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More on Oregon and GPS-tracked Gas Taxes 773

An anonymous reader writes "Wired has an update on Oregon's proposed replacement for their gas tax. Currently two candidates are in development, the first a GPS based system that tracks where a car goes to determine the number of miles driven. The other is a odometer-like device. Both would transmit the data to base stations periodically to determine the tax on a vehicle. There was a previous slashdot article."
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More on Oregon and GPS-tracked Gas Taxes

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  • by (54)T-Dub ( 642521 ) * <> on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:16PM (#6108633) Journal
    I don't get it.

    A more important reason is that GPS, which can monitor exactly where a car goes within the state and at what times, eventually could be used to implement different tax rates, according to Whitty.

    Followed by:

    Whitty said there will be no privacy issues because the machines are being designed to store only the number of miles traveled, not the exact locations visited.

    The whole thing sound ludicrous to me. I think people would complain more about getting another bill every month more than raising the gas tax a few cents. I understand that voters have turned down an increase in the tax over the past few years, but this seems like a very stupid way to get around it. Every gas station is going to have to have one of these devices installed. Then the pump will have to be changed so that it will give the user a different price depending on if he has a device or not.

    Seems like a high cost plan with lower voter approval to me.
    • by rmadmin ( 532701 ) <{gro.edocemoh} {ta} {kelamr}> on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:19PM (#6108689) Homepage
      I agree with that. I'd rather pay the tax on the gas. Plus, someone that drives around a small town for 4 hours isn't going to get taxed very much (if at all? How delicate is this system), whereas someone driving on the highway for 4 hours will get raped (compared to the person in town). Plus their will be no reason to buy a car that gets great gas millage over one that gets very poor millage. Great.. more reason for soccer moms to buy SUV's. :-(
      • by BigBir3d ( 454486 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:34PM (#6108919) Journal
        Apparently SUV's are not as evil as you think.

        However, the tax rate hasn't changed since 1991, and the more fuel-efficient cars on the highways are sucking down far less fuel. The result, according to Whitty, is that tax income hasn't been able to keep pace with inflation, or with the need for additional road repairs due to increased traffic.

        Gas guzzlers indeed.

        Also, more cars on the road = more gas burned, but not enough to counter inflation combined with better fuel economy for the other classes of vehicles.
        • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @06:31PM (#6110108) Homepage Journal
          SUVs are MORE evil than you think. Not only do they get consistently bad gas mileage due to a wide variety of factors including their profile to the wind and sloppy, inefficient drivetrains, but you can't see under, around, over, or through them, making them a hazard to other drivers. They also have poor stopping distances and are heavy, making them still more dangerous. While they are safer for the occupants in a multiple-car crash, they are far more dangerous for whoever is struck by them, AND they are more likely to be in a single-car accident, more likely to cause fatalities in a single-car accident, and cost more to repair after any accident. (That last one is just thrown in there to point out the general stupidity of buying them.)

          I understand that someone (Kia? Daewoo? Hyundai? One of those) has a V8 SUV which is around $25k. This can only make things worse but it illustrates the stupidity of paying $45k for a truck with a permanent camper shell.

          In any case, SUVs get bad gas mileage, worse than modern sports cars. The only vehicles which get worse mileage than SUVs these days are sports trucks like the Lightning. I dunno about the new one but a couple years back the F150 Lightning was THE vehicle with the worst mileage in the US. The second? Ferrari 355. (The Ferrari is a supercar, not just a sports car, and as such is exempt from my statement about efficiency.)

      • Plus a gas tax would be paid by visitors driving through Oregon. The GPS mileage tax would not be paid by visitors because their cars won't have the silly GPS trackers. Sounds like they are spending money in order to receive less tax revenue. smart!

        Of course, Oregon is the state where it is ILLEGAL to pump your own gas. Their make-work laws require a professional gas station attendant to pump your gas for you.
      • by Zeinfeld ( 263942 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @07:11PM (#6110430) Homepage
        I agree with that. I'd rather pay the tax on the gas

        That is almost certainly the point. Voters won't raise existing taxes so the way to get them to do that is to propose something they are going to like even less.

        This tax makes no sense at all, the cost of retrofitting cars with the GPS systems will be horrendous, remember that they will have to be fraud proofed GPS systems that have yet to be invented, using expensive wireless data connections that probably don't exist in much of the state. Oregon is not California, it is not big enough for state adoption to drive economies of scale.

        They will be lucky to get the meters for less than $400 per vehicle. So how long does it take to get that back in taxes? I spend about $35 buying a tank of gas every other week, or about $900 a year. That is for the state, federal tax and the cost of delivering the gas. Say the state tax is $200, that means it will be two years before I pay them the cost of the stupid meter.

