Cover You in Oil

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Gas is still expensive and John McCain is still tied or narrowly behind Obama, so the "gas tax holiday" is back.

Before a fundraiser in Richmond, Virginia on Monday, McCain mentioned the gas tax holiday in remarks to a smaller event for about 40 high-dollar donors. "That was derided by Sen. Obama and others as a gimmick," McCain said, but added that working people and truckers would appreciate it.

It's not a gimmick!

"I don't pretend that it's an answer to our energy problems," he said.

Still not a gimmick!

McCain has repeatedly said he does not believe the proposal would be a panacea for America's energy woes. Instead, McCain argued, low-income families could save some extra cash to pay for their children's school supplies this fall, or perhaps treat themselves to a nice dinner.

OK, it's a gimmick.

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  1. If you’re gonna post this, you should at least make mention of this:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSWAT00963020080609

    It may be a gimmick, but is it worse than Obama’s plan?

  2. A nice dinner? He didn’t really say that did he?

    Bankrupt the Highway Trust Fund (yeah yeah, unlibertarian, but it’s the reality we have for today) so people can have a nice dinner? How is McCain still in this thing?

  3. As someone who owns a car that gets 9 miles to the gallon, I welcome this gimmicky gas tax holiday.

  4. Hes so MAVERICK-Y!

  5. How nice, the government is giving us permission to have a nice dinner this summer.

    Thanks Comrade!

  6. A nice dinner!! Take some of you own money and buy something nice with it, from me! Thank me later (wink, wink).

  7. Instead, McCain argued, low-income families could save some extra cash to pay for their children’s school supplies this fall, or perhaps treat themselves to a nice dinner.

    What a condescending douche. It’s funny; they’ll make hay out of Obama’s “clingy” comment, but I’ll bet you nary a word in the MSM about McCain buying the poor a “nice dinner”.

  8. This plan is completely libertarian. I salute John McCain for standing up against Obama’s big tax fascism.
    Besides, these slightly lower gas prices will allow Americans to continue using more oil, and this will be good for the overall prices, right?

  9. It may be a gimmick, but is it worse than Obama’s plan?

    Nothing lowers prices so nicely as a tax hike.


  10. Besides, these slightly lower gas prices will allow Americans to continue using more oil, and this will be good for the overall prices, right”

    No. Prices will go down when people use less.

    Supply and Demand, remember?

  11. I’d like a bullshit holiday but I don’t expect I’m going to see one anytime soon.

  12. Someone please tell me that’s a fake Dondero. There’s no way the real one could be that dumb.

    Isn’t the gas tax the closest thing to a road user charge that we have? Gas taxes are, in a way, libertarian because they pay for the infrastructure that’s being used. It also, somewhat takes into account the difference in damage done to roads by different cars. Heavier cars are less fuel efficient and do more damage to roads, so they pay more in gas taxes. It’s not direct, but it’s pretty darn close.

  13. No. Prices will go down when people use less.

    Supply and Demand, remember?

    But…both increased and decreased demand seem to increase the price of gasoline. Don’t you listen to the news?

  14. I’d like a bullshit holiday

    It would give us a chance to build the National Strategic Bullshit Reserve back up after the serious depletion caused by the Iraq War.

  15. Nothing lowers prices so nicely as a tax hike.

    Its not a tax hike on consumers purchasing gas (which would lower demand), its a tax on oil company profits. It will lower the incentive to supply gas, and raise prices.

  16. Dave, please explain to me why I should care if it’s a “gimmick” or not. Any tax relief is good tax relief. There is no such thing as a bad tax holiday.

  17. When will people use less? Answer: when little oil is left and therefore expensive. But why would anyone want to use up the oil resources?

    We’re too many people consuming too much. Not a good equation!

  18. Isn’t the gas tax the closest thing to a road user charge that we have? Gas taxes are, in a way, libertarian because they pay for the infrastructure that’s being used. It also, somewhat takes into account the difference in damage done to roads by different cars. Heavier cars are less fuel efficient and do more damage to roads, so they pay more in gas taxes. It’s not direct, but it’s pretty darn close.

    My sentiments exactly. Of all the taxes we have here in the USA, the fuel tax seems the most libertarian one there is.

  19. Dave, please explain to me why I should care if it’s a “gimmick” or not. Any tax relief is good tax relief. There is no such thing as a bad tax holiday.

    Because it’s a cheap low-rent form of political pandering and it shows was an inept worthless piece of crap McCain is.

    But if you don’t care to form an opinion of McCain, by all means, enjoy your dinner at Red Lobster.

    Its not a tax hike on consumers purchasing gas (which would lower demand), its a tax on oil company profits. It will lower the incentive to supply gas, and raise prices.

    I know. My original statement probably should have been [sarc/] qualified.

  20. Hey, a bunch of libertarians deriding a tax break. How very Republicrat.

  21. Instead, McCain argued, low-income families could save some extra cash to pay for their children’s school supplies this fall, or perhaps treat themselves to a nice dinner.

    AH HA! So that’s it! Somebody tell the Idaho homosexuals.

  22. Dave, please explain to me why I should care if it’s a “gimmick” or not. Any tax relief is good tax relief. There is no such thing as a bad tax holiday.

    The essential reason is that it won’t do what McCain claims it will do: lower prices at the pump.

    If the federal government lowers the excise tax while the supply of oil or gasoline is strapped, then consumers can’t use more, the oil companies can’t decrease the price at the pump, and the oil companies simply pocket the tax cut.

    You may be fine with a gas tax holiday going to oil companies or you may not. But it won’t pay for anyone’s school supplies or dinner, and McCain with this policy is either lying or economically ignorant.

  23. If McDouchebag is such a big fan of suspending the gas tax, maybe he ought to be running for congress where they actually have control over it.

  24. And even if you don’t mind part of a tax holiday sold to gullible voters going to Exxon Mobil, et al., you may mind a significant portion of that tax cut going to Iran, Venezuela, and the like.

  25. Dave, please explain to me why I should care if it’s a “gimmick” or not. Any tax relief is good tax relief. There is no such thing as a bad tax holiday.

    Agreed, but it’s a question of magnitude. This is a very small good.

    If McCain is talking about a permanent tax cut, I’d get more excited. But this is just a cheap political move that won’t solve anything.

    A temporary tax break does not an energy policy make.

    As for Obama, I don’t think he’s even publicly stated a plan. I guess he’ll just touch a gas pump with his Jesus-y fingers and the price will go down.

    Hey, a bunch of libertarians deriding a tax break. How very Republicrat.

    I think it’s a given that everyone wants taxes lower, so no need to argue that. I, at least, am talking about a long-term solution, since we’ll be stuck with one of these fuckers for four years…

  26. Besides, these slightly lower gas prices will allow Americans to continue using more oil, and this will be good for the overall prices, right?

    Uhhhmmm, what? No, people will use more and thus blunt the price reduction due to suspending the tax.

