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Bloggingheads
05-06-2008, 09:16 AM
We have some good news and some bad news about this diavlog. The bad: much of it was lost in a technical snafu. The good: our video wizards have managed to exhume two brisk and incisive exchanges. On the gas tax, Michael says the American people harbor deep pro-pandering convictions (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/10807?in=00:00:01&out=00:05:45). On Iraq, Robert argues that a month of bad news (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/10807?in=00:05:46&out=00:13:30) may portend poorly for the future.
--Bloggingheads.tv

piscivorous
05-06-2008, 10:31 AM
As far as policy goes this is not pandering it is hypocrisy. Let's see we will give you a three month holiday from the gas tax but will raise you a carbon offset. Has anyone here looked at the car sales lately. The transition to higher millage autos is well under way, truck and SUV sales down, some 20 + percent, smaller more efficient vehicle sales up with 4 cylinder engines being chosen over 6 cylinder engines in the same model. It didn't take higher CAFE requirements it took the cost of energy being high enough to make people want a more efficient vehicle. At $5.00/gal alternative fuels become real competitive. Instead of a gas tax holiday the politicians should implement a float tax rate aimed at increasing the price of traditional dirty energy sources to a BTU equivalent of $5.00 dollar a gallon gas and use the difference to subsidies the transition to clean energy sources, one of which by the way is not biofuels.

piscivorous
05-06-2008, 10:56 AM
When Mr Farley says that Basra "should have been easy", he shouts out his ignorance. The militia problems in Basra are not new, as the British have been taking criticism for the last 2-3 years for letting it get out of hand. So while Mr Farley may of think that remove an entrenched militia from a city, in block by block, house by house combat, arguable the most difficult and deadly form of combat as being "easy" makes him sound foolish.

piscivorous
05-06-2008, 11:37 AM
You are sounding more and more trollish. You need to give it a rest!

piscivorous
05-06-2008, 11:57 AM
No what I have noticed is that you think you can essentially hijack every thread that has the remotes connection to what you wish to preach and it is startint to make look an awful lot like a two-bit petty....

osmium
05-06-2008, 12:07 PM
I don't see too many happy Obama supporters around here, do you? I can't quite understand why considering all the 'hope' they've been consuming and dispensing.

i'm an obama supporter. generally i'm not happy most of the time, but it has nothing to do with obama. more likely: brain chemistry. in the outside world, i try not to look like a supporter of anybody, so my candidate won't suffer shame from me: "look, that unhappy guy has a William Humperdink pin on. don't vote for him!"

but seriously, the world doesn't revolve around barack obama, stones. i'm worried about you. try to go to your happy place for a while. seriously.

Try to think happy thoughts.

now yer talking.

piscivorous
05-06-2008, 12:46 PM
You are not helping anything . It is apparent that your primary goal, in essentially your own word, "don't see too many happy Obama supporters around here, do you" is to cause animus and revel in what little distress, if any, your comments might cause. I have not as yet used the option of marking anyone as someone whose comments I don't wish to see but you are making it very tempting.

look
05-06-2008, 01:16 PM
I'm on my best behavior here most of the time, I can assure you. This is me being respectful. Will you at least consider dialing it back from this (http://www.answers.com/topic/scorpio-jpg-1) to this (http://bedazzled.blogs.com/bedazzled/images/frank_gorshin_riddler1.jpg)?

look
05-06-2008, 02:01 PM
When Mr Farley says that Basra "should have been easy", he shouts out his ignorance. The militia problems in Basra are not new, as the British have been taking criticism for the last 2-3 years for letting it get out of hand. So while Mr Farley may of think that remove an entrenched militia from a city, in block by block, house by house combat, arguable the most difficult and deadly form of combat as being "easy" makes him sound foolish.Well, doubtless it would have been a piece of cake for the 101st Fighting Keyboardists.

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/10807?in=00:11:58&out=12:25

piscivorous
05-06-2008, 03:38 PM
Back From Syria (http://baghdadbureau.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/05/back-from-syria/#)

Whatfur
05-06-2008, 05:23 PM
Thanks for posting that story Pisc.

