President Biden now wants Congress to enact a federal gas tax holiday. The good news is that it calls attention to why “freeways” are not free. The bad news is that it will, at best, give a pittance to motorists and make a bad problem worse.
Federal gas tax holiday – what that would mean
The federal gas tax stands at 18.3 cents per gallon. (In fact that tax has not changed since 1990.) A typical conventional automobile has a 16-gallon tank. (That’s the rated capacity. If you’re the type who hovers over the pump, trying to squeeze in the last drop of gas without spilling any, you might push it to 17 gallons.) On a full load, 18.3 cents per gallon works out to just under $3 per tankful.
I hear you already! WTF does he think he’s kidding? And I agree – fully. Here’s the deal – he wants his federal gas tax holiday to go for three months. If it starts now, it will go through the end of September. It’s already too late to capture Memorial Day Weekend, when social summer begins in America. Well, he’ll capture Labor Day Weekend – big deal. The best guesses we have from economists is that the average Joe will save ten bucks while it lasts. Ten bucks!? Now I repeat: WTF does he think he’s kidding?
Hold it right there. I heard that – “why you ungrateful SOB.” Hey! I didn’t ask Biden or any President to curtail production and transportation as he did. I’ve watched a gallon of regular go from $2.25 a gallon to $5 a gallon. And none of it needed to happen.
About electric cars
While I’m on the subject, I have to address electric cars, because we’ve heard so much about them. We’ve heard it from arrogant Senators and equally arrogant administration officials. Yes, electric cars are more efficient users of the energy they receive. Furthermore, the reporter who took “the Vacation from Hell” with one, might not have understood how to leverage her time. You don’t use public charging the way you once used the gas pump. Effective management of charging time requires a completely different mind-set. Maybe the industry should set up training courses to cover this. Nevertheless:
- The same politicians and bureaucrats who want people to switch to electric cars, also managed to curtail the production of the electricity to juice them.
- Your typical electric car today costs half again to twice as much as a conventional car with comparable driving range. No one but a fleet operator can even think of laying out that kind of money, even to reduce total cost of ownership. Not a single bank in this country is going to lend you money to buy twice as much car as you can afford, because they will not count the lower cash flow. Even fleet operators can’t justify the outlay, because might not even be in business before too long.
- Maybe you can make the switch, without breaking the grid, if you install solar on your own house. But unless you’re already planning to re-roof your house, you’ll never see your money back.
So we’re still back to conventional vehicles, and this federal gas tax holiday. When Biden even talks about a thing like this, he shows weakness.
Republicans know it. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) reminds us that he blamed Vladimir Putin, then our own energy producers. (How he can do that with a straight face, after he curtailed those same producers, is beyond my comprehension.) Senator Wicker finishes by calling this federal gas tax holiday what it is: a cheap gimmick.
Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) bring it back to the real issue: we have to drill, and now. Biden made this problem – and don’t tell me he didn’t think about it, because it’s his job to think.
Democrats, of course, want the revenue. What they do with the revenue is a subject for another debate. But give them credit for showing this much common sense. They know that this gimmick will not drive down the cost of gasoline by any significant amount. I already crunched the numbers for you; so have they.
Which brings us to the economists, who point out yet another thing. If you do reduce the price of gasoline, people will start driving more – and the price will go right back to where it was.
They have a point. I’ve watched the price go down already by about twenty cents a gallon since Memorial Day Weekend. That’s because people cut down on their driving.
If not a federal gas tax holiday, then what?
The late Ayn Rand could tell you what – as she did in that big thick book she wrote. Give up, all of you, who know nothing better than to write rules for everybody but you to follow. Give up and get out of the way. Leave men (and women!) free to exist. And let those of us who can, start from scratch out of the ruins.
If any of you out there have read the book, you know the two places where I lifted those quotes. But except for a relative handful of you, I’ll bet you never thought you’d live to see this day.
Over the summer, you can expect to see some interesting improvisations and accommodations. But you can also expect to take part in a few very unpleasant dinner table conversations. I’d predict that sales of antacids and anti-emetics would go through the roof. (Anti-emetics keep you from puking, or try to.) Except you’ll go to buy them and find empty shelves.
When that happens, I ask you only to Remember in November. Don’t give up on flipping States and district; ask Mayra Flores how she did it. Then get out there and pound the pavement and burn up the phone lines, as she did. And apply now to become Officers of Election, and sign up for poll watcher training. It worked in Virginia; it can work where you are.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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