GM CEO: “We Ought to Just Slap a Dollar Tax on a Gallon of Gas”

Well, it’s unanimous – everyone agrees the country needs a significant hike in the gas tax. Everyone outside of Congress, that is. Last week, General Motors CEO Dan Akerson told The Detroit News that a higher gas tax would help solidify the market for more fuel-efficient cars.

GW CEO Dan Akerson wants the gas tax raised. Photo: ##http://www.thedetroitbureau.com/##The Detroit Bureau##

Akerson told The Detroit News that, rather than have the government incrementally increase fuel efficiency standards over the next several years, “You know what I’d rather have them do — this will make my Republican friends puke — as gas is going to go down here now, we ought to just slap a 50-cent or a dollar tax on a gallon of gas.”

“People will start buying more Cruzes and they will start buying less Suburbans,” he said.

Akerson isn’t the first representative of a major U.S. automaker to come out in favor of a higher gas tax. Two years ago, as the automakers were being rescued from collapse by the U.S. government, Bill Ford, CEO of Ford, complained that demand shifted with gas prices.
“As a manufacturer, we don’t like that,” Ford said at a business conference. “Our ability to forecast has been just horrible,” said Ford. “If gas prices are gyrating wildly, we have no idea whether we’re planning right. We’d much rather have a fairly predictable level to shoot for in gas prices. That’s why I think a gas tax would work for us.”

Chrysler’s response to high gas prices in 2008 was quite the opposite – the company offered a guarantee of $3/gallon gas for three years for car buyers. Lee Iacocca championed a hike in the late eighties, before the last gas tax increase, but the company isn’t on record currently as supporting a raise.

The construction industry is a vocal supporter of an increase, since low revenues have hamstrung new development. Indeed, it’s hard to find anyone outside of Washington these days that doesn’t see the obvious need to raise the gas tax, which hasn’t been increased since 1993, when gas was just over a dollar a gallon.

  • andrew

    or GM could make bicycles to counter their mpg requirements

  • Anonymous

    And of course, Sarah Palin attacked that last night in a tweet full of populist outrage. Instead, taking the side of her employer, and Saudi prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, who said on CNN,

    ““We
    don’t want the West to go and find alternatives, because, clearly, the
    higher the price of oil goes, the more they have incentives to go and
    find alternatives,”
    http://inklake.typepad.com/ink_lake/2011/06/sarah-palin-always-fightin.html

  • carma

    Well, it’s unanimous – everyone agrees the country needs a significant hike in the gas tax. 
    HOW WRONG!
    90% of Americans would not want any higher gas taxes.  The way to solve problems is NOT to taxation which god knows where that extra revenue will go to.  How about creating more efficient vehicles across the board.  Why does a 2.5 ton SUV require a V8?  Why does it have to weigh 2.5 tons to begin with?  Most folks who buy an oversized SUV really dont need such a big vehicle.  Or even if they did, hardly use the full potential of that SUV to haul a trailer.  Cars need to be lighter.  ALL cars.  A gallon of gasoline has so much power potential when mated to an engine.  A lot of it is wasted hauling extra weight.  (heavy cars).  I mentioned before, the weight of  the original Camry used to weigh in around 2600 lbs.  Now, a Camry weighs no less than 3200-3300lbs.
    Yes, we have come a long way with fuel efficiency, but how about really looking to get fuel efficient before taxation.

  • Anonymous

    Carma,
    A higher gas tax will drive people to demand more efficient cars. It will also keep the $ in the U.S., where it could pay for infrastructure, rather than having the money go to the Saudis.

  • SRRSSSS

    everyone? EVERYONE? who wrote this article???  by everyone you mean this douchebag out of touch CEO… raising gas taxes wont make americans demand fuel effiecient cars… it will make americans demand lower gas taxes!! how can you play games with society and believe everyone will go flocking to hybrids? this stinks of arrogance. 

  • SRRSSSS

    Ask the CEO of GM a few years ago about this idea and they’d scream hell no… it’s bad for business… now that their business interest lie in selling their hybrids, they want to raise gas taxes… hmmmmmmmm

  • Ziller

    Sure I can’t afford gas, but I can afford a new car?  Come-on, let’s think this out!

  • Steinwald

    I think 90% is too low.  Let’s make purchasing a new car even more difficult. This is smart.