    Suppose you have a tax on a good. The tax is $1, now the new price consumers see is say, $(p + 0.75). Suppliers see a price of $(p – 0.25). If you suspend the tax, the price returns to $p, not $(p – 0.25). Suppliers will see a price of $p, which also makes them better off too….but don’t tell anyone since that might piss people off too.

    Profits are bad.

  27. Who gives a rat’s ass what the effect will be, or even McCain knows jack about economics. I support this not because of its effects, but because it’s tax relief.

    Pop quiz for all the libertarians dissing this gimmick. Do the following proposals differ in substance or degree?

    #1 – 1 day gas tax holiday
    #2 – 1 year income tax holiday

    I doubt very much that you’d be howling about #2, regardless of its gimmicky or panderific nature.

  28. Who gives a rat’s ass what the effect will be, or even McCain knows jack about economics. I support this not because of its effects, but because it’s tax relief.

    An example of someone who has been successfully pandered too.

  29. As someone who just paid $85 to fill up my damn truck, I’d welcome any bit of relief at all. It’s a damn sight better than Obama’s plan to increase taxes to the oil companies. As if that wouldn’t be passed on to the consumers.

    “I’ll make oil companies like Exxon pay a tax on their windfall profits, and we’ll use the money to help families pay for their skyrocketing energy costs and other bills.”

    So in other words, I’ll have to pay more taxes so it can be handed back out to SOMEONE ELSE instead of using the money I make to take care of my own family.

    And don’t tell me to get a fucking hybrid or economy vehicle. I live and work on a horse farm. Toy cars don’t get the job done here. My truck is payment free. If I were to buy anything new, then I’d have a monthly vehicle payment AND a gas bill.

  30. MP | June 9, 2008, 3:39pm | #

    Because it’s a cheap low-rent form of political pandering and it shows was an inept worthless piece of crap McCain is.

    But if you don’t care to form an opinion of McCain, by all means, enjoy your dinner at Red Lobster.

    Ignoring the Red Lobster non sequitur, MP, it seems to me that you’re saying libertarians should oppose a policy they would otherwise support, merely because it is advocated by a non-libertarian.

    Understand that I am the farthest thing in the world from an enthusiast for Crazy Cousin John. It’s just that I don’t mind “pandering” when it results in less revenue for the government. We need more such pandering.

  31. I doubt very much that you’d be howling about #2, regardless of its gimmicky or panderific nature.

    Well, when taxes double the following year to pay for the holiday, you might start howling.

    Seriously, you do know that eventually the gov’t will have to balance its budget…which is why most libertarians favor permanent tax holidays by reducing the size and scope of the government.

  32. But it won’t pay for anyone’s school supplies or dinner, and McCain with this policy is either both lying or, economically ignorant and totally out of touch with the realities of life outside the beltway.

    There FIFY 🙂

    /McCainBush hasn’t touched the handle of a gas pump in 20 years, much less looked at the price of gas.

    //He should’ve started his pitch with “My friends…”, that would achieve the level of condescension he regards us with.

  33. Pop quiz for all the libertarians dissing this gimmick. Do the following proposals differ in substance or degree?

    #1 – 1 day gas tax holiday
    #2 – 1 year income tax holiday

    As difficult as it is for oil companies to increase supply to take advantage of a 3 month gas tax holiday, it is of course impossible to increase supply to take advantage of a 1 day gas tax holiday.

    The supply of labor, however, is much more short-term elastic than the supply of oil, and a year is a long enough time to renegotiate contracts with employers to increase supply of labor and income to the economy.

    What was your point?

  34. This discussion is moot. Congress is considering no such bill, it wouldn’t pass even if it were, and Bush has said he doesn’t favor it and therefore it would die at his veto pen even IF it were being considered in Congress, and even IF they had the votes to pass it.

  35. MP –

    You have no idea what you’re talking about (re: I’ve been successfully pandered to). You’re conflating support for this proposal and support for McCain. I’d rather drink cow piss than vote for McCain. Now if you care to challenge the merits of the proposal, I’m all ears.

  36. What I can’t figure out is why McCain isn’t calling for the elimination of subsidies to Amtrak and other forms of public transit. These subsidies not only unfairly compete with airlines and taxi companies, but they also keep the price of gasoline artificially low by reducing the demand. Seems like McCain would guarantee himself the election if he’d just take the Libertarian position on this issue alone.

  37. Sure, it’s a gimmick, but it’s a step in the right direction.

    Let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

  38. No. Prices will go down when people use less.

    Supply and Demand, remember?

    And the area where both campaigns have totally screwed the pooch, not to mention the country, is on the Demand side.

    The idiot Repubs should just be owning Dem ass on this issue, hanging the strangulation of domestic energy production (and resultant increase in prices) on the Dems. Since their candidate is on board with strangling domestic energy production, though, they are just as paralyzed and useless as the Dems.

    We are actually [takes deep breath] planning to get rid of my wife’s Hemi-powered ride to get something more [spits] energy efficient, and the reason has everything to do with the fucking dickheads in Washington who won’t get out of our way and let us drill, refine, and build energy in this country.

  39. “What I can’t figure out is why McCain isn’t calling for the elimination of subsidies to Amtrak and other forms of public transit.”\

    Actually, he favors the elimination of Amtrak. Hes been on a personal crusade against Amtrak sin ce the early 80s.

  40. Understand that I am the farthest thing in the world from an enthusiast for Crazy Cousin John. It’s just that I don’t mind “pandering” when it results in less revenue for the government. We need more such pandering.

    The precise problem is that less revenue for the government does not equal less spending for the government.
    I pay off my credit card in full every month because I don’t like being in debt. If someone told me I could reduce my credit card bill by $20, I’d be all for it, but not if it meant spending the same amount as usual but just taking on some debt.

  41. As someone who just paid $85 to fill up my damn truck, I’d welcome any bit of relief at all. It’s a damn sight better than Obama’s plan to increase taxes to the oil companies. As if that wouldn’t be passed on to the consumers.

    “I’ll make oil companies like Exxon pay a tax on their windfall profits, and we’ll use the money to help families pay for their skyrocketing energy costs and other bills.”

    Lets see, reduce the oil companies profits so they’ll look elsewhere to invest their money, and reduce oil production/gasoline supply which will increase prices. Brilliant.

    And how many working class families have their retirements partially invested in ExxonMobil? Millions? Tens of millions? Yeah, lets give their retirement funds a kick in the nuts too. So much for joe’s thesis of most brilliant politician of the last 20 years.

    And this will do what to the price? Lower it? Why? Prices are determined by supply and demand not profit margins. As such, reducing the profit margins aren’t going to have much effect on the price in the short run anyways.

    More stupid pandering.

    And don’t tell me to get a fucking hybrid or economy vehicle. I live and work on a horse farm. Toy cars don’t get the job done here. My truck is payment free. If I were to buy anything new, then I’d have a monthly vehicle payment AND a gas bill.

