April 18, 2005


Oil falls back below $50 a barrel (BBC, 4/18/05)

US oil prices have slipped to below $50 a barrel, an eight-week low, on sharp words from global finance chiefs about the threat to growth.

Ministers of the G7 group of industrial states over the weekend urged action over the "headwind" of energy costs.

US oil dipped as low as $49.66 a barrel, down 82 cents, while London's Brent crude fell 39 cents to $51.22.

Growing US stockpiles have eased oil price pressures, but concerns remain about strong global demand.

This is an ideal time to crank gas taxes, while folks have adjusted psychologically to higher prices.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 18, 2005 8:38 AM

Always administer the poison when the victim is weak.

Posted by: David Cohen at April 18, 2005 10:04 AM

Please stop trying to get Republicans tossed from office and my taxes raised! :)

Still, you're welcome to come propose it while our own lege is in session here in Texas. Some Republicans are toying with a gas tax indexed to inflation. They've already scuttled property tax reform. Might as well ensure some more RINOs are defeated next time in the Republican primaries! Email 'em and encourage 'em, I say! Just makes it easier for conservatives in this state to pick 'em off before they can do any real harm.

Posted by: kevin whited at April 18, 2005 10:36 AM

Weak? We're still growing at close to 4%.

Posted by: oj at April 18, 2005 10:42 AM


It's obviously more sensible to tax consumption than ownership.

Posted by: oj at April 18, 2005 10:43 AM

I would agree with OJ's point except that Congress has shown absolutely no ability to control govt expenditures, including "smal-govt" Republicans. Give the govt more money and you get more spending, simple as that. So any ideas that increase money flow to the govt need to be questioned.

Posted by: AWW at April 18, 2005 11:38 AM


You get more spending with or without revenue. But you could just offset other sources with this one. The point is to make gas more expensive.

Posted by: oj at April 18, 2005 12:49 PM

oj wants to make gasoline as expensive as he can to get his way: fuel cells or bicycles for everyone! His naive belief that government will do the right thing with those questionable revenues is touching. Gasoline is 2.40 a gallon here (ct) and less driving is done. (When the income tax was added, gasoline and pesonal property taxes were going to come down and deficits would be a thing of the past, which of course, have never been worse while gas has never been more expensive) Less mobility, less business, fewer opportunities. Consumer oriented businesses are hurting as it is. I know, raise taxes!

Where the heck do you come up with this stuff? An old Paul Samuelson textbook?

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at April 18, 2005 1:30 PM

Government won't change what it wastes revenues on based on where they're from.

Posted by: oj at April 18, 2005 2:00 PM

So, shouldn't you be thinking about reducing their ability to tax rather than cooking up excuses to raise them? If gasoline is too expensive, economic alternatives will become available when they are economically practical.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at April 18, 2005 2:14 PM

so make it too expensive and they're practical.

Posted by: oj at April 18, 2005 2:20 PM

Friends have stopped complaining to me about the price of gas. I walk them through how far they drive per day, then how little the increase is over $1.80 a gallon. Once they see how little that really is, they often realize they are whining over an amount of money they usually wouldn't miss if it fell out of their purse or pocket on a daily basis. Or, maybe they just whine elsewhere, but the cost is really negligeable for most people. Increased taxes would have little effect in the short run, but the long term benefits could be great.

Posted by: Pat H at April 18, 2005 2:31 PM

It's obscene to be sending the money we are to those who would see us dead. Equivalent to sending scrap to Japan before WW2. If we were talking about necessity we might justify our consumption, but too many of us are just burning it for the hell of it. Just a symbol of our waste, but every time I see an empty car idling I'd like to puke.

Posted by: Genecis at April 18, 2005 8:34 PM

Regulations imposed over the last 30 years have not only made fuel more expensive but more difficult to produce and refine. If alternatives were practical you'd have them. Read the debates regarding ANWR drilling and tell me the governmnet knows what it is doing regarding energy policy. Devoloping an intelligent nuclear power policy would have enormous benefits although an intelligent discussion on nuclear power is nearly impossible. If the left could damge the economy through idiotic energy policy it would be happy to do so. Noble savages didn't need automobiles or central heating.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford, Ct. at April 19, 2005 6:58 AM

Neither do we.

