"The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."


Glenn Reynolds:

Barack Obama:
"Impossible to transcend."

Albert A. Gore, Jr.:
"An incontinent brute."

Rev. Jeremiah Wright:
"God damn the Gentleman Farmer."

Friends of GF's Sons:
"Is that really your dad?"

Kickball Girl:
"Keeping 'em alive until 7:45."

Hired Hand:
"I think . . . we forgot the pheasant."

I'm an
Alcoholic Yeti
in the
TTLB Ecosystem

Friday, June 06, 2008

Attention Idiots

Please leave. We'll wait a moment.

All right then. The rest of you, please don't omit Charles Krauthammer's column from your reading list today:
So now we know: The price point is $4.

At $3 a gallon, Americans just grin and bear it, suck it up and, while complaining profusely, keep driving like crazy. At $4, it is a world transformed. Americans become rational creatures. Mass transit ridership is at a 50-year high. Driving is down 4 percent. (Any U.S. decline is something close to a miracle.) Hybrids and compacts are flying off the lots. SUV sales are in free fall.


Some things, like renal physiology, are difficult. Some things, like Arab-Israeli peace, are impossible. And some things are preternaturally simple. You want more fuel-efficient cars? Don't regulate. Don't mandate. Don't scold. Don't appeal to the better angels of our nature. Do one thing: Hike the cost of gas until you find the price point.

Unfortunately, instead of hiking the price ourselves by means of a gasoline tax that could be instantly refunded to the American people in the form of lower payroll taxes, we let the Saudis, Venezuelans, Russians and Iranians do the taxing for us -- and pocket the money that the tax would have recycled back to the American worker.

This is insanity. For 25 years and with utter futility (starting with "The Oil-Bust Panic," the New Republic, February 1983), I have been advocating the cure: a U.S. energy tax as a way to curtail consumption and keep the money at home. On this page in May 2004 (and again in November 2005), I called for "the government -- through a tax -- to establish a new floor for gasoline," by fully taxing any drop in price below a certain benchmark. The point was to suppress demand and to keep the savings (from any subsequent world price drop) at home in the U.S. Treasury rather than going abroad. At the time, oil was $41 a barrel. It is now $123.

But instead of doing the obvious -- tax the damn thing -- we go through spasms of destructive alternatives, such as efficiency standards, ethanol mandates and now a crazy carbon cap-and-trade system the Senate is debating this week. These are infinitely complex mandates for inefficiency and invitations to corruption. But they have a singular virtue: They hide the cost to the American consumer.
Read the whole thing.

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Comments on "Attention Idiots"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:30 PM) : 

am i interpreting correctly that G&S is advocating for a tax increase? umm... well, i guess... huh?


Blogger Hired Hand said ... (1:18 PM) : 

Get this fruity Eurocentrism off my blog, now.


Blogger Gentleman Farmer said ... (1:33 PM) : 

Had either of you actually read Dr. K's column, you'd have seen that he continues to advocate a considerable gas tax (instead of considerably more expensive and complex and hopeless regulations), the proceeds from which would be used to reduce or eliminate payroll taxes -- the most regressive tax on the planet.

Net zero, plus reduced oil usage, plus incentives to develop alternative energy. Like nuclear.


Blogger Hired Hand said ... (6:46 PM) : 

OH! You mean like Tom Friedman has been saying for 5 years.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:56 PM) : 

Tom Friedman says most everything, so sooner or later something he says has to be a good idea.


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