It’s been a rocky few months for John Q. and Jane Public. First, it was the high gasoline prices and even higher diesel prices, the latter of which made the price of groceries and everything else shipped by 18-wheeler go up. Then came the financial meltdown, the mortgage fiasco, the tanking 401Ks and stocks, layoffs, etc. But then one little bright spot appeared as crude prices began to fall. Now with pump prices under $2 a gallon in many parts of the country, the Publics can fill up the family car’s tank without going into the bank account’s overdraft protection zone.
But the Washington Post’s editors would like to black out that one little bright spot. In an editorial appearing in the Sunday edition, they lament the fact that you sorry taxpayers just can’t be trusted to buy fuel-efficient cars:
…we fear that the temptation to return to gas-guzzling vehicles, to drive more and to forget the painful lessons learned last summer will be too great to resist.
That’s right. According to WaPo, the American people are just too darn stupid or absent-minded to stop themselves from rushing down to their local dealership and buying the largest, most gas-sucking SUV on the lot. Never mind that you’re trying to figure out how to pay the heating bill for the winter ahead, the editors of the Washington Post just know that deep down inside, you have an irresistible compulsion to go into more even debt for the next 72 months to finance a new energy-inefficient vehicle.
How do they know? Why Robert Samuelson told them so! Here’s the nightmare scenario and Doc Samuelson’s Rx for it:
A gas crisis leads to widespread calls for conservation, fuel-efficient cars and greater reliance on alternative sources of energy to help slip the yoke of imported oil. Then, as happened after the 1970s gas crunch, amnesia sets in the moment prices fall. One of the best ways to prevent a rerun is to raise the federal tax per gallon of gasoline. Mr. Samuelson made a worthy suggestion: Raise the gas tax a penny a month for 48 months.
That, say the font-of-wisdom editors, will help us achieve energy independence. That’s what it’s all about, right? Or perhaps not. After urging President-elect Obama to go “bold with dramatic action,” the editors conclude:
The United States cannot afford to backslide to its voracious, polluting ways as it did in the 1970s.
Oh, so now it’s about pollution. But if its really about energy independence and pollution, wouldn’t it be better to adopt the sensible half of the Pickens Plan and put more natural gas-powered vehicles on the road? After all, we’ve got trillions of cubic feet of the stuff, and trillions more have just been confirmed to exist in frozen hydrate form in Alaska. As for the pollution angle, natgas burns much cleaner than gasoline, ethanol or any other motor fuel currently available in any significant quantities.
Or perhaps it’s about other things. Perhaps it’s about a bunch of know-nothing elitists who just have to dictate that John Q. and Jane will have to do it their way or… well, not the highway. WaPo’s editors don’t want you of the great unwashed driving on the superslab unless you do it in micro-sized, goofy-looking aluminum cans on wheels that will fold up like Arabian tents if, God forbid, they should ever come into contact with anything larger or stronger.
And perhaps, too, it’s about the fact that liberals such as the Washington Post editors and their economic guru, the Maharishi Samuelson, just can’t let alone any taxes that haven’t been raised recently.
God help us if Obama, predisposed as he he is to raise taxes anyway, takes the advice of these clowns.
Cross-posted at Mainstream Conservative