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posted by martyb on Thursday November 13 2014, @10:45PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the pump-it-up dept.

Pat Garofalo writes in an op-ed in US News & World Report that with the recent drop in oil prices, there's something policymakers can do that will offset at least some of the negative effects of the currently low prices, while also removing a constant thorn in the side of American transportation and infrastructure policy: Raise the gas tax. The current 18.4 cent per gallon [federal] gas tax has not been raised since 1993, making it about 11 cents per gallon today, in constant dollars. Plus, as fuel efficiency has gotten better and Americans have started driving less, the tax has naturally raised less revenue anyway. And that's a problem because the tax fills the Highway Trust Fund, which is, not to put too fine a point on it, broke so that in recent years Congress has had to patch it time and time again to fill the gap. According to the Tax Policy Center's Howard Gleckman, if Congress doesn't make a move, "it will fumble one of those rare opportunities when the economic and policy stars align almost perfectly." The increase can be phased in slowly, a few cents per month, perhaps, so that the price of gas doesn't jump overnight. When prices eventually do creep back up thanks to economic factors, hopefully the tax will hardly be noticed.

Consumers are already starting to buy the sort of gas-guzzling vehicles, including Hummers, that had been going out of style as gas prices rose; that's bad for both the environment and consumers, because gas prices are inevitably going to increase again. According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, taxes last year, even before the current drop in prices, made up 12 percent of the cost of a gallon of gasoline, down from 28 percent in 2000. And compared to other developed countries, US gas taxes are pretty much a joke. While we're at it, an even better idea, as a recent report from the Urban Institute makes clear, would be indexing the gas tax to inflation (pdf), so this problem doesn't consistently arise. "The status quo simply isn't sustainable, from an infrastructure or environmental perspective," concludes Garofalo. "So raise the gas tax now; someday down the line, it will look like a brilliant move."

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  • (Score: 2) by hubie on Thursday November 13 2014, @10:48PM

    by hubie (1068) on Thursday November 13 2014, @10:48PM (#115688) Journal

    Unless you can cram something through during the last few weeks of the now Lame Duck Congressional session, raising the gas tax and having the Republicans in control of both Houses are not stars that are aligned.

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday November 14 2014, @02:49AM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 14 2014, @02:49AM (#115760) Journal
      I guess maybe they think this lameduck session is the last big chance for crazy legislation to get passed. But how are they planning to get it through the Republican-dominated House of Representatives? A miracle from Gaia?
      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @02:58AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @02:58AM (#115766)

        The biggest advocated for an increase in the federal gas tax is a republican - Bob Corker.
        He cosponsored the Murphy-Corker bill in the Senate this year.

        “In Washington, far too often, we huff and puff about paying for proposals that are unpopular, yet throw future generations under the bus when public pressure mounts on popular proposals that have broad support. If Americans feel that having modern roads and bridges is important then Congress should have the courage to pay for it.”
        -- Bob Corker

    • (Score: 1) by mcgrew on Friday November 14 2014, @01:12PM

      by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Friday November 14 2014, @01:12PM (#115882) Homepage Journal

      It isn't the Democrats calling for this, it's simply some wingnut journalist who seems to have forgotten what happened when gas shot from $1.05 in 2000 to $4.50 in 2007. The idiot is calling for another economic meltdown. Money I spend on gasoline is money I don't have to spend on something else.

      Having transportation costs more than quadruple in less than a decade really puts pressure on a family's budget. That $20 per week fill up becomes $95 per week, you might just lose your house; you have to get to work every day, after all.

      The idea that gasoline is too cheap is ludicrous. What other of life's necessities costs almost three times what it did in 2000?

      --
      Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @01:43PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @01:43PM (#115890)

        It isn't the Democrats calling for this, it's simply some wingnut journalist who seems to have forgotten what happened when gas shot from $1.05 in 2000 to $4.50 in 2007. The idiot is calling for another economic meltdown.

        Wait, are you trying to claim that the recession and financial crisis are actually due to US gas prices? Or that a $0.10 increase in gas tax would have the same effect as a $3.50 increase in material cost? I'm just not sure what point you're trying to make, and both of the obvious ones seem ridiculous.

      • (Score: 2) by jcross on Friday November 14 2014, @02:37PM

        by jcross (4009) on Friday November 14 2014, @02:37PM (#115910)

        You're going to need to pay to fix our deteriorating road infrastructure somehow. The question is whether you pay in proportion to your income or in proportion to the amount you drive. As a non-driver, I vote for the latter. ;)

        • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Saturday November 15 2014, @02:06PM

          by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Saturday November 15 2014, @02:06PM (#116191) Homepage Journal

          Just because you don't drive doesn't mean you don't use roads. Those taxis tear up pavement just as much as private autos, busses even more, and those big eighteen wheelers that deliver your food to the grocery and all the other goods to the other stores tear up the roads more than anything. There's FedEx and UPS...

          Really, you couldn't figure this out by yourself? Be glad we don't tax stupidity.

          --
          Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
          • (Score: 2) by jcross on Saturday November 15 2014, @06:30PM

            by jcross (4009) on Saturday November 15 2014, @06:30PM (#116230)

            I am in fact not too stupid to realize that. What I was getting at is the difference between a tax that's use-based and one that isn't. If the government is forced to pay for roads from income taxes, then I have no choice about how much road-use to support, but if the tax is based on fuel use (or in the future on ton-mileage or something), then the cost will be built into driving and all kinds of consumption that requires driving. Then I can choose to, for example, buy local produce or start a garden vs. having something shipped to me from California. I can and do choose to walk or bike rather than ride a bus or taxi. If enough people vote with their dollars that way, maybe it can have an impact on businesses, who might re-arrange their activities to be less road-intensive. My local economy can benefit by keeping more of my money circulating in it. I'm not saying that's the scenario everyone should use their dollars to vote for, it's just my vote, and I appreciate not being forced to subsidize activities I don't care for.

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 13 2014, @11:04PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 13 2014, @11:04PM (#115690)

    There is almost 90 million more cars on the roads paying that puny tax since the early ninety's.

    With an economy that is in constant risk of double-dip depression. You don't throw taxes at energy. The one input to every single thing in said economy.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 13 2014, @11:42PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 13 2014, @11:42PM (#115698)

      > There is almost 90 million more cars on the roads paying that puny tax since the early ninety's.

      Which are doing 90 million more cars' worth of wear-and-tear on the roads.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 13 2014, @11:46PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 13 2014, @11:46PM (#115699)

        >> There is almost 90 million more cars on the roads paying that puny tax since the early ninety's.

