The day – Imposing hardship is the point of another hidden gasoline tax

Writing last week in the Hearst, Connecticut newspapers, State Representative Christine Palm, D-Chester, argued that raising gasoline prices by what she estimates at 5 cents per gallon in the part of the Transportation Climate Initiative advocated by Governor Lamont would not be serious, because people have just ignored the rise in gas prices.

Yes, gas price increases tend to be okay, but that’s because gas is a necessity of life. This is why rising prices for food, shelter and medical care – other necessities – also tend to be accepted. Contrary to Palm’s cavalier suggestion, this acceptance does not imply approval and freedom from difficulty. After all, inflation is already exploding and gasoline prices are only part of it. There are a lot the difficulties and the government should not make them worse.

But imposing hardship is the goal of the Transportation Climate Initiative – to force people to drive less and use less gasoline and thus generate less pollution or have less to spend on food, shelter, fuel. medical care and everything in between. Since Palm recognizes that rising gasoline prices are unlikely to make people drive less, it must also recognize that instead of reducing pollution, TCI will only lower living standards.

Essentially, TCI would be another hidden gas tax imposed at the wholesale level, like the Connecticut gross revenue tax. It would make the tax increase look like a price increase imposed by the gasoline companies, not government policy.

Contributing to this deception, Palm’s essay injected some demagoguery. Why, she asked, are some people upset about a possible 5-cent increase in gasoline taxes that could result “if petroleum distributors were actually held accountable for their huge and devastating carbon footprint?” “

Oh, yeah – it’s those big, bad oil distributors, not Palm’s own voters who drive the cars that burn the fuel that causes pollution, as if the distributors would keep pushing fuel even if no one bought it, and as if the problem is supply, not demand.

Palm estimates that TCI would cost a typical Connecticut resident $ 15.60 per year, which she writes is a fraction of the extra money people have already paid due to the recent increase in gas prices. . But Palm only offers the old justification all tax and price increases – it’s just a little more – as if the incrementalism doesn’t add up.

Connecticut was not taxed heavily all at once. The state has achieved this dubious distinction by responding to calls from lawmakers like Palm to pay a little more here and a little more there, over and over again.

Additionally, Palm and other TCI advocates don’t really believe their own climate emergency claims. If they did, they would seek more broadly the income necessary to meet them, and would not simply increase the cost of a vital necessity.

The state government is full of inefficiency and exploitation, especially in its government labor policies, but these are neglected because their beneficiaries are special interests more influential than ordinary taxpayers and, in the eyes of the own advocates of ICT, more important than any climate emergency itself. For example, keeping Columbus Day as a paid holiday for government employees continues to take precedence over any climate emergency and over providing the many freebies and benefits Palm imagines funded by TCI:

“Clean electric buses. A dramatic reduction in asthma rates. … Shuttles for the elderly. … Light rail systems. … Conveniently located charging stations. And, of course, jobs.

But these imagined benefits require big assumptions: that the state government won’t continue to divert money from general-purpose transportation, and that so many jobs might not be created or maintained just by leaving people behind. keep and spend their own money.

While pollution needs to be reduced, local and regional businesses like TCI are unlikely to accomplish much, as any reduction in pollution in Connecticut could be offset by increased pollution in other states. , although Connecticut continued to disadvantage with higher taxes. It is a national and international problem which requires much broader application rules.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Connecticut.

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