It found that the U.S. military spends $80 billion per year on costs directly attributed to protecting our access to oil. That's 55 cents a gallon, BTW.
All of this is exclusive of the war in Iraq, a war that had mostly to do with oil. We're over $1.5 trillion dollars and tens of thousands of dead and wounded soldiers. I will not let anyone deny that oil played a significant part in why we prosecuted that war.
To deny this assertion is to deny those soldiers their due. It's unpatriotic and anyone who thinks that way is not a good citizen. If you want to argue the points of this, by all means let's hear specifics. But you cannot deny the fact of massive external costs of oil. You HAVE to own that!
I didn't deny it at all, quite the opposite, what I said was that it was hard to calculate. So I stand corrected, apparently the calculation was no problem at all for this think tank: Out of $684B in defense spending, $80B (a suspiciously round number) went to keeping cheap oil flowing.
So with half of oil going to power personal transportation (cars/light trucks), about $40B of that "oil company subsidy" spread across 200M vehicles works out to $200 per vehicle per year.
I would have no problem transferring that $40B to gas taxes if it were removed from taxes elsewhere, as the current structure shifts the costs to general revenues. However it is paid for, you still have to ask though who is the ultimate beneficiary of that $40B expenditure? The big bad oil companies or the consumer? And is it a good investment? And how can you ever calculate the ROI when human lives are involved? Maybe RAND has an answer for that too.
There are many more externalities besides the $80 billion. And no, this is not a "suspiciously round number", it's an approximation because there is no way to give you and exact number, like that would matter to you anyway.
You "suspiciously" ignored the cost of the Iraq war. The $1.5 trillion cost of that war (another rounded number), should calculated in, or at least a significant percentage. As for the cost of a life, that's hard to pin down, but I'd peg it pretty high.
Then there are the costs of the tens of thousands of Americans who die prematurely every year due to the effects of internal combustion pollution. Many of these people are children who, through no fault of their own, happen to live near freeways or downwind of refineries.
Add to that the costs of the massive environmental damage from the extraction, shipping, refining, distributing and burning of that oil and you have a very large number.
And yes, these costs should all be paid by the end user, the consumer. No one should be able to cause harm to others without paying the cost of it. The "big bad oil companies" will continue doing what they are doing, but their product's price needs to reflect all of its cost in order for the market to work properly.