        > Which are doing 90 million more cars' worth of wear-and-tear on the roads.

        And paying for it in the tax that is already there. Those cars are not paying 0...

        That the tax has not kept up with inflation is a failure of 20 years of congress and the senate.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @12:13AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @12:13AM (#115711)

          > And paying for it in the tax that is already there.

          The tax has not kept up with inflation nor has it kept up with increase in engine efficiencies.

          Apparently you are also not someone of clue, what has soylent come to?

          • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @02:36AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @02:36AM (#115753)

            Apparently better than you... If you had kept reading...

          • (Score: 2) by hemocyanin on Friday November 14 2014, @02:42AM

            by hemocyanin (186) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 14 2014, @02:42AM (#115756) Journal

            Well which is, more cars, more guzzlers, or more efficiency? The FS and comments are all over the place. And lets not forget that states charge tax for roads too -- in my state that's 37.5 cents, which combined with the Fed tax is 56 cents/gallon. Then of course cities can add to that as well. That's about 1/7 the price per gallon, which seems like a pretty high tax to me (*).

            Then of course there is all the tax money that goes to fight wars about oil ...

            Tell you what, I'll happily pay a higher gas tax if the military budget gets slashed in half. Till then, fuck the tax increase.

            (*) Gas in my area is usually close to 50 cents more per gal than elsewhere (I live near the Canadian border and the cross border gas business is great ... if you are a Canadian ... because of the extra high tax in Canada), but that figure gets worse for people who live farther south because the gas tax is a flat rate per gallon, not a percentage.

            • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @02:53AM

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @02:53AM (#115761)

              > Well which is, more cars, more guzzlers, or more efficiency?

              Sorry, I can not parse your question, so I am going to say what should be obvious.

              More cars, less guzzlers and more efficiency. Gas used per vehicle mile travelled has significantly decreased and at the same time the tax has had an effective decrease of 40%.

              > states charge tax for roads too -- in my state that's 37.5 cents,

              This is about the federal excise tax and federal highway funds. What states do or don't do is irrelevant. Their tax revenues are not available to the federal highway fund.

              > Tell you what, I'll happily pay a higher gas tax if the military budget gets slashed in half. Till then, fuck the tax increase.

              Hell, lets pick any random thing we don't like the government doing and make that a precondition of maintaining our economic infrastructure. That's facts! That's logic!

            • (Score: 2) by Magic Oddball on Friday November 14 2014, @09:11AM

              by Magic Oddball (3847) on Friday November 14 2014, @09:11AM (#115831) Journal

              This exactly. I don't care what the rest of the country is paying — the same day that articles about sub-$3/gal gas came out, I had to pay $3.459/gal. I've ended up doing all of my grocery shopping at Safeway in large part because they have a rewards program where even modest spending can get a 20¢/gallon Chevron discount. I don't know about the rest of the country, but most people out here drive a small- to mid-size sedan, and I almost never see an SUV or similar vehicles.

              I definitely question the articles claiming that people that normally wouldn't buy an SUV are suddenly rushing out to get one because of a temporary reduction in gas prices. Too much of the country is still scraping by for that to be realistic for anyone outside the affluent "McMansion" crowd, and they're not the sort to base their vehicle purchases on temporary decreases in gas prices.

        • (Score: 1, Troll) by ilPapa on Friday November 14 2014, @12:42AM

          by ilPapa (2366) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 14 2014, @12:42AM (#115720) Journal

          What would make you think that a tax needs to "keep up with inflation"? You understand that the gas tax is a percentage, right?

          --
          You are still welcome on my lawn.
          • (Score: 3, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @01:02AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @01:02AM (#115725)

            > You understand that the gas tax is a percentage, right?

            It has been 18.4 cents per gallon for over 20 years.

            You should be ashamed for not spending the 30 seconds to google that before posting.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @01:04AM

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @01:04AM (#115726)

              Hell, he should be ashamed for not RTFS!

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @01:19AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @01:19AM (#115732)

          >That the tax has not kept up with inflation is a failure of 20 years of congress and the senate.

          If only there were some way to correct the problem...

          • (Score: 3, Interesting) by c0lo on Friday November 14 2014, @03:17AM

            by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 14 2014, @03:17AM (#115774) Journal

            > That the tax has not kept up with inflation is a failure of 20 years of congress and the senate.

            If only there were some way to correct the problem...

            Correctly solved, the solution is not trivial.

            You see, putting tax on gas to pay for the roads wear-and-tear (or new roads) is pure stupidity. Not only it doesn't account for evolutions in engine efficiency, but the governing law for road wear-and-tear is in a disproportionate relation with the amount of fuel used by a vehicle.

            Details: the road wear-and-tear follows the "generalized 4-th power law" [pavementinteractive.org] (an empirically but rigorous determined law): simply put, the amount of damage cause by a load on a (rigid enough) pavement scales with the 4-th power of the "load per axle".

            Now, assume the very same vehicle travelling with the same speed on the same road for the same distance but with two different loads:

            1. the cost of repairing the damage to the road scales with M^4 x distance (local damage proportional with M^4; multiply it with the length of the road one needs to repair)
            2. the cost of fuel over the same distance (thus the collected tax) scales with M x distance (within the the "rigid enough road" assumption, friction with the road to overcome is proportional with M; multiply it with the travelling distance)

            If you really want to fairly collect money to repair the roads, you'd better start taxing the "load per axle" instead of fuel consumed.
            Thus, it becomes logical to tax a Hummer higher than a Honda Civic... unless the Hummer comes with 4 axles or (rubber protected) caterpillar tracks.
            Ummm... good luck with that

            --
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
            • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @03:22AM

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @03:22AM (#115777)

              Yet another case of pure stupidity at work - a solution that isn't perfect must be avoided, never mind a history of decades of it being good enough.

              • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by c0lo on Friday November 14 2014, @04:03AM

                by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 14 2014, @04:03AM (#115786) Journal

                never mind a history of decades of it being good enough.

                May I remind you that the "history of decades" said until about 6 years ago that "house prices never go down"? Wasn't that a stupidity at work?
                (my point: reliance on traditions/habits/trends as a substitute for thinking is a matter of luck. Now... question: how long you reckon until your luck runs dry?)

                --
                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
                • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @04:43AM

                  by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @04:43AM (#115796)

                  Oh jesus christ. How the hell do you go from the very basic algebra of road usage and maintenance costs to untested pricing of derivative risk?
                  It's like numbers is numbers, george! They are all the same, george.

