The Case for Sport Utility Vehicles: It's the Economy, Stupid


by Geoffrey Moore

 

A New Visions Commentary paper published April 2003 by The National Center for Public Policy Research, 501 Capitol Ct., N.E., Washington, DC 20002, 202/543-4110, Fax 202-543-5975, E-Mail [email protected], Web http://www.nationalcenter.org. Reprints permitted provided source is credited.

Drivers of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) have recently been called gas-guzzlers, had their faith and religion questioned and even been called terrorists (the poor gas mileage of some SUVs helps put money in Osama's pocket, you see).

Why are SUV drivers being demonized? What's the motivation of those trying to drive these vehicles off our roads?

SUV opponents claim the reason they are lobbying so hard for people to stop driving them is to preserve the environment. I, on the other hand, have a reason for more people to purchase SUVs - taxes.

First, let me give you some numbers. The average tax rate on gasoline in the United States is $0.4108 ($0.184/ gallon federal + 0.2268/gallon in state taxes). Using the Environmental Protection Agency average of 15,000 miles driven per vehicle each year, the average SUV - at 20.7 miles per gallon - uses 724 gallons of gasoline. The average car - at 27.5 miles per gallon - uses 545 gallons. That's a difference of 179 gallons per year.

Take into consideration that there are approximately 14 million registered SUVs in America and do the math. If there are 14 million SUVs and they use and extra 179 gallons of gasoline per year than you average car and you multiply that by $0.4108, the state and federal gas taxes (not including city and county taxes), you get an extra $1,029,464,800 in taxes. SUV drivers contribute all these taxes!

So that is over $1 billion in additional tax revenue simply because SUVs are larger and get fewer miles per gallon. Also, we cannot neglect the fact that if a person buys an SUV at a higher cost than a car, they will also pay additional sales taxes. In a way, these SUVs are essential to the spendaholic government that we have.

Additionally, SUVs are safer. Contrary to the scare stories peddled by the SUV lobby to brand them as unsafe, serious accidents in SUVs have ten percent fewer fatalities than those involving regular cars. It's also an established fact that heavier vehicles have much high occupant survivability rates.

And, during the recent snowstorms that plagued the East Coast, local hospitals made pleas for four-wheel drive SUVs to help shuttle medical personnel and patients through weather conditions other vehicles could not handle.

In this case, SUVs are helping to lower medical costs through safety and agility for both private citizens and the government.

So SUV owners are not only paying higher taxes, but they could also be helping to lower government spending on health care. What a deal!

Despite what I've just explained, however, there is a battle cry that SUV drivers should be forced to pay extra taxes. The idiocy in that argument is that by the nature of their vehicles using more gas to go the same distance, SUV drivers already pay more taxes. Rather than an additional luxury tax on the SUVs themselves, owners are already paying extra at the pump.

This is the same flawed logic that liberals use to protest tax cuts. If a reasonable person earns more money, they will end up saving more money if their taxes are cut. And that will help grow our economy and safeguard our financial futures.

Instead of being demonized by the liberals, SUV drivers should be applauded and celebrated as true, taxpaying patriots. They are voluntarily paying additional taxes.

But it seems the only thing liberals care more than about paying high taxes is controlling the behavior of others.

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(Geoffrey Moore is a member of the National Advisory Council of the African-American leadership network Project 21, and an MBA student and market analyst in the Chicago area. Comments may be sent to [email protected].)


Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.

 

 


 

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