I hope everyone who bothered to go read it, read past the editor's prolog which, of course it be the NYT, gave a negative impression... while the story itself seemed to be mainly positive if not just cautiously optimistic.

cragger
05-06-2008, 08:14 PM
Pisc, other than pointing out that pandering and hypocrisy are not mutually exclusive, I think you are dead on. The whole "gas tax holiday" thing is stupid and dishonest, which both candidates pushing it undoubtedly know.

graz
05-06-2008, 08:33 PM
[QUOTE=kidneystones; I don't bother to link to her spew, mostly cause I don't need to but also cause I'm a gentleman.
He's fucking toast. Yippee!!![/QUOTE]

I don't pretend to know why you left this forum some weeks ago when in self-dramatic fashion you suggested that you would sacrifice yourself for the comity of the forum. You gave us no reason to believe that the rationale was legit or warranted. Yet, your recent posts suggest that the hiatus was used to indoctrinate you with an unimpeachable mission to discredit the likely democratic candidate. I really want to join your crusade, but I have a nagging fear that it would poison my soul and corrupt my ability to wade through bullshit. Do you have an antidote for this concern. What drug or jesus juice did you imbibe to overcome?
Help me... I'm melting

graz
05-06-2008, 09:05 PM
The projected outcomes from NC and Indiana doom Obama.

Obama folks have had things pretty much their own way on this board for a long time. That's changed.[/QUOTE]

Forget the board sir... I invite you to join the reality-based world at large.

look
05-06-2008, 09:43 PM
Back From Syria (http://baghdadbureau.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/05/back-from-syria/#)Thanks pisc, very nice.

bjkeefe
05-06-2008, 10:00 PM
Back From Syria (http://baghdadbureau.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/05/back-from-syria/#)

Always nice to read a report from someone on the ground who has deep knowledge of the place. However, this bit of anecdotal evidence, while suggesting that things are better than they were a short while ago, only says that things are better, compared to a short while ago.

The takeaway for me was the closing thought:

I guess that all depends on the American troops, since we will not have qualified Iraqi forces soon. Although most Iraqi forces are sincere you find some have been infiltrated by groups of gunmen and sectarian people who made the mess all around us.

So we still need the Americans because if they intend to leave, there will be something like a hurricane which will extract everything - people, buildings and even trees. Everything that has happened and all that safety will be past, just like a sweet dream.

As people say in my neighborhood: “The Americans are now Ansar al Sunna.” Protectors of the Sunni.

Looks like "100 years" is the way this individual sees things.

bjkeefe
05-06-2008, 10:08 PM
Pisc:

Interesting thoughts. I want first to quibble about one inconsistency -- you are against government intrusion when it comes to CAFE standards, but you're in favor of it when it comes to adding a tax to achieve another outcome (making alternate fuels more attractive).

I am in favor of increased gas taxes, and have been since Ross Perot uttered his one good idea so long ago: a dime/gallon increase every year for five years. One can debate the exact figure, but I think the spirit was right -- back when it would have been easier (in retrospect, admittedly), that could have been a big help.

I always liked the CAFE standards approach because it seemed the best of both worlds: make a policy that seeks an outcome, but don't get involved with micromanaging or dictating the path to that outcome. I would have been happy with a different policy that sought the same goals, but put the burden of choice on the consumers rather than the producers: a gas-guzzler tax on the purchase and/or registration of vehicles falling below some standard of fuel efficiency.

We're agreed on the bottom line, though: Nothing works as well as hitting people in the pocketbook for effecting change.

piscivorous
05-06-2008, 10:12 PM
Yes it seems that we will be there for some time yet unless America whishes to abandon this person and millions of others.

bjkeefe
05-06-2008, 10:14 PM
The polling results that suggest 50% of Clinton supporters won't vote for Obama is astounding, I agree, but I highly doubt that emotion will last. We'll have six months after the primaries are done to remind Democrats why John McCain is the last thing that they want. Some Clinton supporters might cling to their stubbornness on this, but I expect it will be an insignificant number.

