Monday, May 10, 2004

Consensus on a Gas Tax Hike?

It seems like the Contra Costa Times is a little late in picking up on Ford's suggestion to hike gas tax, but they have a few more quotes. Here is the story:

"Anything that can align the individual customer's purchase decisions with society's goals are the way to go," Ford's chairman and chief executive, William Clay Ford Jr., said, adding that his company has previously supported a 50-cent increase in gas taxes.

...G. Richard Wagoner Jr., the chairman and chief executive of GM, concurred.

"If you want people to consume something less, the simplest thing to do is price it more dearly," Wagoner said. "And there is just no track record of sustainable success in the U.S. of doing that, versus Germany, for example, which just regularly says, 'Oh, we have a budget deficit; we're going to raise the fuel taxes by 10 pfennigs, or euros, or whatever,' and do that. And I think that's the rub."

..."It's easy to argue for a politically unviable solution in place of actually making progress," said David Friedman, senior policy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, an environmental research and advocacy group. "There's probably room to do both, but at a minimum we have to talk about ways to save consumers money by raising fuel economy standards."

...Daniel Becker, an expert on global warming for the Sierra Club, said: "It's like Bush saying: 'Let's go to Mars. Let me offer you the impossible to divert you from the practical.'

"We totally support a gas tax," Becker added, "and we'd be happy to meet with the other people who support a gas tax -- at a phone booth in Grand Central station."

Two points: If we raise the gas tax, then raising the fuel economy standards becomes more feasible. Either alone is not likely to solve the problem, but together they both can go a long way. I have talked about this before, and I will talk about in detail later.

Secondly, people like Baker are what I call Cynical Environmentalists. As E. W. Johnson said in the context of the future of automobile in urban environment:
Surely, we cannot accept the notion that the only feasible approach is one that fails to get at the heart of our problems. Surely, we must continue to search for solutions that are both feasible and effective.

This indeed is a daunting task.


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