In light of today's high gasoline prices, if you mention that you support the idea of an increased gasoline tax, a lot of people will look at you as though you've been inhaling fumes. I believe that those who resist the idea are too close to "hi-test" for their own good. In fact, a gasoline tax hike is long overdue.
Since we all agree that America's addiction to oil is an issue of national security, we need an energy policy that encourages conservation. We must create the demand for greater fuel efficiency. Gradually increasing gasoline taxes will achieve that goal.
But now? With prices close to $3 a gallon? The answer is "yes" because, as we've seen recently, consumer behavior begins to change at $3 a gallon. While the price is prohibitive enough to motivate more conscientious use of gasoline, it's still far from historic highs when calculated as a percentage of household income.
To reach the peaks of the 1970s and 1980s -- and have a comparable effect on consumer behavior -- we'd have to reach $6 a gallon, according to the EPA.
We're not likely to see that price anytime soon, even with a hike in our gasoline tax, but Europe is already there. By gradually raising energy taxes over several decades, Europe has created demand for fuel-efficient products and has justified the cost of the technologies that deliver them. The result, according to Edmunds.com, is that the vehicles on European roads are 30 percent more fuel efficient than the vehicles on U.S. roads.