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California Wants GPS Tracking Device in Every Car 1351

HTS Member writes "California has a new excuse for more taxes. Claiming losses due to fuel-efficient cars, such as Gasoline/Electric Hybrids, California is cooking-up a new system to punish people who aren't using enough gasoline. They want to tax commuters by the mile. How would this be accomplished? By requiring everyone to install a GPS device in their vehicle, and charge them their "taxes" every time they fuel-up. From the article: 'Drivers will get charged for how many miles they use the roads, and it's as simple as that.. [a] team at Oregon State University equipped a test car with a global positioning device to keep track of its mileage. Eventually, every car would need one.'"
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California Wants GPS Tracking Device in Every Car

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  • Patriot Act (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BWJones ( 18351 ) * on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:49PM (#11681212) Homepage Journal
    They want to tax commuters by the mile. How would this be accomplished? By requiring everyone to install a GPS device in their vehicle,

    I am hardly a tin foil hat wearing type but, the problem with this is that like every other means to create databases that track/document individuals or groups, they will eventually end up being mined for data that will likely violate your right to privacy. Just remember, Bush is pushing for the Patriot Act again and databases like this will simply be folded into devices like the Patriot Act.

    As an aside: gawd, I hate their use of "patriot" that way, does anybody know the etymology of the word "patriot" with respect to this legislation? Whose idea was it to use "patriot" and why? It seems like the worst/most transparent type of label possible for such a group of laws that seek to strip away personal freedoms and rights to privacy.

  • Annual Inspection (Score:3, Insightful)

    by degraeve ( 780907 ) * on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:50PM (#11681233) Homepage
    Why not just read the mileage once a year when you get your car inspected and base the taxes off that?
  • That's not a tax. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Red Rocket ( 473003 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:51PM (#11681260)

    That's a user fee.
    Pay-per-mile highways.
  • by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:52PM (#11681272)
    Claiming losses due to fuel-efficient cars, such as Gasoline/Electric Hybrids,

    After decades of pushing for more fuel efficient cars, now they want to punish you for owning them.

    And the next logical step will have to be requiring drivers to have them just to drive in from out of state.

    Then the Federal government will have to standardize the units so that Oregon units cross-operate with California units.

    Followed by insurance companies using them to determine not only how much you drive now (which is often done by the odometer), but do you drive in more dangerous areas, and hence should be charged more.

    It will never end, except the the consumer will pay and pay and pay for something they never wanted in the first place!

  • by def ( 87618 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:53PM (#11681283) Homepage
    I suspect they only want to tax your use of california roads, not any road you drive on.
  • by MicroBerto ( 91055 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:54PM (#11681302)
    I think this has already been mentioned here, but here's my solution:

    Don't live in California.

    This is going to do so much damage to costs in business (think of anything that delivers). Why would I want to start my business in Cali when I can be far more successful in other states? I personally won't support it.

    It's also hypocritical. It punishes success.

  • by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:55PM (#11681319)
    I'd really like if said tax helped lower the price of gas.

    You are dreaming, or smoking.

    Governments do not lower taxes once they have established them.

    You will have a Gas Tax and a mileage tax.

  • Obviously (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blackmonday ( 607916 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:55PM (#11681338) Homepage
    This is just stupid. What if you own a large ranch and drive around in it, not on public roads? What if you drive on (private) toll road freeways, like the one we have in Southern California? What about the people who will obviously find a hack for the system? What if you pick up your gas in a large plastic tank and avoid paying fees? This is ridiculous, and whoever thought this up should face electoral consequences.

  • by reporter ( 666905 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:56PM (#11681343) Homepage
    Installing a GPS tracking device in each vehicle is a sure violation of privacy. That device could be used to monitor where, not just how far, each person travels.

    A much better way to handle this problem is to simply track the number of miles that each vehicle is driven, from the moment that the vehicle has Californian license plates. California already has a system for mandatory smog checks. The technicians at the smog station transmit the results of the smog checks directly to the state computer system.

