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Transportation Science

Why Fuel Efficiency Advances Haven't Translated To Better Gas Mileage 891

greenrainbow tips an article about a research paper from an MIT economist that attempts to explain why technological advances in fuel efficiency haven't led to substantially better gas mileage for the average driver. Quoting: "Thus if Americans today were driving cars of the same size and power that were typical in 1980, the country’s fleet of autos would have jumped from an average of about 23 miles per gallon (mpg) to roughly 37 mpg, well above the current average of around 27 mpg. Instead, Knittel says, 'Most of that technological progress has gone into [compensating for] weight and horsepower.' ... Indeed, Knittel asserts, given consumer preferences in autos, larger changes in fleet-wide gas mileage will occur only when policies change, too. 'It’s the policymakers’ responsibility to create a structure that leads to these technologies being put toward fuel economy,' he says. Among environmental policy analysts, the notion of a surcharge on fuel is widely supported. 'I think 98 percent of economists would say that we need higher gas taxes,' Knittel says."
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Why Fuel Efficiency Advances Haven't Translated To Better Gas Mileage

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  • Well... (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:12PM (#38616036)

    If we save fuel all across the board...

    The oil companys might not make more money next year than they did this year. Repeated forever into the future.

    And we can't have that now can we?

  • HUH? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Indes ( 323481 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:17PM (#38616088) Homepage

    I live in Ontario Canada. Gas here is anywhere between $4.30-4.75 a US GALLON, in CANADIAN DOLLARS (worth less than US Dollars).
    Meanwhile, when I'm in the USA, I can get gas for anywhere in the $3.xx a gallon range.
    It physically hurts to see people line up here for $4.10/US GAL gasoline. It hasn't increased public transit usage - after all, this IS North America, not Europe.

    Raising prices (via tax) to give to the people (politicians) who can't spend the money properly is a BAD IDEA anyway.
    It's like giving drugs to a drug addict. They'll just abuse it.

      Why don't you give incentives to the private sector -- Tax breaks on new cars where MPG meets a certain requirement? Gas guzzling cars would soon be off the market entirely as car makers would opt to make more efficient cars, as a profit margin on them would be greater due to lower taxes.

  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:23PM (#38616152) Homepage

    Actually, it did have an effect - when gas started to get to about $4 per gallon, there were several studies that determined that people responded by driving less. This makes sense, because driving less is an adjustment that's usually much faster and easier to make than buying a new car.

    However, I for one would be interested to find out what the true cost of a gallon of gasoline is. Not just the price I pay at the pump, but the price I pay in taxes to support the wars where oil is secured, the price I pay in taxes to support the Medicare and Medicaid costs of those harmed by the pollution, the higher prices I pay for anything coming from anywhere near the Gulf of Mexico because the rig exploded, etc. Yes, in theory all those prices should get factored into what I see at the gas pump, but in practice that simply doesn't happen.

  • by sneakyimp ( 1161443 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:26PM (#38616210)

    SUVs are a complete waste of resources (metal, petroleum, etc.) and enormous polluters. Why use a 3-ton vehicle to drag one fat ass around town? The problem as I see it is that folks are choosing what economy they want which means that self-indulgent rich dicks want land barges that pollute *my* environment and their petro dollars go to such enlightened states as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela, Iraq, and Nigeria, all of whom seem to hate Western society which means we have to spend still more dollars propping up one petty dictator after another and then knocking them down. If our fuel economy was twice as good, our geopolitical interest in those dodgy areas would probably cost us a lot less money.

    I can appreciate not wanting one's taxes raised. How about we reduce federal income tax and shift the tax burden to a petroleum tax?

  • by tthomas48 ( 180798 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:27PM (#38616230) Homepage

    The poor having SUVs hurts the poor. Government policy has little to nothing to do with it. A gas tax hike and something cash for clunkers would probably do a lot more for the poor than just hoping the price of gas stays low.

