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Congress Mulls Research Into a Vehicle Mileage Tax 792

Posted by kdawson
from the just-get-on-the-bike dept.
BJ_Covert_Action writes to let us know that an Oregon congressman has filed legislation to spend $154.5M for a research project into tracking per-vehicle mileage in the US, and asks: "Do we really want the government to track our movement and driving habits on a regular basis?" "US Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) introduced H.R. 3311 earlier this year to appropriate $154,500,000 for research and study into the transition to a per-mile vehicle tax system... Oregon has successfully tested a Vehicle Miles Traveled fee... the [Oregon] report urged a mandate for all drivers to install GPS tracking devices that would report driving habits to roadside RFID scanning devices." Here is the bill (PDF). The article notes that the congressman's major corporate donors would likely benefit with contracts if such a program were begun.
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Congress Mulls Research Into a Vehicle Mileage Tax

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  • Dems? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I thought the Republicans were the evil ones trying to take our rights away... weird.

    • Government FRAUD? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Futurepower(R) (558542) <MJennings.USA@NOT_any_of_THISgmail.com> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:05PM (#29431297) Homepage
      MOD PARENT UP, not down.

      Fraud Alert: This is my best understanding. This is a new part of a very old effort. I remember protesting it many years ago.

      There is some company in Oregon that expects to sell the equipment that would track miles. Quote from the article: "Honeywell International, for example, is a major manufacturer RFID equipment. The company also happens to be the second biggest contributor in the current cycle to Blumenauer's Political Action Committee..."

      The mileage-tracking would download data remotely, using the same radio wave band used by wi-fi, or close. Every car would have the new equipment. A little aluminum foil over your car's antenna would stop the functioning of the system.

      Quote from the article referenced by Slashdot: "... the report urged a mandate for all drivers to install GPS tracking devices that would report driving habits to roadside Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) scanning devices." How long would it be until a hacker reported that his vehicle was in Canada? Maybe, "Oh, yes, yesterday I was driving in the Kamchatka peninsula, after a long trip around the moon."

      The biggest problem is that even the study would be extremely expensive for taxpayers ("... $154,500,000 for research and study into the transition to a per-mile vehicle tax system...") The second biggest problem is that buying the equipment would make Blumenauer's friends rich and taxpayers poor. The third problem is that it wouldn't work. There would be many, many failures in the equipment.

      If that is true, it is fraud, an attempt to profit by using government power to do something bad for everyone, and US Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) should be recalled as soon as possible, and barred from ever again participating in politics.

      Often the actions of the U.S. government seem shockingly corrupt.

      Someone would get the money, "$154,500,000 for research and study", even if no working system were produced.
    • Re:Dems? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Valdrax (32670) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @11:38PM (#29435749)

      Actually, as an Oregon Democract, this is one issue where I'd like to punch my governor in the teeth.

      Not only is this proposal an offensive infringement of my rights, but it also takes away incentives to buy more fuel efficient vehicles. The core reasoning for this tax scheme is that greater fuel efficiency has led to serious drops in state fuel tax revenues. But rather than embrace this as a good thing, the "brain trust" in Salem would rather take away the incentive.

      It's like being upset that less smokers means less sin taxes and deciding to put a high tax on nicotine gum to compensate. What. The. Hell.

  • toposhaba (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:24PM (#29430575)

    Can't they just read an odometer

    • Re:toposhaba (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Adriax (746043) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:45PM (#29430915)

      5 screws, spin a couple numbers back: "Yes sir, I only drove this car 7 miles in the past year. Yes this is my only registered car, and I live 8 miles away, why do you ask?"

      • Re:toposhaba (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Psyborgue (699890) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:50PM (#29431025) Homepage Journal
        Then prosecute that person for breaking the law. Such a major infringement on everybody's privacy is not necessary.
      • Re:toposhaba (Score:5, Insightful)

        by greywire (78262) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:55PM (#29431113) Homepage

        And a GPS can't be removed and left at home? Slightly harder but come on. Anybody with the wherewithal to change the odometer can probably find out a way to remove the GPS or something too.

        Yeah, if all they really cared about was tracking mileage to tax us appropriately (which on the surface I dont think most people would mind) then they could come up with a harder to tamper with odometer that would probably be way cheaper than a GPS.