        When politicians propose something that does not add up they have a hidden agenda. The trick is you give them a choice between your preferred policy and eating broken glass. So Clinton gave the country a choice between tax cuts and 'saving social security' guess who won? The Bush plan is to give the country a choice between continuing deficits and eliminating social security.

        People don't like paying taxes, but see what happens if they are told the consequences. We keep being told that the voters are not going to allow the Bush tax cuts to be repealled, lets see what happens when the Baby Boomers are living off social security. The inheritance taxes will be back sooner than you can say 'Enron' - BTW isn't it nice to see Martha Stewart taking the rap for the Enron mess?

        So tell your SUV driver that they have a choice of a new tax plus a spy in the cab reporting their movements to John Ashcroft and slightly higher rates for an existing tax and you will get the answer higher taxes. Ask them the question higher taxes or crappy roads and they will say 'oh I'll take the crappy roads so I can use my four wheel drive'.

    • by Alan Cox ( 27532 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:19PM (#6108692) Homepage
      Its ludicrous for a different reason. A tax on fuel punishes the people who burn it all, a tax on distance is an invitation to people to generate more pollution.

      • Exactly. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sulli ( 195030 ) * on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:25PM (#6108776) Journal
        The GPS scheme, in addition to being a massive affront to the privacy of every Oregonian, is a big sloppy blowjob for SUV owners who burn vastly more gallons-per-mile than do users of small cars. It does provide an incentive to reduce traffic, but a gas tax does that as well, and more simply.

        This needs to be defeated, soundly.

        • Re:Exactly. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by jdray ( 645332 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:59PM (#6109205) Homepage Journal
          As a resident of Portland, Oregon, I suspect that it will be defeated. We tend to be progressive here, but not idiotic (as a trend, not a rule).

          Even though I drive a full-sized Chevy pickup that (unfortunately) drinks pretty heavily at the pump, I'd vote for a higher gas tax if its needed. I think that people who drive heavy, inefficient vehicles, which are most detrimental to roads, should pay a higher tax. Those who drive compact, fuel-efficient cars should be rewarded, not only for their lessened impact on the environment but their reduced impact on the road infrastructure.
    • by nightwing2000 ( 539158 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:34PM (#6108916)
      Why? If you want to collect taxes based on miles driven, do the "odometer reading at license renewal" thing. Better yet, pick a substance like say, gasoline, that is roughly proportional to distnace driven and tax it. Wow! Why use a techincal solution when a simple one works? "We don't want to raise gasoline taxes by 2 cents - the voters might get angry! No,wait, let's make them all install $100 devices with a $100 install fee and annual certification fee instead!" What happens if the power to the device dies? Would a simple blown fuse or snipped wire save you hundreds of dollars? (What about out-of-state drivers?) Will it be a criminal charge to be driving with a blown accessories fuse? Will my pocket GPS scrambler save me hundreds of dollars? Maybe that'll be an add-on feature of new radar detectors... Will the petroleum consumption police require you to fill out a form if you fail to use your car in any 3-month period, certifying that you did in fact park it? Better yet, would the GPS prove you were driving on municipal roads so Oregon has to share these revenues with the appropriate city and county governments? Can I open a shortcut across my property and get a state subsidy for it? My driveway needs repaving... maybe I can set up GPS braodcast simulator that tells any nearby vehicles they drove on my private road. Truly a "Galactically stupid" idea.
    • by luzrek ( 570886 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:37PM (#6108954) Journal
      On top of all that you said, the suposed reason for gas taxes is to support the highway infrastructure. Road use is just about proportional to the fourth power of a vehicle's axle weight. This means that my wife's 240DL, which weights about 2500 lbs and has two axles, is doing about 1/167th the damage as a 9000lb. Expedition or other monstrous vehicle. That is a huge subsidy to the SUV owner. SUVs are already getting a subsidy under the gas tax system, because they burn about 3 times as much fuel as a smaller car, but weight much more.

      point is, if they go with a milage based system, the darn well better take vehicle weight into consideration.

    • by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:39PM (#6108969)
      "Then the pump will have to be changed so that it will give the user a different price depending on if he has a device or not."

      That's a bit easier in Oregon than you might think. Oregon gas stations are all full service. You do not pump your own gas there. Anywhere in the whole State.
    • by antis0c ( 133550 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @05:36PM (#6109572)
      But they don't get a bill every month. If you read the whole article, the "tax" is charged electronically whenever you fill up. So if I drived 100 miles, then stop at a gas station, the car transmits the distance since my last fillup to the gas terminal, and that adds to tax to my gas charge.

