Free Markets, Free People

Idiots to the left of us, yahoos to the right …

I guess the GOP should thank its lucky stars that weeping George Vionovich is headed for the exit.

Of course, he could still team up with some on the Democratic side to do some damage before January if this is any example:

"Fuel taxes today fund the vast majority of the federal government’s investment in infrastructure projects," Voinovich wrote in the letter. "Due to dwindling fuel tax receipts, Congress has had to transfer billions of dollars from the General Fund to the Highway Trust Fund to maintain our current level of federal involvement."

[…]

"The lack of investment in our crumbling bridge, highway, and transit systems is a missed opportunity for the creation of thousands of well paying jobs and long term economic growth for our Nation," said Voinovich. 

And the chorus warms up – anyone?

Yes, that’s right, a fuel tax is a regressive tax because it hits hardest those who can least afford it, but who’s jobs depend on them being able to drive to them daily.  And who is suggesting such a tax in the middle of a deep recession?

That’s right – a Republican.  Even the Obama administration is against a freakin’ increased fuel tax, and there’s hardly a tax they’ve met they don’t like.

“I believe Americans are willing to pay a higher gas tax to create jobs, improve our infrastructure and better our climate," Voinovich said at a business conference in Ohio last month. "And many of my conservative colleagues do not consider that gas tax as a tax, but as a user fee.”

And I believe you’re as full of beans as you usually are, Mr. Voinovich.  Americans have made it clear over and over and over again that they’re not willing to pay more taxes for any reason until government can prove it can balance its budget and pay down the debt.  On top of that, Americans also don’t give a flip what you and your idiot conservative colleagues consider it, it’s a freakin’ tax.

Now I know that Voinovich doesn’t represent the conservative side of the GOP in the Senate.  But there’s still that “R” beside his name and crap like this is why many people don’t trust the GOP any further than they can throw a Democrat.

~McQ

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63 Responses to Idiots to the left of us, yahoos to the right …

  • There must have been some silly-stars in you cereal this morning, McQ.  There is nothing “regressive” about a fuel tax.  It is a dead-neutral tax that falls exactly on every gallon of fuel, regardless of the color, gender, status, wealth, or religion of the purchaser.
    Would that all taxes were the same.
    And, without knowing this of a certainty, I seriously doubt we take too little in fuel taxes to keep up our infrastructure IF it were being done by actual-factual market players.

    • If you make $20,000 a year vs. $50,000 a year, who has the most discretionary dollars when all obligations are met (assuming they’re roughly equal)? If you tax fuel, one of the necessities of holding a job, who is going to pay a bigger share of their discretionary budget to meet that increase? That is what is considered a “regressive” tax:

      A tax that takes a larger percentage of the income of low-income people than of high-income people.

      • Except you have to make…and swallow…a small butt-load of assumptions to get where you are going.
        First, “fuel” is not a necessity of holding a job.
        Second, if it were, it would not be discretionary.
        Third, essential transportation is determinative.  I argue that it is, presumptively, a portion of fuel expense to Americans.  Recreational fuel use is, again presumptively, a very large portion of the total fuel use by more affluent Americans.
        Fuel use that is NOT essential and still NOT recreational…taking the kids to their piano lesson…is also, presumptively, higher in the case of more affluent Americans.
        A flat Federal tax would, by the definition you employ, be “regressive”.  I emphatically reject that.  It would be neutral.

        • “First, “fuel” is not a necessity of holding a job.”
          Horse apples.  Of which there will be terribly many more if even 0.1% of Americans even try to demonstrate the “truth” of your stupid statement–which is exactly how it should be described.  A practical necessity is still in the category of necessity.
          Secondly, why should “recreational” fuel use be thought of as more worthy of a tax than “job” use?  Do you think you can soak the rich?  Do you want the govt. overhead of keeping track of more categorized uses of fuel?  You want to decrease economic activity?  You think government is a fit forum for deciding what economic activity should be penalized?  How are people using gasoline for recreational use worthy of such penalization?  Also, a gallon of “recreational” gasoline (will they used red for the dye?) might go into a rich heir’s yacht, it might go into a poor man’s monthly motorbike outing,  who can say?  May be the government can roughly say, if we foot the bill for the regulators who would do it with efficiency and accountability–“in some alternate universe, not this one.-Ed”.  And we’ve already got the idiocy of “dyed” and “un-dyed” diesel, you want that for gas?  You want more bureaucracy for keeping track of “job” and “recreational” gasoline?  For people trying to make a living taking the time to fill out a few more lines on a form?  It makes no more sense then paying people to dig holes and then fill them.
          And it is complication.  Complication breeds corruption.
          As for a flat tax, I endorse it having a large per personal and identical dependent deduction–it is virtually the only deduction I endorse–because it helps eliminate circular flows of money from low income people into government and then back out as welfare.  This diminishes the increased opportunity for graft and cronyism that larger than necessary flows of cash through government represent.  It prevents “regressivism” as currently defined and just might make the efficient post card tax return a reality.
          General taxes for general purposes.