        But lets face it. If they force GPS on us, well, that's great news for GPS makers. And auto makers (markup, installs on older cars, etc). And insurance companies. And law enforcement. Hell its great for everybody, except the people driving the cars.

        • Re:toposhaba (Score:4, Insightful)

          by sexconker (1179573) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:14PM (#29431421)

          "...tracking mileage to tax us appropriately (which on the surface I dont think most people would mind)..."

          What tax is this proposed tax replacing?
          Will someone who drives very little end up paying less in total taxes?

          Oh wait, I know.
          This is another fucking tax, another fucking invasion of privacy, and more fucking pork for me to pay for.

          I certainly fucking mind.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by hedwards (940851)
            In essence it's replacing the gas tax. The original idea was to tax people in a manner which was proportionate to the use of the resource. A sort of user fee other than tolls. As people use more fuel efficient vehicles, the taxes to pay for the roads are going to have to come from somewhere, charging people a tax based upon roughly how much they used the resource seems fair.

            It's essentially an avoidable tax, if you don't want to pay for it, you don't have to, just don't use the resource that it's paying
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by thynk (653762)

          Or, put a removable Faraday cage around the antenna assembly. It will never see a satellite, will never know that you've moved.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jgarra23 (1109651)

      Can't they just read an odometer

      You've obviously never been to Oregon. I've never lived in a more elitist state. Now I wonder who is going to pay for those mandated GPS devices! Knowing the mindset of the typical Oregonian politician I can guarantee you they never thought of that or the repercussions of having very poor families (Oregon has A LOT) shell out cash they don't have for something they don't need.

      Oh I forgot, we're talking about Oregon, the state where cyclists (who pay nothing) have more rights

      • Re:toposhaba (Score:4, Interesting)

        by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:36PM (#29431839)

        Just for kicks, I decided to google for your string. I found one incident that was related on a blog. Summary of incident: driver backs out of a parking spot, hits a biker, biker group gets mad, driver ends up getting hit in the back of the head with an object. No verification is possible on this incident, and I certainly can't find your implication that this a common incident - or even happened more than once.

        As for the cyclist gangs, that's just the regularly scheduled critical mass ride. It's a *normally* well policed and well organized event - there are plenty where I am and in other places in the world, and it's the first time I've heard any altercation happen that was started by a cyclist.

        No, to me, your post sounds like typical road rage: the road belongs to me, and everyone else on it is a raging idiot who should be shot. Not to mention that I knew the instant I read the word elitist, I knew the direction your post would go in. I'm pretty sure also you're part of the idiots who sit in traffic school and think they're perfect drivers, and that everything that happens to them is the fault of other people.

        • Re:toposhaba (Score:5, Informative)

          by Obfuscant (592200) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:19PM (#29432597)
          No, to me, your post sounds like typical road rage: the road belongs to me, and everyone else on it is a raging idiot who should be shot.

          Everyone else? No, many people, especially those in cars, follow the laws. Some don't. Some go the wrong way around traffic circles. Some do run stop signs. They're wrong.

          Now count the number of bicyclists who break the law on a regular basis. The ones who come to a stop sign crossing a busy road and instead of stopping like the law requires, swerve over a couple of feet and ride through the crosswalk as if they were pedestrians. That puts not only themselves but the pedestrians in that crosswalk in danger.

          The ones I really love are the ones who approach the main road from a side-street (with a stop sign for them) at full speed, while I'm going through that intersection, and instead of stopping or even slowing down, they make a sharp right turn into the bike lane. Someday one of them will hit a piece of gravel in the road, or some dirt, and lose control, sliding themselves under my car. They'll be dead or disabled, and it won't be my fault, but that won't make me feel any better about it, and it won't keep the rabid anti-car nuts from harassing me for the rest of my life.

          No, it's not "road rage based on owning the road", it's anger that those who are supposed to share the road with me are breaking the laws and putting not only themselves but me in danger, and they do it on a regular basis with no reason to expect repercussions -- as if THEY owned the road and I better get out of THEIR way. So, you have it exactly backwards.

          I'm pretty sure also you're part of the idiots who sit in traffic school and think they're perfect drivers,...

