Summer is right around the corner once again, and with warmer weather comes higher gas prices. It is already $3 a gallon in many places in the U.S., and our demand for gas has already set a record for the month of March. Still, even at $4 a gallon, America pays less per gallon of gas than many European countries. One need only look at our proper cousins across the pond to see some truly terrifying gas prices.
Prices in the United Kingdom recently topped $7.00 a gallon (about $1.90 per liter), not because of lack of supply or the cost per barrel going up… but because of taxes. And frankly, it seems like drivers in the UK are fed up as they plan to protest and block gas stations across the country.
I respect civil disobedience if it gets the point across. It sounds like UK drivers are trying to do just that by foregoing the purchase of petrol on May 1st to protest new gas taxes signed off by Prime Minister Gordon Brown. These new taxes have made it so the government collects $4.42 on every gallon of gas sold. I know that taxes are an effective way of reducing ones carbon output, and that the most dramatic way to get people to change their habits is to hit them in the wallet. But at a time when the global economy is still recovering, and many people are struggling to find employment, $7 a gallon for gas is… well, it is a lot.
If you recall, $7 a gallon is the threshold many researchers believe needs to be breached to get Americans to drive significantly less. I can see why. I don’t think I would be able to afford to go more than 20 miles from my house at $7 a gallon. So many people are hoping this gas tax will drive Gordon Brown out of office as the UK is set to have general elections in a few months. Using Facebook, organizers are trying to unite over a half-million members to ban petrol for a day. The protesters, who have allied with truckers and farmers as well, plan to block gas stations with their cars to prevent people from getting gas. I don’t imagine this is entirely legal, but it could be a very effective way of getting a point across to the government.
I am divided on this issue. The taxes on gas in the UK seem excessively high, no matter how you cut it, and it isn’t like you can go down to the dealership and buy an electric car (yet). That means most people don’t have a choice but to pay these new taxes. So is it really fair to charge an arm and a leg just to get to work in the morning? Maybe when we have alternatives to our choice for transportation, a new gas tax would make more sense. But right now, it seems like all the good Prime Minister has managed to do is piss off a lot of regular people. It will be interesting to see how the elections turn out.
Source: News of the World