Another interesting aspect of this phenomenon is that it suggests Obama supporters are more rational than Clinton; i.e., even in the heat of the battle, they're aware of the bigger picture. Admittedly, it's easier to be magnanimous when you're in the lead.

bjkeefe
05-06-2008, 10:16 PM
Yes it seems that we will be there for some time yet unless America whishes to abandon this person and millions of others.

That is one way of looking at it, sure.

On the other hand, it's worth keeping in mind the reasonable thought that much of the violence may be due to the ongoing presence of American troops. I don't think this one voxpop blog post can speak to that.

piscivorous
05-06-2008, 10:20 PM
Never tried to make that claim; and yo didn't answer the question you danced aroound it.

bjkeefe
05-06-2008, 10:22 PM
Never tried to make that claim; and yo didn't answer the question you danced aroound it.

Sorry, I didn't see the question, even upon rereading. Perhaps you would restate it?

piscivorous
05-06-2008, 10:35 PM
I personally thought that the implicit question was self evident but I will state it in a more direct and straight forward manner. Are you advocating that this man, his family and millions of others should be abandoned to the fate, he believe awaits him, if we shag ass out of Iraq?

bjkeefe
05-06-2008, 10:36 PM
kidneystones:

... Indiana voters are going to vote Republican in 2008.

This is hardly a bold prediction. Indiana has gone for the Republican in every presidential election since 1964.

look
05-06-2008, 11:03 PM
And when the super-delegates get a better look at how Ayers-Wright-Obama is playing among non-AA voters, his nomination is toast.I'm thinking that the best bet for Obama would be for the supers to go for Hillary and she offer him VP; he would get his chance later.

bjkeefe
05-06-2008, 11:05 PM
kidneystones:

You've already established your insanity cred beyond any shadow of a doubt, but oh, how I wish I could could compel you to put your money where your mouth is on this howler:

Dems won't win a single state, even with all the media love Obama gets.

You heard it here first, folks. The Pain in the Urinary Tract predicts a 50-state sweep by McCain.

piscivorous
05-06-2008, 11:19 PM
Pisc:

Interesting thoughts. I want first to quibble about one inconsistency -- you are against government intrusion when it comes to CAFE standards, but you're in favor of it when it comes to adding a tax to achieve another outcome (making alternate fuels more attractive).

I am in favor of increased gas taxes, and have been since Ross Perot uttered his one good idea so long ago: a dime/gallon increase every year for five years. One can debate the exact figure, but I think the spirit was right -- back when it would have been easier (in retrospect, admittedly), that could have been a big help.

I always liked the CAFE standards approach because it seemed the best of both worlds: make a policy that seeks an outcome, but don't get involved with micromanaging or dictating the path to that outcome. I would have been happy with a different policy that sought the same goals, but put the burden of choice on the consumers rather than the producers: a gas-guzzler tax on the purchase and/or registration of vehicles falling below some standard of fuel efficiency.

We're agreed on the bottom line, though: Nothing works as well as hitting people in the pocketbook for effecting change.I actually volunteered on the first presidential campaign for Mr. Perot. Was living in Richardson TX, at the time, just up the road from his main campaign headquarters.

Increasing CAFE standards is just another way for the government to expand it's power and interfere with the natural evolution towards an energy infrastructure not based on carbon. If one looks at the history of energy, in a broad and general way, it is a transition from a very low ratio of Hydrogen/Carbon ratio (wood) towards energy sources with higher Hydrogen/Carbon ratios. It is going to be a very expensive proposition to change our energy infrastructure to move us into a more carbon neutral future.

My mother tells me of the time when electricity finally reached the farm. This miracle of convince was brought to them by the Rural Electrification Administration, one of FDR's programs that returned real benefits. While it had the side effect of indirectly creating the monopolist like entities called power companies,to accomplish this, it is going to take a similar effort to accomplish the conversion from carbon based fuels to carbon less fuels. The basics for that future exist today but it is a chicken and egg argument when it comes to redoing or energy infrastructure for transportation. It wont come about through increased CAFE standards, if anything they will hindrance its birth because it will redirect effort and resources into following a dead end course.

look
05-06-2008, 11:25 PM
Dems don't. Dems crave a Republican boogie man they can blame America's problems on.