    The technicians could also tranmit the odometer reading as well. Then, the state government could simply determine the number of miles that you have driven the car since the last smog check and could then send you a bill for the use of Californian roads.

  • Yeah - that's fair (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ripetersen ( 526485 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:56PM (#11681345) Homepage
    So both my Ford Focus and Giant Urban Assault Vehicle get to pay the same tax, sure the UAV uses more gas, and tears up the road more, but if we both put 50 miles on the cars, then we both get taxed the same.
  • by |/|/||| ( 179020 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:56PM (#11681349)
    Yeah, but how do they know you were driving in state? How do they know you weren't doing laps around your own property?

    That said, this is total bullshit. The day somebody wants to put a tracking device in my car is the day I buy a pistol.

  • Ultra-hypocritical (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StateOfTheUnion ( 762194 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:56PM (#11681353) Homepage
    So the same government that is mandating zero emission and reduced emission car sales is now trying to take away the consumer incentive for high efficiency vehicles? This is blatantly hypocritical . . .

    I would be in favor of jacking up the gasoline tax instead. This would put more pressure on the enviromental offenders that drive SUV's and other inefficient vehicles. Afraid that this will punish businesses? Give them a tax credit or tax rebate for business vehicles that are legitimately needed for the business.

  • Re:Great idea! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TykeClone ( 668449 ) * <> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:57PM (#11681371) Homepage Journal
    Silly poster - the gas tax won't go away, this is just a bonus tax!
  • Re:Great idea! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FatRatBastard ( 7583 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:58PM (#11681392) Homepage
    RIIIIIIGHT. This is gov't we're talking about. Assuming and idea like this actually makes it into law I would bet a lot of money that it will be in addition to gasoline tax.

    Something smells awfully fishy about the story anyway. If more and more people are moving to higher gas mileage cars (doubtful since the environmentalists have been screaming blue murder that average gas mileage in cars is decreasing as of late) then the simple solution would be to increase the gasoline tax. There has to be another angle.
  • by EnronHaliburton2004 ( 815366 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:58PM (#11681396) Homepage Journal
    This article smells of Sensationalism. Note the lack of detail in the article.

    Officials in car-clogged California are so worried they may be considering a replacement for the gas tax altogethe

    Who are these "Officials"? The Governor of California? A low-level bereaucrat? There are plenty of low-level bereaucrat in sector 7-G who consider ideas which never really materialize.

    Changing the tax structure at this level in California or Oregon would require some approval by the State sentate and legistlature.

    Smells of sensationalism ...
  • by anonicon ( 215837 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:59PM (#11681406)
    You're new around here, aren't you? ;-)

    Actually, given state governments' needs for more funds since federal funding is drying up, I wouldn't be surprised if California wanted to tax people on every mile they drove, then make its residents *prove* they didn't drive those miles in California.

  • Prius vs. Yukon (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:01PM (#11681438) Homepage Journal
    So a tiny, lightweight, low-torque Prius should pay the same taxes as a huge, heavy, high-torque Yukon - even though its lower weight and acceleration forces impart much less wear on the road surface? If so, then what's the point of paying extra for a high-efficiency vehicle?

    That's just great. I think state senators need to have "REMEMBER THE LAW OF UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES" tattooed onto their butts.

  • by eseiat ( 650560 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:05PM (#11681517) Homepage
    After decades of pushing for more fuel efficient cars, now they want to punish you for owning them.

    This is my sentiment exactly. Progress is really just starting to be made on a large scale with fuel efficient and eco-friendly vehicles and now the state who has the largest group spear-heading the whole movement wants to essentially put a halt to the entire thing. I am so baffled by this idea and its ludicrious assertions on so many levels. Not only are they attempting to curb a movement that is attempting to save the environment but they are also advocating invasion of privacy and the entire premise behind the "open roadways" initiatives of the 60's which built up all the damn freeways in the first place.

  • By the way, rather than a GPS unit on every car, why not just institute a smart toll system instead?

