With gas prices rising at an increasingly rapid pace, I've found myself torn between competing values. On the one hand, I feel that rising gas prices hit low income and working class Americans the hardest, and thus represent a grave threat to a strong, stable middle class. On the other hand, I also feel strongly that only high gas prices can force us to re-evaluate our dependence on oil and the inevitable hard that we are doing to the environment. So do I wish for continued high gas prices in hopes of remedying our environmental harms, or do I hope for lower prices to alleviate the pressure on working Americans?
Progressives must confront this dichotomy when considering proposals like a "gas tax holiday," which Republicans are now proposing. My first reaction to such a proposal was opposition: if Americans are ever going to kick our oil addiction, we have to feel some pain first. But then my progressive economic side kicked in, and I sympathized with those Americans which, to use the standard liberal tear-jerker, have to choose between putting food on the table or gas in the tank.
So what is a progressive to do? How does one balance a concern for the environment with a concern for the well-being of American workers?
I don't know yet. Do you?