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Re: Driving Less Miles for Rebates (formerly "Development" Pricing)

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  • Mike Neuman
    Mike: Do you have a better idea to get us out of the mess we are in regarding global warming, increasing asthma (linked to asthma and more severe asthma
    Message 1 of 14 , Jun 25, 2003
      Mike:
      Do you have a better idea to get us out of the mess we are in
      regarding global warming, increasing asthma (linked to asthma and
      more severe asthma attacks), and gridlocking congestion in most U.S.
      cities (and other cities)? I personally don't think drive-less
      incentives would be all that difficult at all to administer. The
      mechnisms and institution are already in place to implement it -
      every person who can legally drive has a drivers license, and every
      vehicle that is legally driven has to be registered to someone.

      The problem is getting the political will to turn things around
      against the big money auto industry, highway construction industy,
      oil industry, airline industry, and their consulting industries, and
      conservative people who don't like any kind of change, even for the
      better.

      Remember this rule of thumb: for every mile driven in an automobile
      that gets 20 miles per gallon, a pound of carbon dioxide is emitted
      to the atmosphere, where it will remain for, on average, 120 years,
      continuously heating the planet. Now multiply that by 5 trillion
      miles driven in the U.S., each year. That's one whale of a lot of
      CO2 in the atmosphere, to say nothing of the other greenhouse gases
      emitted in motor fuel burning highway transportation, like nitrous
      oxide and the powerful greenhouse gas residuals from air conditioning
      in vehicles.

      The ozone formed from excessive motor vehicle use at ground level is
      also a greenhouse gas of concern.

      Regarding the airline industries, tremendous amounts of fuel are
      burned in jets (as we saw by two crashes on September 11th, 2001). A
      majority of flights are carrying mostly recreationists and sports
      teams. Are all those exotic vacations and business trips really all
      that necessary?

      I propose that any person in the country who hasn't flown during the
      year should also get a cash rebate at the end of the year from the
      Federal Aviation Administration ... for not flying. Tax airline
      tickets based on the number of miles one is going to fly for the
      source of the rebates.

      You brought up the issue of the link to the failing U.S. economy, and
      whether people's opinions matter or not. Well, here's one opinion I
      had awhile back, around the time the Concord went done. I predicted
      the economy was going to fall, big time, just like the Concord did.
      I even took what little I had in the market out.

      My brother, who works for Merril Lynch(still), questioned my sanity
      at the time for taking my money out of the market. I answered I
      believed the stock market was going to dive, just like the Concord
      did; first sputter, then drop, then crash. (The crash has yet to
      come.)

      I see where the U.S. EPA just released a report on the state of the
      environment. The reported was going to be "edited" by President Bush
      and his adminsration, to remove all inferences that global warming is
      going to be a big, big problem in the future, and that it's severity
      is going to be influenced by how much fossil fuel burning Americans
      continue to burn, a full one-third of which comes from motorized
      transportation. Rather than wordsmith the report to make it palatable
      to G.W. Bush, Inc., the outgoing EPA Administrator, Christie Whitman,
      chose to remove the chapter on climate change in its entirety.

      In her outgoing remarks on release of the draft report, Whitman says
      the following:

      "In presenting this report, we are providing a picture of what we
      know - and equally important what we don't know - about the condition
      of our nation's environmental and human health". She must have
      written that before G.W. Bush, Inc., ordered the changes.

      Anyway, below is a quote from Martin Luther King Jr., about the
      dangers in procrastinating on things that need immediate attention.
      It was about the catastrophe of the Vietnam war, and the fact that so
      much money and lives were being spent already on the war that would
      otherwise have been available for those in need of economic and other
      forms of assistance at the time.

      "We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today.
      We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding
      conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too
      late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves
      us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The
      tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood-it ebbs. We may
      cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is
      adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and
      jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic
      words, "Too late."

