NY Times' Friedman suggests gas tax

Discussion in 'Politics & Current Events' started by Scotty, Oct 5, 2003.

  1. Scotty

    Scotty Member+

    Dec 15, 1999
    Campania
    $1 per gallon to save the planet, rebuild Iraq, and fight terrorism!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/05/opinion/05FRIE.html
     
  2. CrewDust

    CrewDust Member

    May 6, 1999
    Columbus, Ohio
    Club:
    Columbus Crew
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Not a bad idea but it will, Never, Ever, happen.
     
  3. dawgpound2

    dawgpound2 Member

    Mar 3, 2001
    Los Angeles, CA
    Isn't this like the taxes libverals hate? Very painful to the lower classes. Man, this Friedman character must be a raging neo-conservative, huh?
     
  4. Noonan

    Noonan New Member

    Dec 16, 2001
    Colorado
    You must have missed this part of the article...

    "even with tax rebates to ease the burden on low-income people, farmers and truckers"
     
  5. ElJefe

    ElJefe Moderator
    Staff Member

    Feb 16, 1999
    Colorful Colorado
    Club:
    FC Dallas
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Exactly.

    The reality is that such a gas tax would be incredibly regressive. If you want to encourage people to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles, there are better, less regressive ways of doing it.
     
  6. monop_poly

    monop_poly Member

    May 17, 2002
    Chicago
    I agree, but at the same time, having truck traffic as the most prevalent means for moving goods cross-country seems wrongheaded. Without knowing a whole helluvalot about it, I think the nation could use a well-thought out logistics plan that increases the role of rail v. highway use.
     
  7. monop_poly

    monop_poly Member

    May 17, 2002
    Chicago
    You forgot lottery tickets. You know how the poor love the lottery.

    *obligatory ;) to avoid being labled a racist*
     
  8. SJFC4ever

    SJFC4ever New Member

    May 12, 2000
    Edinburgh
    Has not worked here. It unduly punishes car use in rural areas and economically-weak areas. It doesn't limit car use in areas where it needs to be reduced.

    Congestion charging or toll roads at choke points are better ideas.
     
  9. spejic

    spejic Cautionary example

    Mar 1, 1999
    San Rafael, CA
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    > If you want to encourage people to buy more
    > fuel-efficient vehicles, there are better, less
    > regressive ways of doing it.

    It is impossible to do it non-regressivly, because rich people will always be able to drive what they want how they want. Do you think even $20 gasoline will prevent a rich person from taking his 7-series BMW for a joyride? It didn't during WWI in England, when gas actually cost that much. Besides, you have to hurt the people that actually use the fuel, and that is the labor class who commute long distances in their giant SUVs because such a vehicle is the only way to make a 2-hour (one-way) commute barable.

    > Has not worked here.

    Sure it has. People there use half the amount of energy an American uses.

    I am totally in favor of the idea.
     
  10. Michael Russ

    Michael Russ Member

    Jun 11, 2002
    Buffalo, NY
    Why should it be government policy to "hurt" anyone? I have no problem passing along actual costs to people who benifit from something, like tolls to pay for roads, or forcing emission controls in order to protect the environment, but I don't see why we need to punish people just for the sake of punishing them if they want to drive a big car (which is likely to be much safer than a small car), and go on joy rides.)

    If you need to raise more revenue for the general well being of the country (assuming you can't do it by reducing spending), raising the income tax (or better yet reducing tax loopholes) makes the most sense IMO.
     
  11. Blitzz Boy

    Blitzz Boy Member

    Apr 4, 2002
    The West Side
    Yeah, programs like this never have problems with waste, fraud & abuse.

    -The IRS thinks I made $12,000 last year. (But the Cayman Islands trust where most of my assets are did a heck of a lot better.)

    -I have 2 cherry tomato plants & a couple of strawberry bushes; so I'm a farmer.

    -I answered 100% of the questions correctly on my fork lift test, so I'm a professional trucker.