  • OctaviusIII
  • OctaviusIII

    Interesting, interesting…
     
    Well, if it’s stability that’s desired, then perhaps gasoline could be taxed as follows.  First, set a target fuel price and index it to the 3-year average of gas inflation/deflation.  Bump up the fuel tax to match the target price, with any jitter in the price absorbed by reducing the tax to match.  Second, set a minimum level, maybe 50¢ per gallon.  Any jitter that would cause the tax to be reduced below that level results in a real fuel price hike.  Prices stay constant at the peak level until the target price catches up, at which point the price begins to float again.

  • carma

    @petercow:disqus 
    You would think that we get the oil from saudi.  but the truth is NO.

    http://www.consumerenergyreport.com/research/crude-oil/where-the-us-gets-its-oil-from/

    We get a only 11 % from saudi.  most of it comes from canada.  its not efficient to import oil from half the globe when most of it is in our friendly neighbors land.

    and wrong.  a higher gas tax will drive consumer prices higher causing an expected double dip recession.  all that before the consumer demands more efficient cars. (if they can afford a car)

    and cmon, do you really think that higher taxes will benefit a better transit infrastructure?  the extra money gets dilluted in the general revenue.  and in fact, very little of it will see transit improvements.  if the govt did everything so efficiently, we wouldnt have massive debt to China.

  • carma

    exactly.  1 person who was appointed by the US treasury to take over has an opinion, and Tanya comes up w/ the conclusion that everybody wants higher taxes.  This article DOES stink of arrogance and ignorance.

  • carma

    if this is the kind of tzar appointed to GM.  then american auto manufacturers are doomed.  

  • Saudi Arabia. Which is spending like bajillions looking for oil offshore and building nuclear power plants. You’d figure they’d be in favor of slowing down oil consumption so their power and influence would last a little longer. Heavens knows they don’t have anything else they can leverage.

    http://www.benzinga.com/press-releases/11/06/p1143380/breaking-news-from-nuclear-energy-insider-saudi-arabia-commits-over-10

  • Gas should totally be taxed. Make fossil fuels just a little bit more expensive than renewables – most people are more motivated by price than anything else. As long as gas powered cars and coal powered electricity are cheaper than renewable alternatives people are going to buy that, and progress will never happen. By the time oil and coal are more expensive than renewables it’s going to be too expensive for scientists to find good, working alternatives, which we don’t have as of yet.

    This is what Germany is doing, and why they’re well on their way to replacing most of their fossil energy with wind and solar. They charge users a small tariff (I think it works out to about 20 dollars a bill) to pay for subsidies to individual property owners. Now they have a booming industry in renewables as well as dropping prices per unit, due to the economy of scale.

    http://www.economist.com/node/15213817?Story_ID=E1_TVNTPRTS
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/solar/

    At the same time gas prices are making it econimically viable for consumers to choose environmentally friendly alternatives, revenues could be plowed into research into alternative energy.

    …Or it can go to prop up faltering state budgets – it’s so bad that some states are using up to half of their budget simply servicing their debt.

    http://finance.fortune.cnn.com/2011/06/06/meredith-whitney-state-finances-are-worse-than-estimated/

  • carma

    sarah palin is too busy re-reading her history books.  this time right-side up.

    saudi arabia should look towards Dubai for the future.  its freaking amazing over there.

  • Anonymous

    Nope. Saudia Arabia is counting on us acting stupidly. Which so far, has
    worked out pretty well for them.

  • He wants to hide the tax in the declining gas prices. Brilliant!

  • J:Lai

    There are a lot of good reasons for a significant increase in gas taxes, such as encouraging fuel conservation and efficiency, and possibly even encouraging a switch from gas powered vehicles to other fuel sources (although both the benefits and magnitude of such a switch are more questionable.)  Perhaps the most important thing that  could be achieved is price stability. 

    As Octavius III alludes to, a price floor mechanism would be desirable.  The price of a gallon of gas would remain stable, while the amount of the cost that represents tax would fluctuate.  While this would require significant new regulation of the retail gas industry, it would have the effect of shifting some revenues from private oil and gas companies to the public, increasing the price of gas at the retail level, and most importantly, assuring price stability for the retail consumer.

    Given predictably high gas prices for the forseeable future, demand should shift to vehicles that use less fuel, and over a long-term time frame one should expect demand for less driving-intensive lifestyles to increase.

    However, everyone who spends a significant percentage of their income now on gas (e.g. the poor and some middle class in most parts of the country) would be short-term losers under such a scheme.  The process of relocating or changing one’s lifestyle to significantly reduce driving is difficult and takes time, especially for those without many resources.  This program would have to be accompanied by large short-term tax credits or transfer payments of some sort, to the extent that initially it would probably be revenue negative for the government.  Otherwise, the demand shock to the economy, and especially the consequences for the “working poor” outside of the biggest cities, would be quite severe.

