20080430

shame, shame, i know your name: another diatribe.

thank the lord! thomas l. friedman of the new york times is back. though, his recent column, dumb as we wanna be, made me want to weep for the future of america and hide for shame at the 'example' america is setting for the rest of the world. (ha. example.)

it is nothing less than shameful for mrs. clinton (and mr. mccain) to sponsor a 'gas holiday' this summer to 'ease the pressure' on people when that same gas holiday will come back to bite the american people in the ass in the very near future. the money that should have been collected with the gas tax - $0.184 per gallon - could go to research to help find a reasonable and realistic fuel source to help ease our addiction to fossil fuels. instead, as mr. friedman states, 

This is not an energy policy. This is money laundering: we borrow money from China and ship it to Saudi Arabia and take a little cut for ourselves as it goes through our gas tanks. What a way to build our country.

i grew up in saudi arabia... so i have nothing against the country. ... however, i would like for more american money to stay at home... to start helping the american people. and, i am shockingly angry at the fact that our lawmakers - the people who should have the interest of the People in mind - are more worried about lining their pockets with Big Oil money than focusing on bolstering the american economy with a home-based fuel source. i am shockingly angry at the fact that congress and our ever-so-beloved president - again with the People - have decided to discontinue wind- and solar energy credits because they couldn't grow up and use their words like grown-ups to solve their argument. gas credits stay, eco credits go. are you people serious? for shame. really... shame on the government.

i understand the pain at the pumps... living in europe has made me appreciate how cheap gas is in the u.s. (gasp. did she just say 'cheap'?! yes, my friend, she did!) ... but i have also adapted: i walk almost everywhere (added bonus - i am losing weight and getting more fit), and if the distance is too great or i am in a rush, i take a train (granted, i live in a city that actually has a functioning public transportation system, so i can actually take advantage of this... if only more american cities could actually provide adequate public transportation). most of the people here have also adapted to high gas prices in their choice of vehicles - most are compact and highly-gas-efficient. 

when i came back to the states for christmas, i was dismayed to realize that a ridiculously high percentage of vehicles i saw were large SUVs. my boyfriend (he is german and was on his first visit to the u.s.) was utterly shocked. not only were most of the cars SUVs, but a significant number of them were on gigantic tires with ridiculously large engines. no wonder, really, that so many people find themselves emptying their wallets to pay for gas. i was no exception: i drove a jeep wrangler - possibly one of the most gas-thirsty vehicles i can think of, but i also didn't drive it very much. frankly, even when gas was half the price it is now, it was too expensive to drive it much (in 2006, it cost me an average of $40 to fill my tank... which lasted a whopping 220-250 miles).

but i digress...

the point is that the gas tax should remain. the big catch is that it should be put towards research towards alternative fuels that will really help the american people in the future. a three month tax 'holiday' is not going to help... it may end up saving people enough to buy an extra tank of gas or so, but that doesn't help the fact that gas is going to keep getting more expensive... it doesn't help the fact that the american economy is going to keep getting worse until such time as we can stop putting ourselves in debt to other countries and start focusing on improving the situation at home.

i am living in europe because i can make more money here... even when i am paying over 40% of my income in taxes every month - scary but true. my family, however, is still in the states... and like most families, we are being hit hard by the rising prices and faltering economy. the solution to those major problems is not a gas tax holiday, but more investment in american technologies to solve our problems.... more investment in research... more focus on ecological technologies. i know, i know, everything is going green, blah blah blah, right? - but when studies have proven that 'going green' can help the planet and your bank account, where can you go wrong?

america needs to start being the change... and stop just preaching about it to everyone else.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Right( and Write) On!!!!

Brad P said...

Hey Natalie - I agree with you. The gas tax in itself is not a bad idea. In fact, I believe most of it goes to support highway infrastructure (still an important part of the national economy...goods need to get from one place to another). However, the idea of a gas tax holiday is INCREDIBLY stupid. It's primary fault is that if the supply of a good is unresponsive to the price, the price to consumers will always rise until the demand falls to match the supply. Cut taxes, and all that happens is that the pretax price rises by the same amount. So all you end up doing is putting the difference into the pockets of oil companies.
Maybe the government could subsidize the gas tax for low income families and individuals, as a much higher percentage of their income is used on gas (maybe some kind of gas charge card?). An increase in the fuel tax on businesses and other individuals could help to offset these losses, maybe even prove profitable. That way some of the tax revenue could be used to support alternative fuel research as you suggested. It's way to complicated for me to figure out in half an hour...

natalie blair said...

i think that subsidizing gas for low income families is a wonderful idea and should be acted upon. at the end of the day though, the entire thing is an incredibly complicated situation, or combination of situations as it were. i don't think anyone - even someone as brilliant as you, brad - could possibly figure this out right away. however, it IS something that our lovely experts and analysts should be talking about a little more and a little louder. ...

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