    So where's my rebate?
     
  12. spejic

    spejic Cautionary example

    Mar 1, 1999
    San Rafael, CA
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    I don't want to punish someone for the sake of punishing them. But some people are going to have higher taxes than others, and it won't be based on wealth or income.
    Those people are using a finite energy source in a frivolous manner when it could be used in an economically productive way, or saved for the future.
    That is not what I want to do. I want people to use less energy.

    But that isn't what the government wants. They want people to use energy because it helps the short term economy. They don't care about the future because they already know it will be bad, and have given up on America.
     
  13. ElJefe

    ElJefe Moderator
    Staff Member

    Feb 16, 1999
    Colorful Colorado
    Club:
    FC Dallas
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of pretty heavy taxes and subsidies on vehicles, depending on their fuel consumption. Heavy taxes on the real gas guzzlers, smaller taxes on the vehicles with higher-than-average consumption, heavy subsidies on the really fuel efficient cars, and smaller subsidies on vehicles with better-than-average consumption and so on.

    Probably the way to go would be to tack the extra taxes and subsidies onto purchase prices up front and state vehicle registration fees afterwards. So if you're buying an H2, you're gonna pay a lot more up front and a lot more every time you renew your registration. Likewise, if you buy a Toyota Prius, you'll get a really great deal up front and really small amounts every time you renew your registration.

    I will say that I haven't exactly thought this through in great detail, so I couldn't tell you whether you only implement this on new car sales or if you try to do it for every one. Also, do you grandfather in cars built prior to a certain model year? Finally, what would it do to auto sales in the various sectors?

    I'm not a policy wonk, I just play one on TV.
     
  14. DoctorJones24

    DoctorJones24 Member

    Aug 26, 1999
    OH
    I'm guessing you didn't read the article that started this thread. Friedman is talking about very specific costs that 3,000 citizens paid on 9/11, and that more are likely to pay if we remain heavily reliant on Mid East oil: "Not only would it mean less money for Saudi Arabia to transfer to Wahhabi clerics to spread their intolerant brand of Islam around the world."

    Obviously, the unstated but clear truism underlying this idea is that one of the "rivers of rage" that fosters militant Islam's hatred of America is all the (often clumsy and hypocritical) meddling our leaders do in their countries: supporting dictators like Saddam, ignoring Israeli crimes, toppling regimes, etc. If there was no oil there, we simply would have no interest in doing any of those things.

    Friedman is very clear throughout his writing, btw, to note that this is only "one of" the underlying causes of the war on terror. I think it's probably fair to say that some critics on the left have acted as if this is the only one worth thinking about.
     
  15. monop_poly

    monop_poly Member

    May 17, 2002
    Chicago
    OK - point taken. Maybe my view is skewed because I-94 from Chicago to Gary is about the most heavily truck-trafficked point in the country. All long-haul trucks from I-94, I-90, and I-80 have to squeeze through there. Plus, Indiana does a sh1t job on highway repair.

    It's all about me and my problems. :D Let's tax pick-up drivers in the plains if it cuts off 1/2 hour on my trip to the Michigan beaches.
     
  16. DoyleG

    DoyleG Moderator
    Staff Member

    FC Edmonton
    Canada
    Jan 11, 2002
    Victoria, BC
    Club:
    FC Edmonton
    Nat'l Team:
    Canada
    I'd know how'd people would feel about a gas tax.

    Nearly half the cost of a litre of gas here is made up of taxes.
     
  17. BenReilly

    BenReilly New Member

    Apr 8, 2002
    Where are your gasoline receipts?
     
  18. Michael Russ

    Michael Russ Member

    Jun 11, 2002
    Buffalo, NY
    And your guess would be wrong. I did read the article, but my response was to the person who said we needed to punish people for behaving a certain way.

    And I would agree that saying that oil is the only, or even the primary reason for terorrism is extemely niave.
     
