Copenhagen gas station stands empty

Everyone's got an opinion when it comes to gas prices. Here in the U.S., where the average price for a gallon of regular gas has now reached $3.90,--and still climbing-- the onerous price burden falls squarely on the motoring public. And, most of us believe we're already paying enough.

Last month U.S. Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu recently said the nation's goal is not to reduce gasoline prices but to reduce the overall dependency on oil. He reasoned that if gasoline's cost becomes prohibitive, we'll be forced to seek energy from sources other than petroleum.

In 2008 he told the Wall Street Journal: "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe."

Around the world, we see that extremely high gasoline prices --by American standards-- have been accepted as part of many nations' taxing systems. This is the case in most European countries, too, whereas in oil-rich nations like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, for instance, many of those countries' governments subsidize oil even at many multiples of what it's worth.

In Venezuela, for instance, gasoline sells at around 12 cents per gallon... it's cheaper than water. And in Saudi Arabia it was about 45 cents per gallon, with no tax at all. It's subsidized in Qatar too, where gasoline increased 25 percent to a whopping 88 cents per gallon. (And there's no tax at all.)

According to The Atlantic Monthly, which reported on global gasoline prices last year when the U.S. average peaked at $3.96, we see gasoline inflated by extreme taxes imposed in many countries that are simply staggering.

Spain has the lowest priced gasoline at $7.60 per gallon; and $3.67 of that is tax. Believe it or not, that's actually the lowest tax burden in Europe.

Italy's gasoline is $8.79 per gallon and that includes $4.74 in taxes. (Of course with a nice bottle of Barolo, it's easy to enjoy the countryside and forget about the cost of gasoline.)

France is looking at $9.24 with $5.40 of that being taxes.
Germany is at 9.07 with $4.88 in taxes. In Portugal you'll pay $9.13 per gallon; $5.13 is tax and the government there has included $1.70 per gallon as a 'value added' tax.

In the Czech Republic, motorists pay $8.21 per gallon ($4.39 of which is tax0 which also includes a road tax. Greece and Sweden are both over $9 per gallon and more than $5 of that is tax.
Denmark is at $9.69 for gasoline with $5.41 going to taxes.
But, the highest tax burden in Western Europe is found in the Netherlands, where gas according to last year's report, was $9.58 per gallon and nearly $6 per gallon goes to taxes.

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The Atlantic Monthly