          I stop at stop signs, I stop for peds. Not a perfect driver, but I'll compare my record with nearly every bicyclist I've ever seen on the road.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by welcher (850511)
            The problem with that argument is that it doesn't take into account the basis of the laws of the road: they are all predicated on vehicles being cars. Car drivers have much reduced vision, awareness and control as compared to cyclists and cars also have a far greater capacity to cause damage to others. Thus their behaviour needs to be very strictly controlled. Given these things, it is easy to make the argument that cyclists should be allowed more freedoms than cars, so while these people are breaking la
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by dr2chase (653338)

            Your amusing assertion:

            No, many people, especially those in cars, follow the laws.

            inspired me to make my first Youtube video. After reading our claim, on my way home from work, I recorded one minute of traffic at a stop sign (one take, no retries). 6 cars, no full stops, 3 blatant runs, and nobody "stopping" at the stop line. (And the first car, the one that mostly nearly stopped, did so because it was impeded by a car in front of it that did not make the take.) I will admit, this is not a large sta

    • Oh wait - that's unconstitutional and will just transform the US into a communist country like the PRK.

      This really can't be anything more than a massive government boondoggle. I blame this idea on american voters who think that the gas tax is the devil. The money for roads has to come from somewhere, and if the gas tax isn't doing it, it will come through some other tax.

      Personally, I think gas is too cheap anyway. Raise the gas tax on gasoline, and you'll see an explosion in public transportation, fuel-effi

    • Re:toposhaba (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:11PM (#29432471) Homepage Journal

      It's easier than all that. A tax on gasoline is the best way to achieve the ends. If I'm driving a fuel-efficient vehicle, why should I pay the same amount as someone who's car had to burn 5 times as much gasoline to go the same distance?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mrmeval (662166)

      So if we improve MPG they get less taxes. To compensate they'll charge us by the mile. Which will negate the reason to seek higher MPG. Gotta love them...to death.

  • Ummmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by homey of my owney (975234) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:24PM (#29430581)
    Isn't that what the Federal Gasoline tax does?
    • Re:Ummmm (Score:4, Informative)

      by rotide (1015173) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:27PM (#29430645)

      Yes, but the problem is that as more and more bybrid and pure alternative fuel cars use the roads, less and less tax money will be available for road upkeep.

      Imagine in 20 years if _every_ car were 100% electric (won't happen, I know). That would be a _huge_ drop in taxes earned through gasoline sales.

      Basically this is an early change over to a system that will work regardless of fuel source.

      • Re:Ummmm (Score:5, Insightful)

        by guyfawkes-11-5 (1583613) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:30PM (#29430705) Homepage
        But it also has the additional positive effect of pushing people towards electric and alternative fuels.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by rotide (1015173)
          Entirely agree, and for the record I'm against using GPS for this purpose, but the government still has to pay for the Interstate system. Gas Tax, as far as I know, has helped fund it.
          • Re:Ummmm (Score:5, Insightful)

            by InsaneProcessor (869563) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:47PM (#29430957)
            Then read the odometer. It is already a crime to tamper with it. I don't want the government tracking my position. They have no business doing this. This idea is totally stupid on principle. Just add more cost to the vehicle too.

            Only government would be this stupid!
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Obfuscant (592200)
              Then read the odometer. It is already a crime to tamper with it.

              First, I think you will find that it is only a crime to tamper with it when it comes time to report the milage for a sale. IANAL, so don't quote me.

              But more important, you missed the central idea of this plan. You get taxed EXTRA for driving where and when the government decides you shouldn't be driving. In Oregon, that's I5 and I205 and I405 in Portland rush hour. And other streets. Instead of building to meet capacity using the already-co

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by geekoid (135745)

              "Only government would be this stupid!"

              really? really? This shit has been going on in the private sector forever, still goes on, and is getting worse.

              Yes, it's a stupid way to implement this, but to think only the government would do this? that's just stupid.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by gnick (1211984)

            Why would GPS be necessary? It seems like an intrusive and expensive solution. If you get a new car, get an odometer statement for your records - Also present it when you register your car (I realize this step requires a little bit of cooperation between state and fed). Each year when you file your taxes, report the odometer readings on any registered vehicles. When you sell/destroy your car, you're responsible for the close-out mileage (maybe a fiery wreckage exemption).

