Ray's Modest Proposal

Ray my dear good man, I "luv" you as Car Talk great personality, but as a politician, you are a flat tire. I would not trust the government or anyone else with my money. — Aris Deljohn

Here is my plan: I call it "Rationing Lite." The beauty is everyone gets the same ration; and no one has to apply, compromise their privacy or get busted for welfare fraud. Two gas prices: the regulated ration price and the unregulated free market price. Each driver gets a year's supply of ration cards good for X gallons of gas per week. The driver of the Honda Civic may never pay more than the $1.75 ( I know this will get you guys) and he may even be able to save up for the All-American road trip at that price. The driver of the SUV, on the other hand, gets the same allotment. When that runs out he is free to buy as much gas as he wishes (or can afford)... My plan offers true economic justice." — Richard

I think the $3.00 added per gallon tax is too regressive. I suggest that maybe a better way to reduce consumption is to impose a new vehicle gas-guzzler-tax and have it increase each year until it equals 50%, or 100%, of the cost of the vehicle in some instances. — Hemihead

Your program to reduce U.S. dependence on OPEC while simultaneously replenishing federal coffers is brilliant. Perhaps a "tipping point" is being reached: I read in the 2006 edition of GREAT DECISIONS that both Wal-Mart and G.E. have created their own initiatives to reduce energy consumption and to develop alternative energy sources (respectively). — Karin

I will vote for your gas tax, but we have to make SURE that the money comes back to the taxpayers, and not the gas companies!!! — Alison

Has anyone considered a graduated tax based on the amount of fuel consumed per year? Instead of having a flat tax of $3.00, have a tax of $1.00 for the first X gallons, $2.00 for the next Y gallons, etc. Sure, we'd have to use some sort of "speed pass" thingy, but I think that it would encourage less use of our gas guzzling vehicles. — Frank

I am a harpist who lives at Lake Tahoe where it dumps snow in winter. If there were some way I could fold up or deflate my harp, I'd buy the tiniest, most fuel efficient 4-wd on the market. Alas, harps are not compact and I'm hauling equipment like amps and the like though the snow and over mountain passes, too. I thought the big car makers came out with SUVs with folks like me in mind. What do you propose I do? Maybe harpists, upright bass players, drummers, and others can get an exemption? — Anne Roos

If one has a vehicle that gets 20 miles per gallon and the next vehicle purchase gets 40 miles per gallon then the $3 tax increase will be a wash. The $3 tax would reduce the oil imports. This would dramatically improve our balance of payments and if the taxes were used to pay down the national debt, this would help all of us in the long run, not just one segment of society. — Thomas Blean

Proposal to your proposal: When gas price dips, maintain it via increased tax + annual tax increase. Alternate proposal: develop electric high-speed trains for coastal north-south passengers. — Wolf

If your goal is to limit consumption, why not just limit the supply? Don't allow new refineries; don't allow new drilling in any federal lands, etc. — Jay Elston

The primary reason we are in the mess we're in is because the human species makes no real effort to control its numbers. Were our population not exploding, we would have plenty of resources and manageable pollution levels. We live on a spaceship and our life-support system has limits. I'm up for heaping penalties, not rewards, upon folks who practice exuberant procreation. — Tom Shehane

Liberal though I am... you lost me a bit in the increased tax credits for families with lots of kids. I support families' needs for good education, health-care plans, scholarship programs, after-school programs, and so on and so on. But the energy crisis and our present need for new technology and habits are both so critical in terms of the environment, world economics, politics, safety... etc. that I have trouble with the concept of giving credits for folks to drive large families around to activities. — Pat

This would never work. You would be unjustly punishing those in rural areas... Charging for the tax at the pump would devastate the poor and working poor. — Matthew

If gas were twice the price, we would seek out more closely knit neighborhoods, walkable and bikeable communities with jobs and services close by. Exactly the kinds of communities we instinctively know are good but that we seem to have forgotten how to build anymore. — Jack

...[T]here should not be any child tax credit for any purpose. The responsibility and financial support with bringing a person into this world should always be the first consideration. If there is any question, just visit an orphanage. — John