                  • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Friday November 14 2014, @05:19AM

                    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 14 2014, @05:19AM (#115805) Journal

                    Oh jesus christ. How the hell do you go from the very basic algebra of road usage and maintenance costs to untested pricing of derivative risk?

                    I didn't. Just refused an "argumentum ad antiquitatem" fallacy which, in my understanding, was: "an approximate solution that used to work fine in the past can be repaired by tweaking it" (citing it again: "never mind a history of decades of it being good enough."). It may be so, but again it may be not - take the tradition which led to GFC as a counterexample

                    What I'm sure is that road wear and fuel don't go hand in hand neither at any moment (depends on the load per axle) nor along "history" (better engines of the present consume less per tonne than 15years ago. More powerful engines results in higher load capacity thus higher road wear than 15 years ago). So it may well be that taxing the fuel may have already become unfair/inappropriate/harmful for covering the road maintenance today even if it was a good enough approximation 10 years ago.

                    --
                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by emg on Thursday November 13 2014, @11:53PM

        by emg (3464) on Thursday November 13 2014, @11:53PM (#115706)

        The vast majority of wear and tear on the roads comes from trucks, not cars. This is obvious to anyone of clue, since road wear increases with the fourth power of vehicle weight, and trucks weigh a heck of a lot more than cars.

        Or you could just look at those deep ruts in the roads that are right about the same width as a big truck's wheelbase.

        • (Score: -1) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @12:11AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @12:11AM (#115710)

          > The vast majority of wear and tear on the roads comes from trucks, not cars. This is obvious to anyone of clue

          Are you arguing that the number of trucks has not increased proportionally to the number of cars on the road?

          Or is it that you are just not someone of clue?

          • (Score: 1) by Paradise Pete on Friday November 14 2014, @01:12AM

            by Paradise Pete (1806) on Friday November 14 2014, @01:12AM (#115730)

            Why would it necessarily be proportional? More individuals owning cars doesn't, by itself, create a proportional demand for large trucks.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @01:54AM

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @01:54AM (#115741)

              Unless there has been a significant increase in vehicles per capita (currently the same as it was circa 1998) it is to be expected that the number of trucks would increase in proportion to the number of cars since trucks are primarily used to service the commercial need of the population.

              Of course what really matters isn't the number of vehicles, it is the number of miles driven. The number of miles driven in personal vehicles has dropped significantly since roughly 2010 but the population has not. Thus it is reasonable to expect that the proportion of truck-miles driven has increased relative to the number of the car-miles driven, making highway repairs even more underfunded.

              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday November 14 2014, @02:55AM

                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 14 2014, @02:55AM (#115764) Journal

                it is to be expected that the number of trucks would increase in proportion to the number of cars since trucks are primarily used to service the commercial need of the population.

                Ok, there's two obvious problems here. First, your expectations aren't relevant. Second, even if your opinion was completely correct, that still doesn't explain why the US should increase its gasoline tax (much less have one in the first place). After all, since the "expectation" is proportional to the population, then why not have the gas tax per person rather than per gallon?

                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @03:03AM

                  by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @03:03AM (#115767)

                  > First, your expectations aren't relevant.

                  Fuck your bullshit. Prove the expectation wrong or at least offer reasoning why it should be wrong. Empty snark is for assholes who prefer invective over thought.

                  > After all, since the "expectation" is proportional to the population, then why not have the gas tax per person rather than per gallon?

                  Yeah we should just tax people directly and forget about a usage-based tax for using up resource.

                  With logic like that you can't be older than 14 years old.

                  • (Score: 1, Troll) by khallow on Friday November 14 2014, @05:08AM

                    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 14 2014, @05:08AM (#115800) Journal

                    Prove the expectation wrong or at least offer reasoning why it should be wrong.

                    Don't care. It's not my expectation nor, even if true, is it relevant to the subject.

                    Yeah we should just tax people directly and forget about a usage-based tax for using up resource.

                    A fuel tax is not a usage tax either.

                    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @05:14AM

                      by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @05:14AM (#115802)

                      > Don't care. It's not my expectation nor, even if true, is it relevant to the subject.

                      What a pissy little fucktard you are. Yes, the fact that trucks beat roads more than cars do and that there is every reason to believe that the number of trucks on the road has increased at the same rate as the number of cars on the road has nothing to do with the topic. I am totally the one who brought trucks in the first place here. Just some random bullshit I felt like throwing out there to distract us from the callow wisdom of a 14-year old assburger.

                      > A fuel tax is not a usage tax either.

                      Assburger for the lose! Unless you plan on drinking that fuel it is effectively usage tax.

                      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday November 14 2014, @05:32AM

                        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 14 2014, @05:32AM (#115808) Journal

                        Yes, the fact that trucks beat roads more than cars do

                        [...]

                        Unless you plan on drinking that fuel it is effectively usage tax.

                        Your whole argument was that taxes pay for road use, particularly, road maintenance. You also grant that "trucks beat roads more". Fuel taxes don't address that maintenance-focused usage and hence, aren't usage taxes.

                      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday November 14 2014, @07:35AM

                        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 14 2014, @07:35AM (#115819) Journal
                        As an aside, not all roads are equally used either or maintained by the federal govenrment. A fuel tax completely misses that nuance (I pay just as much, if I drive on state and local roads as I do on federally maintained roads) while a toll gets it right. So for your edification, the only true usage tax for transportation infrastructure is a toll not a fuel tax.
        • (Score: 1) by Gertlex on Friday November 14 2014, @12:26AM

          by Gertlex (3966) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 14 2014, @12:26AM (#115716)

          Fair point. I was musing that the increased wait of consumer vehicles would equal more wear, but that effect is probably small, relative.

        • (Score: 4, Informative) by FatPhil on Friday November 14 2014, @10:29AM

          by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Friday November 14 2014, @10:29AM (#115841) Homepage
          I think a citation is needed for that 4th power claim, but am not a lazy arse, so here's what I found:

          Google for ``road wear relation to vehicle weight''
          """
                1.
                      Vehicle Weight and Road Damage - Virginia Bicycling Federation
                      www.vabike.org/vehicle-weight-and-road-damage/
                      ‎
                              * Cached
                              * Similar
                      2 Dec 2009 ... According to a GAO study, Excessive Truck Weight: An Expensive ... the wear
                      and tear on roads is related to the 4th power of the relative loads.
          """

          Sounds like an appropriate reference, yay! Now let's go read it...

