Monday, February 03, 2003

First of all, two words: unfunded mandate. That's Schrub's way of leaving no child behind and rebuilding NYC and just about every other supposed program for improving the quality of life for the majority of people in this country (and let's not forget that it was that same majority that voted for the other guy in 2000; Julian, take note). This is a primary reason why the states are having to make cuts in areas they should never have to: law enforcement, educatation, mental health care, care for the elderly, etc.

One thing I've learned from my social-worker wife is that the local and state programs here are funded according to performance and result. That's why D.A.R.E. is a thing of the past here; it didn't work. I'm afraid that Schrub's plan to give tax money to "faith-based" addiction treatment programs won't be so dependent on review of results. They couldn't be, because many of those programs don't work now. Here I'm talking not only as someone whose wife works in the area of treatment, but as someone who had need of such treatment and is in constant contact with others who do, too.

But, my fellow citizens, I have a SOLUTION, and I'm going to say it here so you know who said it first: the states should simply increase the tax on gasoline until they reach parity with their budgets.

Think of it; while Schrub ignores his own blue-ribbon panels by allowing greater amounts of polution, favoring the purchase of SUV's over hybrids, and re-opening national parks to snowmobiles, the governors can offset the effects of said actions by taxing gas (but not heating oil or diesel and jet fuel) as much as necessary to balance their budgets. This would also put a kink in the dividend exemption, since it should reverse the gains already seen in oil stocks and keep a balance by favoring high-tech (people will want to buy more efficient cars and trucks once the government stops subsidizing oil by manipulating the price of gasoline downward). We wouldn't have to buy still more oil from Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The Middle East would lose their strangle grip on other countries' economies, including ours. The air quality will improve. Global warming will be slowed.

Any governor who raises the gas tax can say it's for the good of the country and the world as well as his or her individual state. They can even earmark some of the money for specific programs to show their constituents what good can come from paying more at the pump, instead of giving it away to them foreigners. People who drive gas-guzzling vehicles can still claim patriotism because they are helping to pay for better living here at home. People who drive gas-sippers can still claim they are doing their part to reduce dependence on foreign oil and clean up the environment. The ultra-affluent, who have limos and jets and yaghts and such, will pay a bigger piece of the price, as they should for taking a bigger slice in the first place.

That's my proposal, and I'm sticking with it!


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