Thursday, March 12, 2009

Yay! for the proposed Mass. gas tax increase!

A lot of people I know would like to tar and feather me right now in the spirit of good ol' Colonial New England. But I actually WANT to pay higher taxes. Our young and ambitious governor, Deval Patrick, has proposed an increase of 19 cents on every gallon of gas. This would bring the Massachusetts gas tax from one of the lowest in the country to the highest at a new cost to the driver of 42 cents per gallon.

I did a little math (mind you, I have a fear of math) and this would only cost me about $2.20 a week since I fill my tank once a week, if that. A normal year might see me paying a mere $130 more in taxes. I did a little more math and realized that with the current gas price of $1.88 a gallon (which is RIDICULOUSLY cheap!) if I drove the 30 miles into Boston for my job I would pay about $4 round trip for the commute. I usually take the commuter rail which costs me a whopping $13.50 round trip. You can see just there that if I didn't have to pay $15 to park at the garage nearest my place of business I'd obviously opt for the drive.

So every time the gas tax creeps up, the price of fuel creeps up, or anything of the sort I cheer, my husband cheers and most of my acquaintances cheer. We should be paying MORE for the luxury of breezing into the city in our little cocoons of comfort and LESS for the not-so-luxurious chance to cram one's self onto a train and most likely get stuck near an annoying 25-year-old woman talking on her cell phone the whole way whilst ending all her sentences in questions (my ipod battery always dies in this situation).

We are so unbelievably spoiled in this country that is supposed to be an example for the world. On a vacation in the UK in late 2007 my husband and I rented a diesel Volvo wagon, loaded it up with camping gear and drove from Heathrow as far north as we could go, jumped on a ferry to Scotland's Isle of Lewis and drove some more. We paid on average 99 pence a liter, this translates to a whopping $9 a gallon with the exchange rate for that time. We probably spent about $900 in gas in 18 days and never once complained about it. The Brits are used to taking trains, buses and even walking as their cities are set up more like villages and they CAN actually walk places and ditch their cars.

We've screwed things up in this country pretty bad by thinking sprawl is a good thing. I like not having to use my car, we live in a little sea coast village and if I had to I could walk to everything I needed in our village in about ten minutes. And we're two blocks from the (overpriced) train that runs into downtown Boston. People always ask me now that we have a child "aren't you going to by a bigger house with some land?" No. I'd rather the rest of the state pay the gas tax so I can enjoy better public transportation, fewer cars on the road when I do drive, cleaner air and hopefully a cooler planet. And when I do fill up my car it will be so nice to know that those extra pennies will be improving our subway and train system, filling in those nasty potholes and maybe even keeping a few people off the road so we all can go the speed limit and get better gas mileage.

So go ahead Deval, raise the tax higher!! No, higher still! Let's get gas back up to $4 a gallon so we see some change.

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