      I think the whole idea is still insane too. First off to enforce something like that, you'd have to manufacture those devices for what, a million cars? Then you'd have to make sure they were included in all new cars, not to mention tamper proofing, etc. THEN they'd have to have the reading devices installed into all of the gas stations.

      I'd also like to know what they plan to do on non-state roads? Yes they do exist, if I own a 20 acre farm, and I drive my truck around it all day, I'm not driving on state roads, but I'd still be taxed for it. Sure, I would have still paid a tax for the gas itself, but who's to say it's not more than before?

      It just, I don't know I'm not city planner or anything, but the whole idea just doesn't seem like it's going to make a difference in the amount of tax revenue the state will get. When you consider the cost of putting the system in place, the cost of enforcing it, the public outcry when everyone and their mother has to take their car in to get a device installed. Then you weigh in they'd either have to allow people from outside of the state purchase non-taxed gas, or have two different rates for gas at the gas station, you end up confusing the consumer and causing even more public outcry about the system.

      Okay, so sure, maybe after 20 years the system would actually pay off. Let me ask you this, in 20 years do we still want to having gasoline cars as the primary mode of transportation? What about these hydrogen cars GM is promising, and electric cars and hybrid cars. What if in 4 years I can actually drive a car powered completely off of hydrogen I make in my garage? How are they going to tax me then? And enforce it?

      Then as they point out, what if the system is wrong? What if it breaks and suddenly I get a 5,000 dollar charge? Granted, that's probably more rare, it's the smaller inconsistancies that scare me the most. What if charges incorrectly every 3rd time, by 20 cents. I wouldn't realize that. Even if it did tell me how many miles it was taxing me for. I'd have to stop and think "Did I really drive that much?" instead of just looking at how much gas I purchased.

      Then yes, the whole privacy issues. Sure, their intentions seem pretty good right now, but the path to hell is paved in Gold, or whatever that saying is. I'm sure if a system like that was in place, after 5, maybe 10 years, someone decides, "let's flip a switch so we can start tracking people." What if I live on the border, and device to go to the next state over to fill my gas all the time. Does the state really know down to the meter where it's border is around the entire state using GPS?

      This really sounds like a nightmare to me and I'm pretty sure that the test run will fail misteribly, and if it doesn't, the production run of it most definitely will. And whoever attempts to promote, or sign that into law, can kiss their political career goodbye.
  • This is Crap (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mgrassi99 ( 514152 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:16PM (#6108638)
    I'd never want to "be tracked" by anyone when I drive. When do they start sending me speeding tickets because I travelled too many miles in too short a time??
    • When do they start sending me speeding tickets because I travelled too many miles in too short a time??

      If you travelled too many miles in too short a time then you have been speeding so shouldn't you get a ticket? A GPS tracking system makes it easy to get caught for speeding but you're still breaking the law so what are you complaining about?
      • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:33PM (#6108895) Homepage Journal
        The who reason the public puts up with the current system, particularly the often ridiculously low posted speed limits is because the limits are selectively enforced. If you run 10-15 miles over on any stretch of road, you're usually the slowest vehicle on the road. If every person who was speeding got a ticket for it, the public revolt against the system would take about 14 minutes. The reasons municipalities haven't implemented non-arbitrary ticketing is because they know that they'll be killing the goose that laid the golden egg if they did. Most counties/states aren't allowed to raise taxes without public referendums which never pass, so the only way they can make ends meet is with ticket revenue.

        So to review: Traffic Tickets are a selectively enforced tax which will die if they're enforced uniformly against the entire population.

      • Re:This is Crap (Score:3, Informative)

        by pizen ( 178182 )
        A GPS tracking system makes it easy to get caught for speeding but you're still breaking the law so what are you complaining about?

        Except GPS is far too inaccurate for this. Say I'm driving on a stacked road (surface street underneath an expressway) how will it know where I am so it can know which speed limit I should be observing. I'd hate to get a ticket for driving 55 on a different plane above a 25.
    • by dcavanaugh ( 248349 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:24PM (#6108758) Homepage
      • Speeding: $50 surcharge
      • Driving in high-traffic area: $1/mi. surcharge
      • Driving during "peak" hours: $1/mi. surcharge
      • Parking: $2/hr. surcharge (varies by location)

      The look on driver's face when whacked with insurance surcharges for all of the above: Priceless

  • annual inspections (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kilonad ( 157396 ) * on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:18PM (#6108663)
    Why not just record the odometer reading during the annual inspection, compare it to last year's reading, and charge accordingly? No violations of privacy and it's a HELL of a lot cheaper than installing GPS in hundreds of thousands of automobiles or retrofitting yet another odometer.
    • What inspections?

