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Ray's Gas Tax Rant

Tell us what you think!

What do you think of Ray’s gas tax rant? Is Ray on to a genius idea that will point our country towards a sustainable transportation future? Or does he have his headlight firmly implanted in his tailpipe? Is it even a political possibility?

Share your thoughts, right here – and thanks!

I agree in principle (become energy independent) with your lame brain idea, but I need to rant about a few reasons why I can’t support it. First, our government has plenty of our money to do the things you suggest, but they can’t seem to spend it on the right things. No doubt we could all come up with a list of government abuse of tax payer’s money without a lot of effort. Next, if you siphon another $0.50 per gallon tax out of my wallet, there is no guarantee the government will spend it on infrastructure or energy independence. Again, there are plenty of examples where this has happened (Social Security for example). I’ll stop being negative for a second and assume the government will spend this money on rebuilding roads. If the tax does what it is supposed to do, we will use less gasoline and the tax base will reduce to a point the government will have to seek other ways to fund their projects, i.e., more taxes. It’s like using a cigarette tax to fund health care. Finally, while $0.50 per gallon doesn’t seem like a lot to you, it’s a lot to people that can’t afford it. If we had responsible politicians that really cared about this country more than just getting re-elected and padding there own wallets, I think your idea would work like a charm. Then again if we had politicians like that, we wouldn’t be in this situation.

Head(light) Is Where The Sun Don’t Shine!

This country needs no (new) tax.

The majority of people in this country hate taxes. Don’t mention taxes. They don’t want any of the services that they get that make their lives so much better. I don’t make a lot of money, but feel for the most part what I’m paying for in taxes is worth it. Anyhow, I think monorails are the answer. Monorails can go up above existing roads with the least expense, and how cool would that be to be able to get a high speed ride across the country? Would we have stations with “smart cars” or “volts” for rent at each stop also? I’m all in. The U.S. is way behind the times for something like this. I think they have other ideas for funding infrastructure and crumbling roads. The 50 cents should go all in for the monorails. GM, Ford,Chrysler-get in on futuristic technology, safety and quality above stockholders! Build some awesome monorail cars, and some track modules that are easily assembled over existing roads.

Flower Child, Have You Ever Seen “The Jetsons”?

Like you could get some really cool ideas from them, man. They are “far-out”, way beyond this ancient monorail stuff!

I would estimate that we need to have gas priced at around $3.50/gallon to create the proper incentives for alternative energies to thrive. But, while I agree with the fundamentals of the argument, I think Ray has oversimplified the solution.

Much like the ?Frictionless Plane? from freshman physics, or the ?Infinite Gaussian Surface? from Electro-magnetics, Ray has fallen victim to a similar simplification ploy commonly used by Political Scientists known as the ?Honest Politician constant?. Because of the failure to include this constant, which I believe today sits somewhere between 0 and 0.00000000001, the solution is fundamentally flawed.

To be certain, even if there were some way to guarantee that revenues from such a tax actually went to infrastructure, I?d be hesitant to give yet more money to the people that bring us tobacco museums in West Virginia and vacation excursions to the Dominican Republic. The Feds already have all the money, and they’ve been doing a great job of printing more. We need to starve the beast.

I agree we need to increase the gas tax to reduce our consumption of gasoline. Lower gasoline prices induces more use, more Hummers, more CO2 in the atmosphere, more smog, toxins etc. However, at the same time, we need to make sure that the added revenues are spent appropriately, as Ray suggests, not in bailing out dying dinosaur companies.

Tom?s proposal addresses the root problem. Our country consumes an embarrassing share of the world?s fossil fuel. Twenty to thirty years ago some advocated a sixty-cent per gallon increase in the gas tax in order to change our consumption and, in fact high gas prices over the last several months caused us to dramatically reduce fuel consumption. However, as soon as large vehicle prices fell and gas prices started to abate some people have traded their more fuel efficient vehicles for larger less efficient vehicles. It is naive to expect consumers and automobile companies to voluntarily change their behavior.
In addition to increasing the gas tax to 50 cents, the federal government should outlaw all state gas taxes and routinely allocate half the tax increase to states based on 1) gas tax remittances from each state, 2) total publically maintained road miles in each state or 3) other equitable formula that is sustainable over time. States use of gas tax revenue should be limited to transportation construction and maintenance and mass transit. Federal use of gas tax revenue should be limited to transportation related purposes including high speed rail, research and new technology which would reduce our use of fossil fuels. In other words the federal government and states should not be allowed to use gas tax revenue for non-transportation purposes.
Further the gas tax should increase by ten cents each year until the gas tax equals $2.00 per gallon but the state?s portion would progressively decline from 50 percent to 25 percent. The federal government would make grant money available to states for construction and repair of interstate highways, mega transportation projects that support economic development and mass transit.
For the next ten years the federal government could use a portion of the new revenue to subsidize automobile companies during a reinvention and restructuring period, progressively reducing the available subsidy each year. Companies who accept subsidies and bailout money would have to repay those funds. The federal government should send a clear message that the subsidy is all the money the automobile companies can expect to receive and they have ten years to fix their businesses but not encumber the subsidies with lots of rules.
Lastly, I acknowledge gas taxes negatively impact those who can least afford taxes and the federal government would need to provide a tax credit to low income people for gas taxes they paid during the year or a standard deduction based on income.
The bold change I have outlined would also send a signal to the rest of the world that our country is ready to do the right thing regarding one of our behaviors which negatively impacts the world politically, environmentally and economically and that we can move beyond self interest. Reducing our consumption could possibly prove to be a win-win situation for our country and the rest of the world.
Further, this is an opportunity to demonstrate for the first time in decades that our elected officials have the courage and conviction to lead the United States to cause significant, long range, positive change.