          """
          Heavy trucks obviously cause more road damage than cars, but how much more? According to a GAO study, Excessive Truck Weight: An Expensive Burden We Can No Longer Afford, road damage from one 18-wheeler is equivalent to 9600 cars (p.23 of study, p.36 of PDF).

          The study assumed a fully loaded tractor-trailer at 80,000 pounds, and a typical passenger car at 4,000 pounds. That’s 20 times difference in weight, but the wear and tear caused by the truck is exponentially greater.
          """

          Which throws up warning signs. As anyone even vaguely numerate knows, the the 4th power of 20 is 160000. And 9600 != 160000, that's more than an order of magnitude out. Which puts me into adversarial mode, I don't trust them with numbers. In which case I have to also point out the "exponentially greater" which in the hands of the innumerate means "I don't know what the fuck I'm talking about, I just want to frighten you into believing my bullshit".

          I'll now go and follow the link to the actual report, and see how badly the Virginia Bullshitting^WBicycling Federation have misreported it.

          Note - I've only ever been a 2-wheeled road user, I am not anti-bicyclist, I'm anti-innumeracy and anti-bullshit.
          --
          I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
          • (Score: 3, Informative) by FatPhil on Friday November 14 2014, @01:54PM

            by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Friday November 14 2014, @01:54PM (#115893) Homepage
            Omnomnom, that was a gooood lunch. Anyway.

            From the linked PDF:
            """
            The American Association of State Highways and Transportation Officials reported that concentrating large amounts of weight on a single axle multiplies the impact of the weight exponentially.
            """

            Fuuuuuck. The stupid runs deep. Then again, this isn't the primary source, this is a document from a biased party who wants to influence the law-makers. So no better than a lobbyist. And therefore to be expected to be propagating innumerate bullshit.

            Later:
            """
            ... five-axle tractor-trailer ... 80,000-pound gross weight limit. [snip loads] Engineering data shows that a five-axle tractor-trailer loaded to the federal weight limits causes as much pavement damage as at least 9600 automobiles.
            """
            So that's the origin of the 9600 figure, "Engineering data". No citation provided.

            Also:
            """
            Although the damage resulting from heavy and overweight trucks cannot be precisely quantified, engineering data [yes, him again] shows that it is extensive. The impact of weight on highways is shown by the effects of the 1975 increases in truck weight limits, which shortened the serviceable life of highways and bridges and ...
            """
            *BUT* earlier:
            """
            The recent severe winters of 1976-77 and 1977-78 caused unusually high damage
            """

            So the 1975 increase in truck weight limits might not be the thing most responsible for the damage.

            At least on page 23 they explain the logic behind the 9600, which isn't so far off the 4th power law - because the 20x weight is distributed over 2.5x as many axles. I calculate 11100, given their figures, which is close enough. On that page they also indicate that the report (not scientific study, just report) justifying the "exponential" growth in damage comes from 1962. I'm pretty sure back than that there was far more rail haulage back in those days, and the roads wouldn't have been designed for so much road haulage.

            However, there's more bullshitting on page 24, where their graph supposedly shows "exponentially" increasing damage. However, the bars are for 5, 10, and 20 axles. They're showing linear increase, you've just chosen numbers of axles that grow exponentially.

            I freaking hate policy papers. I've never encountered a policy paper that wasn't written to deceive. If I read any more, I'm going to be shouting at the screen!

            ARGH!!! Page 27
            ARGH!!!! Page 30

            Stop, Phil, STAAAAHHP!!!!
            --
            I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
            • (Score: 1) by Jtmach on Friday November 14 2014, @02:35PM

              by Jtmach (1481) on Friday November 14 2014, @02:35PM (#115909)

              No mod points, currently. So, thank you for taking the time to research and post. It was very interesting.

              • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Saturday November 15 2014, @01:12AM

                by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Saturday November 15 2014, @01:12AM (#116092) Homepage
                I don't need mod points - but thanks for the feedback! I lost $200 of billable hours doing that. But I guess I have a Saturday to catch up!

                I wanted to know, I had to delve. Alas, I still haven't found the root of the 4th power law claim. I'm not denying it, I just want facts. However, the fact that I've traced things back to 1962 and still not found an original source is worrying.
                --
                I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
            • (Score: 2) by carguy on Saturday November 15 2014, @02:04AM

              by carguy (568) on Saturday November 15 2014, @02:04AM (#116101)

              for FatPhil -- here is a bibliography that will get you started into the engineering research on road damage,
                  http://www2.eng.cam.ac.uk/~djc13/vehicledynamics/proj8.html [cam.ac.uk]
              If you are into road design/construction or suspension design, there is a lot of interesting reading here.

              I've read papers (don't remember which ones now) that even claim the damage is proportional to axle-load^5 (!!) A lot depends on the details of the truck and suspension. For example, a suspension that lets the tires & axle bounce up and down (poorly damped) after hitting a bump, then delivers a number of "hammer blows" (speaking colloquially) to the road.

              There are test centers where known pavement constructions are worn out in reasonably controlled (and accelerated) experiments, here is one in USA, there are others around the world,
                  http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/research/tfhrc/labs/pavement/ [dot.gov]
              The test wheels/tires go back and forth, 24/7 while the test pavement is observed.

              • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Saturday November 15 2014, @09:38AM

                by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Saturday November 15 2014, @09:38AM (#116163) Homepage
                Awesome, thanks! I would say that'll be my weekend reading (strangely, this topic now interests me quite a lot. I now live in a cobbled part of a very old town, and if I enter a debate on the possible restriction of vehicles being let into the old town area, I want to be armed with real facts.), but I've got to make up those billable hours first...

                Dear mods - give carguy mod-points NOW!
                --
                I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
                • (Score: 2) by carguy on Saturday November 15 2014, @02:52PM

                  by carguy (568) on Saturday November 15 2014, @02:52PM (#116196)

                  For your cobbled roads, a lot probably depends on the base material under the road, how thick and how well packed/tamped. One thing that is almost guaranteed -- if you limit the truck traffic to very low speeds (guessing 15-20 mph?) then suspension dynamics will be minimal. At low speed, the road damage will come from simple static loading and unloading of each stone/brick as each tire passes over. You could even make some slo-mo video (high frame rate) of trucks at higher speeds, to show how the tires bounce and slam into the road--might be useful at a town board meeting?

                  No mod points (yet), but don't really need them.

                  I bill by the hour too, but keeping the neighborhood nice also rates pretty high on my list.

        • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Friday November 14 2014, @06:26PM

          by urza9814 (3954) on Friday November 14 2014, @06:26PM (#115998) Journal

          The vast majority of wear and tear on the roads comes from trucks, not cars.