  19. Michael Russ

    Michael Russ Member

    Jun 11, 2002
    Buffalo, NY
    Energy needed to power vehicles is not in any real sense a finite energy source. We could always use solar energy, coal, nuclear energy, hydrogen, grain alcohol or many other sources to power cars. The only issue is how much it would cost.

    The amount of excess energy consumed by someone driving ans SUV over a compact car is negligible in the grand scheme of things.

    It seems like you are the one who has given up. I am fully confident that we will develop the energy sources necessary in the future, and I feel no need to harm the "short term economy" in order to prevent some perceived future problem.

    Isn't this Chicken little act a bit tiresome. How many time will people cry energy crisis when short term supply crunches cause prices to run up, only to have prices tumble a few years later when the high costs naturally encourages increased production and reduced demand?

    In the long run, markets work. It takes long term Government planning to really screw things up.
     
  20. spejic

    spejic Cautionary example

    Mar 1, 1999
    San Rafael, CA
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Solar power is so wimpy it can't possibly power a reasonable vehicle. We know what coal powered vehicles look like - they are called steam locomotives and traction engines. Hardly the thing for freeway use. Hydrogen is not a energy source, but a way of storing another form of energy. Grain alcohol is a net energy drain (that is, it takes more than one gallon of gasoline to create one equivalent gallon of ethanol). I don't think you mean that a car itself would be nuclear powered, so you thing running cars off batteries charged from the grid is a solution. Well, the grid is hard pressed to power stationary uses as it is. And given that so much of our electricity comes from natural gas, which in North America is even more endangered than petroleum is, it is a fools bet.
    This is true, but you have no idea what you just said. Nature doesn't care how much green paper you print - this is not a problem of how to allocate dollars, but how to allocate scarcer and scarcer energy. The cost of getting food from the farms delivered to the cities will be thousands freezing to death because they don't have heating oil. We already know what a coal based economy looks like; we had one a century ago. And it would mean we would have to drastically cut out population, whether through war or starvation.
    Multiplied over millions of SUV owners, it is quite a large amount. If you look at graphs of world-wide oil consumption, you will see that there was a big drop in the late 70s. It is possible to use far less oil and still have a standard of living that is only slightly lower than what we are used to.
    And you think there is nothing wrong with totally ignoring the future, thinking that the free market will somehow magically fix everything? Don't you think it is puzzling that no one in either the government or in private industry is looking ahead 10, 20 years? That no one is building anything for the long term? That every level of the economy is in massive amounts of debt? I guarantee you that people in a position of power know everything that I am saying. They are using that knowledge to create a position for themselves so that they can continue living comfortably.
    Ask Bush the Younger about trying to increase production during times of high prices. He was part of the wildcat boom in the early 80s, where people were looking for oil in the United States. It was a failure. US oil production peaked in 1970, it has gone down from there, and will keep going down from now until doomsday and no one can do anything about it.
    Markets are the epitome of unthinking action. They constantly use resources in the exact way that bacteria consume a dead animal. When I was younger, I held the conceit that humans were smarter than other animals. I now know it isn't true.
     
  21. Norsk Troll

    Norsk Troll Member+

    Sep 7, 2000
    Central NJ
    Well, I have to disagree with you somewhat. If politicians really thought ahead, then your first statement might not still be true today. If any politician had followed through on the commitment to renewable energy called for during the 70's energy crisis, then perhaps more money would have been spent on R&D rathen than on lobbying to remove all environmental contols and allow drilling and mountain-leveling, in order to line pockets in the near term. This chart shows how little a rise in solar cell capacity there was between 1975 and 1995:
    [​IMG]
    Although Spectrolab, a unit of Hughes Electronics Corp., seems to be leading the research here in the US, you have to go outside the US to find some of the latest advances, such as STMicroelectronics's latest cell prototypes that promise: "over a typical 20-year life span of a solar cell, a single produced watt should cost as little as $0.20, compared with the current $4. " Compare that to the cost of generating electricity by burning fossil fuels, which costs about $0.40 per watt. http://edition.cnn.com/2003/TECH/biztech/10/02/solar.cells.reut/index.html

    It's pathetic that this country should have identified the problem over 30 years ago, and done so little to remedy it. Instead, we've had the Bushes, who have been more interested in profiting from the crisis, rather than removing it.
     