    I hate to break it to ya, but sometimes the market can be harsh.

    Now if you care to challenge the merits of the proposal, I’m all ears.

    You mean aside from adding to the government deficit which would eventually have to be made up via future taxes? That it would actually increase demand at a time when the resource in question is becoming more scarce? That road maintence will be compromised? None of these do anything for ya, or you just don’t give a crap?

  42. If McCain is talking about a permanent tax cut, I’d get more excited. But this is just a cheap political move that won’t solve anything.

    A temporary tax break does not an energy policy make.

    Maybe, maybe not. If gas prices keep going up, there might be huge pressure to make the tax cut permanent and larger rather than letting it end (Repubs always call the end of tax cuts “tax hikes”).

    Can’t hurt to get a foot in the door.

  43. My simple point, which I’m sure wasn’t lost on you MikeP, was that I’ll take tax relief of any kind, regardless of size and regardless of whether there are any spending offsets. Ideally, we would get tax relief and spending offsets. 1 of 2 is better than 0 of 2.

    If and when the bill comes later, I’ll challenge that on the same grounds I challenge all coerced taxation.

  44. Since I don’t have a car and ride the bus/walk, why should I be forced to subsidized (through the interest on the resulting debt that will be incurred during the “holiday”) those who drive a hummer two blocks to the supermarket to pick up a gallon of milk?

  45. You mean aside from adding to the government deficit which would eventually have to be made up via future taxes?

    So, you’re in favor of raising taxes until the deficit is zero? What do you think will happen to spending at that point?

  46. Since I don’t have a car and ride the bus/walk, why should I be forced to subsidized (through the interest on the resulting debt that will be incurred during the “holiday”) those who drive a hummer two blocks to the supermarket to pick up a gallon of milk?

    Actually, they’re subsidizing you with the tax.

  47. You know Dave, I’d rather have higher taxes and no deficit.

    Because if people had to actually PAY for the level of spending government does, maybe (just maybe!) they would then demand a decrease in the amount of spending, rather than getting what they think is a free ride (it isn’t) currently.

  48. So much for joe’s thesis of most brilliant politician of the last 20 years.

    This is one of the reasons I think McCain will win the election. Obama is an utterly empty suit who will be up against someone from the other party instead of the same party. Against Clinton, there were places she just could not go for the sake of party unity and because of the Dem platform.

    McCain is not restricted in this way. However, since McCain is also something of an idiot he won’t win that big.

  49. Dave, they aren’t subsidizing me if I hardly use roads.

    The gas tax is used for federal highways. I almost never use interstates.

  50. I don’t give a crap Steve V. It’s my money and I’d prefer to have it now.

    It might be unlikely, but there’s no guarantee we (or future generations) will have to pay that money back in the future. If we get the country on a more libertarian track, maybe there will be spending offsets in the future. Hell, getting us out of Iraq alone would constitute a huge spending offset.

  51. Ignoring the Red Lobster non sequitur, MP, it seems to me that you’re saying libertarians should oppose a policy they would otherwise support, merely because it is advocated by a non-libertarian.

    In the realm of responsible budgeting and tax cut proposals, cutting the gas tax probably ranks near the absolute bottom. To offer it as a policy proposal is the clearest sign of a politician who cares nothing beyond how many votes the idea will buy. And to sign off on it because it lowers taxes is the clearest sign of an individual’s blind willingness to label anything that simply cuts taxes, regardless of policy reasoning, as good. And to me, this type of blind willingness requires an absence of critical though that I find disturbing.

  52. You know Dave, I’d rather have higher taxes and no deficit.

    You’d get the higher taxes along with the same deficit.

    Because if people had to actually PAY for the level of spending government does,

    That was called the Balanced Budget Amendment. Actually came within a single vote of passing.

  53. This discussion is moot.

    The discussion is not moot even if no such plan can be implemented this season.

    The plans of Obama and McCain tell us something about each of them. They tell us that Obama is a demagoguing redistributionist statist who tries to sell a plan to the voters that will lower the long run supply of oil, and that McCain is an economic illiterate who tries to sell a plan to the voters that will do nothing for the short or long run supply of oil and will fail to bring promised relief to the consumer.

    Joy.

  54. And to me, this type of blind willingness requires an absence of critical though that I find disturbing.

    To me, the level of sophistry involved in labelling a tax cut bad because it’s not the “right” tax cut is far more disturbing.

  55. Dave, please explain to me why I should care if it’s a “gimmick” or not. Any tax relief is good tax relief. There is no such thing as a bad tax holiday.

    There’s no such thing as a free lunch either, a point that seems lost on many of the libertarians here. The money lost through the tax holiday has to be made up for by spending cuts, borrowing, and/or inflation of the dollar. Guess which one of those isn’t going to happen.

  56. Dave, they aren’t subsidizing me if I hardly use roads.

    You never buy anything that was shipped along a road?

  57. TallDave,

    Maybe, maybe not. If gas prices keep going up, there might be huge pressure to make the tax cut permanent and larger rather than letting it end (Repubs always call the end of tax cuts “tax hikes”).

    Can’t hurt to get a foot in the door.

    And you don’t think the revenue shortfall will be made up with higher taxes eventually? Really?

    Nevermind that wear and tear on the roads is a function of the number of people using the road, which is correlated with the number of miles people drive, thus making the gasoline tax not a bad user fee.

    Some public goods would be difficult to provide in an anarcho-capitalist society, and even if you did get them you’d be replacing the gas tax with a toll.

    Seriously, do you think there is a free pony in the libertarian tent somewhere?

    And we’ll skip all the potential problems due to sub-additive costs and natural monopolies, limit pricing, etc.

    So, you’re in favor of raising taxes until the deficit is zero? What do you think will happen to spending at that point?

    No, as I noted earlier, I’m in favor or reducing the size and scope of government so we can get the fiscal picture under control. Without, said reductions then we will eventually have to raise taxes. Alot. Social Security, Medicare alone require about $85 trillion right now if we are to run them into the future indefinitely as they are currently set up.

    x,y,

    It might be unlikely, but there’s no guarantee we (or future generations) will have to pay that money back in the future.

    Channelling Dick Cheney with that deficits don’t matter stuff eh?

    If we get the country on a more libertarian track, maybe there will be spending offsets in the future. Hell, getting us out of Iraq alone would constitute a huge spending offset.

    IIRC, Iraq is off budget.

    Second, roads and highways are one of the few legitimate areas of government for most libertarians…yet you want to cut that spending? Okay, so much for principles…oh wait, sorry forgot who you were channelling.

  58. So, you’re in favor of raising taxes until the deficit is zero? What do you think will happen to spending at that point?

    So, you’re in favor of lowering taxes until the federal revenue is zero? What do you think will happen to inflation at that point?

