Sunday, November 6, 2011

*Raise* the gas tax (May 14, 2008)

Current mood: determined

From an opinion piece that appeared in the May 12, 2008, (Philadelphia Daily News).

I agree. Gasoline has been insanely underpriced, as I've been saying for 20 years. We need to invest in transit usability and transit capital projects, something I've been saying since at least 1992.

In Pittsburgh, the public-opinion puppeteers cannot dismember transit fast enough, nor disparage it strongly enough. And I cannot state my objection to their blather loudly or often enough to make myself heard, let alone understood or heeded.

The problem in Pennsylvania is that we painted ourselves into a corner with a 1945 amendment to the state constitution, forbidding motor fuels taxes from being used for anything but road and bridge work. This killed the private, tax-paying trolley companies of the day. By 1960 it was necessary to roll them all into monolithic, tax-supported, government agencies. Now, the subsidy demand exceeds what Harrisburg is willing to pay, and so transit is being cut at precisely the time when it needs to be expanded.

Still, the writers are right. Tax gasoline; make it cost even more. My preference would be to change the state's 50.7-cent-a-gallon tax to a 14-percent-of-retail-price tax (at $3.80/gallon, that's revenue neutral), and likewise the federal 18-cent-a-gallon tax to an 18-percent-of-retail-price tax (a one-time 50-cent increase). This is only fair, as it insulates revenues from inflationary pressures.

What I really want to see is to change the federal taxing structure so that gasoline has a flat price, taxed at both the point of crude-oil supply, and at the wholesale-retail interface, so that it is a fixed $6.75/gallon, with the new revenues going to pay down the $9.3 Trillion national debt, just the interest on which is costing every man, woman and child in this country in excess of $1,200 each year.

Bottom line: What needs to change is our consumption. Understand this: Stop driving. Use transit. Walk. Bicycle. Move to where you can. Use the telephone. Say no to the "need" to drive somewhere. But just stop driving, as much as possible.

Gasoline, at whatever price or tax, only costs you money if you use it.


bus15237 said...

This topic is as relevant now as when I wrote this over three years ago. A variable tax would bring stability, regardless of price.

bus15237 said...

Comments on the original 2008 post:

You do realize that the more gas goes up so does everything else but people's take home pay.

Food we need. Be it either buying it at a store or growing it ourselves. It will be expensive to live. It already is. why propose something that will just piss people off more? You won't get people to stop driving. Driving is one of those necessary evils. I suggest that Onorato and Ravenstahl do what London does...and charge people 52 dollars a yr to drive into downtown or even to the south side/northside. That would cut down on parking and the traffic if people had to pay to park in downtown or even use the streets of downtown. That would up public transit usage.

Stuart Strickland
You are misreading me. Or maybe I didn't explain it as well as I did in August 2005. It isn't that I'm making it higher, rather I am making it *stable*. Rapidly changing prices cause instability. When Katrina forced prices to over $3/gallon, things were unstable, and people were livid. Twenty months later, they were $3 but stable, and people accepted it.

Like it or not, gas is going to be $6.75 in a year or two, mark my words. I would have us make the jump now, and put the revenue into [MySpace cuts off the comment here]

Pittsburgh Storm
My. What a controversial topic. Raising the gas tax. Hmm. There is a part of me that agrees, but I feel that $6.75 a gallon really would be pushing it.

Since gas has gone up, however, there has been more push than ever to find alternative fuels. Can E85 fly and produce the same MPG that regular gas does? Can it be made so that E85 uses less energy to produce than it generates?

Hybrids are a good choice, but the price needs to come down.

But whole-heartedly, we need to take a better look into Mass Transit.

Stuart Strickland
When gas was 85 cents a gallon (1990), I said it would someday be $2.50. People laughed. It took a while (2002, '03) but I was right.

When gas was $2.50/gallon, I posted this blog, written in August 2005 beforeHurricane Katrina temporarily bumped the price of gas above $3. At the time, I suggested a steady-state
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