    The future revenue stream, however, should be quite easy to bond out and perhaps this could be used to invest in improving transit across the country.

  • Sasha

    Tax the CORPORATIONS who sell the cars, not the consumers who purchase gas . Of course Akerson supports passing the cost of petrol anywhere that’s not
    GM. 

    I am a bike commuter who has not owned a car for a decade, but I still
    recognize that the statement that “everyone agrees the country needs a
    significant hike in the gas tax” is out of touch, regionalist, classist, and misses
    the mark by a long shot.  This is yet another botched proposition that would end up disproportionately affecting poor and rural folks, and leaving the ultra-rich…well, ultra-rich.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I had a similar proposal for all fossil fuels.  Encourages conservation, alternative fuels, new tech, whatever works for you.

    The objections are more revenues for the government to waste on the right, and a regressive tax on the left.  Well, the government is not broke, but before it was I suggested sending the revenue back out in the form of an equal check for every American.  No bigger government, and the net effect would be progressive, not regressive, and the incentives would stay in place.

  • Why don’t we just strap some solar panels on him, stand him in front of a windmill and watch him take off into the twlight zone he should be in. He obviously does not live in the real world of struggling overtaxed amercians who can barely buy gas now.  

  • Anonymous

    @d8d46f16f380afef59ca318522397233:disqus  I know we in the US have a tendency to think that, not only are we better than everybody else, but all the rules of basic human behavior don’t apply to us. But … almost every other developed country on the planet has decided it is appropriate to tax gas more than we do here in the US:
    http://usa.streetsblog.org/2011/02/24/the-economist-rock-bottom-u-s-gas-tax-makes-gas-cheaper-than-water/

    And even if we add $0.50/gallon tax to our gas, our prices will STILL be lower than most other developed countries. And do you think it’s a surprise that just about every one of these countries has much better public transit systems? Again, I know we love to believe that the rules don’t apply to us, but I think it’s being pretty silly to ignore the fact that almost every other country has decided that higher taxes on gasoline than what we pay are appropriate.

    And by the way, even if the money is diluted and doesn’t all make it to public transit, that’s okay. The damage from cars also extends to pollution, noise, resource consumption (of which we need to support the world’s largest military to protect), and healthcare (since cars are a major contributor to the obesity epidemic). As long as the money is going to one of these things, it’s okay.

  • Stormtrooper66

    Why don’t we all forget about that little thing in history called WW2 , exactly what the Germans did , JUST a little NUDGE , have we all forgotten the men and women who died so YOU ….. Can make a decision what’s right for you and your family …. This man wants his company ,like Hitler and his VW to be the Peoples car… Just like with Healthcare “They” will decide for you,,, it is time for the men in this country to wake up …..

  • Shouldn’t that be tax the CORPORATIONS who sell the gas?

  • carma

    Suzanne, There is a very good reason to wean off of gasoline.  It is a finite resource, and it will only get more expensive from here on.  But taxing this commodity is nothing short of insanity.  As i mentioned.  All goods and services are somehow pegged to the price of gasoline.  Whether you like it or not, we are a dependent nation.  but economic policy affects more american and international lives than you may think.

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Fed-survey-Economy-falters-in-apf-1245068985.html?x=0&sec=topStories&pos=8&asset=&ccode=

    in fact, the latest polls show that we have spent far less b/c of the rising cost of gas in April.  

    you may want gas taxes to rise infinitely.  im assuming you never even stepped behind the wheel in your life.  but the fact is all goods and services still rely on gasoline.  and unless you want the country to dip right back into recession.  a gas tax is clearly the STUPIDEST thing anybody can wish for.

    there are many ways to to invest in alternative forms of energy.  private sector can spur so much in new development without govt taxes.  the auto sector can and have the ability to make cars more efficient.  if anything govt mandates that force better mpg is much more effective as a tool than gas taxes.

    lets put it this way.  a hyundai sonata turbo can get 270+ hp and still deliver 35 mpg.  so all automakers have the ability to do it.  and trust me.  the consumer will eventually ask for it.

