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A bigger tangle

Tweet [1]

Greg Mankiw [2] tries to expand the Pigou Club [3]:

Some of my libertarian friends aren’t members of the Pigou Club [4] because they view gasoline taxes as a case of excessively intrusive government. But if this tangle of regulation [5] is the alternative, isn’t it time for them to reconsider?

But that’s a different club. As I understand it, members of the Pigou Club support an increase in the federal gasoline tax on various externality grounds—pollution, global warming and international security issues. I’d be happy to replace all or even most attempts to reduce gasoline consumption via command-and-control and replace them with a higher tax rate. But that Club is a quixotic club—Archer Daniels Midland and others who benefit from ethanol regulation along with whoever it is that benefits from CAFE standards (regulators and politicians who get lobbied to see it tweaked or delayed?) will make sure that Club’s mission is never achieved. But the Pigou Club’s goal very well may be achieved and will add a higher gasoline tax to the existing tangle of regulations.

The federal tax on gasoline [6] has been increased many times since its inception in 1932. Have any of those increases been accompanied by regulatory simplification?

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