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Discussion Starter #41
With All Due Respect

And how exactly does driving a gas guzzler equate to "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness"? I guess according to your logic... since owning slaves makes me happy I should be able to own slaves.

The facts are there is a shortage of fuel, we are putting the lives of our citizens at risk protecting oil supplies in the middle east, the price of fuel is rising and even the states are bringing suit against the EPA to raise MPG fleet requirements.

I am not an alarmist but just as during the revolution we can choose to lead or to be led.
 

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Trying to bring this back around to the original topic...

After reading all of the responses, and participating myself, I still have one unanswered question that I would like ICATFISHMAN to address.

It's been pointed out here that there are many, many factors that affect how much petroleum one person might use with their transportation choice. Size/weight of the vehicle is one. Power can be one. Length of commute is certainly one. Even speed/rate of acceleration. If you drive with a heavy foot, that can eat up as much as TWICE the gasoline, depending on the environment. What if you use E85? You're using only 15% the petroleum as someone else.

So my remaining question is, with all these factors weighing in, how can you pick just ONE of them (mpg of your vehicle) and decide to tax that? It's been pointed out before that the length of one's commute can have MUCH more of an effect on gasoline usage than the (sometimes) arbitrary MPG number that's assigned by the EPA. That question still is unanswered...why tax MPG and ignore everything else?
 

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Discussion Starter #43
Jason

With all due respect to each and every poster, the issue remains that there is a need to develop and use alternative fuels and to use our resources more efficiently. I think this is pretty much accepted by everyone in this forum.

The question is HOW do you force folks to change their habits and how do you fund what is already proving to be vital changes we need to make in our behavior and more specifically in our usage of fuel.

The EPA MPG Estimates are the most widely recognized and understood criteria used in comparing relative efficiency, that is why I think it is the most relevant guage. Frankly, I could care less if you drive with a light or heavy foot, consumption is the key. I guess the alternative would be to force ration fuel rather than assess a surcharge for operating an inefficient vehicle or having poor driving habits but that will not fund R&D, improve distribution, maintain the infrastructure or have adequate impact on vehicle manufacturers who will be forced (by market conditions) to redesign their offerings. However,by analogy, to say that because the jeans you bought outwear the jeans I bought for the same price at the same store is frankly irrelevant. We paid the same price and I made the CHOICE to crawl on my hands and knees over rocks while you made the CHOICE to walk. Shame on me!

As far as E85 is concerned, I am sure that greater minds than mine can figure out a way to offset MPG with other benefits to society.
 

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icatfishman said:
The EPA MPG Estimates are the most widely recognized and understood criteria used in comparing relative efficiency, that is why I think it is the most relevant guage. Frankly, I could care less if you drive with a light or heavy foot, consumption is the key.
You could care less if I drive with a light or heavy foot? That's as much of a choice regarding fuel consumption than the size of the vehicle is. As is where someone lives or the length of their commute.

Using your analogy, I could care less if you drive a 45 MPG Jetta...if you drive your car 100 miles a day and I drive mine 20, I'm using way less fuel than you are. It's all about consumption, right?

I just don't think the MPG of a vehicle is an equitable way to assess a tax on someone (and that's where our opinions differ and I'll leave it at that), because it's only a PART of someone's overall fuel consumption picture. If you look at our current gas tax in another light, drivers of large vehicles are already paying a disproportionately large amount of tax compared to drivers of small cars. If you assume that gasoline taxes are to pay for road maintenance and infrastructure, a person driving a 20 mpg vehicle pays twice as much tax as a person driving a 40 mpg vehicle, if they drive the same distance. And that 20 mpg car doesn't do twice the damage to roads as the 40 mpg car does.