  • carma

    sorry.  but most of that gas tax is NOT going to be going to transit systems.  in japan and germany, yes, they have high gas taxes but guess what, the money actually DOES goes to funding transit.  lets take the MTA for example.  payroll tax, and STILL we are in a deficit.  fares increase and STILL service cuts.  would any of your so called developed nations even allow this?

    and dont forget.  our economy is not exactly stellar.  do you really want to hurt EVERY american out there with higher taxes?

    its politcal death to any politician who would vote for it.

    lets not even talk about healthcare.  obamacare is probably one of the worst things that has happened.  my premiums have shot up 18% last year.  where is my service?  where are the benefits i was promised.  and i even voted for him.

  • and wrong.  a higher gas tax will drive consumer prices higher causing
    an expected double dip recession.  all that before the consumer demands
    more efficient cars. (if they can afford a car)

    lower sales taxes, increasing spending power, which people can decide to spend on gas or on other goods. QED. Tax the bad things, don’t tax the good things. Gas bad. Locally sourced products good.

  • If the thought of a gas tax is unbearable to us, it’s likely because we are emotionally or economically attached to driving our cars.

    If the problem is emotional, the first step is to cease watching commercial TV. Incorporated into almost all television programming is a nearly non-stop barrage of messages that insidiously or blatantly convey that we are are worthless without an internal combustion engine encased in a great deal of metal to take us places. This brainwashing is hard to counteract, so cold turkey is best.

    Once over the brainwashing, we are free to really assess our transportation situation. Alternatives may suddenly appear that we had ruled out or were unaware of before. We may downsize a car or trade in the van for a gas-sipping hybrid. We might get an electric bike to go the three miles to the grocery store. We may realize it’s foolish to drive sixty miles each way to work just to have a large yard we never use except to mow. We may begin to long to improve our health by living in a community where we can walk and bike to a wide variety of places. We may decide to sell the SUV and McMansion before they lose all value and move to a walkable lively neighborhood where we can bike to work, use a zipcar and forgo car payments and lawn mowing altogether. Ah the fun we’ll have, as well as the funds to enjoy our new surroundings!

    If the problem is economic, life is tougher, but the fact is anyone who finds a dollar a gallon gas tax unbearable now will only have worse problems as the oil fields of the world deplete and oil becomes ever more difficult and expensive to obtain. Because India and China will be competing with the US for oil ever more fiercely as their economies expand, and because oil-producing countries can’t help but allow their own populations to increase their internal consumption of oil, the price of oil is going to inevitably go up relative to the average American’s purchasing power. Count on it. 

    Those of us in an uproar about a gas tax now are in a position to be priced out of the market altogether quite soon due to forces beyond the ability of anyone in the United States to control. We’ve learned that even invading an oil-rich country doesn’t get us any more or cheaper oil. (I imagine that was quite a surprise to some.) In addition, even if we drilled in every environmentally-sensitive spot in the US, the net oil derived would have a negligible effect on prices at the pump.

    So the question is, what will it take to make each of us transition away from our dependency on oil so that it ceases to play havoc on our lives? When gasoline is $5 a gallon? $6? $10?  It make take two years, it make take five, but the price will get there.

    However difficult this transition undoubtedly is, waiting will not make it easier.
    The longer each of us waits, the more of our income we will have wasted on gasoline, insurance, car repair bills and traffic tickets, thousands of dollars a year we can never get back.
    The longer each of us waits, the more the homes closer to where we work will cost, or the higher their rents will be.
    The longer each of us waits, the more unhealthy, overweight, diabetic, stressed and asthmatic we’ll be.
    The longer each of us waits, the more we’ll bolster the status quo, and the longer the politicians of our regions will postpone creating decent public transit. Worse, when people finally realize they need public transit, a ruined economy will mean there is no money to create it.

    The same holds true for the United States as a whole. The transition away from oil is inevitable. The longer we wait, the more we will invest in oil-dependent infrastructure we will soon leave behind. The longer we wait, the more environmental damage we will inflict on ourselves and the higher the health costs we will burden ourselves with. The longer we wait, the more volatile oil prices will wreck havoc on our economy. The longer we wait, the greater our trade imbalances (last I checked, Canada was still a foreign country), the greater our desire for resource wars, and the more we spend on our military.  (As a reminder, right now we spend more than all other countries in the world combined.)  The longer we wait, the more difficult our future, plain and simple.

    A gas tax would quicken the transition. It could be used to create public transit that would disproportionately benefit poor and low income people, or it could be entirely redistributed via an equal monthly check to every US adult, so that there would be no net addition to the tax base.

