February 25, 1919: Oregon becomes the first state to impose a gasoline tax at the rate of 1¢/gallon. Eventually all 48 states and the District of Columbia levied their own version of this revenue enhancing scheme. By 1932, a federal gasoline tax was further added at the same rate of 1¢/gallon. US citizens are currently paying a federal tax of 18.4¢/gallon as well as taxes paid to the state. Maine charges drivers 27.6¢/gallon while Alaska tacks on only 8¢/gallon. Gasoline tax in the US is dedicated to transportation – road construction and maintenance or mass transit subsidies.
This form of revenue is used by other governments as well. Canada has both federal and provincial rates of taxation. As an added bonus, some municipalities also tax the fuel. In the Yukon 16.2¢/L (60¢/gallon) is the tax while in Vancouver it is 30.5¢/L ($1.142/gallon). The federal government takes 10¢/L (37¢/gallon) in taxes and the average Canadian fuel tax is 31.9¢/L or $1.195/gallon. Diesel and aviation fuels are taxed at lower rates.
Australia has several different rates for different types of fuels and there are grants possible to reduce or remove certain fuel taxes. In the UK, road fuels are taxed at £0.5035/L with a £0.2 reduction for biodiesel and bioethenol. However, there is a VAT (Value Added Tax) also imposed at 17.5% on the fuel and on the tax. All these combined taxes account for 65.24p/L or $5.043/gallon. The Netherlands has a fuel tax that is now specifically set aside for road creation and road and public transport maintenance at the rate of €0.684/L or $3.50/gallon (as of 2007).
Germany adds 65.45 Euro-Cents/L for conventional unleaded petrol. They then add 19% VAT to the fuel and the Fuel Tax which adds up to a whopping €1.37/L or $7.615/gallon (September 2007 figures). All this taxation leads many drivers on The Continent to cross borders to fill their tanks in a cheaper country. In China, the National People’s Congress has exerted enough pressure on the government to make them forego this type of income – so far.
“Like mothers, taxes are often misunderstood but seldom forgotten.” – Lord Bramwell
“The point to remember is what the government gives it must first take away.” – John S. Coleman
“Taxes are not levied for the benefit of the taxed.” – Robert A. Heinlein
“All money nowadays seems to be produced with a natural homing instinct for the Treasury.” – Prince Phillip
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2010. Editor’s update: In the US, the federal tax on gasoline remains at 18.4¢/gallon. It was last raised in 1993 and is not tied to inflation. State taxes vary and add on average, about 50¢/gallon. Diesel fuel is taxed at a different rate and the feds add 24.4¢ to each gallon. As of October 2012, the state with the lowest additional tax was still Alaska with a rate of 26.4¢ per gallon for gas and 32,4¢/gallon of diesel. They were they only state in the twenty-cent range. There were fourteen states who added in 30-39¢/gallon and 21 states tacked on 40-49¢. Nine more states added 50-59¢/gallon and the remaining states added 60-69¢ with New York adding the most at 69¢/gallon. Monies collected by this tax are used for the transportation infrastructure.
Also on this day: “Do you feel lucky?” – In 1836, Samuel Colt received a patent for his new revolver.
Cut Off – In 1570, Pope Pius V excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I.
Battle Stations – In 1942, Los Angeles was under fire.
February 25, 1942: In the early morning hours the Battle of Los Angeles takes place. In December 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. On February 23, 1942, a Japanese submarine I-17 shelled the Ellwood Oil Field near Santa Barbara, California. The shelling did $500-$1,000 in damages and there were no casualties. The sub was last seen heading south, toward LA. Tensions were high with people fearing another mainland attack. During the night of February 24-25 something was seen. Air raid sirens were blaring and at 2:25 AM a total blackout was ordered.
Thousands of air raid wardens were called out. They patrolled the streets making sure Los Angeles remained blanketed by darkness. At 3:16 AM the 37th Coast Artillery Brigade commenced firing. During the course of the bombardment over 1,400 12.8-pound anti-aircraft shells were fired. Shelling ceased at 4:14 AM. It took 20 minutes for the unidentified objects to move from the airspace over Santa Monica to the airspace of Long Beach, a distance of ≈ 20 miles. The all clear signal was given at 7:21 AM. Three civilians were killed by friendly fire and another three died of heart attacks during the night, attributed to the stress of the sirens and shelling.
There has been speculation about what was flying over LA that night. Several spotlights from the ground converged on a section of the night sky. There were several bright points of light outlying the area of convergence and a large smudge was seen in the center. Some people saw a flying saucer in the convergence zone. Hours after the incident, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox held a press conference and called the encounter a false alarm and blamed it on “war nerves.” The LA Times ran the headline the following day saying “Army Says Alarm Real.”
Several high ranking officers of the War Department, the Navy, and the Army were involved in sorting out what happened. Secret memos went between the officials of the various branches of the military and made their way to President Roosevelt. Today, there is as much confusion about the Battle of Los Angeles as there was during the war years. No planes were downed. No weather balloons were shot out of the sky. Was the raid simply a practice run? Was it something to scare 2,000,000 people, as Representative Leland Ford accused? Or were there real UFOs lurking over LA?