With HRC at the top of the ticket and Obama bringing in his youth vote, McCain wouldn't stand a chance. Obama would get the experience voters feel he needs and the Dems would have a lock on the White House for the next 12-16 years.Maybe the supers will swing that way.Won't happen. Michelle got greedy and wanted it all now!Nah. She knows the low-down. Obama supporters would rather destroy the party and elect McCain.
Come again? I thought Obama voters would vote for Hillary, as opposed to Hillary voters going for Obama.

graz
05-06-2008, 11:26 PM
I'm thinking that the best bet for Obama would be for the supers to go for Hillary and she offer him VP; he would get his chance later.

Well a penny for your thoughts, but it won't add up to change you can believe in.

bjkeefe
05-06-2008, 11:42 PM
I personally thought that the implicit question was self evident but I will state it in a more direct and straight forward manner. Are you advocating that this man, his family and millions of others should be abandoned to the fate, he believe awaits him, if we shag ass out of Iraq?

Thanks for restating.

Of course I am not advocating the slaughter of millions. But I think you're offering a false dichotomy here. First, I would say we've already caused the slaughter and suffering of a huge number of Iraqis. Second, it's far from clear that we're not continuing that problem just by hanging around. Third, I think the worries about "millions" is overblown, even in the worst case scenario.

look
05-06-2008, 11:52 PM
Well a penny for your thoughts, but it won't add up to change you can believe in.graz, as Wonderment has pointed out, Obama is no magic bullet. We'll still be big-time in Iraq at the end of the next term, no matter who is prez. We just can't, or won't, leave that quickly, for humanitarian and long-term oil considerations.

graz
05-06-2008, 11:57 PM
graz, as Wonderment has pointed out, Obama is no magic bullet. We'll still be big-time in Iraq at the end of the next term, no matter who is prez. We just can't, or won't, leave that quickly, for humanitarian and long-term oil considerations.

I grant you all those points, yet anytime you throw UTD a bone I am currently unable to leave it alone.
This of course doesn't address the impossible scenario that would propel Clinton to the top of the ticket.

piscivorous
05-07-2008, 12:00 AM
Thanks for restating.

Of course I am not advocating the slaughter of millions. But I think you're offering a false dichotomy here. First, I would say we've already caused the slaughter and suffering of a huge number of Iraqis. Second, it's far from clear that we're not continuing that problem just by hanging around. Third, I think the worries about "millions" is overblown, even in the worst case scenario. I don't believe that a made any such offer it was Mohamed Hussein, inyour own quote from the piece, with the addition of the actual questionWill it stay safe or not?

I guess that all depends on the American troops, since we will not have qualified Iraqi forces soon. Although most Iraqi forces are sincere you find some have been infiltrated by groups of gunmen and sectarian people who made the mess all around us.

So we still need the Americans because if they intend to leave, there will be something like a hurricane which will extract everything - people, buildings and even trees. Everything that has happened and all that safety will be past, just like a sweet dream

As people say in my neighborhood: “The Americans are now Ansar al Sunna.” Protectors of the Sunni.. that laid forth the proposition.

bjkeefe
05-07-2008, 12:03 AM
pisc:

I don't believe that a made any such offer it was Mohamed Hussein, inyour own quote from the piece, with the addition of the actual question

As I noted earlier, there's a limit to how much stock we can place in one piece of anecdotal evidence.

bjkeefe
05-07-2008, 12:04 AM
graz:

Sorry if I missed the expansion elsewhere, but what do you mean by "UTD?"

piscivorous
05-07-2008, 12:10 AM
If it were only one piece I would have to agree with you. Nor because it is the only one that you have seen, does not mean it stands alone or is unique.

graz
05-07-2008, 12:15 AM
graz:

Sorry if I missed the expansion elsewhere, but what do you mean by "UTD?"

With a nod to your Pain in the Urinary Tract, Urinary Tract Discomfort.

bjkeefe
05-07-2008, 12:18 AM
graz:

LOL! Thanks for clarifying.

bjkeefe
05-07-2008, 12:20 AM
pisc:

I agreed that this story or perspective is not unique. I disagree with your implication that we can base any conclusions upon it, just because one might be able to come up with similar tales.

bjkeefe
05-07-2008, 01:22 AM
Just spent a little time perusing the comments section at one Dem site (http://www.talkleft.com/story/2008/5/6/235033/7074) ...

