If you really want to live life with your glass half empty, then your are correct that everything is a tax in essence. Still, from a negative perspective, if one person gets a rebate by buying new car with high MPG, and another pays more gas tax because he chooses to continue to drive a 2002 Hummer, then that works. It is shiftling the money around according to your choice to conitnue the problem or contribute to improvement, even though the total cost will be the same.
There will always be some method of raising funds for the government. The cop gives out traffic tickets to pay for his job. The US International Trade Commission collects tariffs on imports. The IRS collects income tax with the largest portion going to US Defense. There is no free lunch. All services are paid for at some point. To me, user taxes make the most sense. What I really get mad about, is money that was taken for one purpose, and is spent on something completly unrelated.
I am not afraid or unwilling to pay taxes. I am afraid of my taxes being hijacked. Taxes, and rebates, need to have a well defined purpose to which they are solely dedicated. That is how to use the carrot and the stick.
The 54.5 mpg average pertains to cars and light trucks, Rob. But the rules call for cars to get 5% better each year, whereas trucks only need to go up 3.5% per year. The bottom line, though, is that automakers must have an across-the-board average (light trucks included) of 54.5 mpg by 2025.
Carrots and sticks...interesting analogy. Problem is, if the government starts handing out carrots to entice behavior, where do the carrots come from? Yep, it comes from where all government money comes from....taxes. It sounds better to use a carrot, but in effect it is the same, financially speaking, as the stick. And the stick has the advantage of being weilded directly on those whose behavior they want to change, where the carrot is often subsidized by those whose behavior has nothing to do with the issue at hand.
All policy is meant to define "correct" behavior or to alter "incorrect" behavior. To drive the point home you can either use the carrot or the stick. A tax is the stick. A rebate or tax deduction could be used as the carrot.
Isn't it too bad we get whipped with more stick and rarely get more carrots.
To David Worsey on the emissions issue read up on "The Gasoline Diesel" in Mechanical Engineering magazine this month. This new technology decreases NOx emissions because it lowers combustion temp. I guess that is why they call it Low Temperature Combustion.
If impact safety is the number one consideration and we can't get around it by better sensor technology, autopilot, impact adsorbing frames, elimination of alcohol and cell phones drivers (and passengers), and well, the list is long. The alternative would be a weight race where people would get heavier and heavier vehicles. The model progression might go like this: sport, coup, sedan, wagon, SUV, H2, RV, Monster Truck, BUS, 10 wheel dump truck, 18 wheeler timber hauling truck. Clearly an 18 wheeler timber hauling truck, loaded or not, will make a sports car dissapear in a collision with little damage to the truck. Clearly this race has limits such as garage space, ease of parking, manuverability, cost, appearance, and looking like a jerk. In my neighbor a man bought a H2 and became a jerk in the eyes of everyone in the neighborhood including his wife.
OMG...!!!! You people just do not get it!! Why pussy-foot around; just tax gasloine to $10/gal. RIGHT NOW!..... Thinkl of all the money the government will reap... oh wait.... no one except the super rich will be able to even afford to drive at all... so, guess what?...revenues plummet. What's left of this economy will crash and burn, guaranteed.
I do not accept the premise that tax policy should be used to alter behavior (however, I know that IS exactly what it is constantly used for...). This is not economics at work, it is government coersion. It is sad and maddening to see so many seemingly intellegent people in this forum, are so willing to succumb to this, and think this is such a wonderful idea.
Oh, and one last thing...... CO2 IS PLANT FOOD! 54.5 mpg will not save the planet, anymore than 25 mpg will kill us all. Another premise that needs some serious and HONEST reexamination....
Herr Feierbach: You do understand this fiat is for an AVERAGE of 54.5 MPG, ja? That means there will have to be significant numbers vehicles with MPG much higher than 54.5 so we can still have vehicles to do useful things than simply transport one or two people from point A to point B? By the way, I regularly drive a vehicle that gets 65 MPG. I also have some vehicles that get mileage in the low teens around town. Different vehicles for different reasons. I don't use my Suburban or F-150 to commute to work for obvious reasons. What ticks me off is some politician who will effectively restrict my choices in vehicles due to an arbitrary mark on the wall. Our country was founded on the concept of liberty. When someone tries to erode our liberties, I will do everything I can to help preserve them.
Herr Feierbach: I defer to your almighty qualifications. My goodness I didn't realize how wrong I could be. I guess the Second Law of Thermodynamics plays no part in the Carnot cycle. And who would have thought the Law of Conservation of Energy could possibly play a role? I will just sit down and shut up and let legions of bureaucrats run roughshod over the Constitution and the citizens of this country. How dare us exercise our First Amendment rights?
"Adding taxes to the cost of gasoline is probably the best way to increase MPG."
It's the only way. Otherwise, everyone will simply drive something that's exempt, or hang on to their old gas guzzlers. If not forced by economics, the American public will NOT voluntarily give up their gas guzzling land yachts. They didn't do so in the 70's, and they won't do it now.
I know another way. Mandate a limit for mpg on the highway. Gas guzzlers will have to cruise the interstate at 45 mph to meet the mandate, and small, fuel efficient cars and motorcycles will be allowed to travel 80 mph. Appeal to people's sense of urgency in having to get there NOW. Of course, enforcing this would be impossible, but it's an interesting concept.
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