    You're basically saying let's not enact a policy because we know there will be pain in the short-term. Lets instead wait and see if it becomes a horrible problem that is nearly impossible to solve. We could have war with Iran, and completely screw diplomatic relations with the Saudis and see gas prices quadruple in a couple months. So really the problem gets back to the fact that people are being irresponsible and buying gas guzzlers. And the market wants to sell them to them because they have huge profit margins. This is exactly like the housing bubble. The government can chose to act now, or they can wait until it blows up in their face and voters are demanding the government give them a credit to buy a new car. A slow rise in the gas tax over a decade could very easily slow the pain and change people's choices in a reasonable manner.

    And SUVs are only great in adverse marketing conditions. Most truck chassis based SUVs I've encountered have trouble getting over a speed bump.

    If consumers should be able to choose what vehicles they want to drive, then they should be able to choose to deal with $7/gallon gas in a car that gets less than 15mpg. I chose to drive a (standard gasoline) car that gets 30mpg because I want to minimize the variability of gas prices on my wallet. I could afford an SUV, but I'm making a choice. As are SUV drivers.

  • Re:Well... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:32PM (#38616284) Homepage Journal

    If we save fuel all across the board...

    The oil companys might not make more money next year than they did this year. Repeated forever into the future.

    And we can't have that now can we?

    Sounds like a recursive function.

    Of course, there's always a constant thrown in - P for Profit, they'll always make a profit.

    If we all drive cars which get 100 MPG then the price per gallon will simply be adjusted, due to economy of scale - fixed costs are spread over less product, so are rolled into the unit price - say... 10$US gallon. A that point, people still stupid enough to drive 12 MPG Behemoths will feel the pain.

  • by Dutchmaan ( 442553 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:32PM (#38616292) Homepage

    People obviously value things like car power, size, etc over fuel efficiency. They can already buy more efficient cars, and they choose not to do so. When scarcity drives the price up, people may shift their priorities, but why force them to do artificially through taxes?

    Because it's the government's job to strive for the betterment of the country as a whole, not just the individual. Individual actions may indeed serve the person better than actions that benefits the whole, but that's not the governments job. Indeed there are arguments to be made on where the line should be drawn for placing society above the individual or the individual above society, but when all is said and done the government (when functioning properly) should be striving the better the lives of its citizens through the betterment of the country as a whole.

  • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:40PM (#38616410)

    If they really worried about the poor, they would tax the hell out of gas and use the proceeds to fund mass transit. The only reason why the poor drive is because there aren't reasonable alternatives. I remember a few years back needing to be downtown early on sundays for work and having absolutely and completely options other than, taxi, private car or bike. The fact that there are times during the week when you have no transit options and that those times of day are more likely to have low income people commuting speaks volumes about the priorities of society.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:42PM (#38616440)

    Nice rant. Now how active were you in your last state or federal elections? I thought so.

    You're on Slashdot. I'm going to assume you have IT skills that most candidates would love to have at their disposal. At the next election pick the candidate you like, get in touch with their campaign and lend some high tech assistance. (Feel free to tell them you can only give them 20 hours. Or 30 hours. Or whatever you decide.) Not all elections are landslides - sometimes convincing a couple thousand voters can change the outcome.

    It's your world. Change it.

  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hoxford ( 94613 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:55PM (#38616636)

    Ok. But should taxes be used to capture the costs of externalities not accounted for otherwise?

    For instance, the increase in the cost of healthcare caused by polution isn't reflected in the price of gas at the pump. That cost is passed along to society at large. Do you think it's appropriate for that cost to be captured by a tax?

  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @08:05PM (#38616778) Homepage

    You misunderstand my point, which was about artificially lowering the price of gasoline based on externalizing costs.

    For instance, if BP is pumping oil out of an oil field in Iraq, right now they are benefiting from the security provided by Xe contractors paid for by tax dollars. If they had to pay for that security, that would cost them, say, $100 million, then the cost of the, say, 2 million barrels of oil they get from that is actually $50 lower than it should be, which translates to a few dollars per gallon of gasoline.

