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Friday, January 2, 2009

Gas Tax Ideas Brimming

I've told you previously that raising the gas tax would save lives and help us fight the Russians—or, better yet, keep from having to fight the Russians. Some notes from folks thinking along the same lines:
  • The government's National Commission on Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing says we need to jack up the gas tax 50% to keep up with road maintenance. (A similar commission reached the same conclusion in 2008.)
  • Think that's just pinko bureaucrats talking? Adrian Moore of the libertarian (pay attention, Matt!) Reason Foundation explains the situation with a beautiful absence of ideology: "We can either let the roads go to hell or we can pay more." Doesn't get much simpler than that!
  • Worried that the gas tax is a flawed system, Oregon is considering a mileage tax. Not a bad concept: charge people based on how much they actually drive on the roads the tax pays for. Only problem is, the plan calls for installing GPS units in every car to monitoring when and where you drive. Uh oh.
  • The state of Georgia is lowering its gas tax, due to state statute that indexes the tax to the pump price. Oops: Georgia's DoT ran a $456 million deficit in FY2008. You want growth, you gotta have roads. You want roads, you gotta pay for 'em.


  1. ... the plan calls for installing GPS units in every car to monitoring when and where you drive ...

    I wish some loon would propose that in South Dakota. I wonder if loon tastes like duck?

  2. Some loons are deeply worried about installing GPS on cars... and on this issue, I'm with them. I'll just pay my tax at the pump, thank you.

  3. pennypincher1/03/2009 1:35 PM


    You are a supporter of the gas tax and saving the environment. You are also a supporter of local business and growing the Madison area. Unfortunately Madison does not have the business opportunities to keep the residents in town. What do people do? Commute. Not because we want to, but because we HAVE to. Not everyone has the luxury of living a couple miles from their work place.

    That being said, the same people that are trying to support and grow the community, you also badmouth because we feel the need to drive SUVs and pickup trucks in the winter time. Sure, I have a little 4 cyclinder 32+ mpg car, but in the winter when the roads are, questionable, I feel more comfortable and safe driving the bigger vehicle. It's not that you have to worry about you, it's everyone else.

    My theory in the winter time is the bigger the vehicle, the less risk you run being crushed like a pop can.

  4. It's nothing personal, PennyP. I just think commuting is the luxury, an unsustainable lifestyle. My wife and I both did it, disliked it, and gave up good paying jobs to be connected more to our community. People should live where they work.

    Safety: it's a terrible thing to live in fear. I rode my bike to town this week. Move over, SUV! :-D

    By the way, SUVs have the highest occupant fatality rate in rollover crashes. You're also six times more likely to kill me if you slide on those questionable roads and hit my Focus with your SUV than with your car. Thanks, neighbor!

  5. pennypincher1/03/2009 7:17 PM

    More reasons to drive an SUV. If you are going to get hit, be the bigger vehicle!

    As far as commuting being an unsustainable lifestyle, tell that to the people in Chicago and Minneapolis. Most people on average commute 30-60 miles to get to their job. I think we South Dakotans are spoiled by having the ability to live where we work. Unfortunatley if you are going to help a rural community grow, it takes people that commute to help it grow.

  6. SD is a rural state, a state filled wtih farmers/ranchers who by necessity live where they work. Just so happens that where they live/work is anywhere from one to many, many miles from a place to buy necessities of life and to obtain a second job, now necessary for most families. By necessity they must commute. Unless you live in a city or within a mile or so of a city or have public transportation available, most people have to commute. Please don't make it sound like we are the problem. We aren't.

    The problem as I see it is that we are being denied the right to use our own resources while attempting to develop alternatives to oil. We simply cannot overnight become free of oil unless we want to return to the horse and buggy days, and somehow I don't think anyone wants that.

