Trib editorial: raise (gas) taxes!

Newsflash: the Tribune has editorialized not only in favor of higher taxes, but on behalf of the wildly unpopular (Bush’s people even called it “wacky,” in a 2004 anti-Kerry ad) notion that higher gas taxes would spur conservation. [“Link”:http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chi-0508290118aug29,1,2292431.story?coll=chi-opinionfront-hed or full text after the jump]

Instead, they apply some common economic sense to the highly emotional subject of gas prices. Imagine if George W. Bush had applied a $1 per gallon “Oil Freedom Tax” on gasoline in September 2001, pegging gasoline to $3 a gallon and rebating based on the price of oil. Prices would be no higher than today, except that our nation could have invested hundreds of billions of dollars on a crash course in energy independence (and, oh, maybe paid for some of this war with revenue instead of debt). Instead of importing high-tech hybrid car engines, solar cells, and wind turbines from Japan or Denmark, Americans might have the leading edge on these technologies. Instead of skirting bankruptcy and cancelling orders for new equipment, Chicago’s transit agencies could be laying new track to bring a 19th-century transit system into the 21st century. Residents seeking to cut transportation costs would drive demand for new transit-oriented and walkable housing and commercial development, reinvesting in our region’s stagnating inner suburbs instead of sprawling over ethanol- or biodiesel-producing farm fields.

Instead, the coffers of Saudi oil sheiks and oil-corporation executives are overflowing, while the Treasury’s balance sheet plunges to new lows amidst seas of red ink.

In related news, thanks to the leadership of our beloved CBF for inserting a “conserve energy by bicycling”:http://biketraffic.org/biketraffic/bt0905/durbin.html provision into recent federal legislation, to study ways that communities can conserve energy by helping drivers switch to bikes

In less related news, but perhaps more pertinent to the current discussion, with your advocacy and interest Chicago may soon begin “weekly road closures”:http://biketraffic.org/biketraffic/bt0905/sundayparkways.html to promote walking and cycling on key routes. I have a hunch that the “60 mile” route includes a certain prominent lakefront highway.

In even less related news, Slate has “an article”:http://slate.msn.com/id/2124561/entry/2124562/nav/tap1 praising the Dutch for looking suave atop their cycles.

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