  59. I have a great proposal:

    We will have a federal tax holiday for one year. No federal taxes for one year! We’ll just borrow to make up the lost revenue.

    Any takers?

  60. Game over. MikeP for the win.

  61. Actually, he favors the elimination of Amtrak. Hes been on a personal crusade against Amtrak sin ce the early 80s.

    Good point, thanks for reminding me. He needs to get that position out in front of his campaign. I can see it now:

    My friends, I’ve been trying to eliminate the scourge of passenger train service throughout our great nation since the 1980’s.

    I think that will play well on both the East and West coasts, where he needs to capture traditionally Democratic voters who may be open to some fresh thinking in how we can raise our artifically low gas prices.

  62. “You never buy anything that was shipped along a road?”

    Yes, and I can guarantee you the cost of that was passed onto me when I purchased the product.

    And no, I don’t expect companies to lower their prices because they are paying 8 cents less to ship it. They’ll pocked the money. I’d do that if I were them, too, because most people wouldn’t realize it and I’d make a little more money.

  63. And you don’t think the revenue shortfall will be made up with higher taxes eventually? Really?

    By that reasoning, we can never cut taxes because every tax cut will result in a tax hike somewhere/sometime else.

  64. It might be unlikely, but there’s no guarantee we (or future generations) will have to pay that money back in the future.

    Wishful thinking at its finest. Maybe the Rapture will come before the debt comes due. You never know.

  65. Yes, and I can guarantee you the cost of that was passed onto me when I purchased the product.

    Except the part that was defrayed by the guy driving his Hummer 2 blocks, who is thereby graciously subsidizing you.

  66. TallDave,

    Are you being deliberately obtuse?

    By that reasoning, we can never cut taxes because every tax cut will result in a tax hike somewhere/sometime else.

    Nonsense. We can have a tax cut, when we reduce the size and scope of government. Government spends less, therefore government needs less revenue. Pretty damned obvious to me, but what do I know.

  67. It might be unlikely, but there’s no guarantee we (or future generations) will have to pay that money back in the future.

    Raise your hand if you think all government debt will paid back in less than 50 years, by which time it will have been inflated to nothing.

  68. I think Dave favors my plan.

    Come on Dave–no federal taxes, for one year! We can borrow to pay for it. Deficits don’t matter!

    Are you ready to sign on?

  69. Raise your hand if you think all government debt will paid back in less than 50 years, by which time it will have been inflated to nothing.

    Are you seriously advocating for a money tax? Really?

    Jesus, these gas fumes are really affecting people’s criticial reasoning abilities.

  70. TallDave, Are you being deliberately obtuse?

    No, but I’m pretty sure you are.

    Nonsense. We can have a tax cut, when we reduce the size and scope of government. Government spends less, therefore government needs less revenue.

    What a wonderful fantasy.

  71. The guy driving the Hummer can chose not to “subsidize” me anytime he wants by (gasp!) walking, or buying a smaller car. Thats the beauty of user fees.

    I have no choice of subsidizing HIM if theres a phony tax holiday.

  72. Steve V., let me address each of your rebuttals:

    You mean aside from adding to the government deficit which would eventually have to be made up via future taxes?

    First, your conclusion does not necessarily follow from your premise. As I mentioned earlier, we can cut spending in the future (ex: getting out of Iraq). I’m sure you can think of thousands of other examples if you care to. Second, even if there are no spending cuts, I’d rather have the $ now. A dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow — especially if there are no spending cuts and the Fed continues to debase our fiat currency.

    That it would actually increase demand at a time when the resource in question is becoming more scarce?

    It’s not clear who will capture the newly created surplus, producers or consumers. If producers, the price will not change and demand will remain the same. Price might even increase and people will demand less. Of course, the price could decrease, and you’d be right that people will demand more at that price. What’s your point? The effects of the policy matter very little to me. I’m advocating a freer society, not cheap gas.

    That road maintence will be compromised?

    BWAHAHAHA, that’s a good one. You’ll have to go out on a limb for this one, but I can guarantee that they’ll cut other programs before they let the roads go to shit. And even if the roads do go to shit, that’s fine with me. People will then see that the state cannot provide for us.

  73. Are you seriously advocating for a money tax? Really?

    Was that your hand raised?

    Figure 1.03 ^ 50 and try again.

  74. I have no choice of subsidizing HIM if theres a phony tax holiday

    You’re not subsidizing him. You’re reducing the subsidy he pays to you.

  75. The gas tax is used for federal highways. I almost never use interstates.

    While you may not use it directly, but unless you are growing your own bamboo to build furniture and weave shirts all those trucks that bring goods to Walmart have to drive on something.

  76. Come on Dave–no federal taxes, for one year! We can borrow to pay for it. Deficits don’t matter!

    Deficits matter, but they have to be considered in relation to several other factors: the decreasing marginal propensity of politicians to spend beyond available revenues, the deficit/GDP ratio, and the overall debt/inflation picture.

  77. Ah, I see point already made upstream. Mostly I wanted to add the link, anyway. My wife (who’s in the garment industry) has some bamboo shirts and they are really nice and soft.

  78. Channelling Dick Cheney with that deficits don’t matter stuff eh?

    Now you’re just being a dickhead. Not only did I not say that, it can’t be reasonably implied from anything I did. In fact, I cited a popular position (leave Iraq) to show that we can have spending offsets in the near future.

    All I want is to keep the $ I earned.

  79. TallDave,

    If the trillions of dollars that the govt owes now are worth nothing in 50 years, what do you think the thousands of dollars ordinary citizens have saved up now will be worth? The cure by inflation would be worse than the disease.

  80. By that reasoning, we can never cut taxes because every tax cut will result in a tax hike somewhere/sometime else.

    No, we can have a tax cut, if there’s an associated spending cut. Cut spending AND taxes. Is that such a difficult concept to wrap your mind around? Republican borrow and spend ideology actually makes people to want more government spending because they don’t feel the pain of the cost of their services through taxes. So when people try to cut services, they throw a hissy fit. Make people pay for what they get and people will prioritize (which means keep some, cut some).

    I support a balanced budget amendment allowing for exceptions under emergency conditions (requiring a 2/3 vote to pass unpaid for bills). What’s the point of a tax cut today if I have to pay it, with interest, tomorrow*?

    * It’s not like the elderly don’t have their salads tossed enough by politicians, why give them even more benefits.

  81. A dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow — especially if there are no spending cuts and the Fed continues to debase our fiat currency.

    Aside from that pesky thing of borrowing at a positive interest rate. If the rate of interest is equal to or greater than inflation…

    BWAHAHAHA, that’s a good one. You’ll have to go out on a limb for this one, but I can guarantee that they’ll cut other programs before they let the roads go to shit.

    Or they will borrow the money, thus crowding out private investment, create a new tax, or as you said, but other spending.

    TallDave,

    Was that your hand raised?

