Gas

“Solutions” to our nation’s current economic woes are in no short supply.  Just the other day, Wired blog released a story in support of a raise in the Gas Tax.

Generally, I’m all for the “green” solution, saving the environment, and so on.  But, this I just can’t agree with.  The author contends that we raise our currently 18.4 cent tax per gallon of gasoline to somewhere in the range of the $3.82 that the Europeans pay per gallon.

So, lets say at Colorado’s current average price of $1.60 per gallon, $3.64 on top of that ($3.82 minus the 18.4 cents already in place) would be $5.24 per gallon.  $5 and a quarter friggin dollars per gallon!!!  A 10 gallon tank alone would cost $52.40 per fill-up!

The author contends that “we’ve already demonstrated we can live with $4 gasoline.”  Have we?  Think about what happened when gas hit that high.  People stayed home from vacations, tending towards a stupid, stress-inducing idea called a “stay-cation”.  Police officers were forced to WALK in the city of Parker – a city built around a highway.  Are you kidding me?  We can live with that?  Can we live in a world without ambulances, fire trucks, fast-action police cars, airplanes, Army tanks and… oh, yeah, Commercial Freight – which gets us food every day?

Look, I want as much as the next guy to live as a 100% fully sustainable human being – that is, I grow my own food or trade for it based on my skills with local merchants.  I think it’d be great if we used SUVs only when we really needed ‘em, drove Prius’s and practiced responsible energy consumption.  I am all in favor of a new national energy darling that doesn’t consist of the three letter word we’ve all come to know and loathe.

We’re not there yet.

We’ve allowed greedy oil tycoons, corporate interests, and personal greed and hubris to get in the way of national progress.  We really should have an alternative to oil by now.  It’s dirty, most people hate changing the oil in their car, they hate even more going to fuel up, they hate how many other people are on the roads and how they drive…

We don’t have the infrastructure in place to help ourselves forward.  We’re stuck in the oil rut… and until we can come up with a way to mass-introduce the Electric Car or to somehow increase public transportation or live more locally, there’s no way in hell a massive jump in the gasoline tax is going to compel the American public to get there.  We don’t work like that.  Sure, we have the occasional jaunt to the moon and other things, not because they’re easy but because they’re hard.  These days, though, we’re a bunch of lazy bastards.

Right?

We certainly can’t change where we’re going without knowing where we’ve been.  As a temporary boon to the economy, it might be a little wise to raise the gas tax by a few pennies.  Certainly not all at once to coerce us to change.  Maybe first we ought to look at why Congress is allowing “buyouts” for companies rather than demanding a fair share of preferred stock.  Maybe we ought to look at why the auto industry isn’t getting their “bailout” even when they’re offering up preferred stock and a return on investment.  Could it be that years and years of stagnant R&D in the area of fuel technology has finally caught up with them?  Maybe so.

One thing is for certain, the problem is rapidly becoming a multi-generational one… and we’d better put on our best thinking caps for what’s coming around the corner.  Let’s have the cojones to stand up to these challenges, build our infrastructure, and tackle these challenges – not because they’re easy, but because they’re the hardest we’ve ever faced.

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