Gas tax increase good for America

News flash – gas is ridiculously expensive. We could sit here and ramble about the high prices of gas, but it would be the same “Bush is at it again” banter that we’ve enjoyed all semester. Despite our issues with the high prices, we still begrudgingly shell out $30-40 a week to fill up our tanks.

But what if we reduced our dependency on oil in general? It may be an idealistic proposal that has environmentalists saying “Dude, I told you so,” but many Americans are slowly adopting the idea.

The immediate solution to this country’s gas addiction is raising the gasoline tax. Despite how expensive gas seems, Americans only pay a meager 18.4 cents a gallon, according to The New York Times. That amount hasn’t changed since 1993. Imagine raising the tax so the overall cost of gas is around $4-5 a gallon. The European Union does just that. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Raising the tax will cause middle class Americans to think twice about guzzling gas and more importantly, force the automotive industry to develop more fuel-efficient vehicles. Hybrid vehicles have been around for a while, but their lack of power prevents many consumers from embracing them. Now, a gas tax could force automakers to come up with more effective hybrids. The government could help out in the efforts by offering tax breaks to companies investing in hybrid cars and to the consumers that buy them. Hybrid vehicles would not only provide more money for middle class Americans, but it would help the environment. It’s a win-win situation.

Polls indicate Americans are warming up to the idea, too. Just last week, CBS and The New York Times surveyed more than 1,000 adults about oil dependency. Granted, 89 percent of them opposed an increase in federal taxes on gas, saying “Politicians have good reason to steer away from so unpopular a measure.” But if politicians articulated the gas tax in detail, Americans might think otherwise. In that same survey, 59 percent favored the increase if it meant “less gasoline consumption and less global warming.”

Fifty-five percent said they would support an increase “if it did in fact reduce dependence on foreign oil.”

In the long run, a gas tax can reduce our dependency on foreign oil. This country’s oil addiction highlights some of the black points in U.S. foreign policy, whether it be supporting an Iranian dictator in the 1960s and ’70s or having the corrupt Saudi royal family as our closest Arab ally.

Imagine if the entire world turned the table on these oil-rich countries and stopped buying oil altogether. The Saudis would lose money to finance their prostitutes and vacations. The ayatollahs in Iran would no longer have the finances to control government protests or fund nuclear weapons research. Reducing our dependency on foreign oil could help win the war on terror. It’s a win-win-win situation.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.