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High Gas Prices

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According to Reuters, gas prices in this country have hit record highs:

The average price for regular gasoline struck $1.738 per gallon, up a tenth of a cent from the previous record hit in late summer 2003, according to the motorist group’s survey of more than 60,000 stations.

While an all-time high in nominal terms, the current price of gasoline is still significantly lower than the inflation adjusted peak of $2.94 hit in 1981, and well below the prices seen regularly in European countries.

“Economists may find it helpful to discuss inflation adjustment, but a big increase in the monthly gasoline bill is a large burden to this country’s families and businesses regardless,” said AAA spokesman Geoff Sundstrom.

He ain’t kidding. High gas prices put a pinch on everybody, both personally and professionally. We all use gasoline in one way or another. When it costs more it hits us where it hurts the most…in the pocketbooks.

A lot of times we complain about oil companies raising prices or OPEC manufacturing supply shortages in order to drive up prices. Maybe something we should be looking at is how much gasoline is taxed in this country.

I don’t know what its like where you’re from, but here in North Dakota the tax on fuel is $0.21/gallon. To me that seems like an enormous amount. Can you imagine the amount of money the government could put back in our pockets if they lowered the tax even a nickel per gallon? Not to mention the positive effect it would have on businesses like pizza delivery and couriers.

I’m no economist. Maybe there’s a good reason for not cutting the fuel taxes that I’m not aware of, but given what I know right now it would seem to make a lot of sense to give Americans a tax break when it comes to gas. Especially in light of rising gas prices.

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About Rob

  • The Congress claims the “gas tax” goes directly towards “infrastructure improvements” for our nation’s highways. That’s a lie, just like the Social Security and Medicare “trust fund” lies. All gov’t revenue winds up in the general fund, and the money is all spent the same, regardless of its source.

    The “gas tax” is a particularly vile tax, because of the hidden costs. It increases the costs of nearly everything that is not locally produced, because things that must be transported to market (usually via truck) end up having a higher cost due to such overhead as increased gasoline prices.

    The gov’t should repeal all “gas taxes” and the problem would be solved. The revenue could be more than made up for by increasing the ceiling on the FICA tax (which would be a way of de facto means-testing Social Security).

    But they won’t do this. Old people vote. And our Representatives are cowards. Enjoy your two dollar/gallon gas…

  • Rob

    I’m not sure what you mean by “old people vote.” I’d think that young people (such as myself, and I vote too) have just as much of an interest in lower gas prices as do old people.

    But I see your point regarding our politicians and taxes. Once a tax is established, it never goes away.

  • maybe we should start buying vehicles that get decent gas mileage and stop driving ‘tanks’.

  • Old people vote in far higher percentages than young people. After all, they don’t have much else to do during the day. It’s not as if they have to -work- or go to class!

    BTW, Mark, I agree that people should be encouraged to drive vehicles that get better mileage. But when are we going to start electing politicians that agree with us?

  • we’ll elect politicians who agree with us when we make our elections be something other than a race to see who can raise the most money.

    i’n not planning on that happening any time soon.

  • Mark:

    You can do it today! Remember, CFR was passed and signed into law on this President’s watch!

    Young people don’t vote because they have other things going on. Old people vote because they have nothing else going on.

    Make the young realize that their future is being decided right now, and they’ll vote.

    Sadly, it seems only third-party kooks like Nader can successfully get this mesage across…

  • JR

    The “gas tax” is a particularly vile tax, because of the hidden costs.

    Cheap gas is a particularly vile commodity because of the hidden costs. Millions of people suffer health problems because of air pollution, workers live so far from their jobs that they waste hours per day commuting, cities are so sprawled that we are totally dependent on our cars, and wars are fought and repressive governments are propped up to protect our petroleum supply. All this because the average consumer pays none of these costs at the pump and therefore doesn’t have any incentive to conserve resources or consider the true price of their lifestyle choices.

  • Rob

    workers live so far from their jobs that they waste hours per day commuting

    Seems like a personal decision that has personal repercussions to me.

    cities are so sprawled that we are totally dependent on our cars

    Your city, maybe. Not mine. Don’t forget that not everybody lives in a major city.

    wars are fought and repressive governments are propped up to protect our petroleum supply

    If you’re talking about the current war in Iraq I’d have to say you’re wrong. The war in Iraq right now is about terrorism more than anything else. In past conflicts, however, you may have a point. But that’s not the issue at hand.

    My thought is, maybe we should actually let our oil companies drill for oil in our own country instead of half-way around the world?

    the average consumer pays none of these costs

    Then where does all the tax money from the gas go?

  • now yer onto somethin’.

    read a few books on things like the design of suburbs. then a book on SUV’s (“High and Mighty” is a good one). you’ll see that we’ve done all sorts of things to impact our piggish fuel consumption (a lot of which was probably unintentional…but we shouldn’t let ourselves off the hook there)

  • Seems like a personal decision that has personal repercussions to me.

    Are you kidding me? In this job market, what choice do most workers have? You take the work wherever it is. I live 35 miles from my workplace – I drive 70 miles a day, spending about 2 hours on the road every day. Do I like it? No. Should I sell my house every time I find a new job? Of course not, that’s ridiculous. Is this really what you expect people to do?

    Your city, maybe. Not mine. Don’t forget that not everybody lives in a major city.

    Don’t forget that a huge number of people do.