    Figure 1.03 ^ 50 and try again.

    You do understand that the government borrows at a positive interest rate right? Thus, to “inflate it away” you’ll have to increase the inflation rate, and fix the interest rate. That is the definition of an inflation tax.

  82. x,y,

    Leaving Iraq will not even balance the budget, let alone help pay off the debt. Obviously, it would be better to leave than to stay, but actually solving the debt problem is going to require much more. And tax relief without spending cuts will only make it harder.

  83. Government spends less, therefore government needs less revenue.

    Here, let me fix that:

    Government has less revenue, therefore government spends less.

    They may be reluctant to cut spending with a deficit, but do you think the pro-socialism party currently in control of budgeting is ever going to spend less than they collect?

  84. Now you’re just being a dickhead. Not only did I not say that, it can’t be reasonably implied from anything I did. In fact, I cited a popular position (leave Iraq) to show that we can have spending offsets in the near future.

    All I want is to keep the $ I earned.

    You said you don’t give a crap about adding to the deficit.

    So I’ll stick with my Dick Cheney reference.

  85. You do understand that the government borrows at a positive interest rate right?

    Only by a percent or two. T-bills are so safe the federal government can borrow for almost a zero rate of return.

  86. Chis Potter,

    I never suggested leaving Iraq would balance the budget or help pay off the debt. Someone said we can’t have tax cuts without spending offsets. They followed that up by saying I’m in the clouds for thinking there will be spending offsets anytime soon. But they’re wrong. If we leave Iraq (a popular position), we will have spending offsets in the near future. Thus, their original objection is moot.

  87. “The plans of Obama and McCain tell us something about each of them. They tell us that Obama is a demagoguing redistributionist statist who tries to sell a plan to the voters that will lower the long run supply of oil, and that McCain is an economic illiterate who tries to sell a plan to the voters that will do nothing for the short or long run supply of oil and will fail to bring promised relief to the consumer.”-Mike P

    DING DING DING! That’s perfect! Now I have to go drink myself into a coma.

  88. “Government has less revenue, therefore government spends less.”

    Where the fuck have you been the last 28 years? Thats not how it has worked in the real world. Starve the beast is a fantasy cooked up by Republican pols so they can promise tax cuts while still increasing spending.

  89. Government has less revenue, therefore government spends less.

    Have you been in a cave the last 8 years of record non-military, discretionary spending?

  90. Where the fuck have you been the last 28 years? Thats not how it has worked in the real world. Starve the beast is a fantasy cooked up by Republican pols so they can promise tax cuts while still increasing spending.

    Where the fuck have YOU been? The GOP Congress actually achieved a surplus by insisting on no more tax hikes.

    Do you really think they would have spent less had they raised taxes?

  91. x,y,

    If the guy advocating the tax holiday wins, we’re not leaving Iraq.

    Obviously I would have little difficulty with a tax cut coupled to greater or equal spending cuts. But that’s not what some of the more obtuse characters around are saying; they’re saying that even if it’s not coupled to spending cuts, a tax break is always good.

  92. Only by a percent or two. T-bills are so safe the federal government can borrow for almost a zero rate of return.

    Right, but you said we could inflate debt away. With your non-witty “Take 1.03^50” comment. The problem is 1.04^50 is 62% larger than 1.03^50.

  93. Have you been in a cave the last 8 years of record non-military, discretionary spending?

    I repeat, do you think they would have spent with tax hikes?

  94. “T-bills are so safe the federal government can borrow for almost a zero rate of return.”
    -TallDave

    Factoring in inflation, the Government borrows at a negative rate, making T-bills a worse investment than commodities. That’s why oil, gold and rice is so high.

  95. Uh, we got a surplus by raising taxes in 1990 and 1993, Dave.

    So, since 1980, we’ve had the biggest deficits when taxes are the lowest and surpluses when they’re at their highest. It seems to me government doesn’t reduce spending much, and Starve The Beat is a bunch of shit.

  96. I would prefer not to add to the deficit, but given the choice between that and tax relief, I’ll take tax relief. Why? Because a dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow.

    The cynical anarchist (not to be redundant) in me thinks it would be great if the deficit got so big the government collapsed. It’s a monstrosity that needs to fail. People need to see it fail.

  97. Right, but you said we could inflate debt away.

    Right, we pay the 1% interest, the debt deflates.

    Meanwhile, the deficit reduces politicians’ marginal propensity to spend.

  98. If McCain said two plus two was five, TallDave would be arguing for that position too. Anyone else feeling that vibe?

  99. Factoring in inflation, the Government borrows at a negative rate, making T-bills a worse investment than commodities. That’s why oil, gold and rice is so high.

    Exactly, a terrible investment for investors — but a great one for taxpayers.

  100. Where the fuck have YOU been? The GOP Congress actually achieved a surplus by insisting on no more tax hikes.

    Uh, but there were tax hikes in the years before the GOP Congress and the whole Internet boom.

    Taxes in 1998 > Taxes 1988 > Taxes now

    Spending now > Spending in 1998 > Spending in 1988

    Deficit now > Deficit in 1988 >> Deficit in 1998

  101. If McCain said two plus two was five, TallDave would be arguing for that position too. Anyone else feeling that vibe?

    Because I’m for a tax cut?

    Why do I get the feeling that even if he proposed a spending cut along with it, you’d still oppose it?

  102. If the guy advocating the tax holiday wins, we’re not leaving Iraq.

    Again with people conflating my support for the policy with support for McDeranged.

    The tax relief is good on moral grounds because it allows me to keep more of the $ I earn.

    It’s good on utilitarian grounds because (1) it’s possible to have spending offsets, and (2) even without spending offsets, a dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow.

  103. X, Y, would you REALLY want the bridge you are driving on to collapse into the river?

    You did say you would LIKE to see state funded roads fail, so I’m going to make sure you’re still thinking like that even if the particular state-funded bridge you were driving on collapsed and ended your life.

  104. x,y,

    And the dollar that had to be borrowed to make up for your tax cut dollar is going to have to be paid back with interest in the future. And since the people the govt is borrowing from are not total idiots, the interest rate is going to be higher than the expected inflation rate.

    And if the govt collapses with trillions in unpaid debts, all their creditors are going to collapse as well. That is, US banks, US private citizens with T-Bonds, foreign banks, and foreign govts…and those govts are going to have every reason to attack the US to recoup their losses at that time. Good luck repelling that attack with a starving populace and no government.

  105. Deficit now > Deficit in 1988 >> Deficit in 1998

    We’ve had much larger deficits as a % of GDP.

    Again, are there people here who seriously think we can raise taxes without a comcomitant increase in spending?

    A cut in taxes certainly doesn’t guarantee a cut in spending, but it doesn’t hurt.

  106. x,y,

    But your taxes will go up tomorrow to cover the interest (which is higher than inflation). TANSTAAFL. Is that so hard to understand?

