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Saudi Arabia is your daddy

I wonder if anyone besides me is tired of reading headlines such as the following every other day:

Oil prices spike upon report that Saudi prince x skipped breakfast this morning…

Record prices for crude oil follow the news that a Pepsi machine was not refilled at a Riyadh refinery…

Gas prices reach $3.00 in the wake of a Bedouin allegedly sneezing within the vicinity of a Saudi pipeline…?

Saying that the U.S. depends on Saudi Arabia is like saying Michael Jackson is an interesting fellow. What’s disturbing about this is that we know Saudi oil money is providing the cash for many terrorist operations. In essence, Americans are chipping in to their own demise at the hands of some very bad people.

The eagle-eyed U.S. congress sees the obvious solutions in the new 12 billion dollar energy bill from which we will benefit “for the next five or ten years”. Basically, congress has helped line the pockets of already obscenely wealthy oil companies while simultaneously buying 10 years of time to say “just wait. Things will get better…”

In the meantime, we will continue to pay too much for gas, our economy will suffer, and worst of all, we will keep quivering in our depths every time a grain of sand in the Rub Al-Khalii is displaced.

Unfortunately, the answer is going to have to lie with the American people. We often refer to the generation that lived through the Depression and WWII as the finest in our history. The strength of our country was affirmed in their time because of a spirit of sacrifice. Sadly, now we turn to our government leaders for answer to these pressing problems of security and economy (which are inseparable). At the same time, we are not interested in changing self-destructive habits such as selfishness, over-indulgence, and ultra-consumerism in order to regain our independence from a foreign power.

Perhaps we could be thought of as a fine generation if we reversed the trends set in motion by our baby-boomer parents. If we made personal sacrifices such as disciplining our consumption, individually cutting our fuel usage (our grandparents even rationed their food!), and averting imminent servitude, we might just command that kind of respect from our grandchildren. In the meantime, we would financially weaken the terrorists who depend on the revenues from Saudi Arabian oil.

A constructive proposal

Would it not be wise to enact a dollar-per-gallon tax on gasoline?

This would spur decreased consumption, improve the environment, encourage car-pooling and mass transportation thereby reducing traffic congestion, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, help to alleviate the skyrocketing national budget deficit, introduce an element of "sacrifice" to the American people as a whole during a time of war, and reduce the likliehood that we would be involved in future wars in the middle-east.

It sounds like a win-win-win-win-win-win.

Just wondering.

Gas tax

I'd go for it. Most countries already have such a tax in place which is why gas costs $10/gallon in England, Japan or Germany. This would be a rather regressive tax though. I'm in favor of a more progressive tax system overall, which can't exist with these sorts of taxes levied at the point of purchase.

I'd have to say yes, though

I'd have to say yes, though I'd rather do away with all use taxes and switch entirely to an income/wealth tax. There are many benefits to doing away with our dependance upon oil and perhaps it would cause to more seriously consider alternative fuel sources if a gas tax was enacted.

Bad bad bad.

Would it not be wise to enact a dollar-per-gallon tax on gasoline?

No, it would not be wise.

Increasing fuel costs for transportation by almost 50% would make almost everything in the U.S. more expensive, not just gas at the pump.

The key to solving the petrol conundrum is technology (cleaner burning fuels, alternative energy). George Bush is so far out in front of actual environmental activists on this it is embarrassing. Bush's mantra on the environment is that technology and the market will fix the pollution problem (and oil dependance for that matter). And that is exactly what will happen.

Here are a couple interesting articles from the guy who started How Stuff Works.

A couple of good quotes:

The part that is so interesting about it is that all of the technology to pull it off exists today. It is not as though this is hypothetical -- we've had nuclear reactors running in the U.S. for decades.

If you simply cannot stomach the idea of nuclear power, then you can take a technology like the Bill Gross' Sunflower. It is able to generate 200 watts of solar electricity for $400. If you assume that electricity costs 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, then a Sunflower pays for itself in about seven years.

...

Given that these technologies exist today and are ready to go, "peak oil" will be a non-event. Yes, we will have to make some minor adjustments. For example, we are all likely to be buying new cars powered by electricity or hydrogen or biodiesel (or whatever) over the next decade or so. But most people will end up buying a new car over the next decade anyway -- it is not like this is a major change of behavior.

The adjustments to peak oil will all be like that -- gradual and obvious and straightforward. If we do it with a little forethought, we and the environment will all be much better off without oil. We will look back on the fossil fuel economy like a bad dream.

Regressive yes

Yes it would be regressive. I concede that that is a downside.

All in all, however, it appears that you agree with me that the upside outweighs the downside, right?

REVERSE

HOLD ON! HOLD ON! I can’t let this slip by…

Greater taxes first of all hurt EVERYONE. Remember the Boston Tea Party? We created a representative government so we could LOWER taxes. It spurs economic activity EVERY TIME IT’S TRIED! After the latest tax cuts we have that AND some of the lowest unemployment ever.

A extreme tax on gas will especially hurt poor people or anyone who is on a budget. Drivers will switch to diesel which INCREASES pollution! (gasoline exhaust is already 99% clean on newer cars) (America has been through this already!)

Oil is very important to world economics. The solution here is not to force Americans already suffering for this war to sacrifice more (who decides when others aren't sacrificing enough???). The clear solution is to drill in Anwar, or elsewhere in America: This creates jobs at home. Furthermore, American gas dollars stay in America, reducing the trade deficit and reducing dollars paid to terrorists! That’s win win win.

How about an example of how

How about an example of how Bush is so far ahead of environmental activists on clean technology and alternative fuels. Just because you assert it doesn't mean it's true.

While drilling in Anwar is

While drilling in Anwar is not something I am strongly opposed to, I don't think it is a cure-all by any means. For starters, it is a solution that does nothing to reduce gas consumption and the undesirable byproducts of pollution, traffic congestion and related expenses. Likewise, it does nothing to reduce the national debt (although both your proposal and mine reduce the trade deficit).

I'm not sure I understand your position on "sacrifice". Other than soldiers, and families of soldiers, I don't believe Americans in general are currently sacrificing in any way with regards to the war in Iraq. Particularly since we are paying for the war with borrowed money. Wouldn't it be better to have a communal feeling of sacrifice from the American people as a whole - not just the military families?

As I stated earlier to Curtis, I am willing to concede that this tax would be regressive, and I am also willing to concede to you that it would be difficult. It is absolutely true that the expense of the tax would propagate as you suggest. I would not claim otherwise.

So... I guess it is still my opinion that the terrific upside of a heavy gas tax outweighs the downside.

(BTW, I respectfully disagree with your analysis of the benefits of tax reduction - particularly this last one - but since that is a tangential discussion let's leave it for another day, ok?) ;)

Oil is your daddy

It's always weak to be dependent. We're addicted to oil and that's pathetic.

a gentleman

Laurence! You are quite agreeable, and most magninimous. I agree that drilling in America is a good answer but more answers are needed. In fact, BocaJunior I think hit in on the head; technology will sooner than later grant us reasonable alternatives. Unless business is taxed to death too.

I still maintain that a tax increase is far worse than the alternatives. Let us disagree on that then.

But I too believe taxes punish behavior, as you have noted. So don't punish people simply because they use the most economical energy source available. Instead, reward those who provide something better. And usually the best way is by lower taxes, a reward to America's entrepreneurs.