More on gas taxes

Posted October 19th, 2006 by Sylvia S Tognetti and filed in Scenarios of the future

The Washington Post has a good article that raises many of the issues discussed in my earlier post about gas carbon taxes, and provides more historical context. Maybe we shouldn’t even call it a tax. Maybe if we reframe this and called it a payment for ecosystem services? I’ll elaborate that later. but it might even get some political support if assurances could be provided that
it would be spent effectively to provide such services and not be regarded as a discretionary slush fund. Like the real estate transfer tax here in Maryland that is suppose to fund open space…. but which Governor Ehrlich has regularly diverted since he has been office. I don’t know how he got elected but we have another election coming up, and given that I have a blog called The Post-Normal Times, stay tuned for endorsements of candidates who get it about environmental science and policy issues.

Update: Greg Mankiw published a full Pigou Club Manifesto as an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, which outlines all the reasons policy wonks keep pushing for a gas tax increase, in spite of campaign consultants who tend to steer clear of such proposals. It is good for creating incentives to reduce consumption, carbon dioxide emissions, and road congestion, and places some of the burden on oil companies who
would [maybe] reduce prices as consumption goes down. He also argues that consumption taxes are better for economic growth than income taxes because the latter discourage saving and investment, and therefore encourage R&D for gasoline substitutes. And, last but not least, it is a national security issue. To which I would add, that if we all knew what we would get in return, there might even be greater willingness-to-pay a higher gas tax. It would be a small price to pay for a dedicated fund for mass transit
that would reduce the need to drive. Like in Europe, where fuel taxes are used to fund an excellent public transportation system.

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