  • carma

    Karen,  The problem with the gas tax is you dont have to be emotionally attached to the automobile to feel the pain of a gas tax.  Remember that even if you dont own or never have or will own an automobile, all goods and services are still delivered or somehow go through the process of a truck or a car.

    downsizing a vehicle is always a good thing.  improving mpg on cars/trucks is a good thing.  lets start improving mpg before we start taxing.

    “Because India and China will be competing with the US for oil ever more fiercely as their economies expand,”
    The sad part of this is b/c we outsourced so many jobs to these countries.  blame the ceo’s and their misguided thoughts about profits.

    ” the price of oil is going to inevitably go up relative to the average American’s purchasing power. Count on it.”
    No doubt on that.   the market will naturally drive up prices without having taxation do its dirty work.  when that happens, would you still advocate for a gas tax?

    ” In addition, even if we drilled in every environmentally-sensitive spot in the US, the net oil derived would have a negligible effect on prices at the pump.”
    You are right.  and drill-baby drill is the wrong approach.  I am very surprised even obama succumbed to start Alaskan drilling.  Its a global market, and for us to tap all of the oil in the US and shores, it will hardly make any difference in cost, when global consumption is still going to be up.  unless you import 0 oil from everywhere and establish only a US controlled oil market, prices will not be cheaper.  but guess what, we dont have enough oil, so drill baby drill just wont work.

    “last I checked, Canada was still a foreign country”
    Fortunately, canada and the US are still friends.  otherwise, we are really in deep….  not only do we depend on canadian oil, but natural gas and lumber as well.  (in addition to canadian rock stars and cable tv programs and Celine Dion =(   …)

  • Joe R.

    In lieu of a gas tax, we should simply have an ever increasing set of efficiency standards which eventually go so high that gas cars just can’t meet them (i.e. something like 200 mpg).  When that happens, the only cars made will be electric.  That’ll probably happen anyway based on recent battery developments, but we can speed it up be a decade.  Electrifying the entire transportation system make more sense than a gas tax.  Once electrified, we can power transportation by any of a number of sources-wind, solar, nuclear, geothermal, tidal, even fusion if it ever becomes viable.  It’s time for the internal combustion engine to go for many reasons, not the least of which are pollution plus continued economic disruptions from fuel price swings.

  • “private sector can spur so much in new development without govt taxes.
     the auto sector can and have the ability to make cars more efficient.”

    Of course automakers have the ability to make cars more efficient, and some cars are more efficent–that’s the whole issue. They can make them, but they can’t sell them. Or sell enough to satisfy the command-economy CAFE standards.

    The question is not “do you like gas taxes”. It is, do you think a soviet-style market directive like CAFE is better, or do you have some other policy solution, or do you just not think that we have a problem promoting transportation efficiency in this country? If it’s the latter… then never mind.

  • Anastasjoy

    Well, personally I would LOVE to purchase a new, more efficient car but a crushing increasing in gas prices would pretty much eliminate that option forever. The reason I’m not buying one is because they are expensive, prices of everything are going up and my income isn’t. We need to also fix wage stagnation before people will start buying new cars.

  • Anastasjoy

    In most cases, it isn’t an emotional attachment, but a critical lifestyle attachment. We are a sprawling community here; for many riding a bicycle isn’t physically an option. And they keep slashing public transportation to the point where it’s unviable for most uses — realistically, taking public transportation to work is not only costly monetarily (more so to me than driving) but in terms of time — it will swallow up your life with an extra two hours of commute. Policy needs to change. I get extremely tired of this “Hammer the poor and middle class consumer and they will demand — and get — change.” No no and NO. Many people in this state wanted to see the revival of intercity passenger rail when the federal government allocated us free money to do it, and they lobbied hard. Our governor, with the sweep of his arrogant hand, simply said “No,” for utterly specious “reasons.” He claimed to object to a minimal potential subsidy down the road (about $17 million dollar) for rail when the annual subsidy for highways is many many many times that. So no, government is NOT necessarily responsive to the pain of the people.

  • carma

    having standards is certainly not soviet style regime.  taxation is certainly more inline with any socialism than having CAFE standards.

    i hate to break the news, but gas prices WILL go up regardless of gas taxes.  why is everybody here promoting fuel to the fire?  for the sake of extra revenue for the govt?

    isnt a better solution promoting better use of what you have than to tax to death the american public.  regardless of whether or not you drive, gas taxes affect us all unless you decide to live like a hermit in the hills of montana.

    how about lets follow japan and bringing more “keicars” to the US.  cars with 660cc or less engines.  how about putting more turbo’s into cars to reuse lost power from the exhaust.  how about making lighter cars.  all this translates into better overall fuel economy.

    the automakers definitely CAN do all these.