        • Gee, Tom.  Try reading what I wrote.
          Also, try putting up some support for your “factual” assertions, since you call me stupid for stating what I identify as “presumptions”, but which logically are quite supportable.

          • I read what you wrote.  It was trivially easy to find out what the fuel tax was.
            Among other things, you wrote, “First, “fuel” is not a necessity of holding a job.”
            All by itself, your writing that one line shows you hit your head hard getting out of bed this morning.
            Tell you what, try a making a point for point reply.
            Short of that, I don’t think anything you’re going to contribute in this thread will have much value other than as humor.

          • Well, I think you can suck my dick, Tom, for all your demands.
            But, for millions of Americans, their job does not require any personal use of motor fuels.  Or do you refute that with facts, Tom?
            Point out where I said ANYTHING about some kind of tax on motor fuels specifically for recreational purposes.  You can’t, because I did not.  What I was saying is that people with higher disposable incomes use MORE motor fuels than those who only drive out of some “necessity”.  Do you refute THAT with FACTS, Tom?  Hence, McQ’s assumption that the motor use fuel tax fell “regressively” on the puuuurr is not logically supportable without MORE information…and probably not at all.
            Now, you can go fuck yourself, Tom.

          • Cool the language or find somewhere else to comment.

          • I apologize for my intemperance.  Sometimes my oil field vocabulary asserts itself.

          • Do you really feel that strongly about the “E” word? (E*b)

            You really need to find some way to link your comments to the comments you are commenting on. It gets a little confusing.

          • But, for millions of Americans, their job does not require any personal use of motor fuels.  Or do you refute that with facts, Tom?

            Really?  No use of motor fuels?
             
            How the hell do YOU get to work, eh?

          • Scott, notice that I said “personal use of motor fuels”.
            Millions of Americans work from home, ride to work on public transportation, bicycle, etc.  Even MANY of those of us who choose to drive a personal car to work do so as a purely OPTIONAL choice (which I totally support).  It is not a “necessity” for a great many.  This, of course, completely overlooks the “puuuurrr” who do NOT work at all, most of whom own a car or two.
            I have a daughter who lives in New Jersey and works in Manhattan.  She NEVER drives to work.  At most, she drives in bad weather to the village train station…a trip of a few blocks in city terms.
            In my own case, I walk from one part of my home to my office to “go to work”.  Sometimes, I have to drive to court in one of the surrounding counties, or to see a client, conduct mediation, etc.  That, BTW, is a big current fad among attorneys (“virtual officing”).

          • I don’t know Rags.  there are an awfully lot of cars on I95 in the morning and evening.   These people can’t all be out for a “recreational” drive at these hours.   In South Florida, we have one train line that runs north and south form West Palm to Miami.  But, if you don’t work reasonably close to the tracks, you do have a problem getting to a job.
             
            One guy I knew would take the train and then walk 1 1/2 miles to his job.  But, Florida in the summer is know for the afternoon deluges.  Then he would have to try to score a ride to the train station.
             
            BTW, were you debating this guy “nishner” on Reihl’s blog?  He is a real piece of work.  I posted a response to him this morning.

        • “First, “fuel” is not a necessity of holding a job.”

          Whoa, there , pardner!
          Unless you work at home you need reliable transportation to hold a job. I don’t know where you live but in most of the places I have lived that means owning a car.
          Unless you live at work (done that).

          As for the rest of your comment, lawyerly obfuscation, aka sophistry. 

        • A regressive tax is a regressive tax, whether you like it or not. Key word – tax. Key concept – how it impacts the various income groups. See definition for what the fuel tax is considered.

