Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Gas prices: Response to a chain letter

I received a chain letter from a good friend that made two not-so-good suggestions:
1) Mail a copy of this letter to 10 friends, and
2) Bring gas prices down by boycotting EXXON and MOBIL for the rest of the year.
Here's the idea: For the rest of this year, DON'T purchase ANY gasoline from the two biggest companies (which now are one), EXXON and MOBIL. If they are not selling any gas, they will be inclined to reduce their prices. If they reduce their prices, the other companies will have to follow suit. But to have an impact, we need to reach literally millions of Exxon and Mobil gas buyers.
My response:
I've generally stopped responding to chain letters of any sort, but this one actually needs a response.

Yes, gas at $3.00/gallon is ridiculous. In Europe, you'd pay about double that. If you adjust for inflation, $3.00 is actually less than we were paying for gas 30 years ago.

What is needed--for all kinds of reasons, including global warming and the fact that we are within about a generation of using all the oil that can profitably be extracted and sold at $10/gallon--is to STOP USING SO MUCH GAS.

We can do it the same way most of the rest of the world does: Raise the gasoline tax. (I'm actually old enough to remember buying gas when more than half of what I paid went to Federal and California taxes; they just haven't kept pace with inflation.) If the tax were, say, $3.00/gallon, or 100% of the sales price, or some such, people actually would stop using so much of it soon enough to do some good--by insisting on more fuel-efficient cars, by driving less, by carpooling, by taking public transit, etc. And it would shave a noticeable bit off the national deficit at the same time.
It wouldn't hurt to tax the excess profits of the oil companies, either.

There are people who don't care what kind of world or national deficit their grandkids inherit. I don't have any grandkids, but I care about yours.

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