          Which is why trucks pay a Heavy Vehicle Use Tax -- based on weight -- in addition to the fuel tax.

          https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/091116/03.htm [dot.gov]

  • (Score: 4, Informative) by richtopia on Thursday November 13 2014, @11:48PM

    by richtopia (3160) Subscriber Badge on Thursday November 13 2014, @11:48PM (#115700) Homepage Journal

    That would be crazy! We cannot afford to have gasoline costs comparable to Europe! Or Russia! Or India! It would kill the economy.

    Here is the price of gasoline by country today. Take a look at how other countries compare to the USA:
    http://www.mytravelcost.com/petrol-prices/ [mytravelcost.com]

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Wootery on Friday November 14 2014, @12:02PM

      by Wootery (2341) on Friday November 14 2014, @12:02PM (#115860)

      Is it not the case that the US economy has worked out this way because of the history of cheap gas in the US?

      Europe seems to get along ok with higher gas prices, but I can see that issues like population-density might make the USA a bit different.

  • (Score: 2) by emg on Thursday November 13 2014, @11:49PM

    by emg (3464) on Thursday November 13 2014, @11:49PM (#115701)

    Yeah, brilliant idea. Now that things might become cheaper, and poor people might be able to buy more stuff, let's make them artificially expensive so they can't.

    • (Score: 1) by Gravis on Friday November 14 2014, @12:27AM

      by Gravis (4596) on Friday November 14 2014, @12:27AM (#115717)

      perhaps we should fix the problem that is making them poor. *hint* undo the damage reagan did and correct the minimum wage.
      http://inequalityforall.com/ [inequalityforall.com]

      • (Score: 1) by el_oscuro on Friday November 14 2014, @02:21AM

        by el_oscuro (1711) on Friday November 14 2014, @02:21AM (#115748)

        If you raise the minimum wage, everyone won't start magically getting more money. Instead, employers will hire fewer people and make those who they hire work harder. So while some people will get more money (for working harder), others won't have jobs. It is just the way the world works. People will always do what is in their interest.

        Given the wide disparity of cost of living in this country, a federal minimum wage doesn't really make much sense, unless it is considered the absolute minimum required by law and most states are expected to have higher ones. Seattle has a $15 minimum wage, which would be pretty sweet in Alabama, New Mexico or Kentucky. Set the federal one low, with the expectation that states and localities will have higher ones. It is already happening like in Seattle.

        --
        SoylentNews is Bacon! [nueskes.com]
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @03:06AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @03:06AM (#115769)

          Yay! Ideology enables shallow thinking. Hurray for uninformed analysis and shitty math!

        • (Score: 2) by TheGratefulNet on Friday November 14 2014, @03:19AM

          by TheGratefulNet (659) on Friday November 14 2014, @03:19AM (#115776)

          Instead, employers will hire fewer people and make those who they hire work harder.

          are you serious?

          just doing NOTHING, the employers are continually laying off locals, outsourcing to cheap foreign labor and making the remaining locals 'do more with less'.

          even if the salaries don't change (and a lot of companies have zero raises, not even a cost of living, for many of us workers) the greedy fuckers (ie, corporations) will STILL want to shave more and more from their 'cost structure'. the min wage being raised is just an excuse to fuck more people over. just like the healthcare (aca) change gave the fuckers another excuse to complain about 'worker costs'. all the while, taking huge bonuses and laying people off the minute the company numbers drop a hairline amount.

          might as well raise min wage. the companies will fuck us all over no matter WHAT, but at least we can give our own people a truly living wage.

          living in fear of 'what the corps will do' is not a way to live, people!!

          --
          "It is now safe to switch off your computer."
        • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Friday November 14 2014, @01:30PM

          by Thexalon (636) on Friday November 14 2014, @01:30PM (#115888)

          Instead, employers will hire fewer people and make those who they hire work harder. ... People will always do what is in their interest.

          Econ 101 says that when the price of something goes up, people buy less of it. That makes a certain amount of sense: if (for example) cheese is more expensive, I'm going to eat less of it and instead buy other cheaper food. If diamonds are more expensive, I'm likely going to choose to not buy them at all. This is good old supply and demand.

          Econ 102 tells a more complicated story, though. There are 2 major reasons why the Econ 101 theory doesn't accurately describe reality:
          1. If you increase the minimum wage, then those workers getting paid that wage now have more money in their pockets, which means that they can buy more stuff. This, in turn, means employers have higher sales, which will tend to offset the higher labor cost.
          2. The businesses in question were already profit-maximizing before the minimum wage increase occurred. That means that all the steps you describe (laying people off, replacing people with automated systems, and doing what they could to make them work harder) are steps that the business would have already taken had it been possible for them to do so. If you were a business owner, what possible conditions would convince you to spend $25K a year on somebody who's job it was to sit around doing nothing useful?

          When you look at states and even cities that have raised their minimum wage, there isn't a corresponding jump in unemployment, which would be strong (albeit not 100% airtight) evidence that the Econ 102 story is less wrong than the Econ 101 story (this is economics, so "less wrong" is about as good as you're going to get).

          --
          The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
        • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @02:03PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @02:03PM (#115895)

          If you raise the minimum wage, everyone won't start magically getting more money. Instead, employers will hire fewer people and make those who they hire work harder. So while some people will get more money (for working harder), others won't have jobs.

          I see this a lot. It makes me really curious to know why employers today are paying so many people to do nothing. I mean, if they can fire workers in response to a wage increase, then surely they could fire those workers today and just ask the rest to work harder. I suppose it's nice that so many companies are willing to engage in charity employment - handing out money, giving people "jobs" and a sense of worth, in exchange for no value. I'm just surprised that, in a supposedly cut-throat economic market, companies would be able to survive while giving money away.

          I can see the opposite - where increasing the cost of a labor-intensive product or service might cause people to stop making that thing. So I can see where a company doing something like, I don't know, car window washing, might find people willing to pay $1/day to have their car windows washed, but not $5/day. That would be guys out of work, but not because the oil-change crew has taken their job. That would be guys out of work for the same reason you see so few attendants in fast food restrooms and so many self-check lanes in grocery stores.

        • (Score: 1) by Gravis on Friday November 14 2014, @06:57PM

          by Gravis (4596) on Friday November 14 2014, @06:57PM (#116011)

          If you raise the minimum wage, everyone won't start magically getting more money.

          of course not, only the people making minimum wage will get more money.