  • Driver

    Carma, you can tax gasoline without taxing diesel for trucks.  That should prevent a spike in the cost of goods and some services.  
    I think the gas tax is a good idea btw.

  • Carma, that still doesn’t address the anarchy fluctuating gas prices cause. When gas is cheap, consumers run out to buy the latest SUV (or two, or three) and drive it all over creation. And then they refuse to use solar, wind or any other energy because its more expensive than fossil fuels. Then, when gas prices go up, as commodities in a capitalist system will (especially when it’s becoming more and more rare) they whine and harrass government officials to subsidize their addiction.

    Let’s face it, most people are stupid and selfish. This is why government is so important – to save people from their own stupidity. I personally don’t have any problems with someone being as stupid as they want to be, but I definitely have a problem when they’re destroying my planet as they do so.

    No one is going to buy solar panels or electric cars if it’s so much cheaper to stick with gas. But they will if it’s cheaper. The government already gives incentives for various things it wants to promote – subsidies for entrepreneurs or tax breaks for home owners. That could be an option… if we had the money. Unfortunately, we don’t, as government budgets are in serious trouble. So the only alternatives is to raise taxes. It’s got to be one or the other.

    The taxes don’t have to be across the board. Maybe they could lower or eliminate those taxes for public transportation and agriculture. They could give tax breaks depending on income, or take some of the revenues to subsidize buying electric cargo bikes or smart cars or other low carbon transportation.

    One thing I’m sure of, we’re not going to get out of this mess by relying on the masses of people to “do the right thing” and that’s for damn sure.

  • Karen,

    Well said! The transition’s going to happen, sooner or later. The poor in particular are going to be disproportionately hurt, as they always are, but at least with a gas tax we have some control over things. People who are poorer can pay less, or receive tax breaks – and the money made could be uput towards public transportation that has benefits all of us. Gas tax can actually help ease our way into a Post Carbon world, cushioning those who live the closest to the edge, rather than putting things off til the last minute when they’ll be the first to be pushed off the cliff.

  • Anonymous

    I agree there’s an emotional element here, but let’s also resist the temptation to be liberal urban elitists.  Lost of Americans, especially low-income Americans, live far from their jobs and have to commute to get there.  They drive 10-year old junkers and don’t have the money to upgrade to a Cruze, and they don’t have the money to move.  There’s either no transit option, or those that exist are extremely slow and would take these people away from their families.  You can fault them for buying into the suburban sprawl hype, but they did, and they can’t easily extricate themselves.

    These problems would work themselves out in the long run, of course, but in the short-to-medium term, you would have a lot of people forced to decide between paying for gas to get to work, and buying food, clothes and books for their kids, and other life essentials.  The solution is just not as easy as you paint it.

  • carma

    suazanne, why do you think the government will solve all the problems?  the government itself is what caused half the problems in this country.  the other half are the CEO’s of the private sector.

    i dont think most ppl are stupid and selfish.  ppl do things for a reason.  most folks are reactive.  not proactive.  but i would hardly all ppl stupid and selfish.  and stupidity should not be saved by a government.  thats communism right there.

    SUV’s although on the average have poorer gas mileage than a traditional sedan, dont necesarilly have to have bad gas mileage.  think of the ford escape in regular form and hybrid.  think of the rav4.  think of the crv.  all these gets respectable mileage.  can they get better. absolutely.  but not all SUV’s are gas guzzlers.  you may confuse your image of a hummer h2 as your typical SUV.

    when gas is cheap, folks certainly do NOT buy 2 or 3 suv’s.  i dont recall ever seeing anybody buying 2 or 3 suv’s b/c gas goes below 3 dollars.  

    “And then they refuse to use solar, wind or any other energy because its more expensive than fossil fuels”
    Tell me, what car truck is fueled by solar or wind?  are we now making up fantasy powered cars?

    yes, i agree on the fact if solar panels and electric cars are so expensive, nobody will buy them.  a subsidy could help in kicking off the process of conversion.  look at the Prius.  back then it received some form of tax break.  nowadays, the demand is enough you dont need anything to sell one of those.  plus the technology keeps on getting better.

