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Why Drivers Need Gas Taxes

If you want to keep driving your car, and you would like the roads to be passable, it is in your best interest to support a gas tax. It is not easy to find a way to fund road maintenance and building. Those who purchase gas are those who use the roads. The use is proportional: more gas-->more road use. It doesn't get any more fair than that. But people seem to think that the job of government is to give them something for all the taxes they have paid in the past. Sorry, bad news: those monies are long gone. The government is in a hole. If we don't give local governments some reliable way to pay for infrastructure, there won't be any.

In Madras, smalltown Oregon, the transportation budget has been supported up to now by hefty fees that were charged of developers, to be paid before construction began. Now the town is implementing a 1 cent gas tax, to be increased to 3 cents at a rate of 1 cent/year. The people are upset that the burden is being lifted from developers, and placed on their shoulders. What they don't seem to realize is that the developers aren't going to be building so much new stuff anymore. With people out of work and relearning frugality, developers will be shutting down operations and going to retire in the tropics. There won't be commercial projects to support big roads and fancy intersections. If we want to be able to get around on our roads, we are going to have to maintain them more at the local level.

The nice thing about a gas tax is that it is guaranteed to provide reasonable income for some time to come. The price of gas will generally trend upward as supplies wane. People will gradually reduce their automobile use, but it is not going to happen overnight. The ones who can afford to keep driving can also afford to pay the tax. Some people will have to give up driving. They aren't going to like it. But they are going to have no choice. And it won't be a measly 3 cent tax that pushes them over the edge. There are lots of other factors.

I personally would love to live in a post-personal-automobile world. I don't know if I will live long enough to see the day, but I would love to. I am hoping to find a home where corporations don't have a stranglehold on the economy, because as fuel gets more expensive and people get more poor, they are going to back out, leaving eyesores and wastelands where once consumers rampaged for cheap plastic shit.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 12th, 2009 06:56 pm (UTC)
What would you think of privately funded roads? There would be some kind of toll system instead of government-imposed taxes.
Aug. 12th, 2009 07:26 pm (UTC)
Toll roads are a fine solution for maintaining longer stretches of highway and bridges. It's just impossible to charge tolls for residential and city roads, and they need maintenance too.
Aug. 12th, 2009 08:06 pm (UTC)
Hey! That's the hole the taxes fell down! Right there!

A lot of Europeans don't drive. At all. We're going to have a heck of a rural transportation issue in the U.S. 10-20 miles on foot is a long way, not a commute.
Aug. 12th, 2009 08:14 pm (UTC)
Yeah, we can only hope that the bus system expands at the same rate that people loose their privately owned transportation....but probably folks are going to be stuck where they are a lot more than they are used to....
Aug. 12th, 2009 09:34 pm (UTC)
I don't think you'll see it in this country in your lifetime, but it might happen in some European countries.

Don't we already pay hefty taxes on gas? Where does that money go? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_tax#United_States
Aug. 12th, 2009 09:58 pm (UTC)
I have no idea where the Federal gas tax moneys go. I find it sort of morbidly amusing that all these people are making big noise about not wanting healthcare taxes to support abortion, yet every day they pay taxes that supports us stealth bombing babies and weddings wherever we please.

I just heard that the feds have been sending a higher proportion of the tax back to local governments for infrastructure maintenance, which is a good thing. The local taxes are all different, depending on the local law.

I'm going to go check out your link now. =-]
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )



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