Here’s worthless auto bill #2. If you read my recent rants on the ‘Moving America Forward Act’, or the ‘American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009’, you probably already know my position on these frauds being perpetrated on the American people at a time when we can least afford it but are most vulnerable. Well, here’s another winner for your consideration.
It’s a well known fact that the current 18.3 cent federal gas tax we pay is nowhere near sufficient to pay for the transportation infrastructure required in our nation. Spiking oil prices, consumer conservation and the move to more fuel efficient vehicles has led to significant reductions in gas tax revenues even as costs associated with building and maintaining our roads and bridges is increasing.
So what’s the government to do? Raise taxes? Hmmm, that’s not palatable in an economy where our new Prez has promised tax reductions for everybody (making under $250,000, $200,000, $140,000 – whatever). Well, howzabout we raise taxes so people don’t know we’re raising taxes? Yeah that’s the ticket. In fact lets eliminate the gas tax altogether so people think they’re getting a break and then we sneak in and whammy them when they ain’t looking? Good idea.
Here’s what we’ll do – we’ll put a GPS device in every new vehicle. Don’t worry about the increased cost – the auto manufacturers will absorb it (!) or pass it along to consumers. It’s only a few hundred bucks and everybody wants a GPS anyhow. Then we’ll put transponders at regular intervals along ALL roadways kind of like the SpeedPass many commuters use today. Or maybe we can use satellites. That way we can tell how many miles people are driving (and where and when and how fast) and we’ll tax them based on their usage of the roads. We’ll call it a ‘Fair Use Tax’ because if you’ve got a good slogan (see Moving Forward Act, Clean Energy Act, etc), people will go for it. Because it’s FAIR (and they’re stupid), and we can raise their taxes without them even realizing it.
And we can maybe factor in how heavy their vehicle is so if they drive a van or an SUV, we can jack up their rate even higher – and again that would be fair. And we’ll magically compute how many miles they’ve driven times the weight of their car and automatically add that tax onto their bill when they fill up their car. That’ll be tricky because the price of gas will only be part of the bill then and the tax will just be added on so we’ll also have to set up a department to monitor gas stations so they send in the right amount. And maybe later in addition to distance and weight, we can add fines if they were speeding at any point, or if they drove someplace they shouldn’t have, or drove at the wrong time of day. Tell me you don’t believe somebody at Homeland Security already thought about that.
We could just send them a bill every month or so like a utility bill – here’s how much water and electricity you used, here’s how many miles you drove – pay up. That would work but it might piss them off more. But this way we catch everybody. Those smarty pantses that listened to Algore and bought those damn Priuses and pay next to nothing for gas will still get dinged. Think you can avoid paying gas tax by buying electric to ‘save’ the environment? Not any more, Bucko. Did you take advantage of our ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program and trade for a more fuel efficient car? Sorry, we’re going to ding you anyway. (Hows that for irony? One hand of the government spends money to entice you to get a more fuel efficient vehicle which only exacerbated the fuel tax deficit, the other hand of government spends money to figure out how to compensate for what the other hand just did and take more of your money.)
Here’s my advice (for what it’s worth). Retrofitting older cars with the GPS monitoring device is too expensive so the system will be phased in through replacement by new cars. Older cars will still pay the gas tax as it exists today, which will be less than the ‘Fair Use Tax’ will be tomorrow. (Remember, this new program can’t reduce costs or even be revenue neutral because the current program is running deeper and deeper in the red every day. It WILL cost more). So get yourself a nice fuel efficient car today and drive that sucker for the next 20 years and you’ll be cheating the government out of their ‘Fair Share’ of YOUR money.
I couldn’t even make this kind of crap up after a fifth of Jack, folks, but our politicians do it every day. It’s a crazy world and I’m a happy camper. Hope you are too.