    “Unfortunately, we don’t, as government budgets are in serious trouble. So the only alternative is to raise taxes. It’s got to be one or the other.”
    Why must it always be about raising taxes? have you any clue on finances?  a budget consists of spending versus revenue.  you can also cut spending.  heh, im not saying lets cut  public transit.  but cut the inefficiencies and grow out for the future.

    btw: a smart car is definitely not a winner.  yes, it achieves great mpg.  33/41.  but a honda civic, toyota corolla, ford focus gets equally as good w/o sacrificing space.  a prius certainly outshines it.  dont look to small as your only factor for mpg.  

  • carma

    Driver, you are right that by taxing only gasoline and not diesel, it will have a lesser impact on goods & services.  But, the problem is that too many Americans ARE dependent on the automobile.  so its still creating a problem that shouldnt be exacerbated by a tax.  the fact is that the cost of gas will rise regardless of taxation.

  • vacafrita,
     
    Why would it be so impossible? Raise the gas tax for most Americans. Subsidize it for those with lower incomes. It works with food. Why wouldn’t it work with gas?
     
    Right now poor people are paying a disproportionate share of their income on cars because they have no alternatives. If a gas tax could level the playing field while, at the same time, creating a revenue stream for cash strapped local governments to set up BRT’s, light rail, bike lanes, etc. then it’s actually great for poor people, both in the short run and in the long run.

  • Anonymous

    @KarenLynnAllen:disqus Outstanding comments; couldn’t agree more, and couldn’t have said it better.

    What many of you are repeatedly missing is what Karen pointed out: high gas is coming one way or another. Yes, it’s more of a burden on the poor, but it’s better we (note: not just *they* the poor, by the way, but “we*’ as in *all* of us, as a society, since we’re all in this together and need to start looking out for each other more) start dealing with the problem now rather than waiting until it gets worse.

    Somebody commented that public transit keeps getting slashed hence the reason nobody takes it. Why do you think it’s getting slashed? Because we have decided, as a society, not to prioritize it. We can’t move from the car-dependent suburbs to livable communities in urban areas overnight, and nobody would expect anybody to do that. But what we need to do as a society is acknowledge we have a problem, that it’s only going to get worse, and *start* addressing it. Just at least *start*! Allowing gasoline to be artificially cheap (through the billions and billions of dollars of subsidies the oil industry gets from our government, both directly and indirectly via subsidizing car infrastructure without thinking yet complaining about doing the same for public transit) is not getting us anywhere, and as Karen said and people keep ignoring, it’s coming one way or another. So do we want to start addressing it now, or what until it gets worse? Nobody said it was going to be easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a worthy cause.

  • Is social security or Medicare communist? How about public libraries and universities? Or the legal system? Is it communist to give people a tax break to buy a home, or start a business? Why do you hate government so much? Without government we’re back in the Dark Ages when the only law was might makes right.
     
    I don’t know what world you live in but if the last few decades have made anything clear, it’s that most of us are uneducated and miseducated and willfully blind to anything that inconvenience us in any way. I wish it wasn’t so but that’s the world we live in. The fact is, we need to get off oil, for a variety of reasons not the least of which is WE ARE RUNNING OUT at the same time as WE ARE COMPLETELY FUCKING UP THE PLANET. The fact is, that’s not going to happen while oil is cheaper than alternative energy. The fact is, as long as there’s no money to be made in alternatives, business isn’t going to touch it with a ten foot pole.
     
    The fact is, the ONLY way to get in place the infrastructure needed for a world in which there is no more oil is for a force larger than any single one of us – who are almost completely motivated by self interest – to step in and take the necessary steps to ensure our greater good, as we are patently incapable of doing so individually. That means government. And, even as imperfect and corrupt as our current government is, there really is no other choice.
     
    We’ve had 30 years since the oil crises of the 70’s to get our shit together – it’s not like this was a great surprise for people. And, except for a few hippies and “eco-nazi’s,” nothing has happened. Yes, most of us are retarded. So retarded we don’t even know we’re destroying our own children’s and grandchildren’s world. Even with all the killer hurricanes, flocks of tornadoes and THUNDERSNOW for god’s sake!
     
     
     
     
    Also… You need to learn the difference between hyperbole and actual statements supporting an argument. Half of what you quoted took what I wrote way too literally.