          • Again, McQ, my point is this…
            Without A LOT more information, your assumption is that personal motor fuel use is a constant for both LOW income and higher income people in the US.  That is the ONLY way you get to your “regressive” argument.
            My point is that some of your assumptions are facially flawed.  Logically, higher income people may pay a disproportionately LARGER share of their income for motor fuel taxes.  In both your assumption and my proposition, we are not provided anything like FACTS in support.  In that, they are equally valid…or not.

          • It is not an assumption – read the definition of a “regressive tax” for heaven sake. A soda tax is a regressive tax. A food tax is a regressive tax. A sales tax is a regressive tax. It all hinges on the percentage impact on the tax payers income. How large a percentage of that income it takes to pay the tax. If you make $100,000 a year and you pay fuel taxes of $500 the percentage of your income necessary to pay that tax is much less than $500 in a fuel tax to someone making $20,000. That is a regressive tax – by definition.

          • OK, one more time…
            A FOOD tax is certainly a regressive tax when considered on a per capita basis.  Paradoxically, this shows how well the market levels standards of living.  A low-income working person eats NEARLY as well as a really wealthy person, day-to-day.
            A FUEL tax is NOT regressive BY ANYTHING YOU HAVE SHOWED OR EVEN ARGUED SUPPORTABLY.
            A low-income working person MAY OR MAY NOT have any necessity to drive a personal vehicle to work.  That NEVER considers how much…or whether…they buy fuel to drive WITHOUT NECESSITY.
            A high-income person MAY use multiples of the fuel a low-income person uses.
            Or, in the terms you pluck out of the air:
            If you make $100,000 a year and you pay $5,000 in fuel taxes, that is a HIGHER percentage than a low-income person making $20,000 paying $200 a year in fuel taxes.  That, BY DEFINITION would be a PROGRESSIVE tax IN EFFECT.
            The larger point, though, is that NO FREAKING BODY needs to raise our fuel taxes AND fuel tax should go EXCLUSIVELY to maintaining and improving highways.  Or it should be abolished.
            Personally, I’m cool with private highways.
             

          • Ragspierre, you’ve picked a really stupid hill to die on. If you’re on the track of trying to hypothesize that maybe there’s some rich dude that spends radically more than some poor dude on gas, kinda, sorta, maybe, with a strong headwind and this really precise set of assumptions, you’ve already lost.
             
            Maybe there’s an alternate universe where all the “rich” commute via Lear Jet while the poor all use the bus, but it ain’t this one.

          • So, you don’t know…or even know OF…people who work and do NOT even own a car?
            In Nuevo Ork, that is NOT EVEN UNCOMMON, and a LOT of those folks are pretty well off, too.
            In Houston, there are MANY of them, typically on the lower end of the income spectrum.
            I currently have a client…mother of three…who does not own a car.  She works, and walks a block to her job.
            Not to open a NEW can of worms, but I know MANY construction workers in Texas do not own a vehicle.  (Ill–cough–egals).
            I’ve known MANY guys in the trades that do not drive…DWIs kinda put them on foot.

          • “So, you don’t know…or even know OF…people who work and do NOT even own a car?”
            Yeah, one guy, in my 30 years – back in the mid 80’s in Boston – took the bus from Brookline every day to Waltham – walked the mile from the bus stop on Main to Totten Pond Road where we had the office.
            Highly paid, tech geek who mainlined ding dong’s and computer code – could have easily afforded a car, but chose not to, in fact I’m not even sure the guy had a driver’s license, he was that much of a geek.
            I do know, vicariously through my son, several of his ‘friends’ who became unemployed, one example within the last 6 months, because they were unable to reliably get from their homes the 5-10 miles necessary to be at work for their shifts.   Ain’t no one living (officially anyway)  in the warehouse district where he had his first job, and no one working at his current job could AFFORD to live in the neighborhoods close to where his fast food place is except the owner.
             
             

          • We can argue distances, that 5 miles is walkable, bikeable, etc.  When your geographic travel range is limited to the distance you can cover reasonably without transport, your job search parameters are much more restricted, and the probability you’re going to arrive at work, wet, smelly, or both is dramatically increased – meaning your job parameters are even MORE restricted since no one assumes that the Golden Corral is going to provide a shower facility for you, or a change of dry clothes for the day you got caught in the toad choking downpour.
             
