Thursday, August 11, 2005

KEEP ON TRUCKING...NOT

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From NBC news

by Elaine Meinel Supkis

From Atrios:
Truckers in Florida protest high prices

More than 600 truckers gathered in their big rigs Wednesday to protest the rising gas prices in South Florida, NBC 6's Hank Tester reported.The trucks, which included tractor-trailers, dump trucks and box trucks, gathered at the intersection of Okeechobee Road and the Florida Turnpike in Miami-Dade County.

snip

The drivers told NBC 6 that the shipping companies that contract them to haul to the Port of Miami pay around 85 cents per mile. With the high cost of gas, operating per mile could cost 60 cents.
"A lot of people are making money on this business -- the shipping line, the owner of the company, the marine terminal. They make a lot of money but we are poor," driver Luis Rivera said.
Looks like the natives are getting restive. I wondered how long this would take. Let's look at the past and see how propaganda, the media and the GOP cross conspire to work people into a lather when they want things done but then go lax and sleepy when a Republican is running the place.

During the Clinton years, fuel was very cheap. Few people wondered why and the pundits lied so everyone thought this was the new status quo and not a very temporary condition. So we began to guzzle energy again. Recklessly and willfully, we launched ourselves into increasingly bigger and bigger houses and vehicles. To slow down the obvious pollution and other negative effects (try parking these days!), Clinton proposed several measures. To balance the budget that the GOP whacked into red ink territory, Clinton proposed a four cent surtax on gasoline.

The screeches of horror were deafening. A typical example: From NPRI:
Nevadans constantly complain—and rightfully so—about the high price of gasoline in the Silver State. Although prices have declined in recent months, gas in Nevada costs significantly higher than in other states, including nearby California. Many critics, such as the editors of the Las Vegas Sun, allege the state is being "gouged by an industry that allows only token competition." Such claims remain to be proven, but one fact in the discussion regarding gas prices cannot be disputed: the majority of Nevada’s drivers pay a whopping 52.05 cents per gallon in federal, state, and county taxes. Herewith, an examination of Nevada’s gas tax structure.

The Federal Bite

The federal government’s gas tax is 18.3 cents per gallon. The most recent tax increase of 4.3 cents came in 1993, with the passage of President Clinton’s first budget. As the following chart indicates, the federal gas tax bite has risen precipitously in recent years:

1980 4 cents
1982 9 cents
1989 14 cents
1993 18.3 cents
The article from 1998 goes on and on about this terrible 18.3% tax and how this is ruination for us all. Since 1998, the price of fuel has shot up 100%+ and the same yappers screaming about federal taxes are silent. Worse, we are now running deficits of heroic proportions.

Here is a reminder of the debate in 1996: From CNN, back when it was still owned by Ted Turner:
It may be a patriotic duty to fume over the spike in gas prices, but like it or not, there's a paradox in our pique: America's love affair with cheap energy is precisely the reason that gas taxes should be higher. Bob Dole and Bill Clinton won't say so, of course. They're busy sparring over a repeal of the 4.3 cents-per-gallon gas tax the President included in his 1993 deficit-reduction plan. But pandering isn't inevitable: four years ago, Ross Perot and Paul Tsongas were calling for a new 50 cents-per-gallon tax to be phased in over a number of years. The Big Three automakers and oil giants Chevron and Conoco were onboard with the basic concept. Why? They had come around to the view held by every other advanced nation: cheap oil is costly to the environment, the economy and national security, and raising taxes to reduce consumption is a smart way to fund government.

To the rest of the world, our price complaint must look a little silly. Even at an average $1.30 per gallon, gas prices are as low today in real terms as they were in 1950-and nearly 40% lower than after the last embargo's price peak in 1981. Thanks to these bargains, Americans slurp as much oil as ever. In France, Germany and Japan, meanwhile, a gallon of gas costs more than $4. Taxes there account for 50% to 80% of the pump price. Here, by contrast, federal and state taxes together average 38 cents per gallon, less than 30% of the price. Thanks in part to their policy of high-priced gas, our industrial competitors have made stunning strides in energy efficiency and independence. In Japan the high cost of oil imports--5.5% of GDP in 1980--forced industry to restructure. By 1990 oil imports were 1% of GDP. Put another way, Japan produces about three times its 1975 output with, in effect, the same tank of gas.
An intelligent article from a network that was once my very favorite news source. Sigh.

Irresponsible behavior is all the rage in the Republican capitols. The latest salvos in the war to bankrupt America are the Energy Bill which is a bill, all right, a bill our children will have to pay since it does nearly nothing to prepare us for the eons of no cheap oil that will follow in the wake of the Hubbert Oil Peak, and the Highway Bill which is really highway robbery since it isn't using money raised by gasoline taxes but is loading on even more debt!

From Associated Press:
President Bush on Wednesday signed a whopping $286.4 billion transportation bill, touting it as bringing the nation’s transportation network "into the 21st century."
With fanfare, Bush signed the more than 1,000-page highway bill into law even though it was more costly than he preferred. It includes cash to bankroll some 6,000 pet projects for lawmakers in their home districts.

The setting for Bush’s bill-signing ceremony and speech was a plant operated by Caterpillar Inc., which makes road-building equipment. For the president, it was his second trip away from his Texas ranch this week to highlight recently passed legislation.
This bill is ridiculous on so many levels! Building bridges to nowhere. Extending suburbia across our precious farmlands. Like the energy bill, it rewards and protects those very people who are doing the exact opposite of what we should be doing.

The poor truckers don't understand their plight here for they are caught up in the same net they wove themselves. They are cogs in a machine that is going to begin grinding gears for lack of lubricating oil. They will be ground up with their rigs. The free spending ways of America will be ending, too. When it does, we will have lots of fine highways to bicycle on only no one will want to since these roads will be literally roads to nowhere.

Building roads and stadiums and other things don't really "grow" our economy. The problem of us importing nearly everything that is manufactured is growing worse, not better. Caterpillar's American factory was the site of the signing as the unions and the corporate bosses stood around with straight faces as Bush talked about creating American jobs.

Of course, this is all welfare queen stuff. After all, every one of these jobs are due to federal taxes and federal debt. You and i are paying for all this. This doesn't make us richer or better. It does give parasites more chances to make money at our expense. Note how this government boondoggle isn't being attacked by the minions in the media.

Dead silence. Worse, crowing about how great it is, we can do this stupid stuff.

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