Entries Tagged 'Government' ↓

Gas Taxes – Held Up Without a Gun

A decade or so ago, the hue and cry over SUVs (“urban assault vehicles”) finally forced Ford and other auto companies who buried their patents for electric vehicles in their vaults in the early 20th century to pull them out.

Competition from foreign electric vehicle makers impelled American automakers to start manufacturing hybrid and electric vehicles. Now there are even hybrid buses on city streets.

But while this trend may reduce greenhouse gases and global warming, what about more obvious problems related to cars, such as traffic congestion, accidents, and the disparate gas tax-rate impact on different socio-economic groups of Americans?

Let’s start with federal gasoline taxes

In 2015 The [San Jose] Mercury News wrote that in California, the lead state in creating lower pollution vehicles, that about 85 percent of federal gas tax goes to highways and 15 percent percent for public transit.

The state got around $5 billion and spent 57 percent on highways, 36 percent on roads, and 7 percent on public transportation.

Nevertheless potholes are the number one problem in this rainy season state. The cost in blown tires, suspension systems and our backs to car owners comes out of our own pockets.

In addition, government subsidies out of local and federal taxpayer monies go to businesses such as Whole Foods when they do not pay employees enough to be able to live near the place where they work.

This impels workers to commute (currently in older gas powered vehicles) long distances—up to as many as two or more hours each way to get to work.

Not only do these long commutes by more and more cars create more pollution, they also tear up highways and streets. And each year traffic congestion grows worse.

The Mercury News even advised long-distance commuters to avoid the slow lanes on federal Highway 580 where “trucks have chewed up the freeway”. Continue reading →

Bannon Is Gone – Or Is He?

On January 19th of this year, two days after the inauguration, among a small group of friends, I was talking about what was going on the in US. One of these friends was an immigrant who had fled to to America to escape a regime of terror that took the lives of her family members.

When I asked how she’d dealt with what was going on, she replied that she chose to not have a TV. We discussed American TV news, and I decided to refrain from watching news stations, including CSPAN for the week.

However, as a sports fan, I wasn’t about to give up watching games. Or for that matter travel shows or movies on TV.

So there I was on Direct TV late at night flipping through the channel guide in the under-100’s among our local stations to see what might be on.

There on PBS channel 32, KMPA, was a listing for “Classic Movies, Short Films”. I pushed the button to check what was playing—and found myself saying, “What the heck?”

The show opened with a small bunch of protesters trying to force their way into a small room full of people. A second later here were three guys in a room sitting around a table.

One tall thin older white guy on the left of the screen was clearly the moderator of the discussion. He seemed to be a Democrat.

The other two on the right were a youg short white guy and a young fat white guy, both in white shirts. One young guy was a libertarian; the other a conservative Republican.

They were discussing the topic that concerned me most this year—the repeal of Obamacare without an equivalent or better replacement. So I broke my vow not to watch news.

And then I noticed the banner across the bottom of the screen

“RT Left Wing Members of the Tea Party”

Mouth agape, I watched the same kind of media discussion that we’ve all watched on MSNBC, FOX and CNN, etc. But I was now looking at the Russian-government-financed TV station called RT (Russian Television). Continue reading →

Trump’s Axe Beats Abe Lincoln’s

Donald Trump has managed to make not only the media, but the vast majority of other Americans turn back into teenagers again.

Remember when we were at the age when we began to obsess about what our peers were doing and why? Passing notes or texting in class with BFFs about this boy or that girl? Or about our teachers? Self-absorbed and other-absorbed while the rest of the world didn’t matter.

I’m fascinated with the addictive way many of us are reacting, either for or against Donald Trump. This weekend the violence that erupted in the South seems to have usurped every other thing going on the world.

In a recent post, “Divided They Fall – Right Wing Regulation,” I discussed how Trump’s actions and those of his right-hand man Steve Bannon were at odds with each other. Now Trump’s even at odds with his own base!

There are all kinds of conflicts going on, inside the White House, in Congress, between Congress and the White House, inside the media, and now, even in the streets. What’s amazing is that these splinterings all seem to be stemming from one individual – President Donald Trump.

How could one person create such chaos and bitter division? What kind of person is capable of that? Continue reading →