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Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Today's brain-dead politician moment is brought to you by the Hartford Courant:
At a time of near-record prices for crude oil and winter heating fuels, the legislature is considering a bill that would impose a surcharge on heating oil and natural gas in order to fund energy efficiency programs.
The bill, which was the subject of a hearing before the energy and technology committee Tuesday, would add 2.5 cents to the retail cost of a gallon of heating oil in Connecticut and 2.1 cents per 100 ccf to the retail cost of natural gas.
For a residential customer consuming 1,000 gallons of heating oil a year, the surcharge would add $25. For a natural gas customer consuming 150 ccf a month, that would add $3.15 a month.
Supporters said the legislation would promote energy efficiency, ultimately reducing consumption of fossil fuels and costs. However, opponents that include the heating oil industry and the state's business community said the bill imposes additional costs at a time when people are already paying near-record prices for fuel.
Promote energy efficiency? How? By forcing us to dial down the thermostat and freeze in the winter? Americans are already more fuel efficient than they were in yesteryear, so how is a regressive tax going to further that cause?
Ostensibly, the tax will help promote efficiency by setting up a fund to pay for replacement of old equipment with new equipment (read: income redistribution). Yet, even with that goal in mind, there is no guarantee that the fund would even be used for that purpose, because the state has a habit of dipping into those types of funds and "borrowing" from them to pay for other pet projects.
An idea like this could not come at a worse time, with energy bills already in the stratosphere. In an average winter month, I can spend over $500 in electric and natural gas bills alone. That's an insane amount for a house the size of mine, yet this great state wants to make it even more difficult to afford to heat Connecticut homes.
I can only imagine the effect on people who make less than I do, yet I do know how this state operates. The lower class will, by directive of the legislature, have their heating bills subsidized in one form or another, creating a subsistent class of citizens. The middle class will be then left with the burden of covering the added fees, as is usually the case here. If the leadership here isn't careful, there will soon be no middle class, and we will all need government help... or perhaps that is their goal from the outset.
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