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穆斯林馬歇爾計畫,汽油稅

1. 這個二戰後美國在歐洲用來抗衡圍堵蘇聯和共產主義的大規模經濟援助重建計劃, 可以被用在今天的中東, 而成為21世紀的"穆斯林馬歇爾計畫"嗎? 2. 拿一部分來反恐戰爭經費來資助這樣一個計畫可行嗎? 3. 會不會短期內資源一為他用而對國家安全造成威脅? 4. 普遍貪腐及派系糾葛的中東地區政府能有效的運用這些錢嗎? 巴勒斯坦已經由 UNRWA, the World Bank, the EU 拿約20億1年, 他們的建設在哪? 5. 穆斯林民眾基於宗教或民族自尊心會接受美國這樣的安排嗎? 請參考 : Marshall Plan, 馬歇爾計畫

汽油稅

民主黨上台, 加稅已無法避免. 我個人非常反對這種"大政府"式的思唯舉動, 但覺得唯一有點道理的是汽油稅, 當然啦他也有許多可被批評之處. 以下是下面文章作者Gregory Mankiw的重點: 1.未來10年每年加稅10cent. 2. 此舉對環境, 道路擁擠有幫助. (少開車? 提供買省油車的誘因,提供廠商研究替代能源的誘因, etc... ) 3. 對平衡預算有幫助. 一加侖一塊的汽油稅可爲聯邦一年帶進一千億. 4. 部份稅收事實上由產油國買單. 因為,就像其他商品,稅雖然對消費者徵收, 卻是由買賣雙方共同負擔. 5. 同樣加稅, 汽油稅比所得稅對經濟發展較沒害處. (且較公平? 不然民主黨又要拿"富人",事實上是拿薪水的雙薪中產階級,開刀, 要他們來負擔所有加的稅了) 6. 國家安全. 刺激替代能源的研發及對石化能源依存度的減少對美國的外交的運用有正面的影響.

Consider a Marshall Plan for Palestine 巴勒斯坦馬歇爾計畫

Amman, Jordan/Ramallah, Palestine - If we look at how much money is given to Israel both directly and indirectly and if we consider how much money is given for weapons that bring misery and injustice, the time is now ripe for a major Marshall Plan for Palestine that will help bring hope to Palestinians. Naturally this would not end occupation. However, though the U.S. Congress doesn't have any direct role on foreign policy whereas it has its hands on the taxpayers' money. Therefore, the one project I would suggest is to attempt to balance their books on foreign funding between Israel and Palestine. By bringing economic improvements, we can move the public in Palestine toward real political change. Life could have meaning then; but at present, life doesn't have much meaning. Again, the key is ending the Israeli occupation, but Congress can do a lot to help alieviate the terrible conditions that are brought out as a result of the unjust siege and 39 years of illegal occupation, land confiscation and racist settlement policies that discriminate against Palestinians and builds on stolen land for Jews only. By Daoud Kuttab | November 9, 2006; 9:42 AM ET