          Instead, employers will hire fewer people and make those who they hire work harder. So while some people will get more money (for working harder), others won't have jobs.

          no, they are already doing this, so it's a moot point.

          It is just the way the world works.

          no, this is how greed works.

          People will always do what is in their interest.

          not true at all, not even close! if they did, climate change would have been prevented.

          Given the wide disparity of cost of living in this country, a federal minimum wage doesn't really make much sense [...]. Seattle has a $15 minimum wage, which would be pretty sweet in Alabama, New Mexico or Kentucky.

          how is that a problem? do you think minimum wage workers need to suffer?

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday November 14 2014, @04:01AM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 14 2014, @04:01AM (#115784) Journal

        perhaps we should fix the problem that is making them poor. *hint* undo the damage reagan did and correct the minimum wage.

        I see no downside. The people who manage to keep their jobs will be able to afford more foreign-made goods.

    • (Score: 2) by TheGratefulNet on Friday November 14 2014, @03:14AM

      by TheGratefulNet (659) on Friday November 14 2014, @03:14AM (#115771)

      yup, lets tax the working person and the poor even more.

      all the while, corps and rich guys pay next to nothing to support our country and infra!

      taxing gas is WRONG. taxing rich motherfuckers is the right way forward, but of course, the rich mofos are in control and they won't do the right thing. they'll die first (in fact, that's their plan; to keep the status quo for as long as they are alive).

      pushing the poor and the working class down further is NOT any kind of intelligent way forward.

      I don't give a damn about what other countries charge for gas. other countries also don't typically have the divide between ultra rich and working class like the US has. the US system is broken by design and so, comparing our costs to other countries' costs is a stupid thing. the real cost of living is much more complex than cost of goods and tax added to goods.

      --
      "It is now safe to switch off your computer."
      • (Score: 2) by mojo chan on Friday November 14 2014, @08:44AM

        by mojo chan (266) on Friday November 14 2014, @08:44AM (#115828)

        You could put the tax on the cars instead. Extremely inefficient cars get a big tax bill slapped on them at purchase, or perhaps yearly. That both encourages people to buy more efficient cars and means that poorer people who buy smaller cars pay a lot less than rich people who buy SUVs. It works well in Europe.

        --
        const int one = 65536; (Silvermoon, Texture.cs)
  • (Score: 2) by buswolley on Thursday November 13 2014, @11:49PM

    by buswolley (848) on Thursday November 13 2014, @11:49PM (#115702)

    the bvig problem with low gas prices is that it is most likely due to a stalling economy, although increases in fuel efficiency may be helping too. When people don't have money to spend, they aren't driving places.

    --
    subicular junctures
    • (Score: 2) by emg on Thursday November 13 2014, @11:51PM

      by emg (3464) on Thursday November 13 2014, @11:51PM (#115704)

      Bingo. The price of gas is dropping because people are using less, which is because the global economy is in the crap. Raising taxes will push the economy further into the crap.

      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @12:22AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @12:22AM (#115713)

        (1) Oil production rates are up significantly since 2010, especially within the continental US (like nearly doubled from ~5M to ~10M barrels/day) where there are legal and logistical restrictions that increase the cost of exporting oil. Thus price drops within the US are not significantly due to reduced domestic demand.

        (2) The global economy is stalling, but the US economy is not. Increases in US gas taxation should not be expected to significantly impact the global economy. But a couple of important interstate bridge collapses will have a big impact on the US economy.

    • (Score: 2) by keplr on Friday November 14 2014, @06:33AM

      by keplr (2104) on Friday November 14 2014, @06:33AM (#115811) Journal

      What about the increase in online shopping? Other than food and beer, or when there's an emergency and I need something immediately (like more beer), I buy hardly anything in stores anymore. In fact, for a lot of things I don't even actively shop for them at all. A supply of razor blades, toothpaste, toilet paper, and some other things, just show up at my doorstep every other month automatically now.

      --
      I don't respond to ACs.
  • (Score: 1) by Wrong Turn Ahead on Friday November 14 2014, @01:38AM

    by Wrong Turn Ahead (3650) on Friday November 14 2014, @01:38AM (#115735)

    Gas prices always drop in the US around the holidays; a pattern that I've observed for the past 20 years. Lower prices a few months before Black Friday, Cyber-Monday, and Christmas mean that consumers have a little extra to spend. Lower gas prices also lead people to falsely believe that the economy is getting better; only to watch the pump prices rise sharply in the months following the holidays.

    That said, this year is special in that we need to force Russia to play a bit nicer on the world stage and one way to do that is by creating economic pressure by lowering oil prices. Here are a few relevant news stories:

        http://money.cnn.com/2014/10/15/investing/oil-price-fall-russia-hurt/ [cnn.com]

        http://rbth.com/opinion/2014/11/12/low_oil_prices_hurt_russia_and_the_west_41337.html [rbth.com]

        http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-10-13/oil-prices-are-hurting-russias-economy [businessweek.com]

        http://online.wsj.com/articles/russia-may-need-to-cut-budget-spending-finance-minister-says-1414158145 [wsj.com]

    So, people have more spending cash and things seem to look brighter thanks to the savings at the gas pump. They're feeling good about, and distracted with, the approaching holidays. The world appears to have found a way to back Russia/Putin down. This is the perfect time to frame the lower prices as a problem and push a tax increase through; after all, lower prices + a small tax increase still == savings. That is, until the oil price manipulations cease and prices recover -- only higher now because of the extra tax.

    Never waste a crisis...

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @02:00AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @02:00AM (#115743)

      You're not really sure how this whole global economy for oil works, do you? You probably also think that every extra barrel of oil that comes out of, say, new wells in Alaska would go right into US tanks, don't you?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @02:02AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @02:02AM (#115744)

      Correlation is not causation.
      It is also getting cold so as to encourage more people to spend time inside shopping online and at the mall instead of out hiking and camping where there are no stores.
      You sound like the guys who were saying that Obama lowered gas prices for this election (but not for the one 2 years ago).

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @03:10AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @03:10AM (#115770)

      http://www.gasbuddy.com/gb_retail_price_chart.aspx?time=132 [gasbuddy.com]

      Your Christmas theory is probably not true. However, it does sound cool.

      That the oil market is being manipulated is *very* clear and very true. OPEC has done it since 1973. They are no longer the only players in the market though anymore. Wait until oil hits about 65-70 you will see some amazing rhetoric flying out of the middle east. Massive monuments to consumerism like dubai dont run without the massive amounts of cash they have been taking in. Iran even came to the table with hat in hand already (never thought I would see that). When Dubai craters (and it will) it will be a massive humanitarian problem (it already is, but well hidden by the glitz). Add in the Chinese reigning in their massive building projects (which they were doing to fake growth). Much like the internet the market routes around damage. It just doesnt do it in internet time. It takes a few years.