  • Re:Statistics (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @08:20PM (#38616954)

    Just because some of us drive larger vehicles doesn't mean we should be the only ones to pay higher taxes. We already suffer when we fill the tank up. In my case I have no choice but to drive a large family vehicle because they don't make fuel efficient vehicles for large families, therefore my family suffers more at the pump than you.

    Why should society grant you special tax breaks just because you've decided to have a large family? You're already getting a break on your federal taxes, now you want a break on your fuel tax?

    It costs you more to move your big family because you have a big family - big families are expensive.

    You're not being singled out for this tax - everyone that uses a gas/diesel fueled vehicle will pay it. It's just that you'll pay more because you use more.

    You don't say how large your family is, but check out the Mazda5 - 22/27 mpg is pretty good for a 7 passenger vehicle. It gets better gas mileage than my 10 year old 4 passenger car. (if I drove more I'd get something more fuel efficient, but I don't drive much so there's no point in taking on a $400/month car payment to save $10/month in gas)

  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rie Beam ( 632299 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @08:35PM (#38617100) Journal

    I'm a smoker and someone who supports these taxes...to a degree. I'm also uninsured and seriously doubt that the money I paid in will ever be put forth in an effort to better my life later on -- perhaps stabilize me in an ER room, but actually get the help I need (e.g., chemo)? Probably not.

    The amount of money taken in as taxes for anti-smoking campaigns really irks me. How about free distribution of nicotine patches and gum? Why not tax it in a manner to pay for an eventual phasing-out of cigarettes, making major pushes for entire smoke-free states? Or, if you feel that's highly unlikely to work, spend some money and develop government-approved nicotine delivery devices (e-cigarettes but with some hard facts behind them)?

    Yes, it's simple enough to say "Just quit smoking". You've never been a smoker or been someone almost completely dependent on cigarettes. Nicotine stabilizes my mood -- I used to be extremely depressed growing up and cigarettes, in a sense, saved my life. I wouldn't recommend them as an alternative to expensive medicines if you have the cash, but a high possibility of lung cancer versus chronic, life-crushing depression, does lead me down the cheaper route.

    Taxes do push people to quit. But not everyone, not to mention the next generation coming up simply picks up the slack. You're not going to end smoking in this country unless you treat tobacco like another marijuana, and we know how well that has worked in the USA. Keep the taxes, but keep them fair -- don't dip into the pot that should be set aside to fund "like" anti-smoking programs/treatments for other projects, for then it just becomes essentially a sin tax, punishing people for years for the single mistake they made as kids, picking up that first cigarette.

  • Re:HUH? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @08:45PM (#38617200)

    Let me preface this carefully.

    I drive a lot every week. 40 minutes at 70mph one way, each work day. I do not like driving. If I could use significantly less fuel while driving, I would jump on it.

    Even at "oil crisis" prices in the bush years, the costs of fuel were still significantly less than the offset costs of living closer to town, and my standard of living is far higher. I am NOT wealthy. I own a 25k house, and make about 35k a year. The house I own would cost 2 to 3 times that much in the city, due to marketing forces of supply and demand, even now with housing crash prices. A sleezy, roach infested duplex rental in a gang violence riddled slum costs significantly more than my current house payment per month, for a significantly poorer living arrangement, with considerably greater risks of buglary and physical violence.

    After adding all the bills together, I came to the conclusion that it was actually cheaper (including increased fuel costs, vehicular maintenance costs, and additional tax costs) to live outside the city than it is to live inside it.

    This is because of several factors, the most poigniant of which is the cost of living differences caused by everyone else in the city trying to get a slice of everyone else's pie. (Eg, every store keeper wants to turn the highest profit that the local market can bear. This is basic economics. When people in the city get paid very well, people have more money to blow, and the costs of items increase to match the disparity. This is why the cost of living in high wage areas is so significantly higher than in low wage areas. ) I ran the numbers and found that living a certain distance from the high wage center, you get the option of earning the better pay, while livng in the reduced price area.

