Thursday, May 17, 2007

Disagreeing with South Dakota Politics

I like South Dakota Politics, a lot, but after checking the blog on my reader I find two posts to especially disagree with.

  1. SDP criticizes liberals for backing higher gas prices

    But as I wrote:

    It makes no sense to import vast amounts of oil from unstable petrokleptocracies. Oil revenues allow corrupt elites to avoid real reform and buy-off (often dangerous) special interests. It diverts capital from New Core growth economies to these backwords pits. It helps funds Islamic terrorism. It exposes us to another oil shock.


    and also...


  2. SDP says that Congress is less popular than the President

    But as I wrote:

    The reason: the American people are opposed to Congress as an institution, but are not so opposed to the President. Political science research (see, for instance, Congress as Public Enemy or Stealth Democracy) shows that Americans are opposed to the idea of a body that is dedicated to political compromise making decisions for us. We would rather our government be in the hands of experts, or people who are able to ignore politics and get things done.


Increase gas prices. Ignore Congress's job approval.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Bush's Anti-Geogreen Gas Tax

"Dumb as We Wanna Be," by Thomas Friedman, New York Times, 20 September 2006, A27.

I've written before on the need for a geogreen gas tax. Raising the effective cost of petroleum to something like five-dollars-per-galloon. A geogreen gas tax supports freedom and frees us from propping up Middle East tyrants.

Stupidly, very stupidly, America taxes foreign sugar-ethanol. This hurts our New Core allies, props up Saudi terror-financiers, and takes in exactly the wrong direction.

Tom Friedman writes:

Thanks to pressure from Midwest farmers and agribusinesses, who want to protect the U.S. corn ethanol industry from competition from Brazilian sugar ethanol, we have imposed a stiff tariff to keep it out. We do this even though Brazilian sugar ethanol provides eight times the energy of the fossil fuel used to make it, while American corn ethanol provides only 1.3 times the energy of the fossil fuel used to make it. We do this even though sugar ethanol reduces greenhouse gases more than corn ethanol. And we do this even though sugar cane ethanol can easily be grown in poor tropical countries in Africa or the Caribbean, and could actually help alleviate their poverty.

Yes, you read all this right. We tax imported sugar ethanol, which could finance our poor friends, but we don't tax imported crude oil, which definitely finances our rich enemies. We'd rather power anti-Americans with our energy purchases than promote anti-poverty.


Hopefully Bush will flip-flop on this soon. Otherwise, his second term will be as wasteful as the Republican House is harmful.

Friday, April 01, 2005

A Modest Geogreen Gas Tax Proposal ($5/gal gas)

We need a $3/gallon federal tax on gasoline. We can do it and make the tax a popular idea.

How? Give every citizen an equal check from the gas tax fund.

The average motorist uses 520 gallons of fuel per year. If we assume that in the first year the tax does not decrease the amount of fuel used (because people still have their old cars, etc), in the first year a $3/gallon tax collects $1560/motorist. Assume that there are 200 million motorists in America. This tax raises $312 billion in the first year. This money would then be redistributed to all Americans equally. Assuming 300 million Americans, this gives a rebate check of $1040/American.

This is a fair tax. The most serious criticism of a gas tax is that it is regressive. It hits those least able to pay -- the poor -- most. But a redistributed gas tax solves this problem. Further, most gas taxes hurt families because kids need to be driven places. In a redistributed gas tax, the larger the family the greater the rebate. A family of five, for instance, would have a gas tax rebate of $5,200/year.

The first years rebate checks could be given as the gas tax effect, so citizens feel the benefits of the tax immediately. It is a patriotic plan to prevent oil dictatorships from driving our policies, to save developing societies from the corruption of oil, and of course the air will be cleaner.

$3/gal gas tax now. The people will support it.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Why We Need a Consumption Tax

"News of the Day," Macroblog, 31 March 2005, http://macroblog.typepad.com/macroblog/2005/03/news_o_the_day.html (from The Glittering Eye).

Because this personal fiscal insanity has to stop

Personal spending rose 0.5 percent in February while incomes rose a less-than-expected 0.3 percent, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. The Labor Department said today the number of Americans seeking first-time jobless benefits jumped in the last weekly tally before tomorrow's monthly jobs report.


Again spending rose faster than savings. This is great for Keynesians, but in the real world this retards growth and weakens are international position. Americans are literally selling out the future at steep discounts. A consumption tax would punish spendin, not earnings and not savings, and give us a sustainable economy.

Likewise, isn't it great being a hostage to the Middle East?

Crude oil rose and gasoline and heating-oil surged to records on signs that U.S. refineries lack capacity to make enough fuel and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts predicted that oil could touch $105 a barrel.

....

"It's equally likely that oil will touch $105 or $15 a barrel,'' said Jason Schenker, an analyst with Wachovia Corp. in Charlotte. "It's not going to $105 without a major cataclysmic terrorist attack on significant oil infrastructure. It's not a rational expectation.''


A geogreen strategy would take pain today, in the form of consumption taxes on oil, to avoid this randomness tomorrow. Oil revenue makes bad regimes horrible and fair regimes crooked. The oil system is lose-lose.

So we have two bits of bad news. Why not combine them?

Record prices have failed to curtail surging fuel consumption, the Goldman Sachs analysts said in a research note. The firm's upper limit was $80 previously. U.S. supplies of gasoline and distillate fuels, such as diesel and heating oil, fell last week, according to an Energy Department report yesterday.


Great. We need a step enough oil tax to divert the excess revenue out of sheik's pockets. If it would go to the treasury, fine. If it would go to a special fund, fine. But we cannot keep this us.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Conservatives for the Gas Tax (Goldberg Now Geo-Green)

"A New Era for Oil," by Jonah Goldberg, The Corner, 30 March 2005, http://www.nationalreview.com/thecorner/05_03_27_corner-archive.asp#059495.

Jonah Goldberg joins the geogreen movement

Maybe it's the nitrogen bubbles in my brain or the afterglow of reading Bob Samuelson's column today, but I finally feel willing to float a trial balloon in the Corner which, I admit, has been launched more times than the Goodyear blimp: Increase gas/oil taxes.

Admittedly, current high oil prices have caused pain for some and are probably a drag on the economy in significant respects (the airline industry, for example), but the negative effects certainly don't track with the predictions of doom and gloom which typically accompany fuel tax proposals. Clinton's 4.3 cent a gallon tax elicited howls that the economy would go off the rails, for example. Well, now gas prices are much higher than they were in 1996, though still lower -- adjusted for inflation -- than they were in the early 80s. And, more to the point, the economy seems to have absorbed high gas prices better than most would have predicted.

Anyway, since it's impossible to deny that our dependence on Middle East oil -- or our dependence on foreigh oil, a lot of which comes from the Middle East -- skews our foreign policy in undesirable ways (and enriches folks we'd rather see make their money from ordinary development), it seems worth considering a tax system which weans us of oil as much as possible. Demand from China and India will be putting upward pressure on oil prices for decades to come. And since I'm increasingly sympathetic to consumption taxes in general, it seems to me a fuel tax is a good place to start.


Goldberg mostly repeats geo-green talking points, but I am glad to see Jonah give President Clinton the credit he deserves. America's economy is weaning itself off of foreign oil (as a percentage of GDP), but a higher gas tax would help that process along.