At 0306 a balloon carrying a red flare was seen over Santa Monica and four batteries of anti-aircraft artillery opened fire, whereupon “the air over Los Angeles erupted like a volcano.” From this point on reports were hopelessly at variance. – The Army Air Forces in World War II, under the editorship of Wesley Frank Craven, James Lea Cate
The divergence of views between the War and Navy departments, and the unsatisfying conjectures advanced by the Army to explain the affair, touched off a vigorous public discussion. – The Army Air Forces in World War II, under the editorship of Wesley Frank Craven, James Lea Cate
At the end of the war, the Japanese stated that they did not send planes over the area at the time of this alert, although submarine-launched aircraft were subsequently used over Seattle. – The Army Air Forces in World War II, under the editorship of Wesley Frank Craven, James Lea Cate
Why is it that men who can go through severe accidents, air raids, and any other major crisis always seems to think that they are at death’s door when they have a simple head cold? – Shirley Booth
Also on this day:
“Do you feel lucky?” – In 1836, Samuel Colt received a patent for his new revolver.
Gas Tax – In 1919, the first gas tax in the US was instituted.
Cut Off – In 1570, Pope Pius V excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I.
February 25, 1570: Pope Pius V excommunicates Queen Elizabeth I. Christianity came to Britain with the Romans in the first or second century. There were three Romano-British bishops at the Council of Arles in 314, predating the council of Nicaea in 325 where the Catholic Church began to formalize the books of the Bible as well as their beliefs or creed. The Church of England is aligned with the early Western church. Early Christians were not particularly good at converting the native pagans so Pope Gregory I send Augustine of Canterbury to evangelize. He built the Gregorian mission and the church dates itself from this time, 597.
Things went along pretty smoothly, with the English Church under papal authority for nearly 1,000 years. However, in 1534, King Henry VIII was having difficulty continuing his line. He married and divorced several women in hopes of gaining a healthy son to carry on the Tudor line and forestall another bloody civil war. The Pope was displeased with Henry VIII’s willful disobedience and the religious difficulties began. Henry married six times and had four children, two sons and two daughters. His older son [Henry FitzRoy] died at the age of 17 and his younger son [Edward VI] managed to be crowned king at the age of nine, but died before his sixteenth birthday. His mother was Jane Seymour and they were Protestants.
Eventually Mary I of England came to the throne. Mary was the daughter of Catherine of Aragon and a strong Catholic. She tried to purge the British Isles of the evils of Protestants and became known as Bloody Mary while doing so. She reigned until 1558. Mary died childless at the age of 42 during an influenza epidemic. Her half-sister, Elizabeth, rose to the throne. She was the daughter of Anne Boleyn and was raised Protestant. She had been imprisoned by Mary for almost year, on suspicion of helping Protestant rebels.
Rather than persecuting Catholics, one of Elizabeth’s first moves as queen was to establish an English Protestant church and making herself as Queen of the land the Supreme Governor. The Elizabethan Religious Settlement eventually evolved into today’s Church of England. The Pope responded and declared Elizabeth a heretic and a servant of crime. He not only excommunicated her via the Papal bull, Regnans in Excelsis or “ruling from on high,” but also any who obeyed her orders.
“Do not tell secrets to those whose faith and silence you have not already tested.”
“Fear not, we are of the nature of the lion, and cannot descend to the destruction of mice and such small beasts.”
“God forgive you, but I never can.”
“He who placed me in this seat will keep me here.” – all from Elizabeth I
February 25, 1836: An American patent is granted to Samuel Colt for his Colt revolver. Colt was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1814. His father, who owned a textile mill, taught his son about machinery. At the age of 16, Colt became a sailor. Legend states that while observing a capstan, he came up with the idea for a revolver pistol. Colt received a European patent for his multi-shot pistol in 1835.
This innovative idea was met with resistance, and Colt went out of business for some time. He declared bankruptcy in 1842 and spent four years in litigation. He secured his patent and again went back to producing guns in 1848. Colt created the first industrialized firearm factory. He hired Elisha K. Root, an axe manufacturer of renown, to help get state-of-the-art equipment for making truly interchangeable parts for his guns.
Prior to his revolver’s debut, handguns were loaded singularly, fired, and then reloaded. Colt created a circular chamber holding several bullets that align with the firing mechanism and barrel one bullet at a time. There are single-action guns which require one to pull back the hammer and then press the trigger as well as double-action guns which only require that one pull the trigger.
Colt was not “just” an arms manufacturer. He also worked with explosives and developed the first remote detonation. He developed technology that helped to lay the first underwater telegraph cable. He also popularized nitrous oxide as an anesthetic. He was a Colonel of the Connecticut Regiment during the Civil War.
“God made all Men, Samuel Colt made them equal.” – 19th century saying
‘‘The world is filled with violence. Because criminals carry guns, we decent law-abiding citizens should also have guns. Otherwise they will win and the decent people will lose.’’ – James Earl Jones
“The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.” – George Washington
“There is no arguing with Johnson; for when his pistol misses fire, he knocks you down with the butt end of it” – Oliver Goldsmith
Also on this day, in 1919 Oregon became the first state to impose a gasoline tax.