Archive: Economics

Untaxing and Spending

Debater ErrinF hits the bulls eye in a response to a fellow Debater, PC Gorilla, who blamed victims of check diversion schemes for bouncing checks in the first place. "One wonders when was the last time PC Gorilla looked at our national debt or current deficit," ErrinF writes. Congress did recently raise the debt ceiling, but it's still a limit that is arbitrary and potentially harmful, according to Justin Fox of Forbes. Regardless of whether Congress had a choice in the matter (general consensus: it did not) $9 trillion is nonetheless a staggering figure. And I don't even want to think about the interest payments, which apparently are up by 12 percent. The Post reports on today's front page that the House and Senate have reached a deal on a tax package estimated to cost $70 billion over the next five years. With the deficit hovering around $300 billion, some...

By Emily Messner | May 10, 2006; 07:55 AM ET | Comments (202)

Should Gasoline Really Cost $5 a Gallon -- Or More?

The Ixian Heresy blog offers a "sobering" post on the hidden cost of gasoline. Those hidden costs include market and social factors such as oil industry tax breaks and the public cost of providing healthcare for people with exhaust-induced respiratory ailments, which some argue should be figured into the price at the pump. As is, these de facto subsidies are just piling on to our already elephantine deficit. Estimates on the "true" or "real" cost of gasoline vary by study and by year -- I've seen numbers ranging from $5 per gallon to $10 per gallon to $14 per gallon and higher. Over at the liberal opinion site AlterNet, Jason Mark notes that it is a conservative think tank whose research put real gas prices above $5 -- and that was a couple years ago. Presumably that number would only have risen since. A top-notch researcher here passed along some...

By Emily Messner | April 26, 2006; 11:29 AM ET | Comments (64)

Longing for the Gas Prices of Yesteryear?

Many different calculations have been used to figure out the current value of past gas prices in today's dollars. The general consensus is that gasoline prices peaked in 1980-1981, but estimates of what that peak price was in today's dollars vary from just over $2 to just over $3 per gallon. Mark Perry's figures skew to the high end of those estimates. In an op-ed in USA Today last May, the economics professor argued that by historical standards, prices these days "are a bargain." But a scant 11 months after Perry wrote those words, gas prices are approaching the $3 mark -- on par with his estimate of the highest gas prices in U.S. history, in March of 1981. In 2004, two Cato Institute scholars adjusted for inflation and then looked at the cost as compared to GDP. They said the highest that gas prices had ever been, in 2003...

By Emily Messner | April 4, 2006; 11:09 AM ET | Comments (11)