    This is exactly what created the concept of suburbia. (Note, I do not live in suburbia. I live in hickville farmer community.) Suburbia could easily be serviced by light commuter rail, if the following conditions were met. (At least for most circumstances anyway...)

    1) the train center needs free all-day parking. People still need cars. We just want them to drive them significantly less. The train does not go everywhere they need to go, such as to the dentist, or on a romantic drive into the countryside. The biggest consumer of fuel miles in consumer vehicles is the work commute. Free parking with reasonable lot security allows the suburbanites to drive 5 minutes to the train station, then take the light commuter rail to the various districts of the local big civic center, go to work, come back, and drive another 5 minutes to get home. We radically reduce the number of hours they drive, the number of miles they drive, and the city jurisdictions over which they drive, by enabling the free parking lot. People won't use the rail station if they get charged to ride, and charged by the hour to park. Subsidize the costs of the parking structure into the yearly rider's pass prices. Problem solved. One off riders only pay the one off ticket price, and get the free parking.

    2) don't penalize people for living outside the city. People chosing to live outside the city forces prices for city residents down, because demand for services and properties diminish. People using the light rail to get to work reduces the nightmares of intracity traffic and parking (fewer people are driving), reducing the rate of roadway deterioration, and everyone is better off for it.

    3) the light rail needs to be accessible, affordable, and offer a free or at least flat rate shuttle bussing service with dedicated commuter bus routes to all major centers and districts of town, and the surrounding suburbs. If it is a major city industry or service, it needs to be easily and safely serviced by the public transit option.

    4) the actual day to day operations of terminal stations in the public transit network can be franchise run, but a minimum QoS for cleanliness, access, safety, and ease of use needs to be enforced somehow. Franchises work great here, b

  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Btarlinian ( 922732 ) <[tarlinian] [at] [gmail.com]> on Friday January 06, 2012 @08:45PM (#38617202)
    Really?! Then what is a government supposed to tax. Any economist will tell you that negative externalities are *exactly* what a government is supposed to tax and then use the money to subsidize positive externalities. The government is certainly not the most efficient body in the world, but I'd argue that compensating for externalities should be the government's first priority.
  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @09:16PM (#38617518)
    " Second, It ought not be the role of government to be deciding such things. What's more, who is to say what the increase in cost of health care is or even if it can be tied to car pollution or any other sort."

    So then, whose responsibility is it when our air, soil, and water are all toxic? How does that minor problem get fixed?
  • Re:Statistics (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Friday January 06, 2012 @09:34PM (#38617686) Journal

    Gas taxes hit poor people with old vehicles much harder than affluent people with large vehicles.

    Again, tax exemptions to make sure the wrong people aren't hurt are already very common. As someone has already pointed out, farmers don't pay the same gas taxes for their agricultural equipment that the rest of us do for our hoopties.

    You're not thinking like an economist,

    I don't know if you've ever spent any time around economists or economics departments of major universities. I have and Economics is an even softer science than psychology. When it comes to intellectual rigor, even Womens' Studies professors think economists are lightweights. Most of what passes for "Economics" is pop economics like "Freakonomics" that makes its bones by appealing to small-minded people. You can find dumb-shit economists pulling down nice salaries at "conservative" "think tanks" who will tell you with a straight face that supply-side, "trickle-down" economics has worked wonderfully and would be good for everyone if we only gave the people who pay their salaries all the money and then clapped louder.

    When you say I'm "not thinking like an economist" I take it as high praise indeed.

  • Re:Well... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by F'Nok ( 226987 ) * on Friday January 06, 2012 @10:06PM (#38618004)

    Taxes are not just to fund government, but to fund society, which is a bit broader in concept.

