Hot Potato: Food for Thought
Where Did All the Money Go?
The Automobile
1997 June 27

The car is draining the life blood out of America. Something like 40% of the American GNP is devoted, directly or indirectly, to funding the American addiction to the road. Gasoline costs about $4.00 a gallon in Europe. Attempts to raise the American gas tax by a few cents led to wholesale rebellion. Yet even with $3.00 in tax on every gallon, European drivers are still not bearing the full costs of using their cars. The US Office of Technology Assessment indicates that taxes of between $10 and $15 per gallon would be needed to cover the full costs of automobile usage.

The automobile is the most resource-intensive transportation mode ever devised. The automobile addiction results in Americans paying more for their transportation than any other nation and spending more of their lives in transit than any other people.

A wide range of federal policies encouraged returning WW II veterans to buy houses in suburbs. Unfortunately, the suburban sprawl which resulted is uniquely unsuited to effective public transport. It will take decades to reverse the damage, so an early start is advisable.

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