Vivek Narain on Life

The musings of a man preparing for a mission

Gas Tax Holiday, Iraq Death Toll, Mission Accomplished, and the allure of GTA IV

Posted by viveknarain on April 30, 2008

Occasionally, a nice little package of misery and despair is delivered directly on my digital doorstep as our country’s major problems coincide in remarkably timely ways. The American death toll in Iraq reached a 7-month record high today, and tomorrow marks the five year anniversary of President Bush’s dramatic “Mission Accomplished” aircraft carrier proclamation, while Hillary Clinton and John McCain recently made their support for an absolutely idiotic gas tax cut public, highlighting the dire necessity of an informed and attentive American population to stop these scoundrels before our county falls into oblivion. But what do all my friends care about? Grand Theft Auto IV!!! (Actually, the only reason I’m not playing right now is my Xbox’s recent acquisition of the Red Ring of Death)

Clinton and McCain’s desire to cut the federal gas tax (18.4 cents a gallon) for three months is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to trick consumers and gather uninformed votes, much like Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” debacle tricked the American people into thinking that the Iraq War was about to end.

Not only will the removal of the federal gas tax fail to lower gas prices, it will siphon away important tax dollars from other programs that desperately need money. Suspending the tax will take $8.5 billion from the Highway Trust Fund, which is already reeling from a $3 billion loss. The Highway Trust fund helps maintain our nation’s roads and bridges, and is a necessary part of America’s infrastructure upkeep. Cutting such a wide monetary hole into this fund will not only endanger the condition of our roads and bridges, it will threaten the hundreds of thousand of jobs that are necessary to maintain these projects.

The tax cut is designed to offer extra support to oil companies, who will in turn decrease prices at the pump. However, there is little chance that this extra boost to oil company profits would help lower gas prices. Shell and BP have already reported record profits for this quarter, so why do they need government help to make even more money? The removal of the gas tax would only give more money to oil companies that are already swimming in it. If, by some stroke of luck, oil prices dramatically decreased because of this tax cut, lowering prices would increase oil demand, but many refineries are already working at their highest possible production level so they wouldn’t be able to keep up, and would inevitably be forced to drive prices back up.

There is absolutely no way this tax cut would help lower gas prices, but it is the type of proposal that makes Clinton and McCain look like superheroes in the eyes of uniformed Americans.

The omnipotent Obama called this gas tax cut “a gimmick,” which is exactly right, but that doesn’t make him any better than Hillary or McCain because he’s made the same mistake before. Obama has voted for a similar gas tax cut on three different occasions. Unsurprisingly, these proposals failed to provide any substantial drop in gas prices.

When President Bush landed like a soldier of fortune on the USS Abraham Lincoln five years ago, he proudly proclaimed that major combat operations in Iraq were over and that Iraq was a victory, while a “Mission Accomplished” banner brazenly shown behind him, illustrating how easy it is for our government to trick us with publicity stunts and flashy words. These gas tax proposals are an insult to American intelligence; just like the “Mission Accomplished” banner is an insult to all the American soldiers who have died in Iraq in the last half decade.

We’re already throwing mind-boggling sums of money into the war effort, so why throw away more for a pointless oil holiday? If the oil companies were struggling and needed help I might see the point of this tax removal, but with the current state of affairs in the oil business world, it just seems foolish.

That saddest thing about this skewed gas proposal is that it’s supposed to be part of a grandiose plan to fix the American energy crisis. However, I don’t think giving more money to oil companies and trying to get people to use more gas is a solution to our problem. Congress has spent years bickering over America’s clean energy strategy, effectively stamping it into the ground. Why is it so difficult for politicians to unite behind wind and solar energy production? Without Congress giving the proper backing to clean energy, our country remains a slave to oil. We are failing to do simple things that could solve our problems, and instead we decide to rely on foolish tax proposals that help the very industry who needs it the least. American clean energy companies are moving to other countries because of the failure of our government to protect them. How much longer will our government neglect the real energy issue and continue to frolic in the pockets of oil lobbyists… will it take another war? Will it take eight dollar a gallon gas prices? Maybe I should just cool down and pick up a copy of GTA IV – that would definitely keep me quiet.

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One Response to “Gas Tax Holiday, Iraq Death Toll, Mission Accomplished, and the allure of GTA IV”

  1. Gas Tax Cut, Iraq Death Toll, Mission Accomplished, and the allure ……

    The vicious Clinton-versus-Obama rupture at Daily Kos, the most activist site in the liberal blogosphere, reflects a party-wide split. What really rankles, as Democrats tear at one another, is the free pass they’ve given McCain–and the ……

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