    When everyone drives cars throwing out pollution that pollution goes into the air, a COMMON, which is not owned by a single person, and no single person has responsibility to clean this damage or prevent it.

    Thus a tax on petrol as it pertains to the amount of pollution should have the money directed to fixing these issues, with clean energy investments, cleaner car techs, maybe even tax CUTS for cars that use less or don't use petrol.

    Taxes are not just to fund government, but to shuffle money around in ways that benefit society as a whole, the government just decides where this needs to happen.
    In the case of petrol where a common is damaged, this is vital.

    Drugs are a different case, where the damage is typically personal, so 'vice taxes' on drugs and such should be based on societal burden alone.
    How much does health treatment for smokers cost the state per year? How many sales of tobacco are there? Pick a tax rate that will cover the societal cost for the expected consumption rate.

    Many of these things should be zero-sum games, taxes on tobacco to offset the costs of tobacco, taxes on petrol to offset the costs of petrol. This was all people have free choice to do as they will, and each person only pays for the vices they personally indulge in.

    Funding the government is (and should only be) done through income and/or (general) sales taxes.

  • by kiwimate ( 458274 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @11:19PM (#38618536) Journal

    Gound clearance:

    Ford Explorer - 7.6"
    Toyota Highlander - 8.1"
    Jeep Grand Cherokee - 8.6"
    Subaru Outback - 8.7"
    Nissan Pathfinder - 9.0"
    Nissan Xterra - 9.1"

    I just picked most of these (except the Xterra - I picked that because it's mentioned further down) at random because they're what I see in the parking lot at work. Yes, the Nissans have more ground clearance but I don't think that half an inch is going to be the difference between yay and boo.

  • by Xenious ( 24845 ) on Friday January 06, 2012 @11:50PM (#38618720)

    There are a few higher end electrics that are cool, but for some reason the lower end ones are just totally plain or awkward looking. Can't we get some nice car design going? Do all electrics have to look like expanded eastern european leftovers?

    While we're at it why not fund a federal project to put light rail everywhere there is an interstate highway. A new New Deal.

  • Re:Well... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lonecrow ( 931585 ) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @12:22AM (#38618912)
    It is not very helpful to condemn the use of taxes as a regulatory tool without providing an alternative.

    Do you have any ideas other then the intellectually lazy stance of standing on principal?

    Should the government then set minimum fuel efficiency standard for various classes of trucks/cars/buses etc and then make it illegal to make/sell/own anything that does not comply? There is no "tax" in that plan. The purpose of leadership is to lead, we can discuss the methods of leadership but the role is still required.

    Lets use sewers as a very close proxy for car emissions. Are you in very of a select few deciding that we should pay taxes to properly dispose of our shit? Or should we all be free to do what we want with it? My car throws emissions onto your sidewalk. Would you like me to do the same with my feces?

    I understand that Libertarian ideals are very seductive, to bad they just lead to dictatorships of force. Arg! it gives me a headache just trying to get inside your head to understand you.
  • Re:Statistics (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday January 07, 2012 @01:04AM (#38619162) Journal

    Well if you have a couple of trillion to build a mass transit system for the entire rural south or wouldn't mind taxes going up to say...ohh about 70% then i'm sure we could get rid of those nasty old fossil fuels tomorrow. The problem is all those foods you take for granted on your shelves? grown in places like AR and LA where its lots of two lane roads and pretty much zipola when it comes to mass transit. I can tell you that in AR you have a very old bus system that covers maybe half the state capital and...well that's it. and believe me the places it covers are NOT places you want to actually live, not unless you like gunfire for a lullaby.

    Just remember the USA isn't the EU, with everyone packed together in little clumps, you are talking a HUGE area with people spread out all over the place. to make the cities safe enough you could actually move those people into them would cost trillions for the cops and high-rises alone, not even counting the transportation and infrastructure that would have to be built. So we better hope someone comes up with a source of energy that works as well as gas because you want to watch the USA fall apart just keep raising the gas prices.