  7. Once again I am surprised at the depth of my insight! I had said that a gas tax will unfairly hurt the poorer and middle class and compared it to the arguments being used against the food tax. And I said that pretty soon there would be calls for a rebate program to give the tax back to the "poor", just like for food. And guess what, just this morning on the news there was a story stating the same thing. That the tax would hurt those least able to afford it and that there should be a program to rebate that tax back to them.

    I rest my case!!

    We already work almost half the year for the various gov't entities and their taxes, seems the gov't wants us to work for them the rest of the year too!

    We citizens are not a bottomless pit of money just for the taking by the gov't. Really, we aren't. And there will come a point where we say no more. The gov't needs to be shrunk, not expanded, and people need to become more responsible for themselves. Trouble is that too many people are buying into the notion that the gov't exists simply to take care of them, thus the problem.

  8. Anon 11:13: No disrespect intended. But "filled with farmers/ranchers"? There are 31,300 farms in South Dakota. There are 31,500 people working in financial activities alone in South Dakota. Farmers are important but outnumbered. New century, new economy, new energy realities that we all have to adjust to. (Say, don't the Amish manage to turn healthy profits on smaller farms with very little fossil fuel input?)

    "right to use our own resources"? perhaps... if only we had more oil that was our own. But even then, whatever "right" we may claim to consume, we surely have a concomitant responsibility to consume in a responsible, efficient fashion that leaves future generations with enough energy for their purposes (not to mention a healthy environment).

  9. I never said that farmers weren't outnumbered by other occupations, only that there are many people who live and work by necessity a long ways from the second job or a city.

    If you want to live like the Amish, more power to you. Nothing wrong with it, but I don't think that most people would choose that way of life.

    As far as leaving resources for future generations, the Dems seems to think that future generations won't need oil at all, or nuclear, or coal, only their much touted "alternative forms of fuel." So by that thinking, why not responsibly use the resources that exist in our own nation (i.e. drilling, oil shale, nuclear, coal) while at the same time progressing toward their other alternative types of fuel that they seem to think will magically appear overnight?

    But we have to be careful what we wish for. The "greenies" want everyone to use the new LED lights, but the problem is that they pollute with highly toxic mercury, a fact that seems to be ignored by the greenies, and have the potential to create more problems than they solve.

  10. Just a clarification about the new energy-efficient lights: There are two types, called "compact fluorescent lamps" (CFLs) and "light-emitting diodes" (LEDs).

    The CFLs do indeed contain mercury. Don't break 'em! They use only about 1/5 of the amount of power that an incandescent bulb uses to produce the same amount of light.

    I don't think there's anything toxic about the LEDs. However, in my experience, their outputs diminish noticeably after the first few hundred hours of use. I got some of the little "20-watt equivalent" LED spot lights and put them on the ceiling to illuminate the art in my office. They're cool; their output looks like daylight on a cloudy afternoon. A "20-watt-equivalent" LED bulb produces about the same amount of light as a 15-watt incandescent lamp at first, but after awhile, it produces only about as much light as a 10-watt incandescent bulb. LEDs are even more efficient than CFLs, however, and they last longer.

    Sorry to digress from topic, Cory. But then, it is not altogether irrelevant, I guess. Save the planet, you know!

    As for raising the gas tax, gosh dang, we're on a tax-and-spend spree in this country, so what the heck. Just watch out, lefties. The American taxpayers will revolt if you fish around in their pockets too much. And if you promise overall tax cuts to lower-income people, don't assume that they won't keep a sharp eye on their paychecks, bills, and bank balances in the coming months and years, especially if the economy continues to tank. If the Obama promise of a tax cut (and consequent implied overall lower cost of living) does not come true and stay true for quite awhile, people are going to say that you lied to them. The Republicans fumbled and turned the ball over to you. Hold on to it tight, and don't throw too many "Hail Marys."

  11. Stan: good notes on light bulbs! Well-informed digressions are welcome.

    "tax and spend"? Better check this morning's headline on Obama's proposed tax cuts....

  12. Ach! I stand corrected! Tax cut and spending spree. G.W. Redux!

    The tax increases will come later.


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