Monday, May 24, 2004

New Sexy Gas Tax 

You can argue there were or weren't WMDs in Iraq. You can question whether Saddam was behind 9/11. You can even argue the US is there to free the Iraqis from a cruel master. True, Saddam was horrible. But North Korea and Burma have leaders that are equally despotic. Horrors that equal those in Iraq are happening today in Africa. And China continues to limit freedoms, yet we are not there to free those people or protect them from their own governments. As I have said all of the above may be argued.But you cannot question the strategic importance that Iraq plays in the world oil market.

Iraq was a threat to our rich and non-democratic Saudi friends. Iraq has important oil reserves that were probably not going to be shared with the US and Britain, at least while under Saddam. Iraq sits in the middle of the whole of the middle east, lending the country its importance in oil production and transport.

So when we get a president and a vice president that are so tied up with the world oil industry, we get leadership that has at its top priority protecting our oil supply. Whatever that takes. Bush/Cheney know how much we are currently dependant on oil. A loss of supply will cause 'stagflation'. Job loss, loss of income, loss of cred worldwide.

Bush/Cheney, good Republicans, have an ideology that limits their options. They do not believe in policy or laws that control the demand side of the market. Consumers make choices. Buy this or buy that. The government should not be involved with consumers buying decisions. The only thing Bush/Cheney can do is to guarantee that the oil keeps coming either from new sources or by protecting our current ones. So here we are in Iraq, just as we have been in the past with the Saudis. Or Texas(laugh laugh).

Actually what I said above isn't completely true about Republicans. Republicans will limit or tax consumers when morality or health is involved. Drugs, pornography or liquor
all involve moral questions. Should they be sold. Should we not ban or tax them. We limit these items because that is morally right and its good for our country.

Our gross use of petroleum is immoral, so why are we not trying to limit our dependance on it. Our abuse of oil leads to health problems of our people and our land. We are willing to spill oil on our coasts and tear up land to find oil. Hooked on oil, our country must get in bed with corrupt governments. Such an addiction requires us to do backbends on our beliefs in democracy. As long as the oil flows, dictators have a free reign. Our soldiers must be put in harms way to protect our mainline.

There is a simple way to wean us from this addiction. A gas tax. Both Dick Cheney and John Kerry have supported the idea in the past. A variety of both conservatives and liberals suggested it. Charge a higher tax on gas, and consumers will find ways to reduce their use. We can even limit the impact this tax has on the economy by lowering other taxes as we raise the gas tax. The president is in the best seat to make this decision. During both recent wars, he has not asked our citizens to do without anything. Now Bush has the chance to show the world we are willing to make real changes, to make our country stronger, and cut our dependence on OPEC.

Below I stole a paragraph from a recent Economist editorial.

"When the price (of oil) does next subside, and the opportunity again arises to use taxes to weaken OPEC by discouraging western consumption of oil, America's government, especially, might bear this in mind. The Economist, May 20th 2004
From The Economist print edition

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