            It's far from a perfect solution

        • Re:Ummmm (Score:4, Insightful)

          by mabhatter654 (561290) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:19PM (#29431503)

          in most states you have to pay the same gas tax on alternative fuels or your a "tax evader" That is one of the big problems with bio-diesel is that small home units are "too small" to properly inspect so they won't grant tax stamps... but you have to have the stamp tax to legally drive the vehicle or pay a fine (and of course the fine is more...) States used to play the same game with alcohol taxes too for home brewing too.. it wasn't "illegal" to brew at home, but you had no legal way to pay the tax for that single batch of beverage you brewed... so you were "moonshining".

          I see per mile as a waste of time as well. The market has proven that Gas needs to be about $3+ per gallon before consumers really start paying attention to their driving habits. Today it's about $2.50 so the Feds and States should each take a quarter (that would MORE than double the highest gas tax in the country) and call it good. Commercial vehicles get tax reductions by paying a flat fee anyway but they may need to extend that to gas powered commercial trucks (UPS, Fed EX, contractors, fleets) but it's easy to even it out and not crush businesses.

          Things you have to get at a pump like CNG, Ethanol, etc have tax built in already. Electric power has some difficulty, but it requires amperage beyond what most homes can provide without professional wiring installed by the utility/electrician, so there's your in to tag that specific meter with a tax code. BioDiesel and such are too rare and low volume to deal with right now.. grandfather them in.. as soon as somebody SELLS that fuel they would have to pay all the normal station taxes... problem solved.

      • Not only could this replace revenue lost from decreased gasoline consumption this wwould allow us to have variable tax rates on various roads. Higher congestion could lead to higher taxes encouraging people to car pool, use mass transit, etc.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Obfuscant (592200)
          this wwould allow us to have variable tax rates on various roads. Higher congestion could lead to higher taxes encouraging people to car pool, use mass transit, etc.

          This requires the constant recording of not only how many miles you drive but where AND when you drive them. It will be a MANDATORY requirement that the government know where your car was at all times.

          It is this fact that the Oregon DOT could not bother to admit when they were doing this testing. I know one of the people who was involved in t

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yes, but the problem is that as more and more bybrid and pure alternative fuel cars use the roads, less and less tax money will be available for road upkeep.

        Imagine in 20 years if _every_ car were 100% electric (won't happen, I know). That would be a _huge_ drop in taxes earned through gasoline sales.

        Basically this is an early change over to a system that will work regardless of fuel source.

        uhm.. then you just tax the 'new' energy source. Much more effective and less privacy invasive. Gas tax is much better, because you also achive the purpose of moving the market towards more environmentally friendly cars and user behaviour.

      • Re:Ummmm (Score:5, Insightful)

        by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:40PM (#29430841)

        Basically this is an early change over to a system that will work regardless of fuel source.

        Note that this is not being discussed as a replacement for gas taxes, but as a supplement to them. In other words, you'll get both taxes.

        Later on, when noone is using gasoline, they'll come up with a replacement for gas taxes. And the per mile tax will continue.

        • Tax tires (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mollog (841386)
          Then put the tax on tires. You can't roll back the odometer on a tire.
        • Re:Ummmm (Score:5, Insightful)

          by JCSoRocks (1142053) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:52PM (#29431049)
          This. Don't let the government fool you. They're not in the business of taxing you less or taking taxes away. They're in the business of lining their pockets. Yes, I've become a bit cynical over the years.

          The same is true in Oregon with sales taxes. There are always people pushing them. What they always leave out is that they aren't going to decrease property taxes, state income taxes or any other source of state revenue accordingly. They're just going to tax you even more than before.
      • Re:Ummmm (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:43PM (#29430885)

        Not just a system regardless of fuel source but it's so much more. Imagine this:

        2009 15 09 15:37 - Startup
        2009 15 09 15:37 - $ 0.012 ID# 8984489618
        2009 15 09 15:37 - $ 90.00 Failure to yield to posted sign (lowest MPH = 1.7)
        2009 15 09 15:37 - $ 0.025 ID# 1898138518
        2009 15 09 15:38 - $ 1.50 Toll #6848681685
        2009 15 09 15:38 - $ 0.018 ID# 1868321896
        2009 15 09 15:38 - $120.00 Exceeding maximum speed limit, ID# 6588616816, Limit: 25 MPH, Current MPH : 26

        • Re:Ummmm (Score:5, Insightful)

          by The Archon V2.0 (782634) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:14PM (#29432535)

          Not just a system regardless of fuel source but it's so much more. Imagine this:

          2009 15 09 15:37 - Startup (Snip)

          Think bigger. (Knock knock.) "Hello. The vehicular mileage tracking system informs us that you've been making regular trips up and down a known drug smuggling corridor. We have a warrant to search your home and vehicle for any and all contraband and controlled substances."

