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Ray's Modest Proposal: A Graduated Gasoline Tax

On this week’s Car Talk, Ray had a modest little proposal: a graduated gasoline tax.

Starting this year, Ray wants a 50-cent a year increase in the gas tax, until, after six years, we’ll be paying another $3 per gallon.

Why? Because Ray thinks it’s high time we started conserving oil.

What do you think – is Ray on to something… or does he have his headlights up his tailpipe?

Share your thoughts right here.

This post has been moved to the new Car Talk Discussion Area, by a Car Talk Lackey. The original poster is TomandRay.

The low income people are really paying already. If there were any public transportation that had some kind of handicapped entry, I would take it. The drivers have a lot of excuses, they need them, they can’t tell you that the bus company doesn’t care. If I could carry my own ramp, they probably wouldn’t let me carry it with me anyway. Also, the driver insists that you have your handicapped placard or paperwork with you, like they can’t tell that I can barely move.

Ihave listened to the Car Talk brothers for years, and really enjoy them. But, I view their tendency to desire the government to solve all our problems to be THEIR DARK SIDE.

They are the remnants of a country which had the government regulate everything. it was called the Soviet Empire, and today there are Russian women who marry Mexican men for a better life. Seriously, for those who think I am making this up.

Back in 1973, there was a fuel crunch, and people wanted the government to DO SOMETHING. In my college class I had a book which gave the figures for dramatically cutting fuel consumption by government interference.

if you grind the economy to a halt with dramatic increase in fuel prices, everything stops, including all research into new technologies. At this time, it is still not practical to use hydrogen, and hybrids don’t yet pay for themselves. But, there has been a tremendous increase in knowledge since 1973, none of which would have happened if the government had killed the eoconomy to cut consumption.

When the market fixes problems, there is an orderly shift as one item becomes rare, and another becomes more desirable. As gas prices raise naturally, more people will voluntarily shift to toy cars or more public transit, and the eoonomy will continue to be healthy.

By calling it a “modest proposal” are you comparing this idea to Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”? If so, you should consider that Swift was using satire. He didn’t really think the English landlords should eat Irish babies. He was simply trying to demonstrate that if the English landlords were going to continue to expliot the Irish, they were just as guilty as if they had eaten babies.

So if you are simply trying to stir up discussion on ways to conserve oil, OK. If you really think that any elected official has a chance of enacting your idea, you should open a window in the shop. You have obviously been breathing too much car exhaust.

Government should NEVER have the right to control any part of the economy.

If the goal is to stretch our available fuel supplies, I don’t know if adding cash to our government’s coffers is the way to do it.

I agree that adding to the cost of the fuel at the pump will encourage people to use less, or find more economical ways to use fuel.

My concern would be where the money went. I would not be the first to point out that our current administrations record with regard to oil and the conservation there-of is somewhat questionable.

What I would like to see is whatever disincentive that goes into the pump price go directly into exploring/creating alternatives.

Ray might be able to afford $6+ for a gallon of gas. I can’t. I already work at home and my husband’s commute is only 5 miles one way, which is lower than most people’s commutes that we know. If gas gets that expensive it’s going to hurt the economy because only the wealthy will be able to afford gas for their cars, and stores and restaurants will be closing for lack of customers, thus putting people out of work.

Sure, go right ahead, tax gasoline more.
As I zoom buy in my 29mpg Jeep diesel, I laugh, evilly.

Why is that?

This isn’t what I’d call a “graduated” tax where the more you consume the higher rate you pay. It is a tax that is phased in.

If I had any faith that the tax would be used wisely to create alternative transportation, I’d go for it, but I am skeptical.


Get real. I hope your children don’t grow up to be Dimocrats too.

 I'm told that today Illinois and its counties and cities have the highest gas taxes in the U.S. Something close to a dollar/gallon is tax. With ALL the technology existing since the beginning of the Space Program (I remember the gas turbine engine came out around 1955!) America's dinosaur car makers still refuse to immediately put out a fuel efficient vehicle. Like the urban legend that General Motors and Standard Oil of California were in cahoots to get rid of L.A.'s trolley system in favor of freeways and cars Detroit says a solution is still years away.  But the Chevy B.U.V. Suburban is selling like crazy. At least Toyota, Honda and Nissan know what's up and they're not waiting. They have the technology and cars already to go. Ray's proposal is unfortunately unrealistic. It would hurt so many industries and businesses that only Uncle Sam would prosper. Nice try Ray!. Love your show. Been listening for a long time. Don't stop telling the truth, guys. America needs more programs that tell the truth.

As I recall, the guy who invented the internet proposed this and ended up playing second fiddle to Slick Willie.

I thought it was a good idea then, and I think it is now. The only issue I have is that I would want the money to fund development of alternative-fuel transportation systems, and a cash cow like that would be used for all kinds of other stuff.

Europe has very high gas taxes that dwarf ours, so it could be done. However, the public would not go for it.
The bridges of this county are in horrible condition and they need repair. If Congress were committed to paying for their spending with concurrent taxes then an extra tax could be used for bridge repair. But Congress being Congress & the Republicans spending more than Democrats, whatever they do will only be good for the short term, not the long term. Our kids will pay for our excesses.
So to answer your proposal, there will not be an increase in gas taxes, Congress will continue to take bribes and somehow some alternative fuel will slowly be developed (i.e.: ethanol). The poor and middle class will be forced to pay more for whatever is developed while the rich will find a way to write it off their income taxes so we can pay for their fuel use.
Have a nice day, Al

It is a very good idea, but must be coupled with an extra tax-deduction for lower-income drivers to offset how it would hit them in the wallet.

Further, the money collected in this proposal could go mostly toward alternative fuel research, highway maintenance, and perhaps even programs to offset the sad effects of Detroit’s incompetence vis-a-vis so many lost jobs in the auto industry.

Government is the solution!

A good idea in principle but a little steep in cost. Also, it will drive inflation.

“Government should NEVER have the right to control any part of the economy.”

Then maybe we should stop paying the oil industry $BILLIONs in subsidies. While we’re at it, we should stop spending $TRILLIONs waging wars to provide security for their pumping sites and shipping lanes.

After that we can start talking about a free economy, how much a gallon of gas really costs us, and the fairness of consumer taxes.


“I’m from the the goverment and I am here to help you”

One of the three great lies in society!!!


Given that your taxes already provide $billions in subsidies to the oil industry, and the fact that you use less gas than the average driver, you’re already paying for gas you don’t even use. I would think a more direct tax such as this might stand a chance of evening things out.

Or, maybe that’s putting too much faith in our “government for the sheeple.”

“So to answer your proposal, there will not be an increase in gas taxes, Congress will continue to take bribes and somehow some alternative fuel will slowly be developed (i.e.: ethanol). The poor and middle class will be forced to pay more for whatever is developed while the rich will find a way to write it off their income taxes so we can pay for their fuel use.”

That is so true.