Current mood: determined
From an opinion piece that appeared in the May 12, 2008, philly.com (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.