Senators John McCain and Hilary Clinton are among many in Congress
clamoring for a gas tax “holiday” as fuel prices rise and the summer driving
season fast approaches. Never mind that they focus entirely on poor consumers
and fail to discuss the implications to businesses trying to get goods/services
to market. Is there any benefit to either group from leaving the tax alone? Or
Lee Wasserman of the Rockefeller Family Fund wrote a great
essay in Grist on the topic (http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2008/5/13/12175/0733) including some benefits to
everyone of reigning in greenhouse gases. And there’s evidence that you can
save much more than the planet by leaving things as they are – – according to
the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), high gas prices are
contributing to a marked decline in traffic.
Traffic on some of the nation’s most congested
freeways is down as much as 24%, largely due to higher fuel prices (www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-traffic12-2008may12,0,3131880.story?track=rss).
That means businesses, which can’t take a “holiday” from delivering goods and
services if they want to remain in business, have fewer delays getting from A
to B and, presumably, lower costs. In the bargain, everyone breathes cleaner
air and the planet warms a tiny bit more slowly.
Now that’s a holiday worth having, even if it
costs a few pennies more at the pump up front.