I don’t usually shoot fish in a barrel, but tonight I’m feeling sadistic. Occasionally the conservative “think tank” Show Me Institute will pop up on my radar. I’ll read on of their blog posts, chuckle, and forget about it. But it’s worth pointing out their sheer stupidity once in awhile, just to remind everyone that they should be ignored.
The gist of the latest stupid post that caught my attention was that a $1 to $2 increase in the gas tax would fail to lead to any appreciable benefits. People would drive a little less, the author says, but cars would still be driven, still polluting the environment, and we would still buy oil from OPEC, which doesn’t have an effect on our national security.
Where to begin? The author, Sarah Brodsky, has a degree in economics, but it’s from the University of Chicago, which apparently means that she can forget about economics as long as she gets to bash taxes. Brodsky at one point even argues that the billions flowing to OPEC don’t have anything to do with national security because she doesn’t “see any petroleum executives trying to blow up buildings.” Um, so groups like Hamas and Hezbollah get zero dollars from oil money? Al Qaeda never got any oil money?
Let’s go back to the impetus for a major increase in the gas tax. Right now, we have a consensus that we are too dependent on foreign oil, that petrodollars help fund terrorist groups and fuel autocratic regimes, and that gasoline consumption results in too much pollution and carbon emissions. All of these are external costs, however, meaning that they are not included in the price of gasoline at the pump or off the tanker. In other words, when you look at the sign at the station, you don’t think about your share of the tax burden for cleaning up oil spills, health care costs for respiratory disease,