December 20, 1992

President Bill Clinton

Vice President Al Gore

Transition Office

1120 Vermont Avenue, 11th Floor

Washington, D.C. 20270

Re: A Simple Way to Save the Economy, and the Planet, Too!


Believe it or not, there is a simple way to save our economy, restore social equity, and save the planet, with one act!

The world is broke. We need a source of funds to pay off the national debt, protect our citizens, and protect the environment. It should be a sustainable source, not achieved by liquidating more of our natural resources.

The answer is staring us in the face: take it from the rich, who have far too much already. It is obvious that much that is wrong with our country is due to the unconscionable gap between the rich and poor. But the key is How do we identify the "rich" and their "excess" wealth, in an equitable (nonarbitrary) way?

The answer is simple. We already know that the automobile and its relatives and accoutrements (e.g. roads, CFC-containing air conditioners, used tires, etc.) constitute the world's greatest threat to our environment and quality of life. We also know that the rich own and operate motor vehicles more than the poor. The answer is to apply appropriate taxes to the ownership, fuelling, and operation of automobiles and other motor vehicles, approximately in proportion to the damage they do.

This would have numerous beneficial effects: it would humanely reduce the use of motor vehicles, conserving our natural resources for more essential, environmentally sound uses (e.g. making toothbrushes). It would not force anyone to stop driving; they could continue to do so, if they simply pay a fair charge to do it: it preserves our individual rights and freedoms. At the same time, it provides much-needed funds to shift emphasis from a wasteful, destructive habit to more essential uses (reducing the national debt, education, health and environmental research, habitat preservation, pollution reduction, public transit. etc.).

If too much money is provided (above that needed to repair the destruction caused by motor vehicles), some of it can be used to reduce the use of more regressive taxes, such as sales taxes and income taxes, which cause the rich/poor gap to widen, while providing little compensating benefit.

I would be happy to help you work out these and similar policies.


Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.