Are US Gas Taxes Too Low?

That’s the opinion of economist John Whitehead at Environmental Economics. Whitehead’s post deals specifically with “social costs” or externalities of gasoline, such as health costs and other costs related to pollution (I don’t if/how global warming figures into this). Based on his calculations, which assume total social costs of about $33 billion (I assume that’s per year based on later figures), Whitehead figures gas taxes should be raised about $.25 cents to cover these costs. I’m just summarizing — make sure to take a look at John’s more thorough explanation of his method.

We’ve discussed gas taxes before, and I remember Steve and romehater coming out against them. There’s no doubt they’re regressive, and that needs to be addressed when considering raises in gas taxes, but they demonstrate that the costs of using gasoline are higher than the just the prices of extraction, refinement and transport. With the amount of driving I do, I’d certainly hate to pay any more for gas, but isn’t this just another example of how, despite all of our rhetoric of macho individualism in this country (regardless of one’s actual gender), we kick and scream if we actually do have take full responsibility for our actions or pay the full price for our habits…? Yes, I’m stirring the pot… a little…

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