Tax gas to reflect its true cost – now and in the future
Regarding the Feb. 23 Opinion piece, "Raise the price of gas to $4 – before the next oil crunch": The premise of this commentary is that we should raise taxes on gasoline consumption to wean ourselves from our dependence on a limited and largely imported fuel source.
I agree with raising gasoline taxes, but completely disagree with the proposed implementation. A price floor on gasoline only serves to encourage profit taking in the supply chain. The federal government may well see no additional revenue.
The correct way to implement a gas tax is the way it is implemented currently: a fixed tax per gallon. However, this tax should reflect the true cost of gasoline. This includes the construction and maintenance of all roads, highways, bridges, and tunnels. It also includes transportation-related police patrols and emergency services. Finally, it should include the long-term cost of consuming each gallon of oil today. That is, the taxes we pay on consuming gasoline today should pay for a smooth transition to the next energy source.
Today, the meager gasoline tax does not come close to the true cost of gasoline consumption. The primary benefit of this is to increase the expectation of short-term economic gains as a country at the expense of a long-term continuity. It's not unlike how we got into the current financial crisis.
The problem of swaying a short-term focused marketplace toward long-term goals is a hard one, but imposing a price floor on gasoline is definitely the wrong way to go.
Bush should be investigated
In regard to the Feb. 20 Opinion piece, "We need a truth commission to uncover Bush-era wrongdoing": Author James Cavallaro's commentary deserves our thoughtful attention. He gives compelling reasons why Sen. Patrick Leahy's proposal for an investigation of the excesses of the Bush administration should be implemented.
Our claim to be a moral and law-abiding nation has been severely compromised by those who approved torture, "extreme renditions," invading the privacy of US citizens, and other illegal acts. Those responsible for these outrages should be held accountable.
Sen. Arlen Specter's dismissal of this idea is misguided. Senator Leahy's intended investigation is not directed toward "every prior administration," but toward the egregious malfeasance of the Bush administration. The excesses of Watergate in the Nixon administration were thoroughly investigated and those culpable, including Nixon, were held accountable and punished.
Mercer Island, Wash.
Blame won't fix the economy
In regard to the Feb. 18 Opinion piece, "Obama inherited a fiscal disaster. Now what?": This commentary, written by Democratic Congressman Jim Cooper, seems to be a little one-sided, blaming the Bush administration for our present fiscal problems. It must be noted that Congress is constitutionally responsible for all budget authorizations, balanced or otherwise. It must also be noted that David Walker, former comptroller general of the Government Accountability Office, quit his job during the Bush years because no one in Congress would listen to him regarding our national debt and unfunded liability problems.
There's plenty of blame to go around. It's time to set aside partisan politics and get on with the enormous task of eliminating our debt and fully funding our liabilities. In the process we must acknowledge and accommodate honest differences of opinion. Let's all be heard.
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