So...here is my slightly different suggestion for your idea...what do you think about this? If you're interested in generating funds for R&D, I think an additional tax on petroleum, BY VOLUME (as it is now), would be a more appropriate way of doing things. Like the E911 tax on cell phones. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, an additional tax on all cell phone bills paid for a lot of enhanced 911 infrastructure, including high resolution aerial photography, additional software and training in 911 call centers, etc. If you included an additional dollar/gallon tax for alternative fuel research, with the additional motive to force people to conserve fuel, it would be more effective than simply slamming drivers of SUVs with a surcharge. It'll be more effective because it'll encourage people to conserve in ALL ASPECTS of their transportation choices. It may encourage them to live closer to work, which conserves fuel. It may encourage them to plan trip-chains better, which conserves fuel. It may encourage them to use go into a store instead of using a drive-up window, which conserves fuel. It may encourage them to quit drag racing from each stoplight, which conserves fuel. It may also encourage them to buy a smaller car instead of an SUV or large van. But the tax would be spread equitably across ALL those who use gasoline...not just those who decide they would like a larger vehicle. Because by definition, those who choose those larger vehicles WILL be paying a lot of that extra tax. Those who choose to live 60 miles from work because they like living in a tree house WILL be paying a lot of that extra tax. And those who choose to drive hybrids or TDI Jettas or flexible fuel vehicles won't be paying as much, because they've made that conscious choice to choose a mode of transportation that doesn't consume nearly as much petroleum.
 

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I don't see how a government tax is going to fund R&D. Rarely does the government find ways to improve things. The private sector is where the great finds come from.

Look at the socialistic societies of France, Norway, Sweden, etc. When was the last time the latest and greatest technology came from there? Most new and improved technology comes from the U.S. Why? There is more money in the private sector because of lower taxes. People are inspired to improve because they stand to gain.

The reason I choose E85 is due to the fact that I don't like depending on foreign oil, and I support the use of renewable resources. I am fortunate that an E85 pump is near my house.

E85 research and development has mostly been private. GM has spent millions developing vehicles that will burn E85 and have minimal decreases in mileage. Again, that is the private sector not the government.

Your point is that we need to find a way to force people to use less. You cannot force this, it will need to be a choice as an individual. You have made your choice, which is to keep your van.
 

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Discussion Starter #46
Jason

Instead of knee jerk "Give me liberty or give me death" tirades, you have done what I hoped would happen in this thread and that is to make people think of a productive way for improving a crappy situation. But I think you may still have it wrong. In all likelihood, the larger 20MPG vehicle (T&C Minivan @ 5700 lbs) will come very close to causing twice the wear and tear as the 45MPG vehicle (VW JETTA TDI @3700 lbs). So although there may need to be an adjustment based upon some formula an independant authority needs to come up with, the bigger the vehicle, the worse the mileage, the more it should pay in surcharge or usage tax. This is an indisputable fact.

What I find intriguing is that instead of taking the position that automakers do NOT give a rats ass about anything until they are forced and that most people will do nothing until it hurts too much to continue, a number of people on this forum actually think everything is hunky-dory.

If anyone here has ready access to vehicle specifications and wants to compare MPG and vehicle weight accross the board, you will find that common sense rules in this regard.
 

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Discussion Starter #47
Iafarmer

I am keeping the van but I would be prepared to pay additional for the privlege (not the right) of operating the vehicle if it is required.
 

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According to that article, what you are proposing is now unneccessary due to the fact that the market is making the adjustments on it's own.
 

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icatfishman said:
The question is HOW do you force folks to change their habits and how do you fund what is already proving to be vital changes we need to make in our behavior and more specifically in our usage of fuel.
I don't think the question is How you force folks to change their habits. That assumes that everyone agrees that we must force folks to change their habits, and I don't think that question has been answered.
icatfishman said:
And how exactly does driving a gas guzzler equate to "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness"? I guess according to your logic... since owning slaves makes me happy I should be able to own slaves.
How is driving a gas guzzler analogous to owning slaves? On the other hand, if the government is forcing me to change my habits, then I have become, in some sense, a slave.
 

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Discussion Starter #51
Pretty clearly, you do not think there is a problem and if there is, it will solve itself.

