Wacky or wise?

Gas prices are way up and going higher, and drivers aren’t happy about it. The Bush-Cheney re-election team, sensing an opportunity, recently released a television ad linking John Kerry to the price hikes. In it, a voiceover tells us, “Some people have wacky ideas. Like taxing gasoline more so people drive less. That’s John Kerry.”

Never mind that the charge is a gross distortion of Kerry’s record. What’s interesting here is that the very idea of taxing gasoline to decrease consumption is considered “wacky,” meaning “crazy” or “insane.” And yet here we are, fighting a brutal war that has cost more than 700 American and several thousand Iraqi lives, to keep afloat a lifestyle in which it’s considered perfectly sane for folks to drive 8-mile-a-gallon SUVs as family cars. Does anybody hear the word “disconnect"?

Let’s face it, American oil consumption is a matter of momentous urgency. It’s also a grave threat to national security. As it stands, every tinhorn Middle Eastern despot with a few producing oil rigs is holding us hostage. We should be trying to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, not tooting the horn for the right to drive gas guzzlers. Does it make sense to allow business owners up to a $100,000 tax deduction for a Hummer, as is current federal policy? Absolutely not.

A report two weeks ago noted that the world’s total supply of oil either had peaked or would peak soon, and that it wouldn’t be long before there wasn’t enough oil to meet current demand. Expect even higher prices, the report stated. Despite such warnings, and despite the continuing loss of life in Iraq, the Bush administration has done nothing to promote fuel conservation. Indeed, it seems to believe conservation is “wacky.”

We prefer to think of it as "patriotic."