      Not all states have mandatory annual inspections. I'm not sure of Oregon has them, but I know that Idaho didn't when I was living there.
    • by krisp ( 59093 ) * on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:21PM (#6108716) Homepage
      Because this tax is for Oregon only. You can't tell by looking at the odometer if the driver left the state for six weeks on a cross-country journey.
    • Too easy to cheat (Score:3, Insightful)

      by truthsearch ( 249536 )
      It's far too easy to change an odometer reading to rely on this. Odometers are changed all the time when selling used cars. It's not legal, but for a mechanic it's trivial to remove the panel and change it. Also, like others have said, not all states have inspections, or at least not annual.
    • Won't work because there's no way of verifying how many of the miles were driven on Oregon roads and are thus taxable miles.

      And, of course, the solutions proposed in the article don't cover out-of-state drivers.

      All in all, I'd say the folks in Oregon need to go back to the drawing board and try to find a plan that works.

    • Not all states have inspections. I live in Michigan, and outside of a couple of counties (around Detroit) there are NO inspections of any type. As long as you pay for your license tag renewal and keep your insurance paid up, you can drive any damn thing that still moves.

      You can tell we don't have emissions inspections; just ride a bike a few km down the road and see how you like breathing what's coming out the back of some of these vehicles. GAAHH!
    • That idea is BS too.

      What if I live in Portland, Oregon and spend most of my time driving around Vancouver, Washington?(or any part of Washington, for that matter!)

      Should I pay Oregon gas tax on the miles I drive in my car, when I didn't drive the car in Oregon?!
    • Why not just record the odometer reading during the annual inspection, compare it to last year's reading, and charge accordingly?

      Because it's relatively simple to disconnect the odometer without any evidence of tampering. This usually has the side-effect of not having a speedometer either, but I wouldn't put it past the real offenders to do it.

      I'm more in line with most of the other posts. Tax the gasoline consumption only. It provides incentive to purchase more fuel-efficient cars, makes the "hungri

    • It's of no concern of the fine state of Oregon if I drive my car to Florida and back. They cannot charge me an insane tax rate because I felt like taking the fam. to see Disney World in my 30' land yacht.

      If we say yes to this we say yes to Stalinism.
  • by Demon-Xanth ( 100910 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:18PM (#6108675)
    I'd gladly mount the thing inside of a cast-iron safe with an extra layer of Mu-metal to make sure it's safe from any "damage" or "tampering".
  • The problem with an odometer soln is what if I live on the border and drive a lot in say, California. I shouldn't be taxed for that?? Also for the GPS based soln, that is going to be quite costly.
  • Environment (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cmjensen ( 30043 ) * <> on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:19PM (#6108685)
    Taxing miles driven? Heck no! Tax the gas used so that a person who drives a fuel efficient hybrid gets an INCENTIVE versus folks (like me) who drive gas guzzling Suburbans.
  • Out of state drivers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by krisp ( 59093 ) * on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:19PM (#6108694) Homepage
    So what happens when someone from northern california, who is not GPS equipped, routienly crosses the boarder to get gas for 20-30 cents cheaper? This seems like it could be a large problem if neighboring states don't implement a similar system as well.
  • I got an idea ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SuperDuG ( 134989 ) <`be' `at' `'> on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:20PM (#6108699) Homepage Journal
    Drop the "gas tax".

    It's already expensive enough and this will do nothing more than just piss off state residents. Every state is in financial dire straits right now and every state is trying to come up with lame brain ideas on how to keep the beloved status-quo safe.

    Time to tighten the belts and do what everyone else on the face of the earth does when the money is less than the year before. Time for cuts in either pay or in the entire employment pool itself. No one is garunteed job security, so why does uncle sam try so damned hard to never fire anyone? Ohhh yeah I forgot ... uncle sam is the only stupid employer to still over pention plans.

    Lay um off, change hiring practices, or whatever just quit trying to raise my damned taxes.

    • by chundo ( 587998 )
      Absolutely agree! Giving our government proper funding is bad for the economy! Cutting budgets to all public programs promotes Jobs and Growth(tm)!

    • No one is garunteed [sic] job security, so why does uncle sam [sic] try so damned hard to never fire anyone? Ohhh [sic] yeah I forgot ... [sic] uncle sam [sic] is the only stupid employer to still over [sic] pention [sic] plans.

      Lay um [sic] off, change hiring practices, or whatever just quit trying to raise my damned taxes.