  107. Why do I get the feeling that even if he proposed a spending cut along with it, you’d still oppose it?

    It probably has something to do with the pile of rat droppings in your head in place of a brain.

  108. “Of all the taxes we have here in the USA, the fuel tax seems the most libertarian one there is.”

    Except for the fact that the actual cost of using the roads is being overcharged because of the Davis-Bacon Act – a bullshit political giveaway to labor unions that inflates the cost of every federal road project (and every other type of federal construction project as well).

  109. TallDave,

    No one here is talking about raising taxes. Quit burning strawmen.

  110. Again, are there people here who seriously think we can raise taxes without a comcomitant increase in spending?

    It happened in the 1990s. This decade we’ve gotten the opposite, increased spending and lower taxes. Hoo-fucking-ray, 401k will be eaten up by taxes.

  111. Show of hands for people who agree with both of the following:

    1. We can’t have tax relief unless we also cut spending.

    2. We can’t liberalize our immigration policy unless we also cut the welfare state.

    I call BS on both.

  112. And since the people the govt is borrowing from are not total idiots, the interest rate is going to be higher than the expected inflation rate.

    T-Bills are considered nearly risk-free, so the interest rate is not much higher than 1%, or even negative over some periods of time.

    So in 50 years you owe the same in real terms, and have paid 1% for the privilege of enjoying its benefits in the meantime. Nice business if you can get it, because you’re Uncle Sam and investors assume Western Civ won’t survive your fall.

  113. The official national debt figures don’t include Social Security and Medicare obligations, as well as likely costs of health care for wounded veterans of Bush’s and McCain’s little wars. So the true debt that the govt owes is much higher, perhaps two to three times as large as the official figures at this time.

  114. It happened in the 1990s.

    No, we got a tax raise along with a spending raise, then many years of a tightfisted GOP refusing to raise taxes or spending. Revenues went up with the expanding economy.

    Do people not remember the gov’t shutdown and how Gingrich was reviled for it?

  115. Then the GOP got corrupted and started raising spending and entitlements. I think they called “compassionate conservativism.”

  116. x,y,

    We can do both of those things, but there would likely be disastrous consequences. I don’t see where you’ve shown that those consequences can be avoided, beyond a polyannish “maybe we won’t have to pay the debt back” statement earlier.

  117. T-Bills are considered nearly risk-free, so the interest rate is not much higher than 1%, or even negative over some periods of time.

    By the way, I call shenanigans on your 1% claim. Considering that TIPS bonds are inflation protected and their yield is usually between 2% and 3%, we actually pay more than your 1%. Do you really think people would buy government bonds if they had a negative real interest rate? Professional investors know a shitload more than you do.

  118. TallDave,

    I don’t think you should be speaking ill of the 2000s GOP, dude. They lowered taxes, which as we know is always a good thing.

  119. Professional investors know a shitload more than you do.

    The bacteria in your intestine know more than he does.

  120. Do you really think people would buy government bonds if they had a negative real interest rate?

    Yes, because sometimes they inaccurately forecast the future inflation rate.

    Professional investors know a shitload more than you do.

    And professional investors never lose money?

  121. Chris Potter,

    Well, its nice to see you can hold a civil conversation.

  122. They lowered taxes, which as we know is always a good thing.

    Pretty much always. Spending cuts are good too, but I’ll take either within reason.

  123. Then address my TIPS comment? If you’re so much smarter than professional investors*, you should be able to make a killing by going long TIPS and shorting T-bills. You could make money faster than they print it if you’re right.

    * Which, by believing the real interest rate on government bonds is 1%, you’re implying.

  124. My taxes might or might not go up in the future to cover the interest. I don’t know what I’ll be making in the future, or even if I will be alive tomorrow. All I know is that right now I’m being coerced to give 40% of my income to various illegitimate entities for services I did not ask for and in most cases do not need.

    You don’t know anything about my financial situation. I could use the money to pay off 17% interest credit card debt. Or 6.5% mortgage interest. Or 7.5% student loan interest. Can you tell me what this interest rate for future payments is going to be? Because maybe it makes more sense for me to have money now.

    How can you justify keeping more of my money (against my wishes and best interest) to pay for some indeterminate amount at some indeterminate time?

  125. TallDave, I’ll converse civilly once you argue honestly.

  126. Chris Potter,

    See my comment at 4:55 pm. Do you agree with #2?

  127. Along the line that all taxes are good, we should just blindly accept:

    A reduction on taxes only for black Americans.
    A reduction on taxes only for Arizonians.
    A reduction on taxes only on registered Republicans.

    Because any tax reduction is a good tax reduction.

  128. * Which, by believing the real interest rate on government bonds is 1%, you’re implying

    Heh. You don’t have to “believe” it. Just go look up the return on a short-term U.S. bond from a couple years ago then check the inflation rate over that time.

    so much smarter than professional investors*,

    I didn’t say I was smarter than them. They accept low returns in exchange for safety.

    It’s worth noting virtually no money managers beat the indexes over the long run. And they do screw up spectacularly at times. Here’s a great book on how the brightest people in the business managed to break LTCM, a huge hedge fund.

    “When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management”

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0375758259/reasonmagazinea-20/

  129. (crap…edit…all tax reductions are good…)

  130. How can you justify keeping more of my money (against my wishes and best interest) to pay for some indeterminate amount at some indeterminate time?

    Just to remind you, x,y…

    The topic of this debate is a temporary tax cut that you will see little of, oil companies will see more of, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will see the most of.

  131. TallDave, I’ll converse civilly once you argue honestly.

    I did argue honestly.

    Oh well, I’ll let the kindergardeners have the thread.

  132. Actually, the bets the LTCM guys made were right, they just got margin called. Which is why the firms that bought all of their assets made a killing. It would be like me shorting the hell out of oil. I think I would make a boatload long term, but the market can go crazy, margin call me and I end up with nothing before I’m right.

    You’re right there are periods of time when there’s a negative yield. Predict when those are, there are times when the real interest rate is at 4%, but you never know that. The TIPS rate is essentially the real rate.

  133. x,y,

    For some individuals tax cuts now will benefit them individually. Elderly people definitely fall into this category, as they nearly certainly won’t have to pay higher taxes or deal with financial crises in the future.

    The entire nation, on the other hand, surely loses out from tax cuts not coupled with spending cuts. So if the only thing you’re concerned with is your own financial situation, by all means support the tax holiday, keeping in mind that you’re no better than the corrupt politician who votes for freedom-curtailing laws so he can stay in office and rake in campaign contributions. He’s acting purely in his own self-interest just like you.

  134. MikeP,

    I haven’t lost sight of the original topic, but the debate has shifted a bit (in part my doing). I noted that the difference between a 1 day gas tax holiday and 1 year income tax holiday is one of degree, not substance. And I very much doubt anyone howling now would complain about the latter.

