I just finished reading Tom Friedman’s column in the New York Times for today. This guy is spot on when it comes to many of his opinions. He should run for President — but, then again, I guess he’s smart enough to stay out of politics — unlike some of our candidates. I’ll summarize what he says in his column and then add my feelings.

So one of the latest ideas conjured up by Senators McCain and Clinton is the idea of a gas tax holiday. It seems that the good senators are concerned that Americans won’t drive enough or have enough vacations this summer to the point that they’re both willing to float the idea of a Federal gas tax holiday. I can’t imagine a more ridiculous and bass-ackwards idea than this. The Federal excise tax on gas is 18.4 cents per gallon. If we get rid of this how are we going to pay for the maintenance and repair of our crumbling infrastructure? Clearly Senator McCain and Senator Clinton haven’t factored the fact that the Federal tax on gas is a prime contributor to the trust fund that the US government has to keep up with the maintenance of our interstate highway system. Maybe we need a few more bridge collapses as happened in Minneapolis to remind the two candidates that we need to focus more on higher priority items — like repairing and maintaining the infrastructure of this nation and developing a sane energy policy rather than worrying about whether the Smiths or the Jones’s will be able to go to the Grand Canyon or to Hawaii this year.

If we cut the excise tax then we’ll have to borrow more money from other countries…particularly China in order to pay for the repairs to our nations highways and bridges. And we will be encouraging, rather than discouraging, Americans to drive more (not so good for global warming) and use more gas — which will send more of our wealth to the Saudis and the other OPEC countries where they can use it to pay for things like, oh, terrorism. It’s a lose-lose proposition and shows how much the candidates are willing to do to curry the favor of the oil industry as well as to buy votes.

This proposal is nothing more than election year politicking — nothing less. Rather than encourage more gas usage this summer the government should raise the Federal excise tax to encourage Americans to buy smaller cars, conserve more, drive less and do what we need to do to get through this crisis — innovate. If more Americans would choose to buy hybrid vehicles (and I’m not talking about an SUV hybrid — I’m talking about cars like the Honda Civic hybrid or the Toyota Prius) then we would improve the overall gas mileage of the US fleet. On top of that, if we use the money to help fund credits for alternative energy and fuels, we would be able to eventually (and when I say eventually, I mean something in the neighborhood of 10 or 20 years) get off the OPEC needle and we would have a sound, and, this is most important, clean energy policy that will help keep us independent of the whims of the outside world. If anything I believe that what we should do is eventually share our innovations with other countries to break OPEC’s grip on the rest of the world and to make serious inroads into the current global warming crisis. It is imperative that we see this as our “Manhattan Project” of our day…the problem is neither the government nor the candidates vying for our votes in the current election see it that way. Perhaps Senator Obama does…at least I can applaud his decision not to endorse this ridiculous idea of a holiday on the Federal excise tax on gas in the summer.

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