One does not have to be an SUV road warrior to be feeling strained by high gas prices ["Why Gas Prices Are Too Low," op-ed, June 1]. My eight-year-old car still gets 37 miles per gallon, but with a fiance a state away and a job inaccessible to public transportation, it's hard not to feel frustrated at every fill-up.
Those in power have let us down; more than $155 billion has been allocated for an unjust war. Couldn't that money have been spent on ways to reduce our dependency on nonrenewable resources? I can only imagine what putting that money into research instead of weapons could have yielded. Alternative energy sources and efficient and environmentally friendly means of public transportation are possible -- if only our leaders had their priorities straight.
-- Carrie Rowland
David Ignatius says that we pay too little for gasoline compared to the more enlightened Europeans. His solution, in lieu of exploration and the use of reserves, is to simply increase the gas tax to prohibitive levels. But Ignatius does not say what would be done with these new funds. The money would simply enter the black hole of "the government," I suppose.
Just tax, tax, tax -- for social engineering rather than conservation.
-- David Schlosser
The "solution" developed by Philip Verleger and promoted by David Ignatius promotes would seriously and perhaps perilously hurt our economy. Raising gas taxes to $5 per gallon by 2012 would not only triple (and then some) what citizens pay for gasoline but it would raise the cost of every good and service needing transportation.
For at least 20 years, development around major cities in the United States has boomed. Consequently, it is not uncommon for people to drive 50 miles each way to work. Why? For many, the only affordable housing available is on the outskirts of the city. Housing closer to the city center has dramatically increased in price, leaving people no choice but to endure a long commute if they wish to live in the house they want at a price they can afford.
A $5 tax on gasoline will hit those with the longest commutes the hardest -- people who can least afford to pay. It would also place an even higher premium on housing close to cities, forcing the less affluent to look even farther away for housing (but pay more for transportation costs). Getting a more fuel-efficient car would help, but many already drive small "commuter" cars to work. Building a network of public transportation to accommodate increased demand from $5 gas taxes is simply impossible within eight years. Or even 20 years.
A better solution to rising oil consumption and foreign oil dependence would be to increase the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards, which are pitifully low and have not been raised in years. This will force the automakers to build more efficient automobiles. To soak the commuters that live farthest from the city earning moderate incomes won't help the country a bit.
-- Troy Kimmel
David Ignatius is right: Gas prices are too low. But Philip Verleger's proposal of an increase in the gas tax of $2 a gallon in 2009, with further increases of another dollar in each of the following three years, is not the shock treatment we need.
In 1980 as an Independent candidate for president I proposed a 50-cent increase in the federal gas tax immediately coupled with a 50 percent cut in federal payroll taxes. Today a "50-50 plan" should be debated in the present presidential campaign. The candidate who steps up to the plate with a call for immediate action would attract millions of us who remain Independents, as well as thoughtful voters of both major parties.
-- John B. Anderson
The writer is chairman of the board of the Center for Voting and Democracy and a former member of the U.S. House from Illinois.