    As for TFA well duh the cars were lighter, 1980s cars were the worst of everything! You had plastic everything but hardly any knowledge of how to make any of it safe so that when one of those 80s cars go into a wreck it was just a nasty mangled mess. Cars are heavier now because safety weighs folks, steel bands and crumple zones all add weight. Sure we could make a car that weighed like an early 80s B210 that would get great gas mileage and if anybody hit you they could use the car as a coffin because good luck cutting you out of that mess! Maybe in another decade we'll have composites down good enough you can build a truly lightweight car that is as safe as a modern SUV or family car but as of right now I simply haven't seen anything close, noth that wouldn't make the car so expensive nobody but the uber rich could afford the thing.

  • Re:Statistics (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @01:08AM (#38619174)

    First, who are you to say they shouldn't have those cars?

    Maybe he's a military servicemember who gets sent to go oppress middle easterners so those selfish assholes can have cheap gas for their SUVs, and he's sick of risking his life for their vanity and selfishness.

  • Re:Well... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @01:34AM (#38619362) Homepage Journal

    I have a hard time with that. We live in a world where "because f**k you is why" is the attitude of far too many people

    So what?

    So you're saying in the constitution the federal govt is somewhere mandated to be 'our brothers keeper'?

    Pray tell where is this stated?

    The US was founded to give everyone opportunity...to succeed or fail on their own merit...nothing more.

    People will help their fellow man...this is shows all the time, look how much the US private citizenry gave to disasters it OTHER countries like when the tsunamis hit...

    The govt isn't here to legislate morality...it is to try as much as possible to keep the playing ground fair and open...opportunity, at least on the federal level..is about all it is mandated to do by the constitution.

  • Re:Statistics (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sneakyimp ( 1161443 ) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @04:41AM (#38620028)

    It's funny you mention AR. I grew up in Little Rock and went to Central High School (smack dab in one of those less-than-awesome neighborhoods). I think I rode CAT once. Maybe. And yes mass transit doesn't work well in sparsely populated areas like AR.

    However, that doesn't mean everyone needs a giant car. If we all follow the i-need-a-bigger-car-because-bigger-cars-protect-me-better-in-collisions-with-other-vehicles mentality to its logical conclusion, we'll all be driving eighteen wheelers before too long. As I understand it, large and small cars with proper safety features fare about the same in a barrier collision (i.e., with an immovable object) but in car-vs-car collisions, the heavier car fares much better against a smaller car because they have more inertia and therefore decelerate less. If cars were generally smaller overall....blah blah blah.

  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Demonoid-Penguin ( 1669014 ) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @06:11AM (#38620316) Homepage

    But very slowly and very messily. They get heart attacks and strokes more often than non smokers. We're pretty good at treating the former,

    Clearly not a doctor are you? I've got one sitting beside who just laughed bitterly at your statement. Smokers have heart attacks and die. That jump-start crap you see on television only works on young, healthy people. Unless smokers are wealthy enough to have hospital wings named after them they don't get transplants - nor do they get joint replacement or stints. Do you know how much either of those things cost?

    You are absolutely right about drinking it costs society big time. Obesity is next and about to over take it.

    Smokers just die. On average they get sick (sore back) and then, with radio they might live another 6 months (small cell lung cancer is fast). Total cost for respite nursing and medication when smokers get lung cancer in one state (her figures from the AMA) is less than half the cost of supporting diabetics. If you're real lucky (and have a strange idea of luck) you die from emphysema - takes years, and you'll be outnumbered by all those dying with blocks of James Hardie in there lungs. Do you have any idea what those little electric buggies cost the taxpayer - sure some of them smoke - but very rarely is that the reason they're in one. Maybe smoking should be compulsory in McDonalds (at what age do children stop being special?)