          Hey, in places too much power use is enough for them to look for a marijuana grow-op, and too much cash on your person is damn near proof you're going to buy drugs with it. Any new information source will get bent to the same ends as the old information sources, whether or not that's what was originally intended.

      • Re:Ummmm (Score:5, Insightful)

        by clampolo (1159617) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:47PM (#29430949)
        I have a better idea. Let's tax campaign contributions from auto makers, auto unions, and gasoline manufacturers at 50% and the proceeds will go to fund the roads.
    • by FatAlb3rt (533682)
      Google Chevy Volt
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Except as cars get more efficient, the get less taxes. Anyone looking ahead will recognize that eventual cars will be all electric.

      So you need to replace the lost revenue.

    • Re:Ummmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by trigeek (662294) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:29PM (#29430687)
      The general thought process is that as cars get better gas mileage, the revenues from the gas tax will decline.

      I personally don't see a problem with continuing to use the gas tax, but increasing it: It encourages people to drive more fuel efficient cars. I don't see this monitoring technology as being useful.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Grishnakh (216268)

        I personally don't see a problem with continuing to use the gas tax, but increasing it: It encourages people to drive more fuel efficient cars.

        But all the people driving gas-guzzlers will whine if you do that. They think people driving 3000-lb. Priuses should be paying the same gas tax as 100,000-lb tractor trailers and 7000-lb. Hummers.

        • Re:Ummmm (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Buelldozer (713671) <cliff@gindu l i s . net> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:22PM (#29432665)

          People driving gas guzzlers ALREADY pay more than the fuel sipping 3,000lb Prius. They buy more fuel and thus pay more tax.

          The problem in this scenario isn't the guy with the 7,000 Hummer, he's already paying out the nose in fuel taxes that get used for road maintenance.

          The problem child here is the 3,000lb Prius who is paying far less per mile, so much less in fact that the highway cannot be maintained with the income generated.

          Increasing the tax and pushing people to more fuel efficient cars will actually make the funding problem worse, not better.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      As well as the state taxes.

    • Re:Ummmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Artraze (600366) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:49PM (#29430997)

      No.

      The Federal Gasoline tax does not "mandate for all drivers to install GPS tracking devices that would report driving habits to roadside RFID scanning devices". This tax proposal is little more than a way of netting some GPS companies gigabucks and getting GPS driving logs of every driver. Why else would they not JUST USE THE F**KING ODOMETER.

      P.S. If you think that law enforcement isn't salivating of the idea that the could subpoena a driver's entire history you are beyond naive.

  • hacking (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:24PM (#29430585)

    With the RFID hacking efforts, one could potentially change the identification number so that your car reported its mileage on another vehicle. Then some old fart is wondering why he's paying thousands in taxes when he just drives from home to the pharmacy and the occasional trip to the local buffet restaurant.

  • by noidentity (188756) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:24PM (#29430589)
    Why do number of miles driven matter? I'd think the central concern is wear on roads, which is also dependent on the weight of the vehicle. So they want to charge based on weight*miles. Guess what? A vehicle's gasoline usage is closely related to this; big heavy vehicle, more gasoline used per mile. So they could just increase the gasoline tax.
    • by RyanFenton (230700) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:35PM (#29430755)

      The state legislatures are getting in a lather over the idea that gas-electric hybrids will reduce their gas-tax-based state income. It's all rather reminiscent of the year 2000 panic over computer glitches - based in a sliver of truth, but WAAAAY overestimated. They're looking to use these mileage-based taxes as a way to future-proof, but as you mentioned, the better solution is to just increase gas taxes proportionally with the fraction of gas being used thanks to improved technology, so revenue can keep up with increased expenses, while keeping the burden on those who do the most practical use, rather than taxing a hybrid the same as a cement truck.

