Friday, December 26, 2008

Car Talk's Ray: "I Call on All Non-Wussy Politicians to Stand with Me!"

Our economy survived $4 a gallon gas. Now prices at the pump are below $2 a gallon. Economic incentive to buy fuel-efficient cars has faded while funding for transportation infrastructure continues to lag.

Ray Magliozzi, one of the hosts of NPR's Car Talk, says we can kill two birds with one stone by raising the federal tax on gasoline by 50 cents per gallon:
I think it's an idea whose time has come. I know most politicians have been too wussy to do it, but I think the logic of raising the gasoline tax right now is unassailable.

Gas is less than two bucks a gallon. There's never been a better time to do this. If we added a 50-cent national, gasoline tax right now, and gas cost $2.50 a gallon, would that be the end of the world? Hardly.

This new tax would generate between 50 and 100 billion dollars every year for the treasury. That money could be used to help rebuild our crumbling roads and bridges, and develop new technologies for more fuel-efficient cars... further decreasing demand for oil. This is a way for us to get on the wagon, and stop sending money to countries that don't like us. We could become energy independent.

The other thing that the gas tax revenue could fund is high-speed-train infrastructure between major cities. And who would build all of the new high-tech, high-speed trains we'd need? GM and Ford! We'd help them start a mass-transit division, convert some of those factories from building inefficient gas hogs to building high-speed trains.

I'm sick of people whining about a lousy 50-cent-a-gallon tax on gasoline! I think its time has come, and I call on all non-wussy politicians to stand with me, because our country needs us.
Politicians love to talk about energy independence, but generally refuse to do the things that would actually encourage us to consume less oil. And if, heaven forbid, someone does take a stand, there's always some pandering political opportunist or talking head ready to slam them for it.

If you want people to use less of something, the simplest, most direct, most efficient way to do it is to make that something more expensive. In this case, by raising the price of gas to encourage people to use less, we could simultaneously raise funds to invest in ways to lower our energy bills in the long-term and make us even more energy independent -- and by the way, start solving our worsening climate crisis. (One final note - the gas tax isn't nearly as regressive as most people seem to think.)

I'll stand with Ray. Who's with us?


Anonymous said...

Woohoo Car Talk! I told you you'd like that episode. I wonder what kind of feedback they're getting. I'd love to see the Click 'n Clack Act of 2009 make it to the floor of Congress.

Anonymous said...

Hey! Keep Ford out of this. They havent taken any bailout money (yet).

How is it that you think that building trains has anything to do with building cars? Factories and technology are very different.

Tain business sould pay for itself or just admit it must be gov. service run at a loss.

Anonymous said...

Rather than tax gasoline, why not just remove the gasoline subsidies that the government pays to keep the price down?

Anonymous said...

Iwould support the proposal but ONLY if the fouls vile federal government did not waste a penny of the funds and did not enrichen certain individual or groups by padding of expense accounts, creating HIGH-paying jobs with HUGE pensions for certain selected folks, etc. etc.

Anybody caught stealing or misusing those funds would receice a life prison sentence or, if the amount is over $100,000, a death sentence.

Otherwise, the funds from the new tax will merely feed bureaucracies and bureaucrats with no net gain for the tax payers.

Hittman said...

I love Click and Clack, but Ray is all wet on this one.

All government programs get corrupted, rather quickly. It doesn't matter if all the money is guaranteed to go for infrastructure or high speed rail. Within a year or three it would be diverted to something else.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I have no problem paying a tax on gas, but there are many people out there who simply cannot afford it, even with gas at $2/gal. What if it it goes up again? The fact of the matter is that in many areas of the country there simply is not the infrastructure yet to allow people NOT to drive. Frequently, the people who have the farthest commutes earn the least and work odd hours, and public transit just doesn't work for them in many areas of the country. It's a shame!

I think it's a fine idea in theory, but very few towns are truly ready to implement it because essential intermediary steps have not been taken to support those who need every extra penny. If only we could do an income-related sliding scale...