I was at the absolutely wonderful Pegagus Books last week up in Berkeley, and while I was checking out my embarrassing number of books, I got chatting with Berkeley Dude, who had directed me to the incomparable Crow Road by Iain Banks in his used section.
“You know, I feel sorry for the Republicans with this Osama thing. Security was, like, their issue. It was theirs. Now what have they got?”
I bit my tongue. They still have taxes, traditional marriage, public sector unions, and birth certificates I guess.
For 40 years, the US has spent billions investing in transit systems hoping to get people out of their cars. We have obdurately ignored economists who note that pricing gasoline more appropriately with a gas price floor or carbon tax would raise the costs of driving, would give us revenues to invest in public transit, and would do what everybody wants everybody else to do—stop driving gas guzzlers and stop driving so much.
Instead, we’ve built and built transit that has underperformed for years simply because driving is still so cheap. But we haven’t invested probably enough to prepare for the demand for public transit because we don’t have the revenues to do so, partially because we’ve stuck to the policy of keeping gas cheap.
Stupid, short-term thinking.
The Financial Times has a series of very good articles recently on where we are.
Gasoline consumption shrinks vis-a-vis higher prices (what? REALLY?? HOW CAN THAT POSSIBLY BE?) as US Congress questions $2 billion in tax candy handed out Big Oil.
Gas prices spur inflation (of course they do, if everybody is getting around by car, everything from labor to other inputs are higher in prices)
And it’s not helping the trade deficit (again, basic math)