Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"[O]ne little gasoline tax ..." (Uh, little?!)

If Not Now, When? -
No one is rooting harder for the democracy movements in the Arab world to succeed than I am. But even if things go well, this will be a long and rocky road. The smart thing for us to do right now is to impose a $1-a-gallon gasoline tax, to be phased in at 5 cents a month beginning in 2012, with all the money going to pay down the deficit. Legislating a higher energy price today that takes effect in the future, notes the Princeton economist Alan Blinder, would trigger a shift in buying and investment well before the tax kicks in. With one little gasoline tax, we can make ourselves more economically and strategically secure, help sell more Chevy Volts and free ourselves to openly push for democratic values in the Middle East without worrying anymore that it will harm our oil interests. Yes, it will mean higher gas prices, but prices are going up anyway, folks. Let’s capture some it for ourselves.
There's no public transportation between my house and work, I can't afford a Volt now, nor likely will I be able to later, I can't telecommute, nor can I pack up and move or find work in my field closer to home. In my position, much as I understand the need for us all to ween ourselves off oil -- I wonder if there's not a sane way accomplish the goals that wouldn't put such a burden on folks like ... well, me. Maybe some kind of balance between smaller tax hikes in tandem with a reduction in subsidies to wildly profitable energy companies?
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