|Killing the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg: Automakers Push a New Gas Tax|
|Subject||Tax on Gasoline to Align Individual and Social Incentives Regarding Fuel Economy|
|Topic||Supply and Demand; Government and the Economy, Economics and the Environment|
Gasoline Tax; Private and Social Incentives; Fuel Economy; Government Regulation
While many politicians favor a new gasoline tax to raise revenue and to increase fuel standards at the same time, few have actually introduced measures to do so. Detroit auto manufacturers support a $0.50 increase in the gas tax as a means of instilling greater fuel economy in its automotive fleets.
Detroit manufacturers argue that if the government is really serious about cutting down on fuel emissions, it needs to more closely align individual and social incentives. That is, society as a whole is concerned about pollution emissions from automobiles, but as long as gasoline is as cheap as it is in the US - $1.96 per gallon in the last week of April, compared to $5.19 in Germany and $5.34 in Britain - consumers won't care about fuel economy. They'll simply want bigger, faster cars and thus fuel economy will suffer. Manufacturers argue that current government regulations on fuel economy force the firms to produce cars that no one wants, and bigger vehicles-like SUVs--that escape the regulations are more popular than ever.
Firms point to Europe as an illustration of its point: since 1970, U.S.
oil consumption has increased from 14 million to 20 million barrels a
day, while consumption in Germany and Britain has actually fallen. Analysts
cite evidence pointing to high gas taxes as part of the reason for the
European drop in consumption. Consumers in those countries, the firms
argue, asked for more fuel efficient automobiles as the price of oil kept
(Updated June, 2004)
|Source||Danny Hakim. "A Fuel-Saving Proposal from your Automaker: Tax the Gas." The New York Times. 18 April 2004.|
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