Posted by: oj at April 19, 2005 7:59 AM

The economic commissar says we don't so I guess we don't. That clears things up. Thanks.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford, Ct. at April 19, 2005 8:21 AM

It's ironic that, in this alone, OJ wants us to follow the example of Europe and Japan because, apparently, their high gasoline prices have worked out so well for them.

Posted by: David Cohen at April 19, 2005 8:58 AM

oj likes micromanaging for the greater good.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at April 19, 2005 9:35 AM


No, they have too many cars too--central states love to build roads. Note London's congestion fee--which our cities should adopt but far more aggressively. New York City could easily hike tolls to say $20 or $30 each way during commuter hours.

Posted by: oj at April 19, 2005 10:17 AM

Central states live to tax. If they can buy votes by building roads they will build roads. If frightening the uninformed gets the votes even better, the money can be spent elsewhere while campaign contributions from the pseudo-science community soars. Best of both worlds.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at April 19, 2005 10:23 AM

I have no problem with congestion fees in theory, although in practice, like gas taxes, the chance that the tax will be even slightly close to the value of the externality it is seeking to offset is vanishingly small.

As to your point that very expensive gasoline in Europe and Japan hasn't had the effect you predict if we raise gas taxes here: Exactly.

Posted by: David Cohen at April 19, 2005 11:09 AM

They've been helpful, but insufficient. Raise them higher.

Posted by: oj at April 19, 2005 11:35 AM

First let's ask your wife if she'd like to go back to treating her patients by bleeding and purging them. What you're proposing is the economic equivalent.

Posted by: joe shropshire at April 19, 2005 1:40 PM

The medical arguments against driving and internal combustion are legion.

Posted by: oj at April 19, 2005 1:44 PM

Gasoline is selling in England for around 80 p/lt. One gallon is 4 liters, so that's 3.20 Pounds per gallon. Today, one Pound is worth $1.91649 Dollars, so gasoline sells in England for around $6.13 per gallon. That implies a additional gasoline tax of $4.00/gallon. The US pumps (this is a couple of years old, but lets not make it any worse) 375 million gallons of every day. Assuming that a $4.00 per gallon tax would decrease consumption by one-quarter -- which is insanely optimistic -- that would add $1.125 billion to government revenue every day, or about $410 billion per year.

And that is just a good start?

Our time would be better spent on something that's more likely to happen, like how we will remake the world when you're President and I'm Pope.

Posted by: David Cohen at April 19, 2005 2:40 PM

It wouldn't even cover the deficit, but it would cut our driving rates to those of the brits, which would be a good start.

Posted by: oj at April 19, 2005 2:53 PM

The medical arguments against a lifetime of hard manual labor are as numerous. How much leisure, and pocket money, do you suppose you'd have to pursue your obsessions without internal combustion?

Posted by: joe shropshire at April 19, 2005 3:42 PM

Cut our driving rate down to the level of the Brits?
You gotta get out more.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford, Ct. at April 19, 2005 3:50 PM



Posted by: oj at April 19, 2005 4:29 PM

oj: don't kid yourself. Affordable middle-class status, of the sort that buys you the leisure of one income, depends on affordable energy. Don't forget that the UPS truck that brings you your books has to pay tax on its gas too.

Posted by: joe shropshire at April 19, 2005 5:30 PM

Energy. Not gasoline. There's no reason they should come to our houses to begin with.

Posted by: oj at April 19, 2005 5:45 PM

oj: don't kid yourself. The same logic applies to the tractor trailer that delivers the books to your Barnes & Noble.

Posted by: joe shropshire at April 19, 2005 6:06 PM

Yes. There's no reason the books shouldn't be shipped via the Central Vermont train that runs right past it.

Posted by: oj at April 19, 2005 7:17 PM

Ok, you're nibbling. And how then shall you get to the bookstore to pick them up?

Posted by: joe shropshire at April 19, 2005 7:23 PM


Posted by: oj at April 19, 2005 7:30 PM

I believe you would, and I'd pay a dollar for a photo ;)

Posted by: joe shropshire at April 19, 2005 8:26 PM