            I spent my entire college history sans car, in fact, I started my first professional job without a car, and walked the 2 miles to work (which in Texas, is only funny because the number of times people pulled over and asked if I needed a ride, and where did my car break down finally drove me STOP doing it).  I know the bike or walk to school and work in all weathers (shoveling snow, up hill, both ways as my dad did before me) well enough to recall days when a ride sure would have been nice.  I DO remember how hard it was to find a job that didn’t require a car, and in some cases, I didn’t get jobs because I DIDN’T have a car and they just wouldn’t hire you because your transportation wasn’t ‘reliable’.  I seriously doubt any of that has changed with the onset of the new millennium.

          • Looker said; “I DO remember how hard it was to find a job that didn’t require a car, and in some cases, I didn’t get jobs because I DIDN’T have a car and they just wouldn’t hire you because your transportation wasn’t ‘reliable’.  I seriously doubt any of that has changed with the onset of the new millennium.”
             
            Well, if you look in the classifieds of most newspapers for a job, one of the first requirements is…Must have valid driver’s license and reliable transportation.
            I remember living in Atlanta, which has one of the best public transit systems in the country, trying to use it to get to and from work…what a pain in the a$$. Walk to the bus stop, take the bus to the train station, hop off that train onto another train, then onto another bus, then sometimes another transfer to another bus, then perhaps a couple of blocks walk to work. And don’t miss one of your connections, because it could delay you up to another hour. Then after work, do the whole thing backwards.
             

          • Jeremy, in my universe, my typical RURAL neighbors work in Houston.  Poppa drives a F-250 or 350 to work every day; momma drives the family Excursion or Expedition to work.  That’s at least 30 miles, one way.
            They have a boat, jet skis, and four-wheelers.  They are just middle-class folks.  Many of the older ones have a full-sized RV in which they tool around the nation…all fine with me, BTW.
            Also in my universe, there a lot…I have no idea of the percentage…of people who have no car, or do not drive to work.  There are even MORE who drive a few miles to work…by their choice.
            So, is there evidence showing the fuel tax is regressive?  I dun tink so, Looocy.  MAYBE it is, but not from anything we have by way of FACTS.
            If you want to work on “perceived wisdom”, I guess you can.  That has been, since the beginning, my point.

          • Rick, yeah, thas me on the Reihl thread.
            I take your point on the Florida environment.  But we may need to consider how we are using “necessity”.
            In the Houston area, a LOT of people (lawyers, doctors, executives, secretaries, and just regular folks) drive a few miles to a METRO parking lot and take a commuter bus into down-town.  Some of the outlying suburbs even have their own coach-type buses for locals to ride.

          • Well Rags, with North Texas as an example – unless you don’t mind spending many of your idle hours riding what public transport IS available to you you must have an auto to get to work – it’s not an option.   Nice to live in a metro area with public transport, but let’s face it, especially in Texas, the majority of us ain’t going to go to work that way….
            And the Metro-plex is as big as Houston, so we’re talking the same scale to make a judgment…and one where we’re finally seeing some advances in public transport options.
             
            Two example – Son #2 a few years back  went from riding the bus 10 miles – (2.5 hours from Carrollton to Addison, after a mile hike to the nearest convenient bus stop)  – before he invested in a moped and started burning his own fuel for his choice to get 5 hours of his day back.  He now works in Fort Worth, a mere 4 miles from NAS/Lockheed, and yeah, I guess he COULD ride a bike, but…heh…it sure is a long 5 miles in normal Texas heat.
             
            Son #3 just finally got a replacement car for the 1 he killed so eh cano go to his chicken cooking job at minimum wage, again, under 10 miles – a necessity for working because mom and I WERE driving him to work, but his gas, our gas, it didn’t much matter who’s gas, we were using it to get him to work.
             
            You want to change the suburban sprawl, I’d like to too, but if you live in the suburbs you’re going to need a car to get to work, in far more cases than NOT.  You can pays your pay as time spent, or you can pays your pay as taxes taken, but one way or another everyone believes their time to be worth money, and more need their cars to work than don’t.

