Blogs > Liberty and Power > Reason Foundation VP Advocates Higher Gas Taxes

Jan 2, 2009 4:57 pm

Reason Foundation VP Advocates Higher Gas Taxes

An Associated Press story on the 15-member National Commission on Surface Transportation’s call for higher gas taxes, increased tolls, and rush hour fees quotes Adrian Moore, a Vice President of the Reason Foundation. He says that, "I'm not excited about a gas tax increase, but the reality is our current gas tax doesn't pay for upkeep of the system we have now. We can either let the roads go to hell or we can pay more." God forbid that we use some of the money going into our overseas empire or to pay useless commission members to fix the roads. Instead, screw all of the people who drive for a living and screw all of the people who buy products delivered over the roads.

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Mike Gogulski - 1/11/2009

Why stop there, indeed? Why not use your pulpit to make the even more libertarian point that all taxation is theft, and that so long that taxation exists, all are slaves?

Oh, wait, maybe that wouldn't be reasonable.

Keith Halderman - 1/4/2009

Leaving aside the question of how they should be paid for, drivers are not the only people who benefit from the existence of roads. If someone drives her children to see their grandmother does not the grandmother benefit? Anyone who buys something delivered by a truck benefits. The cable or phone line which provides your internet could not have been put into service as easily or cheaply without roads.

For the record I am in favor of an eventual government withdrawal from providing both health care and education. Also, I do not think it is un-libertarian to prefer that the money being extorted from me go towards maintaing roads rather then dead Iraqis.

Justin A Bowen - 1/3/2009

What of the alternative means of securing revenue that Oregon is already testing and Congress is debating on: taxation by miles driven rather than on gallons of gas bought?

Jane S. Shaw - 1/3/2009

An issue fact (which someone else knows better than I): I am under the impression that the highway fund that a large part of the gas tax that supposedly supports highways is frittered away on mass transit. Also, states don't pay their share for maintenance.

In other words, whether the highway tax is socialism or not, it's badly managed, as one would expect.

Stephen Smith - 1/3/2009

Ah, I took away that he wanted general tax dollars to be poured into roads, since he said: "God forbid that we use some of the money going into our overseas empire." General revenues fund wars, but user fees (in the form of the gas tax) funds the roads. Though if you want war dollars to be put instead into building and maintaining roads, you now have non-drivers directly paying for the upkeep of the roads. I'm saying that to be consistent he ought to call for general taxes to be lowered and uses fees such as the gas tax to be raised.

Anthony Gregory - 1/3/2009

You're right, Stephen. The libertarian who favors road socialism (or, for that matter, law enforcement and war socialism) is being inconsistent. But are you addressing Keith here? He is criticizing this particular inconsistency.

Stephen Smith - 1/2/2009

You're for taxing money to be spent on roads (whose users will not pay even the full accounting costs of the roads, nevermind the opportunity costs), but something tells me you'd change your tune if the government decided to spend the money on healthcare and education.

Be a consistent libertarian – either oppose all socialism (be it in the realm of healthcare, education, or transportation), or admit that you're for a little socialism here and there. But, if you're going to take the latter position, please – enlighten us as to why you believe socialism is okay for highways but not for other industries. You imply that it's because highways have positive externalities (most goods need to be shipped somehow), but I fail to see why that argument doesn't apply to education and healthcare.