I think Ray missed one important part. We all make decisions. We all like to make our own decisions and not have government or our boss make them for us. However if we are to make good decisions, they need to be made based on all the facts.

When it comes to cars, we should pay for all the true cost of our cars, including: purchase price, fuel, insurance, maintenance, repairs, roads, bridges … and the effect on others like noise and air pollution. Fifty cents would be a start toward all those goals. Paying additional tax to offset the cost to society for the pollution would be fair. As it is now, those who don’t drive still pay higher food bills, acid rain etc. but they don’t have anything to say about it and can not control it.

A flat tax is regressive and punishes those with less money.

Instead, let’s provide a reasonable ration of gasoline for each individual. Under this plan, rational gas consumption becomes a 100% tax-funded commodity. Each individual is awarded a reasonable number of gas credits and no more. If you need more gas than that (for your Hummer for example), you can buy on the spot market, which the government can tax the crap out of if they want because REASONABLE Americans who actually want to participate in a SUSTAINABLE energy policy will be shielded from the direct effects.

Under this plan, individuals can buy and sell their credits, which expire at the end of each year. Under this plan, Americans who use less gasoline will benefit MORE, because they can sell their credits for just marginally less than the official taxed-the-crap-out-of rate the government is selling fuel for.

People who never drive at all will likely make money under the plan, even if they are taxed at 100% of the cost of the credits.

If anyone is worried about the risk of deflation, we can set up an FDIC of sorts to cover the value of the credits.

Great idea! I’m all for it. Money drives most decisions. What kind of car to buy. Where to live. Where to work. Vacations vs. Staycations. Look at Europe. They don’t have suburban sprawl. They live near work. Gas is 4 EU a liter. The best defense for the US against Islamic extremism us to pump fewer dollars into middle eastern countries.
Ray! Start a petition. Be Obamaramic! Get an e-mail list so huge any politician would fear and decide to follow the wish of the people.

Nonsense. “those with less money” should be taking public transport or living within walking distance of their work. A tax would drive this point home to “those”.

Ray’s gas tax is spot on!
Rebuilding this countrys public transportation system would:

  1. put people to work
  2. reduce our need for oil.
  3. save thousands of lives.
  4. save natural resources, and improve quality of life.
    I would point out that the car companys created this mess in the 1920’s and 30’s when General Motors, Standard Oil, Firestone Tire, Mack Truck and Phillip petroleum conspired to buy up and destroy all light rail systems in the nation.
    Any one that has used the high speed rail between London and Paris knows the technology is currently available.
    Auto accidents kill about fifty thousand people a year in the US, cripple and injure many more.
    I love cars, but there are alternatives that are faster, safer, cheaper, and easier on the environment.

I can support a 50 cents per gallon gas tax if there are:

  1. Rebate for the families in the bottom 1/2 of the tax bracket.
  2. Clear, measurable and attainable goals.
  3. Strict guidelines on how the money can be spent.
  4. Quarterly progress reports by the President (i.e. how much energy we still import).
  5. Finally, a sunset clause.

Doc Marco, FYI, Hummers Are Not The Problem And Taxes Are Not The Solution.

Ray is a genius. I heard Ray’s rant this afternoon while walking back from the gym. It is a brilliant idea - raises revenue, improves the environment, improves the rail system, improves the economy through assisting the auto makers and is relatively painless.

And in response to the below guy who has to rant about government mis-spending - there’s an easy solution which is called legislation - the gas tax bill needs to have conditions attached to it which would give the taxpayer standing to sue the government if they fail to enforce those conditions. Or, if that’s too risky from the government’s perspective, simply make the conditions enforceable by the attorney general and allow taxpayers to file on-line complaints with the attorney general if they find out something that gives them concern about where the gas tax money is going. The on-line filing can be analogous to the HIPAA filing process and in the same manner as with HIPAA there can be a provision in the gas tax bill that states that there are no private causes of action permissable under the bill. BUT unlike HIPAA, the bill should have a little more teeth so that if the attorney general investigates a complaint and determines that the filer was correct and that the gas tax bill has been violated, the wrong-doer can be heavily fined and the money can to the place it was supposed to go to in the first place.

Putin (ptu1969), Can You Spell “Socialism”?

Just one problem. We are a capitalist nation. Let’s keep it one!

[i]Good Thinking. Raise Taxes And Let’s Expand The Size And Scope Of Government, And Make It More Complicated And Intrusive![/i]

It no doubt will lead to more problems, so take away some rights, pass some new laws that can’t be enforced, and turn all of this over to a government that is the problem, not the solution.

A higher gas tax is absolutely necessary to internalize the negative externalities of gasoline usage. All of the problems (e.g, regressive) that have been mentioned with a higher gas tax can be solved. One possibility is a revenue neutral gas tax in which income taxes are reduced while the gas tax increased. There are many possibilities, but the bottom line is that we need a much higher gas tax and eventually a general carbon tax.

I Know, Let’s All Turn All Of Our Money Over To The Government. They Know Best How To Redistribute It! (They Have A Proven Track Record.)

You go first!