  • Rob

    According to this information, the average to-work time in New York City (which has the longest average time in the Nation) is about 38 minutes. Once you get out outside New Yorkthe average time decreases to around 15 – 20 minutes in most major cities.

    I’m not sure the problem you’re talking about is quite as wide-spread as you think.

  • the problem with those numbers is they’re only talking about cities. there are lots of suburban locales where, because of the sprawl extending out from the parent city, the commute times are brutal.

    also, they should have posted median times.

    My thought is, maybe we should actually let our oil companies drill for oil in our own country instead of half-way around the world?

    maybe, just once, we can admit that we’re engergy pigs…and try to do something about it.

  • Rob

    Maybe we are “energy pigs,” but I’d rather my energy consumption practices be driven by the market then by government regulation.

  • fine, stick to your “all government is bad” mantra, while we continue on our selfish ways.

  • Rob

    Not all government is bad. I like the kind of government that keeps me safe from terrorists and invasions from foreign countries.

    I don’t like the type of government that is going to tell the citizens of a country as varied in social, economic and geographical ways as ours what to drive.

    If gas gets too expensive for me to purchase I’ll start looking at other options.

  • i was’t arguing that the government should tell us what to drive.

    i’d just like us to realize that there are many choices we’ve made (highway and suburban design being major factors) that contribute to our fuel consumption.

  • Rob

    And I’d agree with you.

    But its still not a good enough reason to avoid lowering the taxes on gasoline. Taxes shouldn’t be used to deter people from certain types of behavior.

  • we’ll have to agree to disagree on this.

    i don’t mind, for instance, that taxes might stop people from smoking.

  • Rob

    I do. Smoking is a legal activity. If we really want to stop people from smoking we should ban it, not tax it.

    Don’t you think that taxing something like smoking kind of leads to a catch-22? Once lawmakers are used to receiving tax dollars from smokers, do you really think they’d want to ban the activity and lose those tax dollars?

  • you’re the one who used the worn ‘ban’, not me.

    smoking is another activity that has tons and tons of hidden costs….in lost productivity, heath care, etc.

    in the lost run, it would probably cost the government less money if smoking decreased.

  • Rob

    You’re probably right in regards to lost productivity, etc., but then why tax it? Why not push for a ban? All a tax is doing is getting lawmakers addicted to that source of tax income.

    Also, I’d vote against a smoking ban. There’s no way we could enforce it. It’d be prohibition all over again, only worse.

  • jim

    …If everyone started stealing gasoline, and refused to pay taxes, would that make the Country, a ‘jail’? There is safety in numbers and it will not be long before the younger genre figures that out. So hypothetically, everyone is in jail;a cost to the tax payers;who pays? This Country is doomed. we may be free, but it is one expensive one. whether or not I drive a hugo or a Tank,smoke or not. Trust me, If you like eating popcicles on the beach, and everyone starts doing it, there will a excise tax on your popcicles and on the beach; you can be sure of that.

  • greg

    I think the most intelligent thing the government could do would be to raise gas taxes. If we were to increase gas taxes and cut taxes in places such as payroll taxes. Overall we would be taxed the same amount of money, but it would encourage the benifits of a more fuel thrifty society.

    Besides Rob, what do you think should be dont about the government’s deficit problem? I can only see two ways to deal with it: increase taxes or cut spending. The current administration has done neither. If you truly support the war in Iraq and the defense spending of the government, then you should be willing to make personal sacrifices as far as taxes are concerned.

    I think the only reason people are pissed about gas prices is because they can see it and are reminded of it everyday at the gas station. Is there such a far superior way for the government to raise money?

    I dont know if anyone here TIME magazine but in the april issue, at the end of the magazine, there is really good essay on gas taxes by Andrew Sullivan.

  • gas bandit

    All you need is a rare earth magnet or just a really strong magnet. Swipe the magnet accross the face of the pump and it will destroy the electronics inside the pump and you will get discounted or free gasoline!

  • gonzo marx

    this weekend has shown th national average per gallon doubled since this Post was first written..

    i mean, doubled in a year?..too bad we don’t have a bunch of folks from the oil industry running the government in the Wh, mebbe they coudl do somethign abotu it..

    oh wait…we do have oil folks runnign the country

    and it’s doubled in a year..up a dollar in the last week alone…



  • Prices in Motown where I live are nearly $3/gallon. Heard of Ethos FR manufactured by Ethos Environmental Inc.? I suggest we all get a bottle of it for starters.

    Our government uses Ethos FR to reformulate their fuel and other fluids in their military vehicles. The Chinese Government uses it to run their fleets. Ethos and its distributors have never focused on the end consumer… they have always focused on group sales…mostly to governments and large commercial fleets.
    — Ethos will never be in retail stores, never be in Walmart… 4-ECorp is the retail end consumer marketing arm for Ethos.
    — Ethos is going public soon. (Go to http://www.msn.com put in symbol vici)
    –The product is real… it is patented (patent Number 4,920,691)… it works… timing couldn’t be better…
    — A billion miles have been driven using EthosFR, in road tests by commercial carriers.
    — Product is bio-degradable, non-toxic and comes from renewable resources.
    — Great credibilty with CBS and FOX news putting ETHOS to the test on TV.

    It available now to the general public…like I said get some Ethos FR until, while and after gas prices stabilize. Most folks can’t afford a new hybrid car or other cost-efficient vehicle right now. We’ve got to use what we’ve GOT whatever the price of gas or the potential for tax breaks or not…