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What would Pa Ingalls say?

Virginia’s governor, Bob McDonnell, has snuck a bitter little worm into the heart of his budgetary apple. He wants to increase the car registration fee $100 on . . . hybrid vehicles.

I kid you not. Here’s the message from the governor: if you buy a car that conserves gas, GOTCHA!

Full disclosure: I bought a new hybrid, the cheapest on the market, a month ago. I’d been driving a 17 year-old Nissan Sentra, but as the ticker pushed toward 200K I finally had to admit that the time had come to say goodbye to Old Reliable. So enter Little Red, so shamelessly crimson she could light up Amsterdam. A Prius C, easy to park, kinda slow and, I would have thought, inoffensive to anybody. Seriously. If I run into you on a highway, it’s me who’s gonna crumble. Little Red’s only “threat” to society is that when she’s on the battery her engine is whisper-silent. You might not hear me coming. Sorry. But if McDonnell has his way, every year I’ll have to pony up an extra $100 for the privilege of owning my quiet, fuel-efficient Little Red.

You don’t have to believe in climate change to believe in conserving natural resources. It’s just common sense. Ask Pa Ingalls. You know, Little House on the Prairie Pa Ingalls? The man who turned a pig’s bladder into a toy for his kids. Because Pa Ingalls knew, whether it’s a pig or petroleum, you don’t waste what you’ve got.

Pa had occasional qualms about the mechanization of prairie life that would, in the twentieth century, lead to the Dust Bowl. When hard times and ignorance drove farmers to suicidal agricultural practices that devastated their resource base and turned them into paupers.

Well, it’s 2013 and times are hard again. Our Virginia state budget is tight as a Victorian corset, but now it’s oil we depend on, as well as soil. So what is Bob McDonnell’s suicidal solution?

A sin tax on cars that conserve gas.

I can’t speak for Pa Ingalls’ politics. But the message of the pig bladder is that resource conservation is common sense. If CONSERVatives and liberals can agree on one thing, it ought to be that.