  • carma

    Suzanne,
    You are the kind of gal that ppl associate w/ wacky liberal.
    Guess what, social security is a ponzi scheme.  its your money taken away to pay for another persons money.  medicare.  same thing.  its your money taken away to pay for another person’s money.  these two items comes straight from your paycheck to fund supposedly what is going to be there for you when you get old.  the problem is that these programs take out a whopping 45% of the national budget.  but this is literally your own money.  i can do so much more with this money by saving it myself.

    heh, i dont deny that we are using oil that probably wont be replenished until we all become fossils.  but you make it seem like we are going to die instantly if we dont tax the hell out of the commodity.  if you dont realize, humankind has lived long before we started using oil.  if we run out, it still wont spell the end of humankind.  you will just live life differently.

    i do think that its a good thing to find alternatives, but if you want to tax everybody just for the sake of trying to find alternatives, then sorry you are whacked out of touch with society.

    i think there is great ways to make money off greener energy.  i never said you cant make any.  but you think that the govt solves everything when in fact, and the govt is the only source for a civil society.

    look, i grew up on public education, i am a big supporter of public transit.  i use public parks.  i use the library system.  im not saying we need to abolish govt.  obviously there needs to have in place some govt services to run a society.  but to have the govt be involved in everything is short of ludicrous.  and btw:  why should the govt give a tax break to folks buy a home?  why are there so many delinquincies from Freddie and Fannie that caused the last recession?  those folks maybe never deserved a home b/c they never could afford it.

    im not gonna argue that humankind has created havoc on weather patterns.  i was recently in alaska and it was 80 degrees up there in may.  glaciers that were there, are no longer there.  its very sad.  our children really will have a different planet.  but lets be real.  we are not destroying the planet.  we are destroying our current lifestyle which is certainly not sustainable.

    btw, if you love govt so much.  tell me how any politician will get elected running on the platform of, “im gonna raise your taxes to save mankind”

  • carma

    Suzanne” Raise the gas tax for most Americans. ”  Sure. lets do that!!!!  do you also realize that 40% of all americans dont even pay taxes?
    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Nearly-half-of-US-households-apf-1105567323.html?x=0&.v=1

    i cant say that im a rich bastard.  i fall somewhere in the middle class that pays just way too many taxes.

  • Do you want to live in a world without government? Do you want to live in a Mad Max type of anarchistic hell where anyone can do anything they want to you, so long as they’re stronger than you?
     
    Do you want to live in a world where energy is scarce, and basically limited to what can be produced by humans and animals? Like we had before the 18th century, when we started taking advantage of coal and other fossil fuels? A world in which women are second class citizens and chattel, valued only as domestic slaves and broodmares? Where the vast majority of people suffer, slave away, and die young because of overwork and lack of medicine? Where most people are locked out of any sort of education, or vision of a greater world, seen only as beasts of burden to work for the elite?
     
    Of course humans will survive without abundant energy and the type of advanced, civilized culture that abundant energy enables. Abundant energy supports the large middle class that we’ve enjoyed for the last hundred years. We may end up reverting to the kind of world human beings suffered under for the 5000 years since the rise of hierarchical civilization but personally? I’m going to fight and struggle with every breath I have for a *better* world. If that makes me a “wacky liberal” than I’m goddam *proud* to be a wacky liberal in your eyes.

  • carma

    i never said i want to deal away with government.  NEVER.  im not a tea-partier.  i wouldnt want to associate with the tea party.  but i do believe that wasteful govt spending should be curbed.  and that taxation doesnt solve everything/anything.

    i dont think anybody in a civilized society wants to live like slaves, etc…  you are comparing lawlessness w/ other govt spending/taxing.  yes, you do need some form of civil justice to keep law and order.  again, i never said abolish govt and live like savages.

    if you are so concerned w/ oil .  why are you responding to my posts?  thats using oil ms. nice gal.

    you also cant say that before the industrial revolution, we were all savages.
    i wacky liberal is just as wacky conservative.  *sigh*
    i may be a registered democrat, but certainly nowhere as leftist as you are.

  • Yes. You’re right. I’m wacky to be concerned that we’re running out of oil, the resource our entire global civilization rests on. I’m wacky to be concerned that we have no feasible alternatives, and to believe we need to conserve this resource in order to try to find an alternative. That makes me *exactly* like a science and reality denying Tea Partier.

  • carma

    no, you are not wacky for believing that we will eventually run out of oil.  it is a limited resource.  you are wacky for thinking that we are all basically going to slip off the end of the earth if we have no oil.
    i mean, seriously.  we all know that oil will go up.  but why do ppl like you keep on insisting the govt control everything.  and tax everything?  i mean seriously.  oil will go up by itself and that requires no intervention and taxation.

    and once it does, do you seriously think that companies wont do something about it?  do you seriously think that only big govt can solve everything?  that is why you are wacky.  not b/c you think we are running out of oil, which i wholeheartedly agree will happen.

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