Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Robert J. Samuelson - Prius Politics -

Robert J. Samuelson - Prius Politics - "The Prius is, I think, a parable for the broader politics of global warming. Prius politics is mostly about showing off, not curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Politicians pander to 'green' constituents who want to feel good about themselves. Grandiose goals are declared. But measures to achieve them are deferred -- or don't exist."

here's what Congress should do: (a) gradually increase fuel economy standards for new vehicles by at least 15 miles per gallon; (b) raise the gasoline tax over the same period by $1 to $2 a gallon to strengthen the demand for fuel-efficient vehicles and curb driving; (c) eliminate tax subsidies (mainly the mortgage interest rate deduction) for housing, which push Americans toward ever-bigger homes. (Note: If you move to a home 25 percent larger and then increase energy efficiency 25 percent, you don't save energy.)

I support these measures, because we should implement them anyway. We should limit dependence on insecure foreign oil. Tax subsidies cause Americans to overinvest in oversized homes. But practical politicians won't enact these policies, except perhaps for higher fuel economy standards. They'd be too unpopular.