If you think the high cost of gas is unfair, you’re right. But don’t blame the gas stations or the oil companies. Like you and me, they’re just trying to make a living. When the costs go up for every single seller in that market, you can bet that the prices you have to pay will go up too. But are all of those costs necessary?
One worthless cost is arbitrary regulation. Refiners are now being forced to reformulate their gasoline with ethanol. It supposedly has environmental benefits, but it’s more a farm subsidy than anything else. This and other burdens mean that building new refineries has become a very risky investment. So supply is lower and prices go up. Then there’s taxes, taxes, and more taxes.
Stephen Moore of the Cato Institute reports that over the past twenty years the gas tax is the fastest growing tax imposed on middle-income Americans. In 1980 the feds charged 4 cents a gallon. Now it’s 18 cents. Add a few more dimes for state and local tax gouging, and it turns out that 40 or 50 cents of the cost of each gallon is imposed from above. Much like cigarettes and liquor, the stuff that gets us from here to there is being treated as a cash cow by the government.
The GOP Congress has mumbled about dropping a nickel from the gas tax, but hasn’t followed through. Who pays for the spinelessness of the career politicians? You and me.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.