      Ryan Fenton

  • It seems to me that gasoline taxes cover this situation adequately without Big Brother being a back-seat driver.
  • RFID? KISS! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:24PM (#29430597)

    Quite a few states have emissions testing every year or every other year. Make them get a sticker that also has the mileage. The next year, you figure out the difference. Pay the tax. Odometer fails it's the same as if ODB readiness fails.

    How often are these RFID checkpoints going to fail? Devices fall off cars, etc.

    Let me guess, there's a GPS tracking company in someones district.

    • Re:RFID? KISS! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Temkin (112574) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:27PM (#29430651)

      My family owns a couple miles of private dirt roads. You're going to tax me for driving on my own road?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You are currenlty taxed to support the public roads when you drive on your private roads now. The gasoline tax (which you pay whether you drive on your private roads, public roads, or use it in your lawnmower) is for public road maintenance for the amount of wear you impose upon the public road system. An odometer system wouldn't be any more more a kludge but has the benefit of still being fairly accurate for hybrid, electric, and alternative fuel vehicles. And has the benefit of not tracking every move

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tsstahl (812393)
        We already do with existing gas taxes. Unless you push, or mule team those couple miles.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:25PM (#29430605)

    Anything more than an odometer or fuel tax doesn't pass the smell test.

    GPS could only add value for law enforcment and automating speeding tickets.

  • by jgtg32a (1173373) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:25PM (#29430607)
    Are they planning on buying everyone a GPS device because I just don't see how this study can cost $154.5 Million
  • Goodby privacy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by merreborn (853723) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:25PM (#29430613) Journal

    the [Oregon] report urged a mandate for all drivers to install GPS tracking devices that would report driving habits to roadside RFID scanning devices.

    You want us to give The Man complete GPS records of all driving?

    Am I the only one who finds that terrifying?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Improv (2467)

      I generally don't like the inclination to scream about privacy at the drop of a pin, but collection of GPS records do make me rather uncomfortable and I don't think it should be done.

      I don't think the private sector should do this either except possibly in the broadest sense (e.g. it is ok for them to monitor if you're leaving the state because it might impact their insurance, the probability you're stealing the vehicle, etc, but not ok if they're trying to collect detailed information on where you go).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:25PM (#29430621)

    ass fucking every member of congress with a flame thrower

  • No GPS thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) * on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:26PM (#29430635) Journal

    I'm not particularly opposed to an tax on my odometer, but GPS is way over the line. You want to know how much I drive? Fine. You want to know where I drive? Fuck off.

    Besides, the gasoline tax is already a mileage tax. It has the added bonus of being a bigger burden on those who drive low efficiency vehicles.

  • Gas tax anyone? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Snowblindeye (1085701) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:27PM (#29430641)

    Brilliant Idea. Cause if we want to levy more taxes on the people that drive more, we need to track every car and build an extensive system of RFID scanners that covers the nation.

    Of course every car already has a mileage based tracker build in. Its called the gas tank. You simply raise the gas tax, and you're done. In the process you also reward people with fuel efficient cars, and you make it easier for alternative fuels and electric cars to be competitive.

    I suppose higher gas taxes have no lobby, while the RFID industry obviously has one. /sigh

  • already discussed (Score:4, Informative)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:27PM (#29430643) Journal
    Since related articles were omitted for this story... For previous discussion on slashdot, please check here [slashdot.org].

    Please feel free to read that discussion and put your copypasta in this thread so we all know not to mod them up. :)
  • Two Words: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blcamp (211756) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:27PM (#29430647) Homepage

    HELL NO.

  • If they could come up with some way to tax gas purchases, it seems like it would track miles driven. Of course, they'd have to come up with a whole new administration to collect this tax on gas....

  • Diverted taxes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The money diverted from the fuel excise tax on non-road related projects must be made up for with a brand new VMT tax, the report argued.

    Or they could pass a resolution that all fuel tax is used only for road-related projects.

  • I'd like the public option (or even better, single payer). But I think I will pass on the car surveillance system. We already have a tax on how much we travel, it is called taxing gas. Large vehicles that waste gas and are harder on the roads naturally get taxed more than smaller fuel-efficient vehicles. I see nothing wrong with this system.

