If we all move to electric vehicles and alternate fuel vehicles, what will we tax (or how will we tax) to keep the roads paved and the transit running?
I'm beginning to see that a lot of people ( the various "Green" bloggers at Daily Kos like dotcommodity and A Seigel) don't seem to have answered that question when they make their case (sometimes guiltmongering, but hey, do what you gotta do to make a point) for putting solar panels on carports for plug-in electric cars so they don't have to buy electricity generated from a big corporate utility and so on.
My coworkers had an argument from Williamsport well past Selinsgrove as we drove down US 11/15 from Towanda last Thursday about this and it sparked something.
Many Americans hate the gas tax, as we seem to hate all taxes. But I'll tell you what, you know exactly what you're getting with the federal and state gas taxes: paved roads. They may not be the best, as any Pennsylvanian or resident of the upper Midwest/Northeast will tell you, but they get paved when they can. Furthermore, myself included, we expect expanded transit systems. Or we expect the light rails (then called trolleys or interurbans) to come back after we ripped them all out after World War II. The money for that has to come from somewhere.
Gasoline has come down, because people stopped driving. Eventually it will continue its slow rise upward. I am firmly of the belief what's occurring now is an artificial bubble and not the End Of Civilization Due To Peak Oil, although the Peak is approaching if it hasn't passed already. At any rate, people stop driving, revenues to keep the roads paved stop coming in. Revenues stop coming in, roads don't get paved so then your fancy (although very fragile, I mean what's available in electric cars now look like Barbie cars or golf carts, no offense) electric car will be worthless unless they start building them like Hummers.
I'd like to have a cool serious discussion about this because it really should be on people's minds. We can all put solar panels on our carports and garages assuming we live in the suburbs where we can have a carport and/or garage, as most Americans do (and we'll discuss where city dwellers would plug in later.) We can all generate our own power so we don't have to buy from some evil corporate utility that probably isn't green and won't be for at least another 2 or 3 decades. But that doesn't answer the question on how the roads get paved if no one used gas to power their vehicles anymore. We're already seeing our revenues begin to fall and at PennDOT, this is seriously hurting our purchasing power.
I'll throw an idea and note I'm not for or against it. A Transportation Systems Sales Tax that everyone pays, no matter if they drive or not. Everyone enjoys the benefits of a functioning transportation system, otherwise you'd starve. Think about it. Or post your own ideas in the comments thread.
It's either that or we toll just about everything.