    And would you have to have such a system to be allowed to enter California via vehicle? Illinios and various other states at least just toll you at toll booths as you use the highways, regardless of where you're from or what equipment you have. It's annoying to have to stop every so many miles, but it works. It seems like California residents would get the shaft if out of staters were tearing up their roads with their high efficiency cars and not having to pay for it.

    And taxing people for being responsible and using less fuel, making it so everybody pays the same regardless of impact on pollution doesn't seem so smart either. It's downright evil unless the gas tax is solely for road maintenence and nothing to do with some of California's cities' smog problems.

  • by Tassach ( 137772 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:06PM (#11681543)
    The day somebody wants to put a tracking device in my car is the day I buy a pistol.
    Buy a rifle or shotgun instead. More useful, less hassle, and generally less expensive.
  • Obvious Answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wren337 ( 182018 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:09PM (#11681603) Homepage

    If revenues are falling because cars are getting more efficient, why not encourage the trend by raising the per-gallon tax? That would increase the pressure on anyone driving a hummer and make better fuel efficiency revenue-nuetral. Make it automatic, by changing it to a total dollar amount and having it calculated yearly based on the prior years gas sales.
  • by Monkelectric ( 546685 ) <slashdot@monkelectric . c om> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:10PM (#11681609)
    This is just another bullshit revenue-grab by the state. The state road fund has been pillaged to the tune of about 2 billion a year (the funds have been stolen for the general budget), then they cry wolf about needing money to improve roads?!

    The problem is California is running massive debts due to illegal immigration (costs us about 10 billion a year). BUT NOBODY WANTS TO TALK ABOUT THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM.

  • by Loco3KGT ( 141999 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:11PM (#11681636)
    Nah, it'll end in 40-50 years. Assuming we still have the 2nd amendment around to protect us.
  • Isn't part of the reason that one would tax gasoline to get lower milage cars on the road? Especially in polution ridden CA?

    They could always raise the gasoline tax more and then allow right offs for business purposes.

    Or use incom tax to add. Or do what the insurance industry does and ask what your commute is and tax you based on it, audit enough that people won't lie. It can't cost too much to verify and address and then verify a place of work. With any luck an innitiative such as that would help reverse suburban sprawl and urban decay.
  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:13PM (#11681657) Homepage Journal
    "So possibly those same roadblocks could sign off a milage log when you enter or leave the state. Purely voluntary, but it's an easy way for you to prove that you were driving X miles outside of the state."

    Well, couple this along with you new 'National ID' complete with RFID embedded in, this will be the 21st century's version of presenting your 'papers' when traveling. Let it scan your card at the borders at first as you drive, this way each state can tax you appropriatly for mileage...etc. And once we get used to that, I'm sure the checkpoints can easily be multiplies so you are scanned periodically during the day...yup, that'll catch them terrorists.

    I'm being sarcastic...but, you know...sometimes just when you think the worst can't come somehow does which some new politician gets a NEW IDEA!!

    ...usually based on a new way to suck up your tax dollars...

  • Re:Patriot Act (Score:3, Insightful)

    by |/|/||| ( 179020 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:13PM (#11681659)
    Yeah, but it would have to track your position to know when you're driving on a CA state road. I suppose you could have a black box in your car that simply recorded miles_driven_on_ca_roads as a number, but the whole idea stinks.

    Theoretically you could design the system so that it can't be abused (by the state), but you'd end up having to make it completely abusive in order to prevent loopholes. What if your black box happens to get reset on accident (regularly)? If it's checked at the gas station, what if you never fill up your car - but instead fill up gas cans and carry them over to the adjacent parking lot?

    Actually, I hope there aren't any obvious workarounds, because this is something that needs to be addressed head on. This kind of bullshit should not be tolerated.

  • Re:Why not? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Trigun ( 685027 ) <> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:13PM (#11681667)
    You are assuming that they will repeal the gas tax. Even if they do, with the additional fuel efficient cars running around, what is to keep gasoline at its current prices, or even recinding? Less demand on it? Yeah right.

