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Taxing our way into fuel independence
Posted by: McQ on Monday, June 30, 2008

As I read it, that's precisely what Bill Marsh of the NY Times is implying with this latest article. He begins by attempting to sell us on the claim that no matter how high our prices are at the gas pump now, we've "got it good" compared to others. In fact, his article is entitled "Savoring Bargains at the American Pump"

No, really.

He begins his lesson with:
Gasoline in the United States is cheap.
And relatively speaking, that's true. Or at least it's true when compared to Europe. But the reason it is cheap in comparison has nothing to do, really, with the price of crude.

Taxes are the reason and in as convoluted an opinion piece as you'll see, Marsh thinks high taxes are a good thing:
Gas taxes are used to encourage conservation, to finance roads and transit, and to fill other government coffers. Higher rates tend to insulate drivers from price spikes. On a percentage basis, Europeans have had to absorb far smaller increases in gas costs than Americans in recent years. They’re used to paying double what Americans do — or more — and they live accordingly.
Yes friends, Mr. Marsh wants you to understand that high gas taxes are what have saved Europeans from huge gas spikes and, because of them, our Euro friends, like good little proles, learned long ago how to live with high gas prices and have adjusted their lifestyles accordingly.

Ignore the riots, slowdowns and blocked roads in Europe as drivers protest the price of fuel. They're not really important to the larger point - government is your friend and will do what is best for you through thoughtful taxation.

So, all hail government. And don't you appreciate what good those taxes have done? "Encourage conservation, finance roads and transit" and most importantly "fill other government coffers". Said another way, these taxes control behavior, finance the government's preferred solutions and provide an excess of funds which go toward whatever other boondoggle the government finds to spend it on.

Heaven forbid you be left to spend your money on your priorities in life.

So savor your bargains at the pump you spoiled Americans! Everyone knows the enlightened European way is the best. Distances and travel times are vastly different within the two continents? Phaaa ... pay no attention to the facts, avoid the pain of thinking, lay back and let government tax you into the proper behavior while "filling other coffers" with the excess.

You'll enjoy the way they spend the money - I promise.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

I believe that Matthew Yglesias also opined recently that higher taxes right now would be a great idea. Even- I thought- Keynesian economists don’t believe this. All that I can figure out is that these people see Obama winning in November, know that he’ll raise taxes and are offering preemptive strikes about how good tax increases will be.
Written By: physics geek
Wonder how the Times would like a 50% newspaper tax ?
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
In some places there are already taxes on the sale of illegal drugs.
I seems to recall a tax on "junk food" coming in New Jersey (after CA gave it up).
Next I expect somebody to tax abortions.
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
I live in Ireland and fuel costs have gone up from E1.15 a liter to about E1.46 a liter since around april and that’s for diesel.
That works out to around $9.50 a gallon.
We live about 25 minutes from town and only make trips when we have several errands to take care of.
I love living in Ireland but I don’t care much for the nannystatism here.
Don’t let the US go the way of Europe.
Written By: firefirefire
URL: http://
I’ve been reading such proposals on Econbrowser and TheOilDrum for years now.

My response is the same, how can anyone claim the solution to $4 a gallon gasoline is $5 a gallon gasoline?

Like Orwell said, one would have to be an intellectual to believe something that stupid.

The problem is that the advocates of such proposals see themselves as a higher class of people and, as such, feel justified in imposing pain on the lower orders, "for their own good."

Thankfully, we live in a democracy so my next response to the proposed higher taxes as they ignore my earlier question is "Let’s vote on it!"
Written By: Joseph Somsel
URL: http://
After all that tripe about poor relations with other nations, the Democratic Congress finds that they are the problem ..
.. the Qatari minister criticised a move by US politicians to sue the Organization of the Oil Exporting Countries if the oil club did not pump an amount of oil that Washington sees sufficient.
"The Congress should look to increase exploration inside the United States," Minister said. "It is strange to ask what I should produce. It’s an issue of sovereignty."
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
"Next I expect somebody to tax abortions."
Now there’s a dilemma for the liberals.

Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
The real worry for Democrats is whether or not the cold weather hits before or after election day, as voters turning on their heat (with $4.75++/gal heating oil and roughly doubled natural gas) will be hypersensitive to this issue.

They will be praying to Gia for Global Warming to keep it warm through the election, unfortunately the total lack of sun spots has it in for them.
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Everyone knows the enlightened European way is the best.*
*Offer does not apply to increased energy production or nuclear power; void where prohibited.
Written By: James O
URL: http://
I could handle high gas taxes... if use that to replace income taxes.
Written By: Tito
URL: http://
"Next I expect somebody to tax abortions."
Now there’s a dilemma for the liberals.
Not really. The rich should pay the tax. It is not fair that the rich can afford an abortion, while the expenses of not having an abortion (i.e. raising a child) end up hurting the most financially vulnerable in our society. Shared prosperity means equal access to abortions.
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URL: http://
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