"Here we are again," Uncle Spud exclaimed. "The latest information shows the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline is $3.83 and diesel fuel is at $4.13 with the cost increasing every day. The fuel prognosticators are predicting five dollar a gallon gas before the end of the year, and that's if things in the Middle East don't get any worse."
"Is that a surprise?" I asked.
"Only to the politicians," Spud growled. "People with common sense have been watching this monster grow for 40 years. The United States now imports a full two-thirds of our oil from other countries where we don't have any control over the supply or what they charge us for the product."
"Oh, but the Obama administration will surely come to our rescue," I offered.
"Well, so far they have only proposed two things," Spud said. "They are talking about dipping into the strategic reserve, and there are talks underway about increasing the gasoline tax."
"It's true," Spud said. "The strategic reserve was established back in the 1970s when the oil cartels shut off the spigot the first time. When that happened we discovered we didn't have enough oil to run our military. Ships and airplanes don't do so well on green energy. So, we stored some extra gas just in case the bad guys shut off our oil and then attack us while our fuel tanks are empty."
"Obama wants to dip into that military reserve to temporarily lower gas prices a few pennies at the pump?"
"Sure," Spud said. "Raiding the reserve is always the easy, fast-fix solution. The last time gas hit four dollars, the military reserve was the only way our fearless leaders could see to solve the problem. Increasing our domestic supply of oil was simply out of the question. Wilderness trumps national security every time."
"What is this crap about raising the gas tax?"
"Government wizards say higher gas taxes encourage people to drive less, which reduces demand," Spud said.
"Won't the high cost at the pump reduce demand without raising taxes," I asked.
"Yes. That's another reason we need higher gas taxes. Consumption will be down so there will be less tax money available to fix roads and bridges."
"But the current tax on gas is 14%, about 56 cents per gallon, isn't that enough to fix roads and bridges?"
"Well, it should be, but you know those silly politicians. Instead of using the tax money for what it was intended for, they always find other ways to spend the money until the need becomes a crisis. Then they use the crisis as an excuse to raise taxes to fix the problem they created. They do it all the time. Social Security is a good example."
"So what's the solution," I asked.
"We've got to demand that our country become energy independent," Spud said. It's probably too late to avoid a major crisis in the coming year, but every week we delay the prospects get worse. We should have been drilling years ago."
"What about saving the environment?"
"What about saving the country?" "Radical Jihads will probably control Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Middle East before the year is out, and China already owns enough of our debt to dictate terms. Five or six dollar gasoline might be the least of our worries by this time next year."
"What do you suggest," I asked.
"I think we need a wilderness tax," Spud said. "If a gasoline tax reduces the demand for gas, why wouldn't a wilderness tax reduce the demand for wilderness? I think we should add up all of the lost revenue and taxes from oil and mining jobs we didn't create; add that to the cost of the oil we needlessly buy from other countries, and assess each American family an equal share of what we lost. Maybe if we all had to pay a few thousand dollars each year in wilderness taxes, wilderness wouldn't be as attractive."
"We already pay that wilderness tax, we just don't realize it." I said. "Gas would be near $1.00 per gallon and the cost of everything we buy would be cheaper, if only government, environmentalists and industry would work together for the good of the nation. Whatever happened to America first?"