Miscellaneous


So there’s this big debate going on between the Democratic candidates right now about a “gas tax holiday” for the summer. On the one side, we have John McCain and Hillary Clinton and others arguing that for the sake of American families, who are paying much more for gas and food and other basic necessities than they were a year ago, we should drop eighteen cents off the price of gas. (In other words, the amount that gas prices have gone up in the past, I don’t know, two months.) On the other side, we have Barack Obama and others arguing that this is pointless, a short-term solution that’s only trying to win votes and not trying to make anything better in the long run. There’s no guarantee that the oil companies won’t raise prices because they can, and thus the gain from the tax holiday will be negative. And then an instant eighteen-cent hike will make Labor Day really fun!

What no one seems to be talking about (although it’s starting to appear in today’s papers; here’s one example) is what happens to that money the federal government collects from the gas tax. In the U.S., that money goes into the Highway Trust Fund, which funds road, transit, and pedestrian projects. The Buffalo News estimates that this proposed “tax holiday” would take almost $10 billion out of the Highway Trust Fund, which is already almost $5 billion in the hole for projects that Congress has already approved (mostly new construction, not maintenance). The gas tax is one of the few taxes in this country which has a pretty clear line of sight from how it’s collected to how it’s spent. So it’s also pretty easy to say that the $30 each of us on average would save over the summer is $30 per person that’s not being spent on filling potholes, installing sidewalks, or, I don’t know, fixing bridges. ‘Cause it’s not like road maintenance is a problem anywhere in this country.

An introvert who isn’t known for running over at the mouth opens a blog to write about her thing(s): geography, quilting, and other pieces of the fabric of her life. In roughly that order. As They Might Be Giants would say: “This could lead to excellence/Or serious injury”…

Call me Storm. No, not for the X-Men character, but for my favorite quilt block, Storm at Sea.