    • A person can only eat so much.  The cost of food is regressive with income level.  I would even venture a guess that people who have caviar with dinner every night are likely spending a smaller percentage of their income on food than the typical guy who eats McDonald’s twice a week.
       
      A person only needs so much gas to hall their butt around.  So similarly, gas use is regressive with income.

      • Which is interesting but means absolutely nothing when you’re talking about a regressive tax.

        • Actually it means everything and its why the tax is considered regressive.
           
          And I was responding to Ragspierre, and I’m not exactly sure why you felt to need to rebutt me when the last thing I was doing was disagreeing with a point in your post.

          • Because I use the internal comment engine and it doesn’t link it to a particular comment – so I apologize for misunderstanding at whom your comment was aimed and further for assuming it was me.

      • Which is why food is non-taxable in several states that have a sales tax.  However you will be hard pressed to find a single food item that does not require fuel to get it from where it is packaged (much less grown/processed) to where it is sold.
         
        But I guess we should just focus on the evil soccer mom in her SUV and ignore the giant semi-trucks that haul goods across the nation.  Increasing the fuel tax is an effective increase on the price (or reduction of the real value of what you are purchasing, ie food packages getting smaller) of EVERY ITEM you purchase at any grocery store/restaurant/electronics store/clothing store/etc.

  • I would be happy if they increased the general income tax and got rid of the fuel tax–if it were revenue neutral.  General taxes for general purposes.
    Complication only favors corruption.

    • My view is exactly opposite.
      IF…IF…each tax like the fuel tax was strictly tied to the activity, each of us would have SOME idea of what that costs.
      Additionally, should we disapprove of our government, it gives us each a means of telling them by simply adjusting our behavior in connection with that thing or activity the tax is tied to.
      Great big “general revenue” slush funds are a far greater boon to corruption, IMNHO.

      • “IF…IF…each tax like the fuel tax was strictly tied to the activity, each of us would have SOME idea of what that costs.”

        I know what it costs now (to the feds), $0.184/gallon, generally.  Lowering it for some purposes and raising it for others is the feds favoring some groups over others, and deciding some are worthy of penalty.   This is done through the horse trading (and cronyism and corruption) of politics.  You are favoring that.
        “Additionally, should we disapprove of our government, it gives us each a means of telling them by simply adjusting our behavior in connection with that thing or activity the tax is tied to.”
        So you think it’s a good tactic/strategy to punch your own nose to spite their face, choosing to do less of what you want to do because it has been taxed more than some other activity?  Where does the authority or the justness for the gov. picking economic winners and losers come from?  I think Sun Tzu and John Boyd both are looking at you like you’ve suddenly sprouted an extra and congenitally unintelligent head.

        “Great big “general revenue” slush funds are a far greater boon to corruption, IMNHO.”

        No, opaque laws of several thousand pages which are not read before being passed are the greater boon to corruption.  Simple transparent tax laws are not.
        Really, you are telling me you think the tax laws should bloom into ever greater fungal efflorescences of complexity, their hyphae sucking the lifeblood out of society, every law of necessity doing something to pick economic winners and losers through the political process–and you think that’s less corruption prone?
        The way to deal with the corruption you’re concerned with is in demanding simplicity, specificity, and transparency in the appropriations process, not doubling down on how screwed up our revenue generating laws are.
        General taxes for general purposes.

        • Note, Tom, you idiot, that…whenever they want to raid the treasury yet MORE efficiently…they convert funds OUT of dedicated-use funds, and INTO general revenue.
          As in the “trust fund” for highway projects, and the “trust fund” for SS.
          And, yes, Tom…any means we have to signal our government of our approval or disapproval via a kind of “market” is a really good thing.   Idiot.

          • I agree with Rag if it were a hypothetical world. But the simpler solution would be the VAT tax or whatever that is flat and on everything. This assumes no other taxes. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world and our greedy polis will simply add a VAT on top of all other taxes. We might as well send 80% of our income back to the federal government because they know how to spend our money better than we do, right? I mean they went to Harvard business school and Yale even. I just went to a simple state college.
            It would be fantastic if we had separate taxes that went to separate activities. Transportation taxes feeding only transportation infastructure, health care taxes only health care, etc. In this America that idea just isn’t realistic. But it would be nice.

  • There are far too many R’s that wouldn’t know what conservatism was or in their minds its occasionally making a stink over abortion and the American flag, but not really accomplishing any movement on those in end, anyway.

