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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Prepositional Logic

if (
This is why one broad way to view the history of the post-Victorian world is the competition between the information state and the energy state. The information state is, ultimately, focused on liberating individuals, and creating social structures which find a means of coping with limited information. It must grant intellectual and social autonomy, so that individuals w(h)o are freer will create more information. The energy state is fundamentally concerned with limiting people's ability to make changes, since energy is the ability to change the environment. It seeks to restrict choices and to concentrate control over energy in fewer and fewer hands.
) then
Name: Eric David
Hometown: Elizabeth, NJ
Dr. A,
Here's why I think a major increase in the gas tax is coming, sooner rather than later:

1. The coming spasm of bond-market and currency-market discipline will make even the most brain-dead supply-side fanatic admit by the next budget cycle that the US Treasury is broke and something needs to be done, immediately. But that something won't be to raise upper-income marginal tax rates, increase corporate taxes, or revive the estate tax, of course. With those off the table, practically the only thing left that will generate any meaningful revenue is a gas tax.

2. It's incredibly regressive, so the screw-the-poor right-wingers (i.e., Bush's "base") will find it palatable, even desirable, just like their plan to replace all taxes on investment and inheritance with higher taxes on us poor slobs who have to work for a living. Remember the WSJ's rant against the "Lucky Duckies" who make poverty-level wages and thus avoid federal income taxes? The stray red-state millionaire who's bothered by paying a buck or two extra per gallon will be assuaged by the knowledge that even minimum-wage city dwellers are facing higher mass transit fares too because of the fuel tax hike.

3. Sensible Republicans from the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations (like Robert McFarlane and Frank Gaffney) are advocating a gas tax increase. So are some moderate evangelicals who don't believe Jesus is necessarily coming tomorrow, and even if he does, he might not want to choke on Hummer fumes after each breath.

4. Public outrage at the tax increase will create a groundswell of support for drilling in ANWAR, Yellowstone, Central Park, the South Lawn, and anywhere else Big Oil wants to plant a derrick.

5. Speaking of Big Oil, can't you see them sneaking in a slow 50-cent per gallon increase right around the time that the new tax is phased in? Who'd notice? Only the oilmen as they add more zeroes to their overflowing bank accounts! By the time enough people react and change their habits or buy hybrid cars (if they ever do, since $2/gal. gas hasn't really changed things at all compared to $1/gal. gas), this crew will have long since retired.

6. Lastly, it's great politics, so Karl Rove will love it. What better way to make liberal eco-Democrats put-up-or-shut-up? Bush, who never stands for re-election again, can propose the tax and force the Dems (and the moderate GOP-ers who the conservatives want to get rid of anyway) to walk right into the trap of having to vote for it, while the real right-wing nuts get to "look out for you" and scream "no new taxes!"
end if;

Stirling Newberry's thesis presents the claim that "Are you a progressive? Then Peak Oil is Not your friend". Policy direction keyed on that premise raises several logical outcomes, including the possibility of a regressive tax on gas as the Altercation letter writer anticipates.

Perhaps we can try making friends with Global Warming?


Professor Anonymous Anonymous said...

People don't usually think about it this way, but the increase in FICA taxes in 1983 was, in effect, a consumption tax, since it fell heavily on those with a high marginal propensity to consume. It was balanced with 401k plans in order to give a marginal incentive to save. Of course, this helped people in the middle class more than the working class.

Consumption taxes are already being kicked around, the question is merely, which ones. Right now the Republicans are looking at a "blue zone tax" in order to keep their gas guzzling base happy.

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Yes, social security and medicare are regressive taxes. Maybe they can/will call a gasoline tax an energy security tax?

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