      I think your post proves that we need to raise taxes so we can afford better education...

    • Time for cuts in either pay or in the entire employment pool itself.

      Resulting in corrosive deflation....

      No one is garunteed job security, so why does uncle sam try so damned hard to never fire anyone?

      Most likely because they'll still be paying them if they lay them off -- via the unemployment line.

      uncle sam is the only stupid employer to still over pention plans.

      Bear in mind that we're talking state taxes and not federal. We should see, instead, if Oregon has an employee pension plan.

    • sigh...

      I'm honestly having to think hard to post a response that doesn't sound offensive, but your post really angers me.

      Don't like taxes? Fine. Then you should be active in the political arena, and make it happen. Prepare a budget plan where you cut employment and public road maintenance, except for the interstate, the federal goverment pays those. No public schools, because no one will want to become a teacher with the salary you're willing to pay. Increased crime with the cutting o

  • Rube Goldberg (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rot26 ( 240034 ) * on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:20PM (#6108705) Homepage Journal
    Well, as I commented at 9am when I submitted this story myself (which was rejected) the only FAIR way to do this is to take the mileage calculated by GPS, then multiply by a surcharge based on the EPA estimated fuel economy of the vehicle it's registered to, and calculate the gallons of fuel used. Which gets you EXACTLY back to just adding a per-gallon tax in the first place. How farging stupid IS this idea anyway?
    • How farging stupid IS this idea anyway?

      A more interesting question is, "How stupid are the taxpayers?" It'll be interesting to see if this gets approved.

  • by doublem ( 118724 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:21PM (#6108711) Homepage Journal
    You WILL get speeding tickets once this system has been 100% deployed.

    You WILL face severe jail time for tampering with such devices.

    There WILL be mischarges. Some people will be charged for fewer miles than they drove, some for more.

    Challenging the "system" will result in being charged with Odometer tampering, as it will be your only evidence against the charges.

    Of course, all this assumes they can manage to get all the cars in the state fitted with these devices.

    Something tells me the voters of Oregon will be less than happy, and anyone running on a "Stop tracking where I drive" platform will get elected in a landslide.

    This whole thing is either political suicide for the people responsible, or a bait and switch so the voters swallow a tax hike without complaining.
  • With another bird-brained idea. Aren't you guys sick and tired of the government sticking their hands farther and farther down your wallet? Do you actually believe Uncle Sam really puts your money into good efficient use? $600 toilets by the DoD. Hello?

    Besides, getting taxed on gasoline usage is as fair as it gets. Why would anyone then want to change that up for something that's gonna cost us dearly in terms of dollars and privacy?

    This plan is akin to promoting ship travel when there are cheaper, fa
  • Stupid. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by afidel ( 530433 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:22PM (#6108734)
    So instead of using the cheap and efficient method of taxing based on usage by taxing the gas they want every citizen to buy an expensive electronics device which is prone to failure, then put up all the additional collection devices?? WTF for? And besides they will then miss revenue from everyone who travels through the state who is not a resident, or will you get one of these GPS units at the state border and have to turn it in when you leave the state? Overall it sounds like stupid solutions to a non-problem. I can only think that they have alterior motives and wish to implement something big brotherish like England has in London. the British have already admitted to using the city center camera network to nab criminals.
  • by jandrese ( 485 ) *
    They claim they don't want to measure the Odometer because it could measure miles you've driven out of state. But they don't want to install these things on every vehicle in the US, so they're not going to be taxing out-of-state drivers for using the roads. It seems to me that if you just tax the odometer, it would even out.

    What's even crazier is that they don't want to tax gas anymore because efficent vehicles end up paying less tax. Don't those little Toyota Priuses tend to tear up the roads less tha
  • They say the problem is that as vehicles become more fuel-efficient, the amount of money raised by taxing fuel goes down, rather than going up as population rises and more cars hit the road. So now they're going to lower the gas tax, meaning that the less fuel-efficient vehicles will get a break. The taxes will be based solely on mileage, not on the amount of fuel consumed. This effectively penalizes those with efficient cars, which also tend to be lighter cars, and rewards those with heavy gas guzzlers, who spend more gallons per mile and do more damage to the road in the process. Older, heavier, less-efficient vehicles also tend to leak more oil, further contributing to road damage.

    If you want to reduce emissions and raise tax income, you're simply going to have to raise gas taxes. Tracking drivers like this is not only a potential invasion of privacy (there are other situations in which an odometer reading is significant) but also not infallible, especially if you use the odometer method. It's not like someone isn't going to figure out how to cheat the damn odometer.