    Go talk to a doctor about death certificates these days - died in a car accident? Cause of death - heart failure resulting from a car accident (no I'm not making this up) . Did he smoke? Tick the smoking box. Now he's three different types of death statistics - if the lobbyists don't get a say that'll just be "smoking as a major contributor" but likely it'll be massaged as another death by smoking statistic. The 40+Kg tub of lard on half a gram of speed a day died of smoking, *and* a car accident. And no - he'd still be dead if he'd never smoked. The autopsy (he died in hospital) showed what's apparently common - if the car accident hadn't killed him his diet (this guy had diabetes), drinking, or use of amphetamines would of anyway. I guessed "biker" and "trucker" - I got gonged - he was a barrister.

    The stats in this country are a joke (don't be thinking every other country is any better). We have a higher percentage of pot smokers than Trenchtown Jamaica - from a survey of people who work in drug rehabilitation clinics - most who went there instead of jail. If you get bashed on your way home from the club the hospital will do a survey - they will ask is you've ever smoked cannabis. Love them stats.

    Try this at home: - get a total of all the people who died in your country last year. Then get numbers for total deaths from smoking and other causes. Now do your maths. Looks good right? Did you count all the death by car accident? What about other accidents and murder? Still add up? Now try not getting the numbers from a breakdown of a total from a single source.

    Part of the problem is addiction to tobacco, but mostly it's addiction to the money involved in that addiction. (and don't get me started on Lily Pharmaceuticals and the government picking up the tab for methadone).

  • Re:Well... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Demonoid-Penguin ( 1669014 ) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @07:09AM (#38620494) Homepage

    BTW, this is the same reason for the "tax the rich" suggestions, because "the rich" don't really have much in the way of votes.

    Eh, no - would you like to call a friend?

    I have a lot more vote than the two pack a day, slab at night, glued to the telly, eat at Maccas, works on the factory floor guy.

    • 1. - I actually vote, "he" generally doesn't.
    • 2. I make my vote count. "He" doesn't understand preferences and feeders, let alone the electoral redistribution process.
    • 3. I have choices about what tax I pay. "He" doesn't - it's taken out of his wages before it's due.
    • 4. I don't have to ask politicians - they propose to me. "He" gets fobbed off by their secretaries until the week before polling day.
    • 5. I have a say in *what* we vote on. "He" gets to choose from the choices I helped influence.
    • Politics 101
      Rule 1. politicians *run* for office in the hope of getting in or renewing their seat.
      Rule 2. Takes money to run for office - the poly with the most money wins. Fact. There's a department called the AEC - feel free to check. The donation and spending requirements are stricter in Australia - and the more votes you get, the more of the money you spend on advertising and buses from the old folks homes to the polling booths is returned for you to play with. Guess who picks up the tab - same people who don't get a say about their tax rate - same one who only voted because the believed that this time, unlike every other time, the politician would honour his promises to them (he can't - altruists don't get the funding to win elections).

      Of course I 'could' be wrong about that - and Hubert Humphrey could have been an American president.

      I'm not a multi-billionaire - but I even without availing myself of "tax minimalization" schemes it hurts me a lot less to pay my tax than "him". With them - I could easily pay only a fraction of his annual tax while earning more on a slow day than he earns in a month of overtime.

      The reality of the "tax the rich" is that it's a sucker vote for the politician who's run has already been funded by the rich - and we own him - see Rule 1.

      You have every reason to distrust me when I lament the state of public education. It's in my best interests to ensure my grandchildren have a private advantage over "his" - and (not that I own a factory) educated factory workers can with-hold their labour without starving. Just like politicians I'm after the second term - and that's seeing my offspring take advantage of my good fortune. The only way to break that cycle is the public library and the internet. Public libraries are vanishing, and the ones that remain don't have many books because their patrons are often illiterate - and the internet, well it's Facebook and Youtube right?

"Oh my! An `inflammatory attitude' in alt.flame? Never heard of such a thing..." -- Allen Gwinn, allen@sulaco.Sigma.COM