You see, I become overjoyed whenever I see those little numbers representing gas prices on station signs go up-up-up. Each day I give little pep talks from my car, Dont stop now, Speedway old buddy, way up there. You can do it, Shell, charge me more. Come on Marathon - higher, higher.
Significant long-term jumps in prices cause most Americans to get serious about energy conservation, whether we want to or not. I do realize increased gas prices have resulted in financial hardships for many families and businesses of late. Believe me, I have not been spared, but overall it is worth the short-term pain.
If for no other reason, you should join me in clamoring for higher prices because reduced fuel usage means less dependence on foreign oil imports. The U.S. now purchases 63% of our oil from foreign countries (and rising). None of us relishes being held hostage by Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, who believe they can wreck our economy instantly by temporarily shutting off their oil spigots. And you think prices are high now?
Venezuelas leader Hugo Chavez may hate President Bush but Saudi Arabia would never pull the plug on us, you say? Dont forget that our Saudi friends use oil revenues to fund Madrasah Islamic schools that teach hatred for the West. Also, I dont need to remind you that 15 of the 19 September 11th hijackers were from Saudi Arabia (none were from Iraq). Whose oil money do you think continues to indirectly fund Middle East terrorist plots against the U.S.?
We should also celebrate our journey to $5 per gallon gas and higher because Americans tend to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles when these prices are high. In recent years, even I have begun to see the light and sold my beloved SUV. Still, the replacement Subaru only gets 27 mpg - at best. My next vehicle purchased should be a retooled GM or Ford product that burns only half as much fuel. Are you listening Detroit?
So much for progress; the typical car in the U.S. now gets around 25 mpg compared to 26 mpg for the average auto 20 years ago. Since it is estimated that an average of 45 mpg would allow the U.S. to completely eliminate our dependence on foreign oil, the importance of dramatically improved fuel efficiency in the near future is obvious.
Additionally, high gas prices encourage people to use their vehicles less. A reduced amount of vehicles on the road result in less traffic jams, fewer accidents, and lower air pollution. Will you now join me in praying for higher prices at the pump?
Award-winning author Thomas Friedman has a plan that adds an additional gasoline tax of 50 cents per gallon to ensure that prices do not go back down. His reasoning is that Americans will break their oil addiction and businesses will produce more environmentally friendly products if they believe energy prices will not fall over the long haul. The additional tax revenue would then be used for such things as paying down the federal deficit and the development of renewable energy.
In 1980 President Carter put solar panels on the White House and proposed a 60-cent a gallon gasoline tax. He was, of course, defeated in the 1980 presidential race. During the 1990s President Clinton suggested a tax to promote fuel-efficient cars and general energy conservation. As usual, Congress snickered as it instantly dismissed any notion of higher taxes.
I dont hear anyone laughing now. The only guarantee is that the next President and V-P will not be former oil executives. But will any Presidential candidate be brave enough to advocate an increased gasoline tax?
None of the major candidates have seriously discussed the topic of oil independence and conservation to date. Many of the Republicans have yet to discovery we have an energy problem. The Democrats dont have enough backbone to bring up taxes (s-h-h-h-h, dont say that word) in the middle of a Presidential campaign.
The only viable candidate (and he is not running at the moment) pushing for a new gasoline tax is Al Gore. His idea is to tax pollution, not payroll. In Gores plan, the additional tax revenue from gasoline would replace payroll taxes that all employees pay to Uncle Sam.
Does it add-up to pay more at the pump to ensure a bigger paycheck (less withholding) and increased energy conservation? Yes and it makes sense to vote for Al Gore in 2008 or any Republican or Democratic Presidential candidate who favors a policy embracing higher gasoline prices.