      One thing I have learned in watching the market in my 40 years of life is simple. If someone says 'this is the *new* normal' RUN from that market. It is about to crater. Currently gold and oil is where the massive amounts of derivative money our gov created in the mid 90s is parked (by creating billions of dollars thru loans and bond sales). The amount of people consuming oil did not go up by 3x in 4 years. That is a market money derivative bubble. You dont think that dot com money or that housing market money just disappeared did you; for every loser there is a winner. It is not even real market forces at work of supply and demand. At one point for every one person taking possession of the oil 1 barrel was traded over 25 times. There is a huge market of derivatives at work that is just starting to unwind. An oversupply for a few months would trigger it (which is what pops most bubbles). I dug around trying to find everyone using all this oil. It just didnt exist other than the mysterious 'Chinese'. Most of it was being traded around (I conservatively estimate 80% of global demand was just for trading and not physical use). I give it about 3-4 years before we settle out at a historical average of about 1.80-2.20 per gallon. Which given inflation is about where gas normally is. I predicted the bubble to pop 3 years ago. Suddenly you saw a bubble in gold... But a different bubble popped first and prolonged it and perversely fed into popping the housing bubble. Now the trick will be figuring out where those billions are going to go 'hide' and get in with the ride...

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday November 14 2014, @03:15AM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 14 2014, @03:15AM (#115773) Journal

      Gas prices always drop in the US around the holidays; a pattern that I've observed for the past 20 years.

      You know what else has happened for the past 20 years? Mandated seasonal changes in gasoline (EPA apparently started this program in 1992). I gather they kick in around October and November with requirements of oxygenated gasoline in a number of winter urban markets (the colder weather of winter results in more incomplete combustion of gasoline and the increased emissions of pollutants like various nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons). That results in a drop in demand for normal, less oxygenated gasoline and subsequent temporary drop in price - just in time for Christmas. There's no reason to look for political maneuvering when normal market behavior completely explains this phenomenon for twenty years.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @01:47AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @01:47AM (#115739)
    • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Friday November 14 2014, @02:12AM

      by bob_super (1357) on Friday November 14 2014, @02:12AM (#115746)

      This article shows Fox News at its best. Numbers don't line up and vary through it. It's clearly not been read by anyone but its author.

      The price of Gas in SoCal has dropped 70 cents in the last three months, which is more than the CA+Federal tax. It's easy to point at Bad Evil Gubmint, but the tax burden per gallon hasn't changed while the gallon went from a buck to 4 bucks...
      I go from point A to point B in one of the cheapest and most fuel-efficient non-hybrids on the market, and I'm looking at buying a scooter for the short school trips. If my neighbors don't like the price of gas going up, they should stop having an Escalade and a V6 Lexus (no kids). We could also stop pissing off Iran and trying to keep Iraq together, maybe we'd have a chance at Pre-Bush prices ("OMG! $2 a gallon, Clinton is killing us")

  • (Score: 1) by The Voice of Reason on Friday November 14 2014, @02:40AM

    by The Voice of Reason (4871) on Friday November 14 2014, @02:40AM (#115755)

    Because the federal government hasn't pissed away ALL of the money stolen from our economy.

    Yet.

  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday November 14 2014, @03:52AM

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 14 2014, @03:52AM (#115781) Journal
    I don't know why anyone would be pushing for significantly higher gasoline taxes right now. It's political suicide (even given a lameduck congressional session after an election) and there are considerable negative economic consequences from higher transportation costs. Further the argument doesn't make sense. While gasoline and the US road system have certain negative externalities, they also have certain positive externalities which are enormous (such as being a input via transportation costs to virtually every major economic process in the US). But there's really not even that level of argument. It is assumed that low gasoline prices are bad and things go from there. If instead they had assumed that low gasoline prices were better than high gasoline prices, then they would have reached different conclusions which frankly seem just as valid to assume.
  • (Score: 2) by morgauxo on Friday November 14 2014, @05:11AM

    by morgauxo (2082) on Friday November 14 2014, @05:11AM (#115801)

    As it is the same roads get torn up and re-paved year after year needed or not while other roads continue to fall apart with no repairs in site. Meanwhile, every inch of road that MIGHT get worked on in a summer gets barelled off causing traffic problems at the begining of the construction season even if the spots which are last on the list to actually get worked on. Construction companies then bill the states for the whole time!

    Taking money from people that earn it and throwing it into that system should be a crime. I see no reason to raise taxes for road construction until a whole lot of corrupt politicians and contractors have been removed from their positions.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @05:16AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @05:16AM (#115804)

      > As it is the same roads get torn up and re-paved year after year needed or not

      Yes, lets just make up random facts to justify our biases.
      Clearly all the road repairs that are done are done on roads that do not need it.
      Sometimes what you write says everything about you and nothing about what the topic at hand.

  • (Score: 2) by morgauxo on Friday November 14 2014, @05:15AM

    by morgauxo (2082) on Friday November 14 2014, @05:15AM (#115803)

    Yes, more emissions are a bad thing. Auto emissons are barely a drop in the bucket of human produced green house gasses. Some dumb asses buying gas guzzlers are not going to be what destroys the world. They will just be the idiots with the for sale signs on their cars at the side of the road that just sit their and nobody ever buys. If people aren't smart enough to figure out that buying that stuff is a bad idea then maybe a bit of tough reality will help them smarten up.

  • (Score: 2) by morgauxo on Friday November 14 2014, @05:20AM

    by morgauxo (2082) on Friday November 14 2014, @05:20AM (#115806)

    "When prices eventually do creep back up thanks to economic factors, hopefully the tax will hardly be noticed."

    I do agree with one thing this guy wrote. Gas prices will go back up. And then what? It's not like his gas tax he loves so much will be revoked once the price goes back up. Taxes are almost never lowered! There is far more resistance to that then there is to adding new taxes in the first place. So.. his taxes are implemented, people hurt. Gas goes up.. plus those taxes are still there... people hurt even more!

    What an asshat!

