Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Gas guzzling government

According to Wikipedia, "The U.S. federal gasoline tax as of 2005 was 18.4¢/gal (4.86¢/L), and the gasoline taxes in the various states range from 10 cents to 33 cents, with an average about 22 cents per U.S. gallon (5.8¢/L). Unlike most goods in the U.S., the price displayed includes all taxes, rather than being calculated at the point of purchase."

I can't be sure whether that very broad estimate on state gasoline taxes is also assumed to include county taxes as well. I do know, however (again, from my time working for the Tampa City Clerk's office) that many counties also levy a fuel tax. Certainly, Hillsborough County, where I lived for seven years or so, does.

Then, over here, we find that there were a total of 234,624 vehicles registered in the U.S. in 2002, which consumed 167,730 million gallons of fuel.

That's $30,862,340,000 -- thirty billion, eight hundred sixty two million, three hundred and forty thousand dollars for the Federal government every year from gasoline taxes.

It's also an average of $36,900,600,000 -- thirty six billion, nine hundred million, six hundred thousand dollars on average for each state, per year, from fuel taxes.

This is why, when our newly elected Democrats tell us they are going to commit to alternate energy sources, the sanest thing one can do is laugh hysterically. It's as bad as "I'm from the government, I'm here to help". Our government makes tens of billions of dollars per year off our cultural addiction to, as they like to call it in that old TV theme song, "Texas tea". Would you believe a random stranger who walked up to you on the street and said "I'm making thirty billion dollars a year off people like you buying home heating oil from my company, and now, out of the goodness of my heart, I'm going to invest a hundred billion into figuring out ways for you to heat your home that won't require you to buy my product any more?"

But, you know, our government isn't a business, and isn't all about personal profit. The men and women who we elect to high office are honorable and ethical people, and...

You're laughing.

Okay. And leaving all that aside, while government may not be, on paper, about personal profit (right), the fact of the matter is, government is about raising money and then spending it on programs that, supposedly, help the public. There's never enough money to go around to all the programs that the public wants to have funded (mostly because our government insists on spending trillions on programs none of us would want funded if we knew about them, but leave that aside, too), so it's simply insane and absurd to believe that our government is ever going to wean us off the gas teat while it's making them so much tax revenue, at every level -- local, county, state, and Federal.

We'll see alternate fuel sources become viable and commonly accessible when the government figures out (a) one that works and (b) one that can make them at least forty billion dollars a year in tax revenue.

Until then, I guess we'll just have to keep sending our otherwise unemployable high school drop outs over to the Middle East to make sure we have a steady supply of black gold.


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