"One Dem site," eh? TalkLeft is as lost in HillaryLand as you are on conspiracy theories. If you're looking to them as representative of overall Democratic thought, you're even more desperate than I thought.

I think we all remember what an obvious and oblivious flack Jeralyn Merritt was, when she appeared on BH.tv. And if you're offering thoughts from her commenters as evidence ... words fail me.

TwinSwords
05-07-2008, 01:30 AM
The reality-makers will have fits.

You would know fits. http://www.spartantailgate.com/forums/images/smilies/lol.gif

bjkeefe
05-07-2008, 01:30 AM
kidneystones:

My guess is that when folks wake-up, HRC will be on Scarborough talking about ...

My guess is she won't appearing on any talk shows tomorrow. Unlike you, I have some evidence (http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/193606.php) to back me up.

TwinSwords
05-07-2008, 01:41 AM
kidneystones:



My guess is she won't appearing on any talk shows tomorrow. Unlike you, I have some evidence (http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/193606.php) to back me up.

When I saw nutsack's post above, it suddenly occurred to me that Hillary might employ some reverse psychology and first announce she's NOT going to be on TV tomorrow, then suddenly reverse herself and show up on the tube after all. Guess I'll find out when I am getting ready for work in the morning.

Apparently, there was a bit of debate on MSNBC tonight between the incredibly awesome Rachel Maddow and everyone else about whether tonight will be the end for Hillary. I missed most of the coverage, but I gather that Maddow was insisting that Hillary will soldier on, while everyone else says it's over.

graz
05-07-2008, 01:41 AM
[QUOTE=kidneystones;.
The reality-makers will have fits.
Go McCain!![/QUOTE]

100 years/Hagee/Parsley/Keating/Iseman/Sunni or Shia
My hearts not in this game... I must be a member of the change team.

bjkeefe
05-07-2008, 02:00 AM
Twin:

... Maddow was insisting that Hillary will soldier on, while everyone else says it's over.

I agree with Maddow. There's no good reason for HRC not to stay in for the rest of the primaries. She can expect big wins in KY and WV, at least, and there's always the hope of the unexpected stumble by her opponent. I don't expect the undeclared superdelegates to come out en masse for Obama at this point, either -- since they have waited this long, I figure they're happy to wait another month.

I think she also has to stay in the race to be able to keep her fundraising going. I'm not sure where she stands on this at the moment, but most mentions of her campaigns finances that I've seen lately have been suggesting that she's in the hole.

I can only hope she does not continue with tactics that continue to hurt the party, but that's probably a forlorn hope. Could be that her new thinking is to create the impression that she has so many to-the-death supporters that she can push for the VP slot. It's hard for me to believe that she'd want this job, but there does seem to be an increased amount of buzz about this lately.

bjkeefe
05-07-2008, 02:04 AM
...arrogance worthy of the blind ...

I had no idea blind people were the pinnacle of arrogance. Please, tell me more.

Josh Marshall is busy spinning crow ...

And I do love that you're so frustrated you've resorted to making up new clichés.

TwinSwords
05-07-2008, 02:05 AM
Yeah, I tend to agree with you and Maddow. I also think, in some ways, the extended Democratic primary season has been a blessing in diguise for the Democrats. Sure, there have been 7 or 8 rough weeks of relentless Obama-bashing by the media, but I have a feeling that once the nomination is sealed and the real campaign begins, it's going to be a LOT worse. I don't have any reason to doubt that 2008 will be just like 2000 and 2004 -- a non-stop, well-coordinated campaign conducted by the media in close cooperation with the Republicans to destroy the Democratic candidate.

The amazing thing is that despite these efforts, Gore won in 2000 and Kerry almost won. This just might be the year that a Democrat can finally win the White House (without interference from the Supreme Court) despite the media's best efforts.

bjkeefe
05-07-2008, 02:08 AM
Twin:

What, you don't think the media is just sitting on the Ayers-Rezko Axis of Evil story, just waiting to pounce? I am informed that this is a big secret that is being kept from us until just the right moment.

themightypuck
05-07-2008, 06:06 PM
Gas tax is a use tax. Liberals should be against it and Conservatives should be for it.

bjkeefe
05-07-2008, 06:50 PM
Gas tax is a use tax. Liberals should be against it and Conservatives should be for it.