What troubles me is that there is a true Henry Kissinger(esque) linkage between the size and efficency of vehicles, the speed at which Detroit will respond (not can respond) and an additude that things will take care of themselves without the least bit of discomort or the necessity for significant change.

I am truly saddened that some folks equate freedom to destructive behaviors and think that doing anything is doing enough. Economics, resources and behaviors are all linked together and addressing each is our collective responsibility.

The fact is that outside pressures are necessary to FORCE people into action be those pressures war or natural disasters. We did not do a very good job of crawling out of the depression until outside forces in Europe and Asia FORCED our president to dramatically alter the way we were doing business.
 

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icatfishman said:
...The facts are there is a shortage of fuel, we are putting the lives of our citizens at risk protecting oil supplies in the middle east, the price of fuel is rising and even the states are bringing suit against the EPA to raise MPG fleet requirements...
Are these truly facts, or opinion?

Shortage of fuel? The cause of the recent run-up in oil prices has a lot to do with price speculation, triggered by diplomatic problems with Iran and unrest in The Sudan. Many are saying there is plenty of fuel, but other forces are affecting the prices.

The price crisis of the late 90's and early 00's was just as severe, in the other direction. Oil prices plunged to close to $10 per barrel (maybe less, IIRC), and we were paying less than $1 per gallon for gas. We weren't complaining then, but supply wasn't much different than today.

The assertion that we are putting our troops at risk just for the sake of oil prices, I believe is also opinion. There is a great deal of controversy now, as there was four years ago, as to our motivation in Iraq. Some believe it is just for oil, some believe that there are still Weapons of Mass Destruction out there. However, neither of these beliefs qualifies as fact.

The price of fuel has risen. There is a tendency for us all to assume it will continue forever. It may not. We don't know what will happen.

Long term policy decisions that are made based on short term issues, especially emotional issues like this one, have the potential to do more harm than good.
 

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icatfishman said:
In all likelihood, the larger 20MPG vehicle (T&C Minivan @ 5700 lbs) will come very close to causing twice the wear and tear as the 45MPG vehicle (VW JETTA TDI @3700 lbs).
Where are you getting your weight figures? Are those in kilograms? The curb weight of a LWB minivan is in the neighborhood of 4000 lbs, not 5700 lbs.

icatfishman said:
So although there may need to be an adjustment based upon some formula an independant authority needs to come up with, the bigger the vehicle, the worse the mileage, the more it should pay in surcharge or usage tax. This is an indisputable fact.
But isn't this exactly what happens anyway? The bigger the vehicle, the worse the mileage, and the more IT DOES PAY IN TAXES based on fuel used, because the fuel tax is calculated by volume.

But in general, vehicle size CANNOT be correlated to fuel consumed. Given a BROAD assumption that everyone drives the exact same distance every day, you might make that connection. But you CAN'T make that assumption. You have NO idea how far they drive to work. You have NO idea how often that vehicle even gets used. So you're really taxing someone or some vehicle based on the ANTICIPATION that they'll use more fuel than you. Un-sat. The only way to TRULY account for fuel used is a tax based on actual...FUEL USED. Anything else will not effectively target your REAL issue, which is fuel consumption. In your scenario, how better to combat FUEL CONSUMPTION than to tax FUEL CONSUMPTION? I don't happen to agree with the taxation route, but to the point of your discussion, namely taxation to reduce fuel consumption, I can't imagine a more direct way to curb it than to actually tax it (and not some other aspect like vehicle efficiency based on an arbitrary set of values).

Regarding the shortage of fuel, if you DO think there is a shortage of fuel, you may be enlightened by a book called "The Bottomless Well".
 

