The Republicans are trying to get the upper hand in the escalating political battle over high gasoline prices by proposing a $100 rebate for taxpayers, by suggesting that they might increase taxes on oil-industry profits, and by proposing the old chestnut that ANWR should be opened. The price tag for the Republican package has been put at $20 billion. So what could you do for $20 billion to solve the nation’s crisis and solve climate change? Suggestions please…


  • $20 billion is not enough – the important thing is that we-the-people invent excuses for ourselves.

    With oil prices soaring and eventual depletion looming, it is prudent to review our genuine needs for oil. Because the following ten uses of petroleum are “non-negotiable”, it would be pointless – even rude – to suggest cutting them. So I won’t. Surely we can find reductions elsewhere; surely new technology will make all energy supply issues disappear. So after listing these non-negotiable uses, let’s not EVER mention them again. God forbid that anyone feel uncomfortable or guilty.

    (1) We have a constitutional right to live wherever we please. If none of our day-to-day destinations are within walking distance, if roads to our home are unsafe and/or too lengthy for bicycling, if there isn’t any public transit nearby, this old world had better cough up all the fuel we need to drive. By the way, society owes us highways everywhere we go and parking lots everywhere we stop, too.

    (2) We have a right to drive whatever size motor vehicle tickles our fancy. A farmer may need a twenty-foot, six-thousand pound pickup truck to haul fifty bags of wheat seed. A suburbanite may need a truck of the same size to get cigarettes and beer. Both needs are equally valid.

    (3) Our lawns have become much larger, and we need riding tractors to keep up. Smaller lawns and human-powered mowers are out of the question. Nor can our bored adolescents burn their excess energy doing useful physical work.

    (4) Happiness is an inalienable right. Because internal-combustion engines have become essential for human amusement, we must play on snowmobiles, motorboats, ATVs, jet skis, motorcycles, and other fuel-burning toys.

    (5) We work hard, so we’re entitled to great vacations – and all the jet fuel it takes to fly to Disneyland, Las Vegas, Vail, New Zealand…

    (6) After we retire, we deserve to see America in comfort and style. If that means driving a twenty-five foot motor home thirty thousand miles at seven miles per gallon, by golly we’ve earned it.

    (7) Our children must be driven to school, soccer practice, friends’ houses, and the mall. They are entitled to the best – including four-thousand pounds of motorized body armor while in transit.

    (8) Our driving-age children must own a car so they can drive to their job after school to earn money to pay for their car. They also have a right to drive to extra-curricular activities, no matter how far we live from school – see (1).

    (9) Young males – and numerous older ones – need abundant fuel to express their manhood with loud, powerful motorcycles, muscle cars, low-riders, and larger-than-life Tonka trucks. Without such vehicles some men would shrivel up, while others would of necessity revert to firearm-augmented displays of virility.

    (10) We have a right to feel virtuous and “green” when we tank up with corn ethanol. So what if it takes petroleum-based diesel to power tractors, harvesters, and trucks; oil-based pesticides; natural-gas-based fertilizers; and coal to operate distillation plants? Besides, isn’t that sixty million acres of switchgrass on the horizon?

  • Here’s a blog I wrote last week:

    Here’s a simple plan that would have an immediate effect.

    Congress should cancel the $20 billion in giveaways to the oil companies included in the 2005 Energy Bill, and use that money instead to offer a tax credit to car owners of $100 for each MPG saved by trading in their current car for a more fuel-efficient car.

    So if you’re getting 10 MPG in your Bentley Arnage LWB and trade it in for a 60 MPG Toyota Prius Hybrid, you would get a tax credit of 60-10=50 * 100 = $5,000 – and cut your gasoline costs by 83%!

    Car owners would love this idea because they would save money immediately. It would quickly reduce demand for gasoline so the price could come down for everyone. And we would all feel like we were doing something concrete to reduce our dependence on middle east oil – and global warming.

  • To me atomic is fine if we can agree on the disposal problem. The new plants just off the drawing boards are a far cry from the TMI types. And I lived 15 miles away when THAT event took place, so I’m not predisposed toward nuclear. Also we need to curb our appetites. Why do we need a 2 tone vehicle to get a loaf of bread or drop a kid off somewhere? Conservation still has a long way to go. Regarding oil, the buzz seems to be that diesels will make a big comeback around 2008. Newly developing emission controls will be in place and there should be a dramatic increase in mpgs.

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