This has me in a complete and utter tizzy, for a couple of reasons, but I have to get some things out of the way. I am, at the basest levels, a tax and spend liberal. I have my libertarian leanings, I believe that proper enforcement of existing laws is a much better solution than new laws (which usually carry idiotic riders and create potential loopholes), I believe that drugs should be legal, regulated, and taxed (imagine what programs we could fund with just the taxes on a hundred million in pot sales) instead of banned and therefore lucrative. But, I think taxes are the only fair way to make sure that public projects get funded (counting on the goodness of people’s hearts hasn’t worked well in the past, no reason to assume it will in the future), and that taxes on “luxury items”, such as gasoline (make no mistake, personal transportation is a luxury), alcohol, tobacco, gold and jewelry, are a good way of redistributing wealth without getting terribly communist. I also believe (unlike the rest of Oregon) that a sales tax is not, in fact, the Devil. I think a 2% sales tax could set this state up nicely. Make it a 4% and put in a 1% for food/drink like they did in Arizona (not sure if this is still the case). Whatever. My point is, that you can do a lot with a very minor outlay of money on the sales tax end of things.
But, my issues with this mileage tax, they’re HUGE, they make me RED FACED ANGRY, and they are TWOFOLD.
First, let us look at the numbers. My car gets 30 miles to the gallon (when I am driving normally). Under current taxes, I currently pay 24 cents per gallon in tax. Under the proposed mileage based tax, I would pay 1.2 cents per mile, or, effectively, 36 cents per gallon, a 50% increase in my tax burden for being better to the environment. On the other hand, if I had purchased a Hummer2 sport utility vehicle, and was looking at 15 miles per gallon (this is actually higher than they get in standardized tests, but I’m doing it for sake of argument), I would be paying 18 cents per gallon, a 25% discount. How is this a good idea? How is incentivizing huge, gas guzzling vehicles good again? I mean, everybody went into a tizzy to make sure that the old SUV tax loophole got closed, why are we opening a new one? If I went further and bought a Lamborghini Gallardo, which gets 10 miles per gallon, I’d only be paying 12 cents per gallon in tax. So this is basically, what, a tax for people who bought reasonable cars and respect the environment? Interesting. Why don’t we just put a 12 cent a loaf tax on bread if we want to bilk more out of regular people? And, yes why is it such an imposition to just increase the gas tax 12 cents per gallon for everybody? I’ve got no problem with it as long as Jerkoff McPukashell in the lifted Suburban is getting it in the shorts as bad as I am.
Second, and this is the big one – A GPS tracking unit in every car is a violation of privacy. Period. There is no arguing this. If you are saying something about how there are license plates or drivers licenses so they can tell who you are, shut the fuck up right now. Stuff it straight down your idiot hole you retarded fuck. A license plate does not record information in a database, a license plate does not give a signal that can be tracked by individuals as well as institutions, my drivers license does not generate data that will inevitably be commodetized (read: sold to private companies). GPS data will be rapidly coopted by some two bit governmental arm who decides it’s a good idea to start using the system with perfectly good intentions – (Thanks Jason for the perfect insertion point.) using the system to aid in Amber alerts. The next step would be using the data to track those convicted of sex crimes. Then any felon. Then anyone suspected of a crime. The next step after that is everybody. And don’t say the system can’t do this, because it would be impossible for it NOT to do this. It’s like saying a toaster can’t be a murder weapon because it’s only intended to cook toast, or that a hunting rifle can’t be used to kill people, because it’s designed to only kill animals. By the nature of a GPS tracking system, it will TRACK your GLOBAL POSITION. It will take approximately four minutes for this data to get coopted by law enforcement, and then we will be living in something like Stalin’s wet dream. Don’t get me wrong, this won’t happen overnight, but much like the obviously effective and completely brilliant No Fly List it will soon grow into a morass which will track hundreds and then thousands of citizens for no reason other than “somebody thought that name might be the alias of a guy who was a criminal”.
When I was discussing this initially, someone indicated that the gps locators were already built into cars and simply needed to be turned on. I investegated this with someone involved in the ODOT pilot and they clarified that Oregon hopes to get manufacturers to create and install the devices in new cars, and there was no plan to retrofit tracking devices on to existing or unequipped cars. So, this will likely never see the light of day. And for good reason, it’s an asinine program, with the nonsensical goal of taxing fuel efficiency, the state is essentially asking an industry who is in the middle of a fiscal nightmare to also develop and install new hardware into their cars which is constitutionally questionable at best, and they’re intending to spend money on this program, when dialing the gas tax up another couple cents costs practically nothing. And, since there is no plan to retrofit older cars, nor to make this mandatory for all cars, the proposal simply increases the basic tax 2 cents per gallon, meaning I would have a strong incentive to NOT participate, and people with large vehicles have an incentive to participate, so the tax revenue will _at best_ stay the same, and likely drop! Who did the math on this?
(hat tip Get Rich Slowly for the video)