    Hmm, maybe they are worried about tax revenue once electric cars come out? That would make a little bit of sense then. But I'd rather just have them read the odo
  • Or, instead of forcing consumers to buy some expensive gadget that could potentially be used for invasion of privacy, we could just use the simple odometer that is installed in every vehicle nowadays. The extra time spent having a person verify the odometer reading every year when the tag is renewed is nowhere near as wasteful as creating a whole new electronic system. That is, of course, if you're going to insist on having this sort of tax.
  • Intended for abuse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bcmm (768152) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:32PM (#29430725)
    Since this does nothing relevant that gasoline taxation doesn't already do, one can presume that it is intended as a tracking device.

    If this is actually introduced, it will sooner or later be used to track down some horrible terrorist/paedophile on the run, and no one will object. The next year, it'll be available to track down whoever they want to track down, and if attitudes wiretapping are anything to go by, they won't need a warrant. Lucky it's such a blindingly stupid idea that they'll never actually implement it, right?

    Right?
  • Go Green- (Score:2, Interesting)

    by georgenh16 (1531259)
    Recycle Congress.
  • Sweet merciful crap! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:34PM (#29430743)

    How the fuck can ANY study cost $154,500,000 That's one hundred and fifty four million, five hundred thousand dollars. I don't care WHAT they're proposing. A traffic STUDY with that kind of price tag should get a resounding and unanimous "FUCK YOU, YOU FUCKING FUCKS!" from anyone voting on it.

    I normally don't use so much profanity on slashdot but it's not like I can get any more obscene than what's being proposed.

    • by gr8_phk (621180) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:08PM (#29431337)

      How the fuck can ANY study cost $154,500,000 That's one hundred and fifty four million, five hundred thousand dollars.

      The money is mostly to buy off the other politicians who will need to vote YES to make it law. There is no actual study.

    • by stmfreak (230369) <stmfreak.gmail@com> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:09PM (#29431343) Journal

      Upmod parent to eleven, please. This was what I wanted to post.

      Forget the shock that they want to track our locations. Forget that we already pay a road-use-tax via gasoline which is already levied more towards high mass inefficient vehicles than the low-mass efficient methods of travel. Let's focus our shock and outrage on the very idea that our government has evolved to the point where it cannot even propose a law without first undertaking a study funded by taxes which would otherwise employ several hundred people for a full year.

      These are supposed to be our representatives. Unless you and a lot of other people I don't know have been calling them asking for more taxes on road use... preferably tracked by vehicle mile, they shouldn't be proposing this junk at all. As noted in the top post, the beneficiaries here are corporations. I suspect that the proposed study would be bid out to these same corporations to conclude that yes, it does seem to be a good idea.

      We need to vote out every incumbent now. Turn over the entire cart and start fresh with no tolerance for this junk anymore.

      And by "junk" I mean bullshit.

  • Will these proposed devices be capable of being fitted in a positive earth vehicle? I suppose I could convert it to negative earth, but that would detract from its originality
  • First, who spends the time digging through the Congressional Record for this kind of stuff? Congress considers thousands of ideas every year, from the brilliant (health care reform) to the idiotic (Bridges to Nowhere). Most are DOA. Second, this bill would establish a "pilot program" for alternatives to a fuel tax. What's the harm in trying out some different ideas? Third, check opencongress.org and you find that this bill has (OMGWTFBBQ!) been referred to three committees. What a scary threat to our
  • how about... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by night_flyer (453866) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:39PM (#29430817) Homepage

    Insisting that the gov't spend the gas tax money they collect for roads, to pay to repair roads instead of funneling it off to pet projects that have nothing to do with roads.

  • by Bobfrankly1 (1043848) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:45PM (#29430909)
    Can't seem to evade these cops, it's almost like they've got a tracking device on me....
    You mean to tell me Mr. Officer, that you're giving me a ticket for speeding two weeks ago?
    I'm being taxed on miles traveled after I was taxed for the price of having my car towed? It was a flatbed, the tires didn't touch the ground!
    Wow, I've never seen 15 minute parking enforced so timely and yet so viciously...they've got tow-trucks lined up around the corner just waiting...
  • by DarkOx (621550) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:57PM (#29431179) Journal

    I sure miss the Bush Administration / Republican controlled congress because it at least paid lip service to personal freedoms.

    Now lets see:
    *We are likely to end up with GPS in our cars
    *A 3400-3800 dollar tax for existing
    *Still likely to have some form of national ID forced on us
    *There is no end in sight to the invasive personal information searches for air travelers
    *Our financial records are going to accessible to *any* government agency that can claim some relationship to your health care no matter how obscure.

