In proportion

Gasoline prices in the United States continue to be a bargain compared to the rest of the industrialized world, as a short article by Bill Marsh (accompanied by a chart) points out, part of the Times‘s collection of stories this Sunday about consumer energy costs. Back when we were kids, and gas was less than half a buck per gallon, it was explained to us that prices in Europe were much higher (and efficient cars more popular) because of higher taxes. Prices have risen a lot since then, but I was mildly shocked to learn that U.S. taxes haven’t kept pace. Of the current national average pump price of $4.00 a gallon, only 49 cents (12.3%) is taxes. By comparison, Canadians pay $5.09 per gallon and $1.26 (24.8%) in taxes; in France, the comparable price is $8.78, of which more than half, $5.06, is taxes.