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icatfishman said:
Pretty clearly, you do not think there is a problem and if there is, it will solve itself.
I am not saying that at all. There is clearly a problem. Gasoline prices have increased dramatically. I don't understand what all the reasons are, or what the solution is, or if there even is a solution. I am just a humble country Project Manager, so I am sure I don't understand the complexity of the situation.

icatfishman said:
I am truly saddened that some folks equate freedom to destructive behaviors and think that doing anything is doing enough. Economics, resources and behaviors are all linked together and addressing each is our collective responsibility.
I absolutely agree that we have a collective responsibility as custodians of our natural resources. However, I do not agree that owning a Cadillac Escalade is "destructive" behavior.

icatfishman said:
The fact is that outside pressures are necessary to FORCE people into action be those pressures war or natural disasters.
Put another way, people will change their habits in the face of severe economic consequences. During WWII, thousands of women went to work for the first time, because the men were off fighting the war. Detroit stopped making automobiles altogether, in favor of making military equipment. Everything was rationed, even down to making pennies out of steel instead of copper. As a country, we are famous for changing our habits to support a good and noble cause. It's what makes this country great.

That does not necessarily mean the best policy is to create severe economic consequences in order to force people to change their ways, in the face of a percieved or temporary situation.

This is a healthy debate. I try to remember that I don't have all the facts, therefore I definitely can't have all the answers. I'm pretty sure I'm not right all the time.
 

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Americans think they are entitled to cheap gas.

I would be in favor of a law like this. How did people get to work 20, 30, 40 and 50 years ago without 4 wheel drive? They used their heads, that how. This law would not work because there would be 57 pages of exemptions from paying the tax. Soccer moms driving one kid to practice in an Excursion will not feel they are doing anything wrong by lying through their teeth to get an exemption.

I can’t help but laugh when I asked a female Grand Cherokee owner about 4 wheel drive Low and she looked at me as if I was from Mars.

Where do you begin? The problem is GM and Ford making lots of money selling cheap pick up trucks that have 4 doors and dealerships making a ton of money from these vehicles. Americans who think because we won World War II, we are entitled to drive whatever we want and gas should under a $1.

It’s sad. Get gas up to $4 - $5 a gallon, poor people will drive less, and gas consumption will go down a little bit.

Bluetool11
 

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Bluetool11, we are seeing that now. I can't tell you how many Chrokee's, Explorers, Pickups and other SUV's are on the side of the road for sale. Usually, the Pickup section of the newspaper has only 1 or 2 trucks, now there is near 15!

Give the market time. It will settle this down on it's own.
 

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Discussion Starter #57
Specs

Specs came straight from the Chrysler.com website. VW from VW website. I do not make things up. Keep the blinders on that way you won't see when it comes
a callin'.

A 6000 vehicle driving daily over the same 10 mile stretch of road will cause nearly 4 times the wear and tear of a 3000 vehicle driving over the same 20 mile stretch of road.
 

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i didnt know hte years and exact models, but it looks like they are about 1200-1300 lbs different in a side by side comparison. /http://www.kbb.com/kb/ki.dll/kw.kc.sbs?kbb.IL;787580;IL097&60085;sed&616;Volkswagen;2004%20Jetta&U;3;VW;J4;2;Jetta;Volkswagen;;2004&&&&nyrnc&usedcarstab
while normal debate is a good healty thing, and i have enjoyed this thread, you cannot change someones opinions by force. there are "facts" and tehre are facts. just because someone, even someone in a labcoat, tells you something doesnt mean its true. do the research for yourself and you may be suprised at what you find. and this post isnt directed at anyone in particular, so please dont think that.
 

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Catfishman,

You are incorrectly looking at the GVWR, which is the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, or the total weight the vehicle is validated to carry...NOT the curb weight.

The correct curb weights are as follows (from the Chrysler.com website):

These weights are for the T&C, Touring Sig. Series, Limited, LX, and Touring.

Base Curb Weight - with Automatic Transmission [lb] 3894 4279 4446 4336 4236
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) 5700 5600 5700 5700 5700

The real weight difference between your VW and our vans is more like about 500 lbs., not near enough to make a real difference in wear and tear on any given driving route.
 

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Discussion Starter #60
Thank You

I do not mind being opinionated, but I hate to cite wrong numbers. Regardless. It alters nothing. Inefficient vehicles need to pay a surcharge. I really have nothing more to say on this issue.
 
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