What would you change? Anything? And how could we possibly stabilize gas prices (and why should we?)
Interesting questions. Many of them are answered in this video. Well, maybe not directly, but if you think about it, they are.
Here’s the basic argument – tax gas at such a rate that it costs $5.00 gallon (my number). Regardless of what oil costs, gas is $5.00/gallon. Prices go up, the effective tax rate goes down. Oil prices go down, the effective tax rate increases to keep gas at $5.00/gallon. This additional cost will spur new companies to invest in alternative energy solutions. It becomes profitable to invest in alternative research. The added tax revenue over and above the real costs of fuel would go to a "Manhattan Project" scale of research (again, this is my idea taken from what I (think) I learned in the video).
In the short term gas prices stabilize – we all know what air travel or a trip to grandma’s will cost. In the long term we eliminate the economic flux caused by wildly varying oil prices. We put a ton of money into solving this problem and reducing our need on foreign energy – of any type.
Put a 10 year irrevocable cap on the tax – force government to act in a rational way, and empower business to respond in a responsible manner. But the tax absolutely ends after ten years.
Who loses? Sure, if gas suddenly jumped to $5.00 a gallon it would hurt many of us – a lot. But what if you couldn’t buy fuel at any cost?
Something drastic needs to happen, and soon. This seems like a rational and financially responsible way to make something happen. Stabilization of gas prices here in the US, even if it were at $5.00/gallon would take away a great deal of uncertainty that causes prices to vary greatly (and the financial markets to swing to and fro). Let’s remove the uncertainty and use the $5.00 baseline as a way to both spur innovation and direct tax dollars towards solving our energy problems.
Or we can do nothing, except hope energy becomes cheaper. We might as well be rolling stones and rubbing crystal balls in that case…
Juan Enriquez offers a glimpse of some ground-breaking research to explore the potential of bioenergy. Our current energy sources — coal, oil, gas — are ultimately derived from ancient plants — they’re "concentrated sunlight." He asks, Can we learn from that process and accelerate it? Can we get to the point where we grow our own energy as efficiently as we grow wheat? (Less than a month after this talk, his company announced a process to do just that.)