I love the graduated gas tax concept, but there's one problem with it: people with low incomes who live in areas where mass transportation is not available will be excessively penalized by the tax on gasoline. — Shaun

When was the last time the government spent the taxes they received on what [the money] was set up to be used for? — Dennis

It is important that the rebate is in DOLLARS, NOT PROGRAMS. Programs eventually cause inequities and more bureaucracy. Are you absolutely sure that YOU are not a member of Congress? — John

Europeans already pay those high taxes, what has it done for them? Do they have alternate fuels, cleaner streets, better schools? The answer is no! Taxes don't promote alternate fuels, they discourage them; the money is best left to the capitalist system to find alternatives. Europeans do have a lot of public transportation, but it hasn't got more of the public to work, or improved their society at all. Let the market drive the price. — Sam

I now have what I believe is a better plan. Quit building new highways and use those funds for improving mass transportation and for maintaining our existing roads. After a few years of gridlock, people will find other solutions. If you still want to use our tax law for social or political policy, offer credits for people that live close to their work to telecommute. — Drew Armstrong

Gas taxes are very recessive, which I don't like. This can be accommodated by using roughly half of the new taxes to offset the Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes, and to increase SS payments for those who are already retired. — Tom

You can bet that your "...Up To $3/gallon" fuel tax will reduce demand because no one who works for a living will be able to get back and forth to work and unemployment will rise. No one will be able to afford gas, you bozos. — Peter

I think it's a great idea to catch up with European countries that already have that big a tax on gas — and everything else! And I'd like to propose a codicil requiring all parking lots to have rows of trees planted between each row of cars. Everyone hates hot, shade-less parking lots, so this would stop everyone from fighting for the shady spots, since from now on they would all be shady spots; and all the oxygen the trees put out would help counteract the exhaust from all the cars parking in the lots. — Gwyneth


Here in Norway, the 2nd largest oil exporting nation in the world, we pay $7.25 a gallon for gas. $3.25 of this is tax (45%). In addition, new cars are taxed by weight, motor size AND horsepower plus 25% sales tax on the price at the dock and tax on the taxes! Families with a lot of kids under 18 get child allowances of about $150 per kid per month so they can't beef. Work vehicles get an income tax deduction so they can't beef. The downside is that we have the oldest cars in Western Europe (a downside safety-wise), since our cars cost from 2 to 5 times U.S. prices. The other downside is the money isn't earmarked for public transit, so although the public transit is quite good, it is still cheaper to use a car. — Richard

Great idea about the Gas Tax. It won't pass Congress until the country is bankrupt, but still a great idea. You should do more to encourage your listeners (me included) to drive less. Maybe you could change the name of the show to "Car Walk." — Brian

You suggest that particular groups of people get breaks on the tax... they will still have to pay the cost of the tax upfront, then the government will have to give it back...how much will that reduce the effect of the tax and how expensive is that? My guess is that will be more than the cost per gallon of the gas. — Bruce

YES!!!! Thank you so much for having the b*lls to propose raising the gasoline tax in order to discourage use, encourage alternative fuels, and improve public transportation. We're really stupid not to do this; and I hope you will keep hammering away at this. — Michael

Sorry guys — as a loyal listener I thought you were analytical — yet witty. I'm disappointed in this piece of Massachusetts liberalism — but I chalk it up to you being in a cocoon of sorts. You don't want windmill power off Cape Cod or Nantucket, but you want the rest of the country to pay higher taxes to subsidize a failing U.S. automotive industry to address energy issues? — Mike

My modification to your idea would be to use the billions in revenues to support Social Security. The Republicans, all my 50-year life, have been scare mongering that Social Security will run out of money. Meanwhile my parents enjoyed it until their deaths and millions of other Americans are benefiting, so keep it funded through the gas tax you propose and through taking the ceiling off incomes that pay Social Security tax. — David

Allow tax deductions or other breaks for the small business owner who is really getting screwed by high prices. Don't give them discounts off the tax at the pump, or you'll be creating a black market for cheap gas. — John