Don’t Care About Politics? Gas Prices Prove You Should.

To many college students politics may seem like a complicated ballgame that they want no part in. Only a small percentage of college students actually keep up with politics and do their research regarding candidates and propositions. “Why should I care about the corporate tax rate? I don’t own a corporation” is what a fellow college student told me when I asked him if he was involved in politics or if he votes when the election cycle comes up. This is a typical mindset of U.S. college students.

Students must understand that every vote they cast, every proposition that gets enacted, and every candidate who gets elected can directly impact their lives. One issue that many financially troubled college students are facing is the price of gasoline. A common complaint is how high the gas prices are in California, especially here in Los Angeles. With the region’s traffic known to be one of the worst in the world, Los Angeles is not the greatest place for fuel efficiency. On top of that, gas prices seem to get more and more expensive by the day. This puts an extra burden on college students who are already financially struggling.

At the time of publishing this piece, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in California was $4.009, according to AAA. Compared to the national average of $2.90 (according to AAA), Californians are paying a little more than a dollar extra per gallon of gasoline they pump. California cities, meanwhile, are also contending with much higher living costs relative to the rest of the country, according to recent statistics from 24/7 Wall St.

For each gallon of gas, California drivers are paying a federal excise tax of 18 cents, a state excise tax of 42 cents, a state and local sales tax of 8 cents, a state underground storage tank fee of 2 cents, the “Carbon Fuels Standard Tax” of 28 cents, and a mystery surcharge of 28 cents that was identified by Severin Borenstein, a professor at UC Berkeley. Of course, Sacramento politicians have yet to give an explanation as to where this mystery surcharge tax money goes. On every gallon of gas, $1.26 is merely tax. If a driver fills up a regular sedan, which averages about 17 gallons to fill up, they are paying more than $20 in taxes. California politicians claim that the gas taxes go towards fixing the infrastructure — but this is a lie. Anybody who drives in Los Angeles can attest to the poor road maintenance.