      -- Martin Luther King, Jr., 1967

      Scientists the world over are now claiming, with an ever increasing
      sense of urgency, that reducing fossil fuel burning is of paramount
      concern, particularly in the U.S., which emits one-fourth of the
      total world's anthropogenic (caused by humans) greenhouse gas
      quantities in spite of the fact that it harbors only a small fraction
      of the world's total population. There ought be some big changes in
      this country, soon, and anyone who cares ought be speaking out about
      it.

      "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that
      matter."
      - Martin Luther King, Jr.

      MTN

      --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, "Mike Harrington" <mike@p...>
      wrote:
      > Interesting proposal, but I think it would be hard to administer.
      I gave
      > the background on fuel taxes as history. I think the US has gone
      much too
      > long in this direction to sustain the its economic system much
      longer. I
      > wonder what the consumer confidence level was in 1932? People's
      opinions
      > didn't matter much then, see [
      > http://www.users.dircon.co.uk/~netking/prognost/prognost.htm ] for
      > comparisons of statements made recently and those going in to the
      Great
      > Depression.
      >
    • turpin
      ... Part of the problem is that this has been a liberal issue, for purely social reasons, and liberals tend to think in terms of raising taxes or giving
      Message 2 of 14 , Jun 25, 2003
        "J.H. Crawford" <mailbox@c...> wrote:
        > I see the situation pretty much the
        > same way. The difficult question
        > now is, how do we change the
        > current state of affairs? Any
        > suggestion to raise taxes on cars
        > seems to be a sure-fire way to lose
        > an election

        Part of the problem is that this has
        been a liberal issue, for purely
        social reasons, and liberals tend to
        think in terms of raising taxes or
        giving rebates. We won't make any
        progress until we succeed in casting
        this issue in more conservative
        terms, and in this case, also more
        accurate ones. This isn't about
        raising taxes. This is about rolling
        back a huge public subsidy, a giant
        welfare scheme that the states and
        cities can no longer afford. Road
        fees on fuel are 100% voluntary,
        paid only by those and to the extent
        that drivers use the roads. We need
        to roll back this subsidy now,
        because it is cutting into vital
        public services (schools), and to
        better plan roads to meet actual
        economic demand for them.

        The general assumptions -- to which
        I generally agree -- are that
        subsidies should be avoided except
        where there is a compelling public
        interest, that it is better to use
        economic mechanisms to determine
        how much of something is needed
        than bureaucratic ones, that taxes
        are evil and use fees are preferable,
        and that market costing is a good
        thing.

        Liberals don't speak this language,
        and because of that, the public still
        views the car as "private" transport,
        rather than a huge public subsidy.
        Until this issue is cast in different
        terms, there's not a snowball's
        chance in hell of making any progress
        on it.
      • prometeus57
        ... Since when has fiscal language ever impeded social conservatives and other reactionaries? Has the massive cost of war-monging and the Pentagon industrial
        Message 3 of 14 , Jun 25, 2003
          --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, "turpin" <turpin@y...> wrote:
          > Liberals don't speak this language,
          > and because of that, the public still
          > views the car as "private" transport,
          > rather than a huge public subsidy.
          > Until this issue is cast in different
          > terms, there's not a snowball's
          > chance in hell of making any progress
          > on it.

          Since when has fiscal language ever
          impeded social conservatives and other
          reactionaries?

          Has the massive cost of war-monging
          and the Pentagon industrial subsidy
          system ever stopped the US government
          from wasting astronomical amounts of
          resources?

          For that matter, how many so-called
          conservatives ever criticize the US
          government's military spending?

          Only the most severely reality-
          challenged people would fail to
          know that it tends to be leftists,
          and far-leftists at that, who
          criticize military spending on
          both moral and financial terms.

          So why should it be any different
          with another plank of the rightist
          agenda? Cars are as integral to
          right-wing politics as bombs and
          religion. You might as well be
          arguing that abortion rights need
          to be framed in religious language
          in order to prevail.

          A naive person might accuse you
          of being a fifth columnist. But
          you're not. You're simply blinded
          by ideology.