    Any notion this is a free society is rapidly evaporating. I know I am going to get reams of replies about how Americans are still so much more free than X; but that is not the point! Its not about being freer than someone else or better than, its about being the freest society we can be. Frankly our government is drifting down the road of some type of neo-fascist totalitarian system. Its a long way from something you could describe that way but the seeds are being planted and the garden tended. This is very similar to how the Third Reich got its start, and no I am not saying Obama is anything like Hitler, what I am saying is that he and the current congressional majority are creating the conditions where an Hitler or a Bonaparte can find support and come to power.

    I fully expect to be walking down the street in the next ten years and hearing the equivalent of "Papers please" pretty often the way things are going..

  • GPS Lobby (Score:4, Insightful)

    by headhot (137860) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:07PM (#29431313) Homepage

    Well, since gps in phones are killing the GPS makers, they needed to find a reason to start selling them again.

  • by Stele (9443) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:11PM (#29432483) Homepage

    What if everyone started telecommuting? Would they then charge a tax for working at home?

  • by CrAlt (3208) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @07:01PM (#29433237) Homepage Journal

    The gas tax has no real away around it. Really hard to cheat then its built in to the price of gas.

    You put control of the taxation in the hands of the car owner and they will cheat.

    RFID?
    -Just pop the transponder in the microwave for 2 seconds.. no proof of tamper.
    -Swap transponders with a car you don't drive much.
    -Clone transponder.

    GPS gizmo?
    -Hit gizmo with a cheap tazer or ignition coil.. "Maybe my car got hit by lighting?"
    -Cover antenna with tinfoil before you leave...dont let it get a lock anywhere but your driveway.
    -Fuses blow out sometimes ya know..

    Odometer check?
    -Unhook speedo cable or magnetic pickup. Ill just use my GPS-Nav unit to tell me my speed.
    -Swap dash clusters
    -Bribe the meter readers.
    etc...

    You drive a new car with the odometer embedded in the ECU? No big deal.
    "Tuners" hack and mess with their computers on new cars all the time.. would take about 1.4days for someone to come out with a way to manipulate a digital Ode if there was this big of a demand.

    Here's a idea congress: Stop burning millions of tax dollars on wasteful "studies".

  • What is the benefit? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dausha (546002) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @07:49PM (#29433809) Homepage

    Okay, so we're looking at 154,500,000 USD, right? The Federal gas tax is 18.4 cents.[tax] Average gas mileage is, say 22 MPG.[miles] Or, we pay .8 cents per mile. This means the study costs 18,472,826,890 miles---18 billion. We drove 1,444 billion miles last year. So, this "only" costs one percent of our mileage tax.

    But, this is a violation of the Fourth Amendment, as the information collected is unreasonable---there are less intrusive measures (odometer).[fourth] Of course, there are a lot of you who think the Constitution is outdated and prefer a flexible interpretation.

    [tax]: www.gaspricewatch.com/usgastaxes.asp
    [miles]:http://www.bts.gov/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_04_23.html
    [total]: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/tvtw/09juntvt/09juntvt.pdf [dot.gov]
    [fourth]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution [wikipedia.org]

  • by GeigerBC (1056332) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @11:07PM (#29435507) Homepage
    Since it doesn't look like anybody actually READ the report Oregon put out on milage taxes I'll provide a link to the report. The reports themselves are in the top right of the page. http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/RUFPP/mileage.shtml [oregon.gov] They realize there is a privacy issue. Transportation Research Board (TRB) who conducts millions of dollars of research each year realizes there is a privacy issue. They are working on it. Please stop yelling "The sky is falling" so loudly and let's have a well informed, civil discussion about this. The gas tax hasn't been increased in ~20 years, so we'll have to pay for new roads somehow. If you hadn't received a raise in 20 years you'd be looking for new sources of income too. On top of that, vehicles are getting more miles to the gallon (a good thing), but are still damaging the road the same amount and paying less to do so (a bad thing). Either way, I think I'm late to this discussion, but they are worthwhile reports to read and should be attached to every discussion on this topic. I'd guess this paper should be read too, but I haven't read it myself. http://financecommission.dot.gov/Documents/NSTIF_Commission_Final_Report_Mar09FNL.pdf [dot.gov]

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