    • I fully expect that the policy centered Tea Party movement will be replaced (or joined) by a true Third Party movement after the 2012 elections with some time added in for Republicans to disappoint the electorate.

    • jpm100There are far too many R’s that wouldn’t know what conservatism was or in their minds its occasionally making a stink over abortion and the American flag…

      This has always been a problem with the GOP / conservatives: there are all sorts of flavors of “conservative”, and they tend to piss each other off.  Witness Rudy in the ’08 primary season: too socially liberal.  Too anti-gun.  Bush was socially conservative, but fiscally almost as liberal as many democrats.  Etc.

      At the rate things are going, it may be that people like Mitch Daniels and McQ will get their wish because people will be forced to forget about their differences on social issues in order to save the country from bankruptcy.

  • In the latest data, only slightly more than 10% of ARRA money goes to these transportation projects.

  • The Highway Revenue Act mandated a three cent tax, increased to four cents in the late 1950s and the tax held steady at that level until the passage of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act in 1982. After President Ronald Reagan approved the act on January 6, 1983, the tax was increased to nine cents and mandated the establishment of the Mass Transit Account, splitting the tax with 8 cents going to the Highway Account and one cent going to the Mass Transit Account.
    Politicians later seized on fuel taxes as an area where taxes could be collected for deficit reduction. On November 5, 1990, in an effort to reduce the deficit, President George H. W. Bush approved the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990, which increased the gas tax another five cents – half going to the Highway Fund and half going to deficit reduction. President Clinton increased the gas tax by 4.3 cents when he signed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 on August 10, 1993. The total tax to 18.4 cents per gallon. However, the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 redirected the 4.3 cent hike to the HTF.
    The general motor fuel tax still stands at 18.4 cents; however the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, formed in 2005 discussed raising the federal gas tax to 40 cents per gallon over five years. In its current form, the tax would be raised 5-8 cents annually for five years, then be indexed to inflation. [2]
    The federal tax on motor fuels yielded $28.2 billion in 2006.[3]
    ************************************************************************
    That’s from Wikiworld, so the usual grain of salt…  Still, it appears the whole thing got bastardized by the usual bastards.  It is a “trust fund” in the same sense the SS “trust fund” exists anywhere.

  • Here’s a thought for the senator:
    How about working to CREATE jobs (i.e. getting government out of the ($#@^& way) so that more people have to drive to work?
     
    Viola! More gas tax revenue.
     
    Probably too nuanced for him.

  • Goofy me,
    I thought we just borrowed/spent close to a trillion dollars on infrastructure upgrading in the form of stimulus. You mean that was a big scam? The money didn’t make it from Washington to the roads and bridges?

  • “The lack of investment in our crumbling bridge, highway, and transit systems”

    1) It isn’t INVESTMENT, it is SPENDING.
    2) Since this lack of ‘investment’ is due to the negligence of you and your cronies, why on earth should we believe you when you say you will do the job you were supposed to do if only we give you more money?

  • “A tax that takes a larger percentage of the income of low-income people than of high-income people.”
    http://www.investorwords.com/4138/regressive_tax.html

    “First we must define our terms”, as some dead white male isw alledged to have said. I think the above definition will do.

  • If you live in a large city, you MIGHT be able to get to work using public transportation. But what about the folks who live in suburbia or live in rural areas? I live in a rural area and to get to work, I have to drive over hill and dale to get to there, about 60 to 100 miles round trip every day. Even if public transportation was available, it wouldn’t be economically feasible in the rural area I live in. It takes me 45 minutes to an hour and a half to get to work. Public transportation, if available, would double that travel time. In my state, federal and state gas taxes accounts for 38 cents for every gallon of gasoline. Lets see…gas right now is $2.49/gal, so we’re paying about 25% or so tax on fuel. Twenty-five percent tax and some people want to raise it? What ails some of you?

  • I think the trouble is that legislators think they have to do something, when in fact sometimes the best solution is to do nothing. Adding more taxes or more laws is  “doing something” in their job so that’s what they do. Maybe we need to have them “balance the law” by giving them media attention for scrapping laws and regulations. Not as much fun though.
     

