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Kick the Big Wheels

An editorial rant against U.S. gas-guzzling policies

Californians are angry about high gas prices tossed our way by the oil companies. So, what do our wise leaders propose? Mr. Bob Dole, you first. What, sir? You say you want to repeal what you call "President Clinton's" federal gas tax? And what about you state legislators? Ahh. You want to repeal state gas taxes. One last question, sirs. When do you politicians plan to start making wise decisions rather than politically expedient ones? Yeah, you know ...lead. Isn't that what leaders are supposed to do?

Gasoline taxes in this country don't come anywhere near covering the cost of driving. People seldom consider the enormous public cost of building and maintaining roadway infrastructure, of traffic-related law enforcement and court costs, energy subsidies, public health expenses, and traffic-related losses in productivity.

By all means, politicians should be raking the oil companies over the coals for price gouging, but repealing the gas taxes is a reactionary, short-sighted solution to public discontentment over high gas prices.

If our leaders had any foresight, they'd raise the gas tax tenfold. It would be a burden at first, but people would adjust their driving behavior accordingly, and might just find that it yields pleasant social and economic results.

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From the May 2-8, 1996 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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