  • Weird (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tomakaan ( 673394 )
    Does anyone else find it kind of creepy that, as of late, there have been more new and expanded ideas on tracking vehicle travels? (UK Police Expand License Plate Camera Systems [])
  • is that the person who can afford to drive a huge gas-guzzling SUV pays more than someone drivig a Honda Insight. If this results in no or lower gas taxes, people might feel more inclined to buy a gas-swilling monster. At least with gas taxes you pay for what you use, and if you go outside of the state you're just as likely t ofil up outside of the state, which is only fair anyway.
  • Brilliant! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Struct ( 660658 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:24PM (#6108757)
    What an awesome way to build up unanimous support for a tax hike, eh? Man, a few more stories about this and everybody'll be begging to pay more gas tax. Reminds me of when I was a kid and my dad would tell me to stop crying unless I wanted something to really cry about.
  • If they would open up the source to the GPS tabulator, privacy concerns could be eliminated.
  • Have they ever thought of trying to maintain their roads more efficiently, therefore eliminating the need for higher taxes?

    And have they ever considered the obvious unpopularity of this proposal? People don't want to increase the gas tax for a reason. They're not going to be any more generous about accepting this.

    The people who do this are not going to be re-elected -- and deservedly so.

  • by saikou ( 211301 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:25PM (#6108771) Homepage
    I can see the spam headlines already :)
    "This super-absorbant shielding will shield you from those harmful radiowaves, emitted by the super-GPS tracker in your new Oregonian car! Easy to install and saves you gas money! Easy to remove for the state inspection." :)
  • admit that they have already implanted the tracking devices into our skulls, so that they already know where we are, what we're thinking and when we're spending too much time staring at the livestock, all of these "privacy" concerns would be eliminated.
  • Don't they have annual required safety inspections? Just make the fee depend, in part, on the number of miles on the odometer and make it illegal to tamper with an odometer.
  • I am 100% sure that someone would in short order find a way around this. The only people who would suffer in the end would be...

    I don't know. The taxpayers? The terrorists? The CHILDREN?

    Overly complex systems allow people who are willing to properly milk them to do just that, and the more complex they are, the harder the milking is to catch/prevent. Consider the US income tax system an a prime example.
  • This is freaking stupid! Our high school school-year is getting so short that someone graduating won't be considered a high school graduate by the federal government! We are first in the nation in hunger, and salem wants to put BBBs (big brother boxes, natch:) in my car? Put some food in people's mouths and get them jobs first. sheesh.
  • 1. Tax the sin to reduce it (seemingly good public policy).
    2. Frequency of sinning goes down due to cost of sin tax.
    3. Sin tax revenue thereby goes down.
    4. Gov't decides it liked the sin-money.
    5. Gov't thinks of new, crazy ways to tax us.
    6. Gov't profits.

    Moral? Keep on sinning. Protect yourself. If you quit smoking cigarettes, then they'll want to tax your water to make up for the lost tobacco-tax revenue.
  • This is totally ridiculous and stupid. The best system is already in place: a GAS TAX. With this, people pay for the quantity of gas they use, and therefore proportionnally to the pollution they cause. But the kicker is that it is as simple as collecting so much money for each liter of gas sold. The collection infrastructure is already there and working. No need to add another bureaucracy.
  • A more important reason is that GPS, which can monitor exactly where a car goes within the state and at what times, eventually could be used to implement different tax rates, according to Whitty.

    Just what we all need... Big Brother monitoring our precise movements, day and night, in order to determine how much tax we should pay. Gee, do you think that the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, et al. would access that information? Naw... those guys wouldn't violate our privacy unless it was absolute

  • by 73939133 ( 676561 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:28PM (#6108824)
    If you want a gas tax, why not just tax the gas? That has the additional benefit of taxing people more who drive less efficient vehicles. If Oregon wants to impose additional taxes on gas guzzlers, they can do that by a premium on the vehicle tax. And if they want to give certain classes of vehicles a tax break on gas, they can do that via gas deductions (keep the receipts, submit them).

    The traditional solution has simply been to raise the [gas] tax rate, but that approach is always unpopular with voters.

    Well, and do they suppose voters are going to be overjoyed by not only being charged lots of taxes for driving, but also to have their every move tracked by GPS? The money comes out of their wallet either way.
  • Oregon is (IMHO) one of the prettiest states in the country. It's really too bad they're legally quite so RETAR^W "special."

    (and I thought not being allowed to pump my own gas was bad...)

  • It's a great idea. Those with more fuel-efficient cars, which pollute less and damage the roads less pay less. Those that want to live the "high on the hog" life style, using large, inefficient engines in huge, heavy vehicles pay more.