    You could reduce gasoline usage until it becomes a natural byproduct of making other fuels and plastics, where they have shitloads of it sitting around, and the price will skyrocket to keep profit levels at today's standards. They'll justify the cost in storage fees, etc.

    Time to bite the pillow California, it's going in dry!
  • Re:Joy. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Politburo ( 640618 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:14PM (#11681679)
    This smacks of influence by the oil industry to hold on to its revenues while the people are moving to more efficient alternatives (hybrid cars).

    Put down the pipe.

    This is a state proposal to fund the state's transportation fund. Gas taxes pay for roads. If you aren't buying gas, you're not paying for the roads. They want to stop that. This obviously isn't the best way to do it, but to claim that the oil industry has anything to do with this is pretty far out there, since they don't stand to benefit from this proposal as it will affect all vehicles.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:15PM (#11681707)
    Road damage is approximately proportional to
    cube of weight, so all those trucks that have the
    sticker on the back saying "I pay $9999 dollars
    road tax" are often advertising that they pay LESS per damage than lighter vehicles.

    If the use tax was based on road damage I am fine
    with that. Imagine how low the tax rate would be for bicycles!

    Of course a complicating factor is that road damage is also likely to be dependent on which road is traveled and at which speed. I.e. an interstate is probably less damaged by a big truck at 60mph than a side road would be at 35mph. Sounds like the final system could be more byzantine than the IRS tax code.
  • by shaka999 ( 335100 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:16PM (#11681735)
    This is why they probably want GPS.

    I much simplier solution to just logging miles would be to just use the odometer. The problem with that is if you drive out of state or on private property then you would be paying CA taxes. The GPS would have enough information to insure you were only taxed when using public roads.

    Now, I think this is totally overkill. The odometer solution would be equivalent to the previous gas tax. Your essentially paying for how many miles you drive.

    Generally I'm all for use taxes. They are the most fair system. If you use something pay for it. The GPS solution just wreaks of big brother and is overkill for the revenue problem
  • a terrible idea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mieses ( 309946 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:17PM (#11681744)
    taxing by the mile favors the owners of inefficient cars. the gps devices can be blocked (and hybrid owners are more likely to know how to block them). this is a joke. it will never happen.

    if the state is worried about losing taxes on the hybrids, then why not raise the gas tax? Penalize the inefficient cars that cause more damage to the roads and environment instead of wasting billions on gps devices, tracking databases, and gas-station upgrades just to support inefficient gas-guzzlers.
  • by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:19PM (#11681787) Homepage
    This isn't sensationalism. It's a brain-dead reflexive babbling.

    The article poster shrieked that taxing people by the mile is "punish[ing] people who aren't using enough gasoline"? Nonsense. It's switching from a gas-use tax to a road-use tax. Those of us who save gasoline the old-fashioned way (by not driving our cars hither and yon) wouldn't be punished by it at all. And since gas taxes have traditionally been justified as being necessary for road construction/repairs, switching to a road-use tax makes a certain kind of sense. Granted, there are privacy issues and the whole "user fee" approach to taxes still deserves to be debated, but this hysterical response to the idea of changing the model by which the user fee is calculated is just silly.

  • by gothzilla ( 676407 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:21PM (#11681844)
    There are roads that are not maintained by the government, and many people drive out of state on a regular basis. Sure it would be easy to read the odometer but that also counts the miles you drove on your private property if you have it, the miles driven in the private community that maintains it's own raods, and the miles driven around Las Vegas that one weekend. GPS allows them to set up tax/no-tax zones and is really the only way (besides toll booths) to keep things fair.
  • Re:Patriot Act (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ThosLives ( 686517 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:22PM (#11681850) Journal
    Gasoline tax is already a scaling on fuel efficiency; you have a more fuel-efficient vehicle, you pay less gas tax (because you use less gas).