Raise the Gas Tax

By N. GREGORY MANKIW October 20, 2006; Page A12 With the midterm election around the corner, here's a wacky idea you won't often hear from our elected leaders: We should raise the tax on gasoline. Not quickly, but substantially. I would like to see Congress increase the gas tax by $1 per gallon, phased in gradually by 10 cents per year over the next decade. Campaign consultants aren't fond of this kind of proposal, but policy wonks keep pushing for it. Here's why: The environment. The burning of gasoline emits several pollutants. These include carbon dioxide, a cause of global warming. Higher gasoline taxes, perhaps as part of a broader carbon tax, would be the most direct and least invasive policy to addressenvironmental concerns. Road congestion. Every time I am stuck in traffic, I wish my fellow motorists would drive less, perhaps by living closer to where they work or by taking public transport. A higher gas tax would give all of us the incentive to do just that, reducing congestion on streets and highways. Regulatory relief. Congress has tried to reduce energy dependence with corporate average fuel economy standards. These CAFE rules are heavy-handed government regulations replete with unintended consequences: They are partly responsible for the growth of SUVs, because light trucks have laxer standards than cars. In addition, by making the car fleet more fuel-efficient, the regulations encourage people to drive more, offsetting some of the conservation benefits and exacerbating road congestion. A higher gas tax would accomplish everything CAFE standards do, but without the adverse side effects. The budget. Everyone who has studied the numbers knows that the federal budget is on an unsustainable path. When baby-boomers retire and become eligible for Social Security and Medicare, either benefits for the elderly will have to be cut or taxes raised. The most likely political compromise will include some of each. A $1 per gallon hike in gas tax would bring in $100 billion a year in government revenue and make a dent in the looming fiscal gap. Tax incidence. A basic principle of tax analysis -- taught in most freshman economics courses -- is that the burden of a tax is shared by consumer and producer. In this case, as a higher gas tax discouraged oil consumption, the price of oil would fall in world markets. As a result, the price of gas to consumers would rise by less than the increase in the tax. Some of the tax would in effect be paid by Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Economic growth. Public finance experts have long preached that consumption taxes are better than income taxes for long-run economic growth, because income taxes discourage saving and investment. Gas is a component of consumption. An increased reliance on gas taxes over income taxes would make the tax code more favorable to growth. It would also encourage firms to devote more R&D spending to the search for gasoline substitutes. National security. Alan Greenspan called for higher gas taxes recently. "It's a national security issue," he said. It is hard to judge how much high oil consumption drives U.S. involvement in Middle Eastern politics. But Mr. Greenspan may well be right that the gas tax is an economic policy with positive spillovers to foreign affairs. Is it conceivable that the policy wonks will ever win the battle with the campaign consultants? I think it is. Even after a $1 hike, the U.S. gas tax would still be less than half the level in, say, Great Britain, which last I checked is still a democracy. But don't expect those vying for office to come around until the American people recognize that while higher gas taxes are unattractive, the alternatives are even worse. Mr. Mankiw, a professor at Harvard, was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers from 2003 to 2005. 特附上讀者們對此文章的回應 Higher Gas Taxes Will Never Make Americans Abandon Their Cars Missing from N. Gregory Mankiw's interesting proposal to raise the federal gasoline tax by $1 over the next 10 years ("Raise the Gas Tax," editorial page, Oct. 20) is any context or explanation of why the tax is collected in the first place. It generates dedicated revenue for the Highway Trust Fund that is used solely for transportation programs. The federal gas tax finances almost 45% of all public investments in road improvements each year. Prof. Mankiw says boosting the gas tax would get people out of their cars and force them to live closer to where they work, thereby reducing road congestion. Yet there is no evidence to suggest this would happen based on the most current Census Bureau data. More than 80% of commuters drive to work alone. That trend will continue in the future To much fanfare, the U.S. population officially reached 300 million Oct. 17, and is expected to reach 400 million by 2043. America's highways, bridges and transit systems are now crumbling because of years of under-investment by all levels of government. Between now and 2043, based on current trends, highway capacity will grow only 9%, but traffic levels will swell by 135% to more than seven trillion vehicle miles traveled annually. The average motorist can expect to spend 160 hours stuck in traffic delays, or the equivalent of four weeks each year. It's a recipe for a gridlocked nation, absent any new highway and transit investment that adds major new capacity. Providing and maintaining the transportation infrastructure is a core function of government. Let's increase the federal gasoline tax, but let's make sure it's used for its intended purpose -- maintaining and improving the highway and public transit systems so crucial to America's mobility, national security, economic strength and global competitiveness. Matthew J. Jeanneret Senior Vice President Communications & Marketing American Road & Transportation Builders Association Washington Whew! That was dizzying. Tax-cuts convert to the left of me, raise the gas tax to the right! Keep this up and I will need to start wearing a switchable eye patch to prevent vertigo. As regards the gas tax, did Prof. Mankiw see less traffic during the recent price run-up at the pumps? Concerning high fuel taxes in Europe, he would have plenty of time in traffic there to read The Guardian or Le Figaro. On the subject of efficiency, I can hardly wait to watch the Fed spend that tax windfall. Charles Dusenbury Carmel, Calif. Count me in as a policy wonk who thinks Prof. Mankiw's self-described "wacky" idea of raising the gas tax is one that should stay on the dusty shelf of economic theory and not in the practical world of public policy. Giving politicians more gas tax revenues is like giving your car keys and a bottle of gin to a teenager. Over the past 25 years, governments at all levels have collected twice as much in gas taxes ($1.34 trillion in today's dollars) as the domestic oil companies have earned collectively in profits ($643 billion). In only three of those years (1980, 1981 and 1982) did industry profits exceed government's annual tax take. Add on corporate income tax payments and government's total tax take from the industry rises to $2.2 trillion in today's dollars. Not only has this made no dent in the federal deficit, but it has given Washington the means to fund such boondoggles as the Bridge to Nowhere. Moreover, our great national experiment of trying to use tax policy to dampen consumption is now the textbook definition of the law of unintended consequences. According to the Congressional Research Service, the 1980 windfall profits tax depressed the domestic production and extraction industry and furthered our dependence on foreign sources of oil. The French have some of the highest gas taxes in Europe yet remain 100% dependent on foreign oil. As I'm sure Prof. Mankiw teaches his students, taxes should simply be a means of funding government programs, not a tool for advancing social, political or economic agendas. Scott A. Hodge President Tax Foundation Washington Whenever I read an article or listen to someone crow about raising the gas tax, I am reminded of how far removed some people are from the rest of us who have to work for a living. Every point in Prof. Mankiw's commentary boils down to improperly using the tax code to force a certain behavior and enact social change, all in a quest to show us poor folks who have to drive to work, to the store or to pick up the kids that we're just not in line with the professor's progressive thinking. If being in traffic makes Prof. Mankiw wish the rest of us would drive less, reading socialist diatribes like his makes me wish people like him would write less. Kevin C. Carpenter Fort Worth, Texas Prof. Mankiw suggests that federal taxes on gas should be raised to levels of half that of Britain in order to, among other reasons, grow the economy. While his logic of shifting the tax code's focus from punishing productivity to encouraging consumption is right-headed, I must point out that the U.K. is a country in which both consumption and productivity are taxed at high rates, to the detriment of the economy. It is no stretch of the imagination to see Congress imposing the same misguided policies in the U.S. Instead, the entire focus of our tax code should be shifted from punishing productivity to encouraging consumption. Ultimately, Congress and the people would be playing for the same team. Simon Arpiarian Atlanta
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