    The more you abuse the roads and the ecosystem, the more you pay. I really don't see anything wrong with it. In fact, I'd rather see the gasoline tax raised to at least $2 per gallon. THEN we'd see American car companies bring their motors out of the 1960's, techno
  • by American AC in Paris ( 230456 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:31PM (#6108872) Homepage
    On one hand: a mileage tax would be more fair than a gas tax in some ways, as gas can be used for things like lawn mowers, which don't use roads. Additionally, vehicles get varying miles per gallon, making gas guzzlers pay higher rates per mile than economy cars.

    On the other hand: heavier vehicles tend to both use more gas and cause more wear and tear on roads than lighter vehicles. Thus, a by-mile tax unfairly charges lighter/more efficient vehicles for usage. It can also be argued that programs to counter the collateral effects of burning gas (for example, clean-air initiatives) need a source of funding, for which the gas tax is a good model.

    The cynic in me thinks this is popular because of SUVs, and while the plan has it's merits, it is an irresponsible step towards reversing years of progress made in encouraging people to buy less polluting, more efficient vehicles.

  • We have a GPS-based system [] for Trucks here in Switzerland.

  • I can see why politicans want to try this instead of a gas tax. Oregon is a terribly populist state--we'd vote ourselves into homelessness if there needed to be a house tax. High tax bills just never get passed here, especially on the local level.

    Still, this plan is prohibitively expensive in a state that can't feed & school itself. Not to mention how easy it would to hack those boxes or just turn them off. I would have thought they'd start up toll roads instead of some contrived tracking scheme.
  • by Kirby ( 19886 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:32PM (#6108884) Homepage
    If it's just a straight mileage tax, it's pretty dumb. It's just like the gas tax, but as the article points out, without the incentives to have a fuel efficient car.

    To make any sense at all, they'll have to acknowledge that Portland Transportation is VASTLY different than the rest of the state, particularly outside the Willamette Valley. Portland is a city, and has public transportation (not a great system, but it's at least there.) People have alternatives. And it's got a complex city road system.

    The rest of the state is mostly rural, with long highway stretches that aren't nearly as expensive to maintain. There aren't bus alternatives most places. Driving 10 miles a day in Baker City is incomparable to driving 10 miles a day in Portland, in terms of impact on the roads.

    They allude in the article of having the ability to tell where you are, so charge more for being part of the downtown rush hour vs. on a logging road that sees 10 cars per day. If they use it, they can possibly have the semblance of a fair system. If not, it's business as usual, where the rest of the state pays for things that mostly benefit Portland.

    (I grew up in Corvallis. There's real traffic during home OSU games, for the 4th of July fireworks, and when the Jehovah's Witness convention is in town. That's it. And that's the 4th largest city in the State.)

    Oregon's in such a financial free-fall right now, though, that anyone that can come through with a way to generate revenue, quickly, will get seriously listened to. So, I wouldn't be surprised to see a badly written new tax fly through without being scrutinzed.
  • by gtrotsky ( 573716 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:33PM (#6108893)
    It's ridiculous to tax the number of miles traveled and not the amount of gas consumed. It's the gas that causes the environmental damage and the huge cost to society. If a massive SUV which guzzles gas and a small fuel efficient car traveled the same distance they would be taxed equally, basically penalizing the person who bought the more environmentally friendly car! This is definitely a bad idea because the idea of a gas tax is to curb excessive gas consumption.
  • Wouldn't this only tax the residents of the state rather than everyone else who travels through the state enjoying our tax free gas? This is a silly control freak answer that would only cost the residents of the state more money. Unless we charge a toll for all of the out of state drivers coming travelling thru the state. Maybe even make them rent the GPS unit. Other questions would be who else would get to see the data gathered from the GPS system? Your insurance company? Too many holes in this system, I
  • GPS Sheild (Score:5, Funny)

    by dfn5 ( 524972 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:34PM (#6108911) Journal
    Just make an aluminum-foil hat for your car. Seems easy enough to me. :-)
  • Wrong idea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:35PM (#6108923)
    Tracking miles driven by cars isn't the right solution to calculate gas consumption taxes. Assuming privacy rights can be trampled on freely, the right solution for that is having a little transmitter in the car that is read when the car comes to a gas station to refuel, the gas pump logging the amount of gas delivered for each car. That penalizes SUV users and heavy drivers, and gives a break to low-consumption cars and people who don't drive much.