    What they are wanting is to increase revenue ostensibly for the purpose of road maintenance. The appropriate place to do this is vehicle registrations: road wear and tear is a function of vehicle weight generally, not how many miles you travel. My vehicle grosses about 2800lbs when I'm sitting in it; that's going to do orders of magnitude less damage to the roads than a vehicle that weighs in at only 5600 lbs (stress durability is not a linear function of load).

    Adding the burden of GPS to automotive construction isn't a great thing - but I'm guessing that over time it will happen. Hopefully the general populous of the country will use their Constitutional right to squash this though and say, "we don't want to be taxed for this; figure out a more efficient way to maintain your roads!"

    The thing is, this is a conflict between emissions (better fuel economy is good for pollution) and road maintenance (better fuel economy is bad for revenue). You can't have your cake and eat it too in many situations...

  • by frankie ( 91710 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:24PM (#11681895) Journal
    The stated purpose (to pay for road usage) is preposterous. Simply raising the gas tax would accomplish the same goal and with more appropriate weighting (larger vehicles do more damage) and a much Much MUCH lower administrative cost (net change of zero, since gas tax is already being collected).

    Therefore, the stated purpose is false, and there is another reason for this method. To subsidize SUV owners? Police surveillance? Bribe from GPS makers?

    Sheesh, those are all just plain weird. It must be the RAND corporation, in conjunction with the reverse vampires...
  • SUVs (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jonpublic ( 676412 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:24PM (#11681899)
    I bet fuel consumption in California is not falling...

    Why should you be taxed per mile when heavier vehicles damage or wear the roads down more? Fuel tax seems like the ideal way that these heavier vehicles can pay for their road use. They pay more because they cost more per mile driven.

    If the fuel tax is not generating enough revenue, perhaps its time to raise the fuel tax? Not spend $300+ dollars to equip cars with GPS...

    My last threes cars cost under $400 each and I've put about 80,000 miles on them total. I dont want to double the cost of the car with GPS.
  • Re:Never happen (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:27PM (#11681952)
    It doesn't matter if it will work or not. What's important is that we'll soon be flooded with "H1d3 Y0ur Dr1v1ng H15t0ry" spam for sites selling tinfoil-based "car tax privacy shields" that go over the receiver's antenna.
  • by Marvelicious ( 752980 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:28PM (#11681953)
    What worries me here is that everyone is arguing about the invasivness of this (don't get me wrong, it IS invasion of privacy of the worst kind), but no one is considering how dumb the idea is in the first place! Punishing people for buying fuel efficient cars? What a load of shit! You know this one has been proposed by people who drive SUV's the size of aircraft carriers.

    I'm not a small car person. I buy larger more comfortable vehicles, and I buy more gas because of it. It is worth it to me. People that are willing to cram themselves into a Metro to save money should sure as hell be allowed that choice!
  • by pixelpusher220 ( 529617 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:28PM (#11681965)
    As an owner of a Hybrid, yes I use a good bit less gas.

    If they are worried about losing money due to Hybrid's how about 'raising' the gas tax a few pennies to compensate, thus encouraging the use of efficient cars, and taxing more heavily the polluting Hummers/SUVs people seem so fond of driving?

    Oh fault...that damned logic/common sense thing again, sorry CA I forgot!

  • by goldspider ( 445116 ) <> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:29PM (#11681978) Homepage
    Perhaps a weight class could be incorporated into the tax (and for the record, I think the way they want to implement this is a HORRIBLE idea, but the pay-per-mile concept is sound), but a hybrid Honda Civic weighs just as much as a standard model, and causes just as much wear and tear. The amount of fuel consumed shouldn't have any bearing on the amount of tax charged.
  • by pixelpusher220 ( 529617 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:34PM (#11682048)
    Agreed...the common sense solution here is to raise the gas tax so that people in less efficient cars/trucks pay more and people in hybrids and such pay less ;-)

    Now...any takers on that actually happening?

