I read an editorial the other day about the government raising the price of gas to 4 dollars a gallon. I would link to it but I can not find it again. The article was pure brilliance and put into words many thoughts I have had over recent years.
Right after Katrina and then again during late last summer gas prices were at all time highs. So much so that the price of gas was actually beginning to have an impact on the way people lived their lives. I remember hearing people around me say, “I would really like to go to the mall, downtown, for a drive, but I have to think about gas.” And things such as mass transportation became an option for many. I was stunned by this because it was one of the first time I remember things that only appeared on the TV screen (mid-east turmoil, Katrina) was having a profound impact on all of us in our daily lives. Gas even became so pricey that Crystal and I thought twice about the road trip we took last summer up to Seattle and down the coast. Gas prices even for a Honda Civic in San Fran and on the west coast averaged about 3.48$ a gallon.
Around this time also car makers completely retooled their advertising campaigns to tout the fuel efficiency of the cars. I remember that SUV’s were glutted on the car lots, and Trucks were about as popular as terrorists (except in the south, were it does not matter if gas reaches 23$ a gallon they are going to drive trucks). Part of me was truly excited about all of this. I was a bit ahead of the curve as both of our cars are decent with the gas consumption. I saw new potential for the enviorment, mid-east relations, and transportation habits. People began to list MPG as top three in the car purchase considerations. I thought for a moment that we might have reach the fuel price threshold for much of America, and we could finally be turning a corner. I know it would have been painful, but as Driscoll recently said, pain and progress are usually intertwined. We would have had to break bad habits, change our consumption mentalities, and not drive around in vehicles that could also double as military tools. But in the long run we would have all been better off.
But things have calmed down since then. Gas dropped in price. We had mild winters across the nation. and gas was back down around 2$ a gallon. MPG was thrown out the window and horsepower and mini tanks were back in fashion.
So that brings me to the point of the article I read; lets raise the price of gas to 4$ a gallon. Think about it before you dismiss it as being a horrible idea. Sure it would hurt in the short term, but it would put the responsibility for taking care of this problem off of just car makers and telling them they must find alternative clean fuels, without affecting the standards and consumption habits Americans have grown accustom to. If gas is around 2.50$ a gallon and we add another 1.50$ on it we could use this tax to pay off national debt, invest in research for alternative fuels, or environmental restoration programs. The biggest impact though would come in people changing. Changing the way they drive and waste so much of a finite resource, that comes at a greater cost politically, and environmentally than most of us ever realize. Mass transportation might also receive some serious funding and not just be paid empty lip service. Oil is a serious issue, and serious problem that should not just be placed on the backs of car makers, but should be something all of us role up our sleeves and help contribute to the solution. If anyone thinks this idea is crazy just has to look at Europe and see that it is actually much more effective, and realistic than we could ever imagine, those guys pay over 5$ a gallon for gas. So this might suck but I think the alternative sucks even more.