I feel so stimulated!

>> Wednesday, April 30, 2008

So I'm driving into work this morning, listening to tunes, enjoying the new Bug, and I happen to notice that I'm going to have to stop for gas this evening. That's not quite true, actually. I noticed I was getting To That Point yesterday, and decided I'd put it off one more day, but I noticed that my tank hadn't magically refilled itself last night. (You might think a tank that magically refills would be something indeed, but I wouldn't be surprised: I was born in '72, remember, when a certain film franchise was in its prime and a certain television show--I don't mean 60 Minutes--still ruled Sunday nights, or it did when you were, like, five. In other words, based on what I learned about Volkswagen Beetles when I was a little boy, I'm somewhat disappointed that my new car has so far failed to go out by itself at night, hasn't managed to get Buddy Hackett and/or Don Knotts into any kind of amusing hijinks, and--most disappointing of all--has completely failed to get me comically/romantically entangled with a thirty-something Stefanie Powers--rrrrowr.)

But, obviously, I digress. Yet again. Back on task, Eric: I was thinking about refilling the tank of my lazy, gold-bricking car (you know, Michelle Lee has totally turned into GILF material, I'm just saying), and naturally that led to thinking about Senator McCain's ingenious proposal, now endorsed by Senator Clinton but criminally, callously rejected by out-of-touch über-elitist Senator Obama, to temporarily suspend the 18.4 cents-per-gallon Federal gasoline tax. And here's what I thought:

$.184 x 8.5 (roughly how many gallons I put in during a fill-up) = $1.56 (rounded off)
$1.56 x 5 (approximately how many times a month I refill) = $7.80

I'll be rich! Rich I tell you! Richer than God! Ha! Haha! Hahahaha! I win! I win!

Ahem. Sorry. I guess I got carried away with all the extra money I'll be making.

I feel obligated to admit that I didn't actually do the exact math until I got to the office, no, I merely approximated and mistakenly estimated I'd have an extra ten bucks a month during the suspension of the tax. Ten whole bucks, I thought, and I was nervous about making my car payments on the new vehicle!

But I'm not being fair, am I? I mean, I drive a little bitty magical car capable turning Keenan Wynn into a wreck of a man and able to place first and second in international races after being sawed in half. What about people who drive SUVs? Surely they'll save a small fortune!

Now, I will grant that asking two co-workers who drive SUVs how much they put in their tanks is hardly scientific. But we're going to run with it because, hey, it's my stinking blog, right? So let's do some third-grade math:

$.184 x 16 (how many gallons my friends say they put in on refills) = $2.94 (rounded off)
$2.94 x 5 (approximate refills per month) = $14.70

So, let me see if I've got this right: what Senators McCain and Clinton are in favor of is giving up millions of dollars of highway funds to put something like $7 to $15 per month in everyone's pockets. Oh, what the hell, let's be generous and double it for those extra-long-distance commuters. Thirty dollars a month is what they're offering.

This is the point at which the gas-tax-suspension proposal goes from being stupid (the usual criticism) to insulting. See, I think everyone knows that this is a crude ploy to get votes. The two people at the front of this plan are, after all, running for President, and one of them is using the issue to swat at the Democratic front-runner. So how much does it actually cost to buy a vote? The proposal is to suspend the tax for about three months:

3 x $7.80 = $23.40
3 x $14.70 = $44.10
3 x $30.00 = $90.00

Cheap, no? My vote is apparently worth a retail value of less than $25.00 to the honorable Senators from Arizona and New York. I don't even merit a C-note in the mail. At least the President thought I was worth $300 during his first term in office.

When I told my co-workers what their vote was worth, one suggested a closing line for this post, and she was absolutely right--here is my response to a bribe, and a $23.40 bribe especially:

Kiss my white ass.

2 comments:

MWT Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 11:58:00 PM EDT  

I suppose it all depends on your income level. Maybe they could somehow offer it to people below a certain line....

Regardless though. All that means is that, instead of Big Gas Megacorps stealing my money, it'll steal government money instead. And since government money is tax money which was my money, I'm not seeing this as an improvement.

What needs to happen is for Big Gas Megacorps to get regulated all to hell for just how much profit they're allowed to make. I also wouldn't mind seeing their profits seized. Maybe such a seizure could be used to pay for that tax rebate thing everyone is getting.

Eric Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 7:37:00 AM EDT  

Unfortunately, it's hard to imagine an 18-cent/gallon savings being much use to anyone at any income level. Perhaps if prices at the grocery store were remaining static, you could measure the improvement in diapers and milk gallons, but under the present situation this is one of those things that sounds so much better than it really is in sound bite form: "Lower gas prices? Hooray!" Few people will get around to counting the actual pennies saved.

You're right about this mainly being a sop to the gas companies. Several analyses I've read suggest that the actual result of the tax suspension will be an influx of money to the oil companies.

And, lefty that I am, I have no problem with capping oil profits or (philosophically, at least--perhaps not Constitutionally) with some degree of nationalization of oil company assets. It won't happen, though: even if the political will existed (it doesn't), there would be a hell of a Fifth Amendment issue.

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