  • by ArgieNomad ( 850645 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:35PM (#11682063) Homepage
    The people pushing this thig actually drives SUVs and Hummers(seen Arnie?)
  • by athakur999 ( 44340 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:37PM (#11682093) Journal
    Uhhh... the way the system works as described in TFA is that a computer in the gas pump would communicate with the GPS unit in your car directly. It's not much of a stretch to think each GPS unit is going to have a unique ID number assigned built into it. You can be as anonymous as you want, but your car can't.

  • SUV stooges (Score:4, Insightful)

    by linuxwrangler ( 582055 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:38PM (#11682108)
    I've always felt that the gas tax is one of the fairest taxes around. Not perfect, but pretty good. The wear and tear you put on the roads is generally related to three things: 1) how far you drive, 2) how heavy your car is and 3) how you drive (hard vs. gentle acceleration, etc.)

    In each of those three cases added road wear equals additional fuel use.

    Given the government's actions to promote fuel economy and reduce air pollution (I just got a letter from the air-quality management board offering $650 to turn in my 1985 car which still passes the smog checks with flying colors) I'm really surprised that they don't do the obvious: adjust the gasoline tax as needed to pay for highway repair.

    In fact, given the popularity of huge gas guzzling SUVs I find the assertion that revenues are being harmed by a few hybrids absurd to say nothing of the fact that all the money needed to install, maintain and track the devices could, instead, go toward maintaining the road.

    If more revenue is needed and gas taxes have to be raised so be it. I am not going to feel sorry for the few people who have to give up their Ford Extinctions or GMC Expletives.
  • by digitalgimpus ( 468277 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:39PM (#11682130) Homepage
    Is this a chance to give Silicon Valley a boost by providing Hardware/software for this?

    IMHO this would be a more practical approach:

    - Put all cars into classes, based on milage per gallon, and the emissions. 1-10.

    - Add tax to gas based on car as a percentile Hence if your car is an 8 (heavy emissions), it would be 8%.

    For commecial vehicles, you can subtract 3. Simply because buses are good (keep people from driving themselves), and big trucks carry more with less emissions than several smaller ones. Also would put less of a burdon on commerce.

    what does this solve?
    1. No need for GPS
    2. Puts emphasis on both cars that get better milage AND reducing milage.
    3. Doesn't burdon a particular party.

    That would be cheaper, and more inclusive.

    IMHO this plan is an attempt to regenerate some electronic industries within the state, rather than serve a monetary, or ecologicial purpose.
  • Re:Never happen (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:39PM (#11682143)
    what are the smoking!!! I have a GPS and I can tell you this will NEVER work. 1. GPS is useless in areas with lots f tall buildings like Boston for example (my last trip there my gps was a total joke

    1. GPS stopped working at point a, and started working at point b. Measure the distance and tax'em.

    2. Annual inspection. If there is a major difference between GPS miles and odometer miles... and if those miles can't be associated with out of state miles... tax'em.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm with you. They are creating a very complex system to tax based on miles traveled rather than the more simple system of taxing based on fuel used. This is 100% dumb as it discourgaes the use lighter fuel efficent cars that cause less wear and tear on the road. The concern with a loss tax revenue as a result of people buying more fuel efficent cars is legit and they need to raise the damn fuel tax.

    The real problem is people in political office don't seem to think it's fair that their vehicels with larger than 5 liter engines should pay more money than econoboxes with sub 2 liter engines failing to take into account that they polute more air and tear up more road than a cheaper import. I argue that it's perfectly fair to give econoboxes a huge tax break for poluting less.

  • by CrazyJim1 ( 809850 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:41PM (#11682158) Journal
    Taxes are a lame reason to institute a technology, maybe its the only way a policy maker thinks though.

    Me:"Hello, police, my car was stolen. Its a red Eclipse, 2001, my name is CrazyJim."

    Police:"Ok, I entered you into the database, and I now have a trace on your car, its headed down I70 at 75mph. Heh, lucky you're not in it, I could have issued you a ticket just now. Anyway we'll have your car back to you by supper."