I don't agree with this at all. Just putting a label on something and appealing to some notion of ideological purity leaves me thoroughly unconvinced. I call myself a liberal and have no problem with tax on gasoline sales. Maybe you'd call it a conservative aspect to my thinking, but I support gas taxes because of the way the revenues are (supposed to be) directed -- towards highway maintenance. That is, those who benefit most from a common good (well-maintained highways) should pay the most.

I'm also in favor of gas taxes if some of the revenue is used to support R&D into alternate fuels and/or mass transportation. This would probably be textbook liberalism -- the idea of government trying to redirect behavior.

themightypuck
05-10-2008, 05:55 PM
BJ, I mostly agree with your analysis. I was just pointing out some possible ideological underpinnings to opposition to a gas tax--it is regressive. This "gas tax bad" view would have support from liberals and classical liberals. Also, one thing has bothered me about the "economists agree" argument: if the gas tax is so good, why not raise it and generate more revenue to improve transportation infrastructure? Or are the economists saying that it only works one way--reduce the tax and prices rise due to increased demand but raise the gas tax and prices rise due to increased tax? The optimistic liberal in me would prefer a much higher gas tax with some short term means tested commuter rebates (the downside is that these extra layers of regulation never end well) while our country redesigns itself to deal with expensive oil. Try winning an election with that platform.

bjkeefe
05-10-2008, 06:26 PM
BJ, I mostly agree with your analysis. I was just pointing out some possible ideological underpinnings to opposition to a gas tax--it is regressive. This "gas tax bad" view would have support from liberals and classical liberals. Also, one thing has bothered me about the "economists agree" argument: if the gas tax is so good, why not raise it and generate more revenue to improve transportation infrastructure? Or are the economists saying that it only works one way--reduce the tax and prices rise due to increased demand but raise the gas tax and prices rise due to increased tax? The optimistic liberal in me would prefer a much higher gas tax with some short term means tested commuter rebates (the downside is that these extra layers of regulation never end well) while our country redesigns itself to deal with expensive oil. Try winning an election with that platform.

I agree: the gas tax is mildly regressive, at least in the short term. But it's not as regressive as income tax or, say, sales tax on food. Especially over the longer term, it's quite possible to adjust to high gas prices -- one could change cars, carpool, use mass transit, move, change jobs, and so on. It's also less than completely regressive in that it is more paid by those who get more benefit out of what the tax pays for (is supposed to pay for) -- roads. So as much as I like progressive taxation, I am not very worried at all about the regressive aspects of gas taxes. If it were suddenly decided to add $3/gallon to the gas tax overnight, of course I would be in favor of some temporary compensating mechanisms, as in your "optimistic liberal" proposal.

I think you answer your question that begins, "if the gas tax is so good" with your final sentence. Just to amplify: there is always a real problem with adding tax to anything -- it's one of the three easiest slogans for an opposing politician to run on: "reduce taxes." (The other two, of course, are "get tough on crime" and "protect the children.") We've seen from recent events how easy it is to fool the sheeple with what should have been seen as a ridiculous stunt -- the "gas tax holiday." Trying to govern responsibly in a democracy is excruciatingly hard, because it's so easy for irresponsible politicians to oppose in ways that resonate with the average voter.

There are also rational reasons to oppose gax taxes. People who sell gas will naturally oppose them, of course. So will people who want to sell big and powerful cars. So will people who depend on cars and trucks to run their businesses, like freight carriers and delivery services. Sure, over time most of these people can pass their cost increases along to their customers, but it's always the short term shock that gets the most attention, and thinking short-term is almost invariably characteristic of American business. Not to mention people in general.

themightypuck
05-11-2008, 05:57 AM
Well there is a very simple reason to oppose a gas tax from a classical liberal point of view: it screws up the market. This then leads us down the road of "what does gas really cost?" Which then leads to the strange negative correlation between believing global warming is real and believing free markets are ideal. I remember seeing this giant copper mine the last time I was in Montana--I can't remember the name. Someone told me that the cleanup costs associated with the mine were more than it ever made (of course this is discounting the fact that this mine was the source of copper that wired the nation, an observation that leads down other bumpy roads.)

bjkeefe
05-11-2008, 09:44 AM
tmp:

Yup. It's a mess, isn't it?