  135. And I very much doubt anyone howling now would complain about the latter.

    Without spending cuts, I would complain about a year-long income tax holiday, so there goes your theory.

  136. TallDave, you brought up several pieces of “evidence” to support your argument which were completely false or inapposite. That’s not honest argument.

  137. That’s a pretty unfair comparison Chris Potter.

    I’ll cop to being concerned with my well being — and less so, if at all, with the well being of society. To the extent I care about society, it’s so that I can further my own ends. But this doesn’t make me like a corrupt politician.

    Let’s say you married a beautiful women, someone well out of your league. Hell, let’s say I did, because it’s true. I did it further my own interest. Because many men also wanted to marry this beautiful woman (who now can’t), they are all worse off because they ended up marrying women they preferred less. According to you, I have acted for my own benefit at the expense of society and that makes me just like a corrupt politician. But you can see this is absurd. Robert Nozick has an excellent and extended disussion of this in Anarchy, State, and Utopia.

    Getting back to taxes, I started from a just position, earning a living via voluntary exchange. Then the state unjustly interfered with this relationship. If the state decides to stop interfering with this relationship, the social harm created (to extent I grant it exists) falls at the hands of the state, not me. In fact, I haven’t changed my behavior at all.

    The corrupt politican, on the other hand, enriches himself at the expense of others. He does this forcefully (or through the threat of force). His actions are unjust from the beginning.

  138. Chris P –

    Any answer to my 4:55 pm post?

  139. x,y,

    OK, the comparison to a corrupt politician is outside the pale. But do you not see that, whatever your own financial situation, it is worse for the country as a whole to give tax cuts without spending cuts?

  140. X,y, I personally would still like to know if you would favor the bridge you are driving on to collapse and kill you (or your loved ones) to make a point about the state. Thats a little disturbing.

  141. x,y,

    I answered it at 5:01. Yes, we can, but either would have disastrous consequences.

  142. Why is it that “The ends justify the means” becomes suddenly acceptable when we’re talking about tax cuts?

    “Heck, McCain is obviously pandering to voters. And his pandering will have no real economic effect. And it fact, as per MikeP, it my not even put a nickel into the wallet of your everyday taxpayer. But hey, they’re cutting taxes, and in the end, all tax cuts, regardless of policy motivations or net outcomes, are positive.”

  143. Chris P.-

    Sorry, I didn’t see all the 5:01 post. Just to be clear, though, you do not support open borders?

    Back to taxes and spending, I think I’ve been clear about “the country as a whole.” I tend not to think in those terms. For starters, I do not recognize national borders as legitimate. Second, to the extent “we” are responsible for “our” national debt, that is not on me. I didn’t vote for any goodies. I didn’t vote for any representative who voted for any goodies. I did not take from others to enrich myself. Hell, I wasn’t alive when most of the programs that created this mess were enacted. If the state stops interfering with my voluntary relationships and that results in a debt problem I’m not responsible for getting worse, tough nuts.

  144. “Let’s say you married a beautiful women, someone well out of your league. Hell, let’s say I did, because it’s true. I did it further my own interest. Because many men also wanted to marry this beautiful woman (who now can’t), they are all worse off because they ended up marrying women they preferred less. According to you, I have acted for my own benefit at the expense of society and that makes me just like a corrupt politician. But you can see this is absurd. Robert Nozick has an excellent and extended disussion of this in Anarchy, State, and Utopia. ”

    You seem to be omitting an extremely important point. Your wife is part of society and your wife for whatever reason preferred you. If you refused to marry her, you would be harming yourself And her NOT for the benefit of society, but for the benefet of one other person, the man she married because you refused.

  145. NNG,

    Here’s how I would rank it (assuming state failure):

    1. The bridge doesn’t fall. The state fails to maintain it, but sells it off to a private enterprise that can.

    2. If it falls, it falls on the assclowns who are responsible for taking my hard-earned money. Think of it like Eliot Spitzer. I’m not glad anyone is busted for getting a hooker. But if it has to be someone, I sure am glad it was that prick.

  146. It would be like me shorting the hell out of oil. I think I would make a boatload long term, but the market can go crazy, margin call me and I end up with nothing before I’m right.

    Mo, I don’t really have a dog in this fight you have with TallDave, but isn’t that kind of the point? Isn’t everything… timing? That’s like me predicting rain, and then it doesn’t, and then eventually, of course it does… was I ‘right’, just not when I said I was going to be right?

  147. Well, xy, I don’t know if this excludes me from the libertarian club but I think maintain at least some basic infrastructure is one of the legitimate functions of government–though probably not the federal government.

    High traffic roads (think of the New Jersey Turnpike) could easily be privatized. I’m not so sure about Rural Route 345 that services the Bumfuck-to-Dullsville corridor.

  148. I’m suddenly going to start driving more if gas drops to $3.95 per gallon. Yeah, because I can’t afford to spend $4.15…

  149. You don’t know anything about my financial situation. I could use the money to pay off 17% interest credit card debt. Or 6.5% mortgage interest. Or 7.5% student loan interest.

    My comment (I think) got eaten. Refinance, or consolidate that student loan. I’ve been paying 6.375% for the last year, and it’s about to drop come July 1st to around 5.01%. Don’t let that loan be locked into some bullshit rate.

  150. Why is it that “The ends justify the means” becomes suddenly acceptable when we’re talking about tax cuts?

    I would like to know when it was acceptable for the Federal Government to pay for roads in Kansas from gas taxes collected in Washington State?

  151. “High traffic roads (think of the New Jersey Turnpike) could easily be privatized. I’m not so sure about Rural Route 345 that services the Bumfuck-to-Dullsville corridor.”

    The problem is government services never go away when they’re no longer needed. Think U.S. Postal service. The UDSA has grown in the last century while the number of farmers has shrunk 90%. On top of that, the Bumfuck-Dullsville corridor doesn’t benefit all citizens equally, so perverse incentives start to pile up when roads are planned.

  152. The bridge doesn’t fall. The state fails to maintain it, but sells it off to a private enterprise that can.

    And the private enterprise would make money on the bridge how? A toll? Then you will end up paying for it anyway, both directly when you use it and indirectly when those who deliver things to the stores you buy from add in the cost to your products. Just like the gas tax. At the end of the day, that bridge and the road it supports has got to be paid for in some way.

  153. For starters, I do not recognize national borders as legitimate.

    Oh boy, we’re coming from entirely different perspectives here. No, I’m not for open borders, to say the least.

    If the state stops interfering with my voluntary relationships and that results in a debt problem I’m not responsible for getting worse, tough nuts.

    If you’re living off the land in Montana, that might work out for you. If you’re dependent on the US economic system functioning to survive, the debt problem is your problem, regardless of whether you bear personal moral responsibility for it.