    Maybe society is just retarded, but having stolen cars be a thing of the past would rock. Up until the thieves learn GPS bypass. At that time, you can play hide the GPS, and do multi-GPS. Not many thieves would be advanced enough to go very far though.
  • by MindStalker ( 22827 ) <mindstalker AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:53PM (#11682330) Journal
    As there is free trade across state lines, companies would move out of California if you raised the taxes. You realise companies shop around for tax rates when they decide to set up shop don't you?
  • by EulerX07 ( 314098 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:54PM (#11682344)
    Unfortunately this doesn't distinguish between those who use their Ford Super Duty to commute and those who use it to haul rocks around.

    Fortunately, the ratio of people needing it as a penile extension versus people that actually need it (i.e contractors) is pretty slanted towards the former.
  • by MoxFulder ( 159829 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:57PM (#11682390) Homepage
    ... Why not raise the tax on a gallon of gasoline instead?

    The proposed system makes no sense because people who drive more fuel-efficient cars will pay more mileage tax per GALLON than people who drive gas guzzlers. That's a strange way of encouraging more fuel-efficient cars.

    Raising the tax on a gallon of gasoline would be simpler and actually promote fuel efficiency.
  • by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @06:00PM (#11682444) Homepage
    a mile in a small little hybrid, solar, or electric cars is the same mile driven by the huge hulking SUV

    Not at all -- as you yourself point out directly afterwards. The reason you see those "no trucks over XXX pounds" signs is exactly because the amount of wear and tear on the road is proportional to vehicle weight.

    where the electric doesn't pay *anything* in gas taxes.

    ... and given that we want to reduce the amount of gas consumed, that's a good thing. Once everybody is driving gasoline-free vehicles, then it will be time to revisit our tax base; but we're nowhere near that point.

  • by raider_red ( 156642 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @06:01PM (#11682455) Journal
    I thought the point of the high gas tax was to encourage people to drive more efficient cars. So now that it's worked, the government's decided that it worked too well?

    This reminds me of the New Jersey cigarette tax. They jacked up the price per pack to such a high point that most of the smokers quit. The result: the state had a budget shortfall because they didn't make as much as they estimated off of the tax increase--and actually took in less than the previous year.
  • by cft_128 ( 650084 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @06:02PM (#11682471)
    This is just another bullshit revenue-grab by the state. The state road fund has been pillaged to the tune of about 2 billion a year (the funds have been stolen for the general budget), then they cry wolf about needing money to improve roads?!

    The problem is California is running massive debts due to illegal immigration (costs us about 10 billion a year). BUT NOBODY WANTS TO TALK ABOUT THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM.

    How much more will we have to pay for our veggies and fruits if we stop illegal immigration? How about for construction? How about when we eat out? Just about every contractor and landscaper I know relies on day laborers with no papers. Our economy currently depends on this cheap labor. Just saying 'get rid of illegal immigrants' is easy but it doesn't solve the problem, it will just create new ones.

    I would say one of the main reasons we are running huge debts is all those bloody initiatives that mandate funding for this and funding for that, basically giving the elected officials control over only a very small part of the total budget. Combine that with Prop 13 and you have California today.

  • by shakah ( 78118 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @06:15PM (#11682638)
    As there is free trade across state lines, companies would move out of California if you raised the taxes.
    Your post would carry some weight if you could demonstrate that:
    1. California businesses currently view the state as a "cheap tax" state (i.e. a "bargain") relative to other states, and for that reason are situated in that state; and/or
    2. another (nearby?) state would take on the role of the "bargain" state in which to establish a business if California were to raise taxes.
    Since you haven't bothered with such basic details, the post's "Insightful" moderation is a bit silly. It's just as easy to argue that California is under-taxed, and that the state has headroom in which to raise taxes and still be the "best" state in which to establish a business.
  • by 0-9a-f ( 445046 ) <> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @06:15PM (#11682648) Homepage
    Such a tax would do nothing to discourage ownership of large vehicles, since paying $5 mileage tax on top of $50 fuel is almost nothing (10%). For a small car, it might well be $20 tax on top of $20 fuel (100%)!