  • There are few points where I think Ragspierre has missed in his argument

    “Millions of Americans work from home, ride to work on public transportation, bicycle, etc.”
    People riding the bus to work still pay fuel taxes, though usually it is lessened because most  public transportation systems are subsidised, so that’s more of a wash than an argument either way.

    “Without A LOT more information, your assumption is that personal motor fuel use is a constant for both LOW income and higher income people in the US.  That is the ONLY way you get to your “regressive” argument.” 
    In order to NOT be regressive, fuel use would have to increase linearly with income. For example, if person Y has three times the  income and uses the fuel compared to the median, the tax hits the average person harder than him. This makes McQ’s argument much more reasonable.

    Something I found while  on the NY MTA website while trying to find their budget-” nearly 85 percent of the nation’s workers need automobiles to get to their jobs…” , so the largest public transportation authority in the country acknowledges that the vast majority have to use fuel to get to work.

  • The argument for the fuel tax being fuel tax being regressive is not proven, but the main arguments presented against (flat fuel use is necessary, no one needs to buy fuel) were shown false. The terms were plucked out of the air because a  statement  was made claiming that only one scenario could lead to fuel use being regressive, only a reasonable example was needed to disprove that.
     According to a group that benefits from the maximum use public transportation, the vast majority of Americans do have to use a fuel powered vehicle to get to work. 

    Full agreement that the only use for fuel taxes should be to maintain or improve highways.

  • Oh, it’s not a tax, it is a “user fee”

    I see.

    Well, glad he cleared that up.

  • And there is a subtext in all of this that seems to be missing.  Since everything within the economy is delivered by means of fuel…  as in by truck or by train, a fuel tax raises the price of everything.  Gee, just the thing we need in the midst of an economic downturn.  And  ummm Rags … do you really want the government deciding what is necessary and unnecessary driving?  The fact of the matter is when you start talking about “necessary driving” is a criteria you are giving the government defacto powers to make that determination. 

    • And  ummm Rags … do you really want the government deciding what is necessary and unnecessary driving?  The fact of the matter is when you start talking about “necessary driving” is a criteria you are giving the government defacto powers to make that determination.

      Absolutely NOT.  I was only using the term “necessary” in the context McQ introduced (low-income WORKING people HAVE to drive to work).
      Again, I am NOT saying anything whatsoever at all even a little about people’s individual driving choices.  Those are, I think, expressions of who they are, where they choose to live, how, and where they choose to work, etc.  ALL good to me.
      I was in the trucking business, too.  It is a business I would not DREAM of being in just now.  Truckers are taxed for tires and weight, too, as I recall.
      Are railroads taxed for fuels?  At what rates?  I frankly don’t know.
      And the bottom line for me is that I have very little resonance with putting labels on taxes, such as “regressive or progressive”.  I don’t give a flip about a tax being “regressive”, because…using the same criteria…LIFE is regressive.  I care a LOT more about the standard of living than I do, for instance, measures of relative income.

  • Social Security has a $7.9 trillion shortfall (up $0.1 trillion from last year), which means the program would require $7.9 trillion in cash—today!—to afford its promises. Alternatively, closing that gap would require payroll taxes to rise immediately and permanently from 12.4 percent of earnings to 14.24 percent. For a worker earning $50,000, that’s a $920 tax increase.

    Promises .. promises

  • Face it .. this is an attempt to make a sow’s ear into a purse .. it’s a repackage of a “carbon tax”.
    … and George Vionovich … is as amusing as a “Slinky” .. he will make you laugh when pushed down a flight of stairs.

  • Is this the first +30 comment post that has nothing to do with Erb?

    I think maybe…

  • Rags, I think your sample size is limited.  If I’m reading you correctly you are mostly thinking about professional and service oriented jobs that don’t require a great deal of travel, other than getting to work and then to home.  You are missing a very large segment of the work force, especially in Houston.
    Sub-Contractors, cabinet installers, lawn care, plumbers, ac technician’s, outside sales reps, courrier, taxi-drivers (less prevalent in Texas I know, but still a significant sized work force nationally), truckers/delivery drivers (you said you used to be a trucker, so it kind of blows my mind that you undercut this so significantly), etc.  There is a significant portion of the workforce that depend on getting around for almost their full work day.
     
    I agree that a fuel tax is not a purely regressive tax, neither is a tax on food items, but to argue flat out that it is not isn’t correct either.