AS AMERICANS FILL UP their tanks and hit the road this Memorial Day weekend, they won’t have to pay quite so much for their gasoline. Average prices have dropped a dime since this year’s peak, and they are projected to fall a couple more by the end of the year. This trend will no doubt be welcome to fuel-hungry motorists. Yet an addict rejoicing at a price cut on his drug of choice is still an addict.
The recent gas-price drop, unaided by any big change in federal policy, underscores that economically and psychologically destabilizing short-term price swings are out of the U.S. government’s control, which would be true even if America produced loads more oil.
That, in turn, underscores the obvious on oil policy: The best way to insulate the country from price volatility, and everything else that makes America’s oil dependence unattractive, is to use less. And the best way to make that happen is to raise the federal gas tax.