          Four legs good, two legs bad.
        • turpin
          ... Maybe. But if so, to date they do not much say so. Conservatives very explicitly state their support for a strong military, and their belief that this is
          Message 4 of 14 , Jun 26, 2003
            "prometeus57" <prometeus57@y...> wrote:
            > Has the massive cost of war-monging
            > and the Pentagon industrial subsidy
            > system ever stopped the US government
            > from wasting astronomical amounts of
            > resources? .. Cars are as integral to
            > right-wing politics as bombs and
            > religion.

            Maybe. But if so, to date they do not
            much say so. Conservatives very
            explicitly state their support for a
            strong military, and their belief that
            this is one of the few general areas
            where the government legitimately
            spends large sums. In contrast, I've
            yet to hear a conservative politician
            say that government should subsidize
            automobile travel, or for that matter,
            a liberal politician argue against
            such subsidy. The fact of such subsidy
            is tacit and goes mostly undiscussed.

            Instead, leftist critics of automobile
            dependency tend to propose all sorts
            of social engineering schemes, while
            allowing their conservative critics to
            lambast these as social engineering,
            and to write as if the existing
            transportation system were the result
            of the market reflecting people's
            economic choices.

            Maybe if this pretense were exposed,
            most or all conservatives entering the
            issue would start saying, "oh, yeah,
            the government should subsidize this,"
            as you seems to think. Or some minority
            might rethink the issue. On this issue
            today, the vast majority of the middle
            sides with the conservatives. We'll
            never know how surfacing the tension
            between the policies they favor and
            the rhetoric that justifies them until
            we expose the pretense.

            Here's my suspicion: as long as this
            issue is approached from leftist
            rhetoric, it will get shut down again
            and again with the usual complaints
            against social engineering. As long as
            the vast majority in the middle believe
            that the existing transportation system
            is the result of people's choices and
            market forces, there will be next to no
            political change. If you're happy with
            that, stick with the existing rhetoric.

            > A naive person might accuse you
            > of being a fifth columnist. But
            > you're not. You're simply blinded
            > by ideology.

            As opposed to everyone else here, who
            are successfully changing people's
            views about transportation? You don't
            challenge my factual claims: that the
            existing transportation system favoring
            automobiles results from massive
            government subsidy, and that shifting
            away from this subsidy to a fee system
            where people directly pay for the costs
            their choices create would change those
            choices. Instead, you oppose my
            opposition to this subsidy, preferring
            instead to pose the issue in terms of
            bureaucratic policy. We're each
            influenced by our own political
            biases, but I don't see how I'm any
            more blinkered by mine than you are by
            yours. Please don't take that as an
            insult. I am not here to criticize
            the political assumptions on the left.
            All I'm doing is pointing out that there
            is a much broader basis for criticism of
            the existing transportation system. If
            this issue sat on the right side of the
            political fence rather than the left, it
            would be phrased, quite correctly, in
            terms of "ridiculous government subsidy,"
            "suburbanite welfare," "industry
            coddling," and "never-ending government
            dependency." Do you honestly think that a
            rhetoric of community, sustainability,
            human-sized urban architecture, public
            space, etc., is going to succeed at
            chiseling away on old attitudes any more
            today than it did ten or twenty years ago?
            (If you're answer is that it will when we
            run out of oil, then your answer is that
            the political debate doesn't matter.)
          • Simon Baddeley
            I have increasingly come to referring to the need to bring market forces to bear on motoring and road space and in UK many now speak of a transition from
            Message 5 of 14 , Jun 26, 2003
              I have increasingly come to referring to the need to bring market forces to
              bear on motoring and road space and in UK many now speak of a transition
              from government led "predict and provide" policies (corporate statist
              rhetoric) to "demand management" through road pricing, congestion charging
              and parking charges related to land values.

              Simon


              ----- Original Message -----
              From: "turpin" <turpin@...>
              To: <carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com>
              Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2003 1:32 PM
              Subject: [carfree_cities] Re: how to attract right-wingers, or not
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