I am not such a free market fetishist that I'm worried about gas taxes hiding "the real cost." Besides, there are so many other things conspiring to hide the real cost if you want to be that way. A big chunk of the DoD budget, to name but one.

Without the gas tax, you'd have to come up with the revenues from somewhere else, which seems like a tough job. Also, I like the idea of changing people's behavior by boosting the gas tax. If we had started a while back, say when Carter proposed it, or even when Ross Perot proposed it, we could have steadily ramped it up without causing lots of pain and we'd be a lot better off now. Since the fossil fuel situation seems unlikely to get any better, I'm still in favor of it, although maybe it'd be worth postponing it until after the recession eases.

Good observation about the copper, although I do wonder how much it would have cost to mine more cleanly, compared to how much it's costing to clean up. Ah, well, another one of those wishes that have almost no hope of coming true, given our political system.

themightypuck
05-11-2008, 08:38 PM
bjhk:

I worry a lot about energy and I'm very much in favor of free markets (because I think they mostly work: when they don't work I'm not in favor of free markets--my "turtles all the way down" contradiction). This worry leads me to wonder about how amazing it is that everything connects to everything else with diabolical complexity. For instance: the mortgage interest tax deduction makes it easier to afford a home, in a suburb, dependent on cheap gas... We subsidize energy inefficient behavior on one hand but refuse to tax it on the other hand. The bigger irony here is that people are getting stuck in suburbs (even people with good credit who financed their houses at good interest rates) while jobs become more and more mobile. The answer is probably taking advantage of improvements in telecommunications but big biz isn't quite there yet. If office workers were hooked up to broadband and working from home we could save a lot on energy costs and middle class people wouldn't be all that annoyed by higher gas prices. This leaves the "working" class who often need to commute long distances to provide "services" in rich communities. This begs the question. Are white working class voters voting for Clinton because of her race or her politics?

bjkeefe
05-11-2008, 11:49 PM
tmp:

I think we're pretty much in agreement, philosophically, about the goodness of free markets. I just want to point out one thing: supporting a tax on gasoline does not seem to me to be in contradiction to liking free markets -- the new price per gallon just becomes another point along the price/demand curve. That is, when setting prices in a free market, the "real cost" has little to with anything. As long as the supplier isn't losing money selling something, the supplier will charge as much or as little as the market will bear, combined with an awareness of the possibility of selling fewer units at a much higher cost. (Sometimes a good will even be sold at a loss, just to drive customer traffic. This seems to be, and to have been, the operating principle for many gas stations -- drop your price a few cents a gallon to get people to fill up at your station in the hopes that they'll also buy high-profit snacks and other crap.)

I grant that the sellers will resent a tax for hampering the free market, since people will buy less of their product due to the "artificially" higher price. On the other hand, they benefit from the way the tax revenues get spent, too, so they should really look at taxes as a cost of doing business.

I agree that life is frequently and complexly intertwined so that it becomes hard, in the real world, to treat individual commodities as wholly separate items.

In answer to your last sentence, I don't think there are a lot of people who voted for Clinton solely because of her "gas tax holiday" proposal. Some, sure. But you'd think if this was such a powerful incentive, she's be getting more votes from the black working class, too. I think in general most people vote for a candidate for a combination of reasons, lots of them not entirely rational nor that self-centered. The gas tax holiday may have been a tipping point for a few on the fence. On the other hand, it's might also be the case that some of those on the fence tipped the wrong way, from Clinton's point of view -- seeing her as blowing her wonk creds and indulging in a faux-populist stunt.

themightypuck
05-12-2008, 07:36 PM
I was going to respond here from the position of the Devil's advocate but I'm listening to the Chaitt/Douthat dv and their discussion is pretty much stealing my thunder.