Apparently Indiana Senator Richard Lugar supports a gas tax. I don't.
I take more issue with the Indianapolis Star's Matt Tully's stated opinions that he offers without data to back it up:
"In the Indianapolis area, more people were suddenly carpooling, biking to work and, imagine this, even taking the city bus. Many people began to consolidate their weekend chores into fewer trips and to cut down on unnecessary drives."
Just how many is "more?"
I provide you two datasets:
Vehicle Miles traveled (VMT) did fall by 5% from summer 2007 to summer 2008.
Gas prices rose by 40% or so from summer 2007 to summer 2008.
Lugar essentially wants to go back to where we were (in terms of VMT) a year and a half ago. Will he still think this was a good idea when gas goes back up to $3, $4 a gallon (before tax)?
Was the 5% drop in miles traveled during the period really due to just the gas price increase, or could it have been the expectations of a slowing economy as well? Is all the interest in hybrid vehicles due just to gas price increases, or could it be our general "green" consciousness is growing?
Is such a small VMT drop worth the huge price distortion and potential regressiveness during times of economic crisis? I think not. I certainly don't think we can trust our government to just cleanly and smoothly deliver the gas tax hike back in the form of payroll tax reduction etc. There's certainly no reason to think they'd do so without transferring wealth from one class of citizen to another. It's just not worth the disruption. There are less traumatic ways to support the environment.