Today, I have the van at work. Melody and I bought the van in 2005, and this is the first time I have taken it to work. I had to pickup something that was bigger than what my car could handle, so…
Anyway, driving this big vehicle made me think, and think a little more than I usually do. So, I am going to rant a little. No apologies will be offered.
Here starts the base of my problem.
The cost of a gallon of gasoline right now costs $2.79. I think it dipped down to around $1.80 a few months ago, after being at a high of over $4.00 last year. My car gets 34 miles per gallon (MPG), our van gets 18 MPG. So, at current costs, it costs me $4.92 to drive my car the 60 miles total to-and-from work. It will cost me $9.30 to do the same trip with my van. Wow, what an expense different. Nearly twice my normal cost.
OK, but what is the cost to the environment? My commute in my car puts 35.29 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air. The same commute puts 66.67 pounds of CO2 in the air. Again, nearly double. (fueleconomy.gov)
Are you still following.
I don’t know whether you think that global warming is man made or just a natural cycle (however, I do care, slightly). But I think you probably do agree with me that using less gas will be good for your pocketbook and the environment.
So then, why is it that so many people drive their trucks, SUVs, and crossovers to work? My friend drives a SUV to work during the winter, because they are worried about the bad weather. How many times do people get stuck in snow drifts on the beltline? Another friend drives their minivan everywhere, even thought it is empty of kids or stuff 98% (my number here) of the time. Still a different person drives a SUV because it is their right, and their money. Fine and dandy, but it is our planet, our country, and our future. When was the last time you needed the full size bed of that pickup to pickup something? And that Hummer? When did you last have to scrape the mud off of it?
When the economy collapsed in the fall of 2008, the purchase of SUVs and trucks skyrocketed. Why? Well, the price of gas went under $2.00 per gallon for the first time in years. Yippy! Now I can spend money on that big box on wheels because the daily maintenance cost has fallen.
So, what is going to make people change their thoughts about buying that SUV or truck? Tomorrow, the price of gas may fall again, and trucks will still be popular. Or the cost could jump, more hybrids will be sold, and another truck or SUV maker will complain, lose money, and go bankrupt. It is a guessing game, about as predictable as the weather.
But, thoughts could change. And right now, there are some proposals being floated around in the false reality of politics that could push the changes along. The proposal will not make any politician popular, but it might save the environment. And if done right, could help a car maker or two.
The idea is to increase the gas tax.
What? You can’t do that. I depend on my car to get me everywhere. Why should I be punished? Why should the government profit for me having to drive to work for a minimum wage job?
The proposal that I have seen is not just a simple gas tax. The idea is to raise the tax on gas while lowering the taxes that a person pays through their income or other means. The net dollars result for this increased tax on gas would be zero change. The tax is just applied in a different way, a way that can make a change.
If at a simple level the gas tax would raise the price for a gallon of gasoline $2 across the board, a lot of people would change their driving habits. More carpoolers would show up. More people would ride the train. More money would go into high-speed rail, therefore allowing even more people to ride the train. Bicycle use would increase. People may walk to the corner grocery store instead of jumping in the car. A whole new eco-system would come alive.
Less money would be going to foreign countries. People might actually be healthier. Your office would encourage this, hoping to build on their green ‘cred.’ The environment would eventually say thank you.
And more people just might be more happy.
I can’t wait to get the van back home, and get back into my normal commuter vehicle of my car. Someday I hope to get into my 7 passenger Model S sedan, and enjoy the reality of a $4 fill up. Until then, and after then, I will still complain about your inappropriate vehicles.