Image credit: Voluntary Gas Tax
When I wrote that cutting fuel taxes will exacerbate the oil crisis, reader Jeff Heie emailed me to tell me about The Voluntary Gas Tax movement. With a tagline that refers to "the craziest tax you've never heard of", members of the Voluntary Gas Tax movement agree to pay a donation for every gallon of gas they use, funneling that money into projects that do good for the community.
Apparently the idea is spreading. The website for the Voluntary Gas Tax asks us to imagine a tax we don't have to pay; a tax that we can decide to pay just half, or a quarter; and a tax that we can decide how it is used. This is, they say, exactly what they have created.
Originating in Harrisonburg, Virginia, the movement has since spread to Goshen, Indiana and Davis, California. Much like the idea of voluntary carbon rationing, it seems members of this group are sick of waiting around for Government to act on our oil addiction—instead adopting a peer-supported (and pressured!) approach to cutting their oil use—saving up their gas receipts and then meeting every quarter to pool their funds and decide what to do with them. Besides giving an impetus to cut consumption, it sounds like folks are having a lot of fun doing it too:
"Most of us just keep the receipt slips when we fill up or keep a little ledger in the car and add up the gallons every quarter and multiply by $.50. Then we get together for quarterly or bi-annual gatherings with tea and cookies and pool or revenues. Can you imagine the kind of people who you're drinking tea with? Selfish, miserly, stingy folks are welcome but so far haven't shown up!"
Of course the persnickety among us will be quick to point out that this is not a tax at all, but a charitable donation. Nevertheless, just as a swearing tax may help clean up a potty mouth—a voluntary gas tax seems like a great way to promote change, and to send a signal to others that some of us at least are willing to pay something at least a little closer to the real cost of our collective addiction.