12.15.2008

TIME SAYS IT’S TIME

Wonder of wonders, a lucid argument on the merits of simultaneously lowering payroll taxes and raising gas taxes, from Time Magazine no less: “Black Gold: It’s Time to Raise the Gas Tax.” [Link courtesy of Greg Mankiw’s blog.] There’s a lot to like about this article, although I slightly disagree with what the writer suggests about our behavior when gas hit four dollars a gallon. Yes, we adjusted, but really only on the margins: taking transit to work, bundling errands, maybe even forgoing the SUV for the Aveo. But there wasn’t enough time at that price threshold to encourage the bigger, life decisions – for individuals, to live in a denser, less auto-dependent neighborhood; for businesses, to drastically reduce bulk and packaging in their products; and for governments, to invest in greener forms of commerce and transportation.

But this is probably quibbling. The bigger story is this story, and the platform in which it was told. (Does it get any more mainstream than Time Magazine?) Enact this shift over time, see people and organizations adjust accordingly, and say hello to a more sustainable way of life – and goodbye to a number of complex policies that you’d otherwise have to enact to get you to the same place, and that would likely have unintended, potentially negative consequences. America, this is our moment; let’s not miss it.
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