35W bridge collapse was less than a year ago, but the concern for the state of our bridges and highways that it created seems to have been short-lived.
2. The proposal is unlikely to pass Congress. The states would stand to lose Highway Trust Fund revenue. Representatives from large states with lots of highway miles will oppose it.
3. There's no guarantee the pump price will go down. Oil companies might just end up absorbing the extra profit. We don't have much excess refining capacity in the U.S. The lower price would create additional demand, as people drove more; this would likely cause prices to go up again as more demand chased the same supply of fuel.
4. It will worsen global warming. Lower prices, if they do appear, will discourage conservation and raise carbon emissions.
5. It will discourage the development of alternative fuels. Part of the reason investment in alternative fuels has been slow to appear is because many investors lost their shirts in the 1990s, when oil prices suddenly tanked. High gasoline prices mean these alternatives can compete. If there's uncertainty that prices will stay high, investors will be scared off.


Unknown said...

That would be $120/barrel. $120/gallon would be (Start > Run... > "calc" > tap tap tap) $3,720/barrel, which has the potential to cut into oil company profits.

Ibid said...

Right. That's what was in my head when I wrote that.