  22. Attacking Minded

    Attacking Minded New Member

    Jun 22, 2002
    Spejic you seem remarkable well informed. Where do you work?
     
  23. monop_poly

    monop_poly Member

    May 17, 2002
    Chicago
    He's the Dr. Strangelove of energy ... didn't you know?
     
  24. Michael Russ

    Michael Russ Member

    Jun 11, 2002
    Buffalo, NY
    Actually my general thinking that many of the above sources of energy could be converted to electicity to power electic or Hybrid vehicles. And why do you assume the grid could not be expanded a necessary?


    What makes you think natural gas is so endangered, or that so much of our electricity comes from it?

    You have made no argument that energy is getting scarcer and scarcer only that it is more expensive. Oil was cheap for a long time, so production declined and consumtion increased. Now prices are high so production will increase (including turning to alternative fuels if economically viable) and consumtion will decrease. It's a natural cycle, and their is no need to panic every time we reach the high price point.

    This is just plain scare tactics. There is no way we are not going to have enough sources of energy to both heat homes and transport products.



    For heaven sakes, who said we would limit ourselves strictly to coal? The point is there is a lot of coal in this country, and it is a source of energy. We have the technology that would allow for cleaner burning of coal, but it is extremely expensive. Now if the price of oil continues to rise, burning more coal becomes an option, and we will burn less oil until we attain a balance again.

    Yes and there was also a massive recession. Should that be our energy policy, drive the country into recession in order to save energy? And a few years later there was an oil bubble and prices tanked, so we stopped working on alternative fuels. Those things will happen, it is impossible to stop.

    Nope, there are markets for the future to. You may have heard of a little thing called NYMEX. The market sends all kinds of signals to producers and consumers of energy about the future. Many people are even putting their own money at risk on those future prices.

    Markets are like democracy. They are not perfect, but they are a hell of a lot better than any other option.


    What makes you think know one is doing that. Right now companies are investing millions of dollars building huge ocean tankers to transport natural gas from Africa to the U.S.

    New pipeline and power projects are being proposed on a regular basis. Many of them might not even be in service for 3 years. You don't believe any of these projects have a life expectency of 10 to 20 years?

    There was even a wind farm being propose, that was originall opposed by several high profile liberals, until they were embarassed out of it.

    And how do you propose to undertake massive energy projects without taking on any debt?

    What the heck is that supposed to mean? Do you mean Energy executives are not supposed to run their companies to make a long term profit? Just a paragraph ago you were complaining about the lack of long term planning.

    Yes and we all remember those long lines at the gas stations in the 80's.

    The reason the wilcatters of the 80's went bust was not because they couldn't find oil, it was because the prices plumetted and they couldn't sell the oil for the prices that they had planned.

    So. As the levels go down, we will either import oil or turn to other sources of energy, whichever is more efficient. So why try to fight the inevitable, by rushing things along at the cost of the current economy?

    And ignoring markets is the epitome of self agrandized delusion. Just look at the Soviet Union to see how much better "planning" is.

    This has to be one of the dumbest things I have ever heard, and it is completely contradictory to your attack on markets.

    You don't think markets are good, but somehow you think the government is "smart" enough to enact an energy policy that is both good in the long run, and will not hurt us much now.
     
  25. spejic

    spejic Cautionary example

    Mar 1, 1999
    San Rafael, CA
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    > Well, I have to disagree with you somewhat.

    I certainly hope that solar power can become a better source of power for the future. However, there is no way around the fact that it will result in a lower level of economy than what we currently have. Oil is the collected solar power of millions of years, preserved in a very dense, very useful form. We currently use more energy in the form of oil than falls on the entire United States in the form of solar radiation.
     

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