    • (Score: 2) by zeigerpuppy on Friday November 14 2014, @06:52AM

      by zeigerpuppy (1298) on Friday November 14 2014, @06:52AM (#115812)

      Preemptively raising petroleum taxes makes sense only if the money is spent on transition away from petroleum dependency.
      Crude oil is becoming scarcer and, more importantly, requires more energy to extract (EROEI). The USA and other liquid hydrocarbon dependent countries are lining themselves up for massive economic collapse unless they prepare for petroleum scarcity.
      A price on consumption that also encourages alternative technologies is a logical way to provide a price signal to the market. Transitions will probably be to electric for short distance light vehicles and ammonia for long distance heavy vehicles. The build out cost will be huge to transition so a healthy investment in public transport and city planning for more compact urban development will also be required.
      Leaving this too long just makes the pain more severe down the line, there's no magical tech around the corner as the sheer scale of rebuilding the vehicle fleet will still require energy input (most likely of remaining fossil fuels that are getting more expensive).
      Will your government be forward thinking enough to manage this transition properly or will they allow the fossil fuel giants to concentrate their influence by price gouging in the twilight of the fossil fuel age?

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @07:40AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @07:40AM (#115821)

    cos everyone hates paying low prices

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by wantkitteh on Friday November 14 2014, @02:26PM

      by wantkitteh (3362) on Friday November 14 2014, @02:26PM (#115902) Homepage Journal

      They do if the roads fall apart, yes. The argument in the above comments about this subject is one of the worst quality debates I've ever seen and a lot of Soylentils should be ashamed of themselves for this.

      I realize this is a US story and therefore it's bound to get a US-centric argument surrounding it, but here's something for all you US folks to consider. Using my basic maths skills to convert the UK £/L price for fuel into $/USG, I've come up with a rough UK price for regular unleaded of $7.27/USG, subject to $3.42/USG VAT fuel duty.

      Now, it's tough to do a direct comparison because the road networks in the US and the UK are so vastly different, but does 11 cents on the gallon actually make the slightest difference to the state of your roads? I'm guessing there's either quite a lot of other funding coming in to keep the network in shape (and thus this entire debate is pointless given the miniscule scale of difference even doubling the fuel tax rate would make), or your roads are falling apart.

      • (Score: 1) by SecurityGuy on Friday November 14 2014, @02:39PM

        by SecurityGuy (1453) on Friday November 14 2014, @02:39PM (#115914)

        Roads aren't solely paid for the federal government. States also tax gas. Gasoline tax in my neck of the woods is about $0.40. There are also toll roads. I haven't been to the UK, but roads here seem fine.

        The debate is also painfully stupid because gas prices were a lot lower until fairly recently. Yes, we can manage cheaper gas just fine. We did it for a long time.

        • (Score: 1) by wantkitteh on Friday November 14 2014, @06:14PM

          by wantkitteh (3362) on Friday November 14 2014, @06:14PM (#115989) Homepage Journal

          Okay, but $0.40 of state tax plus $0.11 of federal tax is still only $0.51, a tiny fraction of UK fuel duty. What other revenue streams pay for the maintenance of the road network in the US?

          In the UK, tolls are generally reserved for bridges and tunnels and central London's congestion charge.

          • (Score: 1) by SecurityGuy on Friday November 14 2014, @07:39PM

            by SecurityGuy (1453) on Friday November 14 2014, @07:39PM (#116024)

            I don't know that it really costs that much to maintain roads. Driving over one causes negligible wear. I don't have the cite handy, but IIRC nearly all the wear on roads is due to heavy trucks. My car doesn't cost that much to drive across a road, so why should I be paying a lot of tax for something that doesn't cost a lot of money?

            Tolls aren't reserved for bridges and tunnels here, though that's where you're most likely to find them. There are also the occasional toll highways.

            Still, my point remains that the notion that a thing costs a lot of money somewhere else, therefore it should cost a lot of money here, too, is fallacious. It should cost what it actually costs. Maybe you guys across the pond should be paying a lot less?

            • (Score: 1) by wantkitteh on Friday November 14 2014, @11:12PM

              by wantkitteh (3362) on Friday November 14 2014, @11:12PM (#116065) Homepage Journal

              True, driving over a road doesn’t cause a lot of wear - I found a UK Department of Transport report that stated a cost of £0.003 per vehicle-mile for the subset of major roads known as the Strategic Road Network. This equated to annual network maintenance costs of £30-60k per mile, depending on region.

              While investigating further, I found this report [soylentnews.org] from the Road User Alliance. The diagram entitled “UK Road Spending vs Road Revenue” makes for fascinating reading as it shows total tax revenue from road use at £58bn, a total road use value to the economy of £119bn… and total government spending on roads of £7.7bn. Turns out that in the UK, road use generates quite a lot of revenue for spending in other areas. Given the ubiquity of the road system and how often it’s used in conjunction with other activities, that doesn’t seem particularly out of line to me personally.

              Although I couldn’t find a per-vehicle-mile figure to compare US and UK road maintenance costs, I did find an article [taxfoundation.org] with a fairly telling statement that provides the perfect contrast for the US and UK approaches to road funding:

              "Nationwide in 2010, state and local governments raised $37 billion in motor fuel taxes and $12 billion in tolls and non-fuel taxes, but spent $155 billion on highways"

              So it seems the UK policy is to subsidise other activities through road transit taxation while the US policy is to subsidise road transit through other taxation.

              Sorry, did I just ruin the entire argument you morons were having?

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @02:38PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 14 2014, @02:38PM (#115913)

    More taxes are not the answer. Quit paying billions to other countries in foreign aid, millions for stupid research projects, and and focus on ourselves for a change. It isn't like the people of the US are making more. There is only so much money to go around. If the author loves the taxes so much, let him pay them. As for me, my taxes are already high enough. I make around 50k a year, but due to taxes everywhere I turn, that good money doesn't go as far. Even being careful with what I spend, I still struggle to support my family and make ends meet.

  • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Friday November 14 2014, @03:30PM

    by tangomargarine (667) on Friday November 14 2014, @03:30PM (#115922)

    I remember somebody pointing out that if the gas price goes over $4/gal people start buying significantly less gas/traveling less. Is that pre- or post-tax?

    People who have for-profit businesses generally don't like being told they will be making less. Although I'm not sure how they can "pass along" this cost to the consumer, I suspect they can figure out a way. Maybe make the gasoline less efficient so people buy more of it? Cf. ethanol %

    --
    "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
  • (Score: 2) by nitehawk214 on Friday November 14 2014, @10:07PM

    by nitehawk214 (1304) on Friday November 14 2014, @10:07PM (#116054)

    Can you stick to the green site or the red site and not try to ruin them both?

    --
    "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?" -Loiosh