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Americans cut back on driving...and the government is concerned?

We are entering into an era of a no-win situation. As gas prices keep soaring (premium is over $5 a gallon at most stations here in Santa Barbara), Americans are finally realizing that they need to be driving less. We are also slowly converting over to more fuel efficient cars. Of course there are still the Hummers, lifted trucks with oversized tires, and gas-guzzling sports cars that share the roads, but we are making progress. In fact, this article states that in the US, the number of miles driven per month has gone down for the last 6 months, and drivers drove on the highways 1.4 billion miles less than this month last year! Public transportation is on the rise too. That should be reason to celebrate.

But the government is concerned. Because despite our decline in gas consumption, we'll still run out of gasoline? No. Instead, it's a money issue. The government charges an 18.4 cent tax per gallon, which is used to fund highway and public transportation projects. So as the price per gallon sky rockets, the nation is cutting back, however they can. Unlike income tax though, the government still gets the flat rate of 18.4 cents per gallon despite it being over four dollars. So, now highway and public transportation funds are short. Will they raise the gas tax, which would just drive the price higher? Do they raise other taxes? Do they cut some public transportation projects?

And more importantly, what happens when the public transportation projects start being more effective, and Americans rely more on public transportation? Does the government not realize that the number of gallons of gas bought will continue to decline? The idea of using the tax of a commodity in order to fund projects that hope to reduce the dependence on that commodity, is something that only a government could actually think was a good idea.
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