  154. NNG

    I don’t think it excludes you from the libertarian club. I just happen to be a more radical libertarian than most (philosophically, not personally). IMO, anarchy is the logical extension of the minimal state. But we can definitely agree that the more local the government, the better. At least then you have the opportunity to move to a more favorable location. The federalization of damn-near everything has consumed, well, damn-near everything.

    As to Rural Route 345, I imagine there would be less roads like that in AC society precisely because they would be expensive to maintain.

    John-David

    Thanks for the tip. Those were just hypothetical numbers. My school debt interest rate is lower than yours, even.

    josephdietrich

    I would imagine a toll, yes. And yes, I understand that I would still pay for the road — directly when I use it and indirectly when goods I consume are delivered through it. The critical differences are twofold. First, I’m only paying for what I use. Second, the transaction is voluntary and not imposed on me be force or threat of force. This is precisely the difference between living in a free society and one wholly or partially totalitarian.

    Chris Potter

    The debt problem, the Iraq war, farm subsidies, and on and on are all problems. They’re all partially my problem because I’m being taxed against my will and the proceeds of my labor are, in large part, funding these debacles. But I disown any moral responsibility for the problems created by these programs. Likewise, I disown any moral responsibility for the problems that might arise when these programs are finally put to bed (ha!). Unfortunately, the state’s guns are bigger than mine and too many people think the government is one, giant benevolent entity. If the shit hits the fan in my lifetime, I’ll probably get splattered. But I’ll also crack a smile.

  155. Would those who want to live in an anarchy and pay no taxes please move to Somalia or the Ivory Coast and STFU?

    Anyone who thinks that anarchy is going to produce a high level of technology/economy hasn’t read much history.

  156. Regarding Rural Rout 345 (see above),

    Alaska is woefully roadless and as a result, aircraft use is thr highest per capita of any state. If needs are real, the market finds a way to meet them. No imminent domain required.

  157. It’s a gimmick, but it’s not as bad as Obama being 100% behind the corn ethanol gimmick

  158. First, I’m only paying for what I use.

    Well, with a gas tax you are only paying for what you use. Unless you plan on driving off-road all the time, when you buy gas you are also going to use the roads that the gas tax pays for. The gas tax is effectively a toll with (in theory) zero profit built in for the maintainer. This is qualitatively different than, say, a general tax on income to pay for the roads, in which you definitely are not paying per usage. Which is why, as mentioned by commenters above, the gas tax is just about as libertarian a tax as they come.

    Second, the transaction is voluntary and not imposed on me be force or threat of force.

    The transaction of buying gas is voluntary and not imposed on you by force. Paying a gas tax to use the roads in lieu of a toll works out to the same thing. Unless, that is, you plan on drinking the gas, or burning it for warmth, or otherwise using it in ways that don’t use the roads paid for by the tax. In that case you might have an argument, but it’s pretty weak tea.

    So your alternatives are:

    * No roads (bad).
    * Roads maintained by the state payed out of general income tax (not good).
    * Roads maintained by a private company out of tolls (okay, but since this one has a hard time imagining competition keeping the price down in this area, probably not the most efficient. After all, a company will charge fees based on maintenance costs + profit).
    * Roads maintained by the state through tolls (okay, but a pain in the ass to have to pay all the time)
    * Roads maintained by the state through gas taxes (good for all of the reasons Mo mentioned.)

    Apologies in advance if I left out any options. Of course, this is all IMHO; YMMV.

  159. Dave, No Mame Guy,

    We never had a surplus. Not once. Well, not in my lifetime, I believe the last surplus was 1953 or something like that.

    The Clinton/GOP Congress never delivered an actual surplus.

  160. x,y

    You don’t know anything about my financial situation. I could use the money to pay off 17% interest credit card debt. Or 6.5% mortgage interest. Or 7.5% student loan interest. Can you tell me what this interest rate for future payments is going to be? Because maybe it makes more sense for me to have money now.

    I have argued in the past that since the “typical” American has a load of consumer debt at a higher rate than the government borrows at, and since the government is of, by, and for the people, that it makes sense to borrow at the federal level and return a big chunk of money to the people. But, it really only makes good sense if they use it to pay off debt.

    Shifting debt from a 18% credit card to a 4% T-bill that I will have to pay off later with additional taxes makes good financial sense.

    Of course, it doesnt sound like many people are using their tax prebates for that purpose, for example.

  161. voters who remember every painful second of the Carter years
    and became staunch Alex Keaton-ish Republicans

    Yeah, and look what happened to him.

  162. The above would make more sense if I had placed it in the correct thread.
    I blame Carter anyway.

  163. It would be like me shorting the hell out of oil. I think I would make a boatload long term, but the market can go crazy, margin call me and I end up with nothing before I’m right.

    On this very issue, somebody said “The markets can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.”

  164. I don’t think you should be speaking ill of the 2000s GOP, dude. They lowered taxes, which as we know is always a good thing.

    Yeah, don’t point out TallDave’s inconsistencies.

    Sheesh TallDave you sure do like having your cake and eating it too.

    Well, with a gas tax you are only paying for what you use. Unless you plan on driving off-road all the time, when you buy gas you are also going to use the roads that the gas tax pays for. The gas tax is effectively a toll with (in theory) zero profit built in for the maintainer. This is qualitatively different than, say, a general tax on income to pay for the roads, in which you definitely are not paying per usage. Which is why, as mentioned by commenters above, the gas tax is just about as libertarian a tax as they come.

    Shhh, joseph, I’ve already pointed this out to them (TallDave, x,y) and it appears to have just made them angry.

  165. I’m surprised noone caught the title of the post. One of the most underrated AC/DC songs from a very under-rated album Ballbreaker.

    Wheres the sense of pop culture reasonoids?

    And for the record, I’m for only one kind of tax. A 1% vlat tax for goods and services. That’s it. Other than that, it’s all extortion.

  166. josephdietrich –

    The gas tax is not voluntary. It’s government intervention in an otherwise voluntary relationship. Just like the income tax. Using your reasonsing, the income tax is also voluntary because, hey, you do not have to work.

  167. The gas tax is not voluntary. It’s government intervention in an otherwise voluntary relationship. Just like the income tax. Using your reasonsing, the income tax is also voluntary because, hey, you do not have to work.

    That is sort of a strawman argument x,y. Joseph aslo pointed out that the the gasoline sales tax is similar to the toll you’d be paying under other schemes…and maybe less (monopolies do tend to charge higher prices after all). Joesph’s point is that one way or the other you have to pay for use of the roads. You seem to be bitching about it because the price of one of the commodities you use is now really high and which has nothing to do at all with the roads or the tax. Basically, you want something for free.

  168. BHO’s plan is just as delicious:
    lower the gas tax at the pump while imposing a windfall tax on the oil companies.

    Disingenuous pander is color blind and party neutral.

  169. “Nothing lowers gas prices so nicely as a tax hike?” Ehm. Connecticut? High taxes, high price.

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