    Tracking miles driven by cars is really a solution to figure out road maintenance taxes. For an overall taxe rate per car, the standard odometer can be logged by mechanics at the yearly car checkup and reported to the authorities. No need for exensive computer equipment to do that, just a law to force mechanics to report their findings. If the state wants a better granularity, like who uses the best roads and how much (to know which roads require more maintaining, and to tax users of good roads more), then I guess an onboard GPS would be useful. Otherwise, I reckon it'd be overkill.
  • by rossz ( 67331 ) <ogre@geekbiker.nFORTRANet minus language> on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:45PM (#6109049) Homepage Journal
    The people of Oregon, in their infinite wisdom, have repeatedly rejected a gas tax increase. The government tries various methods to get around this rejection.

    Let's put it another way. The people have decided the government already has enough money and refuse to give them more. The government thinking up new and innovative ways to screw citizens out of their hard earned money ignores the basic fact that they were already told no.

    No means no, damn it!

    Make sure taxes collected for a specific reason are spent for that reason and not put into the general fund. I bet the gasoline tax was implemented to provide the funds to maintain the roads and highways. How much is collected? How much is actually spent on road maintanence? Ask your elected officials to account for the missing money.
    • by theghost ( 156240 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @05:05PM (#6109272)
      I agree that this is a stupid idea, but looking at it from the other side...

      The government of Oregon has told people that they need more money to pay for public services such as upkeep on roads. They repeatedly offered a fair and balanced gas tax to help make up the difference, but the greedy, short-sighted, freeloading citizens rejected it and yet continued to complain about the state of the roads and other services. This forced the government to come up with crazy, lame-brained schemes that would serve the same purpose in an obfuscated way.

      Taxes are what we pay for public service. Don't complain about the lack of services and cheer the tax cuts. (Unless you sincerely believe the money is being spent inefficiently, in which case you have a whole other problem.)
  • by tbmaddux ( 145207 ) * on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:51PM (#6109111) Homepage Journal
    From the original article:
    However, the tax rate hasn't changed since 1991, and the more fuel-efficient cars on the highways are sucking down far less fuel.
    This is false. The yearly average of the fuel economy of all vehicles purchased each year has declined since 1988, according to the EPA. [] While both cars and trucks have gotten faster, heavier, and more powerful since 1986 the average mpg of cars has remained around 24mpg and the average mpg of trucks has remained around 18mpg. Since Americans (and presumably Oregonians) have purchased increasing fractions of light trucks every year and decreasing fractions of cars, the overall average has declined. Any fool can see this from looking at the huge vehicles on the road now compared to the mid-80s. Doesn't anyone remember the song about getting in a wreck in a Japanese car?

    Furthermore, removing the gas tax will lower the price of gas, which will encourage more consumption. Which means more trucks and further reductions in average efficiency of vehicles purchased each year. Trucks are heavier, and create more wear per mile driven on the roads when compared to lighter, more fuel-efficient cars.

    Why would you create an incentive for people to drive more in heavier vehicles if you are having problems keeping roads repaired? It just makes no sense.

  • It seems to me that the GPS idea is part of Oregon government corruption. The idea cannot work for the reasons mentioned at the end of this article: Airplanes are safe, but laws often crash. [] Why are they proposing something that cannot work? Probably someone is using the idea to make money.

    For more about problems in the government of Oregon, see this: Complicated methods corrupt Oregon government. [] Basically, people who want to use government to make money have found the perfect way to prevent negative court judgements: The Judiciary in Oregon is not allowed enough money to do its job. Try calling the Oregon Court of Appeals in Oregon on any Friday and you will find that they are closed because they don't have enough money to stay open 5 days a week. With a limited Judiciary, those who want corruption can accomplish almost anything.

    The corruption uses other methods, some of which are mentioned in the articles.
  • by MerlynEmrys67 ( 583469 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2003 @04:56PM (#6109176)
    This is the state that at one time had the highest gas prices in the country. They wouldn't admit to having high gas taxes (I don't know what they are, but gas sure is cheaper across the border in Washington) and assume that the cost to have someone pump your gas is 0.00.

    Yes it is illegal in Oregon for the average consumer to pump their own gas, because they might spill a little as opposed to the highly trained pumping engineer that you meet at your gas station every fillup (who loves spilling gas down the side of my car)

    Lets see, adding custom hardware into my car (500 dollars) adding a reading mechanism to each pump (500 dollars). Ammount that I pay in gas taxes every year (10K miles, 50/MPG, 200 gallons) probably about $70. So it will take about 10 years for them to even break even (or maybe worse, make me pay for the upfront costs through higher car/gas prices)

At work, the authority of a person is inversely proportional to the number of pens that person is carrying.