Gubernatorial candidate John Klar says what Chittenden County liberals call “incentivizing” Vermonters to use less gasoline is really nothing more than the rich clubbing the poor to stop their perceived bad habits.
“For example, the current proposal for Vermont under the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) is to add 5-18 cents per gallon in tax to Vermonters’ fuels. Proponents argue that this gas tax will “incentivize” citizens to drive less: a sin tax. But who in the world thinks that an 18-cent-per-gallon “incentive” will curb consumption? Advocates argue that it is axiomatic that a higher cost will reduce consumption -- but gas averaged $3.99/gallon nationally in May 2011, and is now only about $2.60.
A degree in rocket science is unnecessary to see where this leads. Once the 18 cents per gallon (presented now as a mere pittance) fails to impact consumption behaviors, the progressives will be back, explaining that the tax must be raised to achieve that goal -- even though many low-income Vermonters are already squeezed to breaking point and use gas to travel to work. The question then becomes how much legislators tax Vermonters to “save the planet.” But the tax will only go up, always with the moral clarion call of saving the children.