The Frontal Cortex

Gas Tax Again

I’m like a broken record, but if I could implement one policy change right away it would be to raise the gas tax:

See the full image over at Foreign Policy.

The latest people to support a phased increase in the gas tax are George Schultz (Reagan’s Secretary of State) and Tony Lake (Clinton’s National Security Advisor). See Mankiw for the details.


  1. #1 Daniel Collins
    October 30, 2006

    An alternate could be to divide Oz, Canada, and the US up into smaller countries, with different languages, so people become less inclined to travel so far, and thus less averse to such a tax.

  2. #2 Coin
    October 30, 2006

    A much more convincing statistic would be to track the way the amount of gas consumption in America has changed over the last five or ten years as the price of gas has wildly fluctuated during that period.

    Again, why do you assume that Americans use more gas because it’s cheap, as opposed to Americans using more gas because for whatever reason they need to? There are many differences between the countries on that graph besides the gas price related measures you place there. For example, all of the countries on that graph with very high gas taxes are relatively small and densely populated (and a couple of them have world-renowned train systems) whereas Australia, Canada and America are large and spread out.

    Have you thought about what the effect might be if you purposefully increase the cost of gas but for whatever reason the consumption rate does not magically go down?

  3. #3 Erin
    October 31, 2006

    I used to totally agree with you about raising the gas tax, but after working for a year as an Americorps homeless prevention/outreach worker at a homeless shelter, I changed my mind. There are so many people in this rural area who travel long distances to get to the only sporadic agricultural work they can find, and people on fixed incomes for whom even a small change in the price of gas can be the difference between being able to feed their families or not. I’ve met people who pay more in gas every month than they do in rent. I met so many elderly people living on pensions who had to make very hard choices about how they spent their money, and didn’t have a penny to spare. Raising the gas tax would hurt these people the most.

    The gas tax can’t be raised without a system in place to prevent a further widening of the gap between rich and poor. The rationale for increasing the tax is to pressure people in their pocketbooks to make more sensible choices, right? Well, in many parts of this country there isn’t a viable alternative to using lots of gasoline. If there’s no public transportation system, what choice are people supposed to make?

    I’d be all for raising the gas tax if, say, hybrid cars cost as much as old junkers and we had a nationwide system of cheap, reliable public transport. In the long run, yes, we should have a more comparable gas tax. But it’s certainly not an easy answer to a complicated problem.

  4. #4 Lab Cat
    October 31, 2006

    The solution is increase taxes and use the money to improve public transport. I would much prefer to use public transport to get places, but I can’t as there isn’t any or where there is public transport it is inconveniently timetabled or expensive.

  5. #5 ispirLi
    April 23, 2009

    Türkiyede Bu kadar Olsa 🙂

New comments have been disabled.