New York Times: Should We Tax People for Being Annoying?

January 8, 2013 at 7:49 am

From The New York Times Magazine, Adam Davidson writes under a headline sure to get some views:

Instead, we all suffered [in a traffic jam]. Each car added an uncharged burden to every other person. In fact, everyone on the road was doing all sorts of harm to society without paying the cost. I drove about 150 miles that day and emitted, according to E.P.A. data, about 140 pounds of carbon dioxide. My very presence also increased (albeit infinitesimally) the likelihood of a traffic accident, further dependence on foreign oil and the proliferation of urban sprawl. According to an influential study by the I.M.F. economist Ian Parry, my hours on the road cost society around $10. Add up all the cars in all the traffic jams across the country, and it’s clear that drivers are costing hundreds of billions of dollars a year that we don’t pay for.

The rest of the article is about negative externalities and is a read worth your time, provided you’re not stuck wasting your time in one of these:

Someday, a “taxing commute” may be more than just an expression. Credit: ABC News.

Sure, we’ve all heard the arguments for and against varying types of road taxes before, but it is nice to see their case being made on the front page of today’s New York Times website.