    Wouldn't it be simpler/fairer to raise the tax on each gallon of fuel, and really hit the SUV owner where it hurts. Or is it un-American to tax fuel?

    The tax here (outside US) is something like 50% of the final price of fuel, with tax concessions for primary producers, etc.

  • by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @06:29PM (#11682825) Homepage Journal
    No, don't start your business here. Please. Try Nebraska, or Kansas or some place like that. I'm sure they'll welcome you with open arms. I hope you don't need educated, skilled labor. If they live in a small midwestern town, they probably already have good jobs. Maybe you should consider outsourcing?

    I live in a small town in Nebraska. I'm the application developer for a small company with awesome benefits. My boss pays me to write Free software. I bought a 4,500 sq. ft. 6BR 4BA house for less than $200,000. My taxes are low, the air is clean, and the schools are excellent.

    Californians and New Englanders are often amazed to find out that there's actually life between the coasts.

  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @06:34PM (#11682906)
    As the buyer of a hybrid, Oregon charged me an extra registration fee, to compensate for the lower gas taxes I would be paying! (They have since changed this policy.) What the powers that be are not taking into consideration is that wear and tear on roads goes up dramatically in proportion to vehicle weight; currently 95% of road wear is caused by semi trucks, which obviously do not pay 95% of road use fees. Fuel efficient cars cause much less wear and tear, charging them per mile is effectively taxing fuel efficient car owners in order to subsidize SUV users! That is the most anti-progressive tax imaginable!

    There are obvious problems with pay-by-mile. If instituted only in California, residents will simply register their cars in another state. Also, the cost of installing the monitoring devices and the huge new bureaucracy to monitor them will most likely exceed any additional revenue generated. The gas tax is already the closest thing we have to a perfect tax, in that it comes closest to allocating costs based on actual use. Any changes could only lead to a worse system! (And yes, Oregon has also considered a mileage-based tax. But I don't beleive any state is stupid enough to actually implement such a hare-brained system.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @06:35PM (#11682912)
    Our economy currently depends on this cheap labor. Just saying 'get rid of illegal immigrants' is easy but it doesn't solve the problem, it will just create new ones.

    Like slavery? Not an outright troll, mind you, but the 18th century American cotton economy existed primarily due to insanely low labor costs of slavery.

    There are many things "wrong" with the current American economic model. Reliance on low labor costs, over dependence on share holdings, focus only on bottom line growth and a non-humanist short term approach to labor are just a few.

    There will come a time where it will all collapse in on itself. IMHO it would be better to deal with it responsibly before it becomes a problem than attempt to rebuild a fallen house of cards.
  • by Sancho ( 17056 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @06:40PM (#11682966) Homepage
    Of course they are.
    The thinking is that the more you drive on roads, the more damage you cause them and the more you should pay in taxes to help maintain them. Right now, the method for determining how much you use roads is flawed--it's a gas tax. The idea, of course, being that if you buy more gas, you're driving more. However people who own big gas guzzlers are actually driving less than people who own fuel efficient cars if they buy the exact same amount of gas per year, so the gas guzzlers are being "penalized" with a higher tax when they use the roads precisely the same amount.

    The flaw, of course, is that larger, heavier vehicles do more damage to the road than lighter cars. Of course, larger, heavier vehicles tend to use more gas, so in reality, the gas tax works just fine. It's the perception that's skewed such that people believe that they're overpaying.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @06:55PM (#11683117)
    The day somebody wants to put a tracking device in my car is the day I buy a pistol.

    Have you bought a pistol? Your license plate is a tracking device.
  • You're being duped (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:03PM (#11683219)
    The scheme has so many flaws (apart from the privacy one), that I hunch they're using this as a scam to soften the blow when they add a new gas tax.

    CA (think): "Need to get more gas tax". CA (says): " We're going to track your asses with GPS". People (yell):"WAAH WAAH WAAH priivacy! Why not just raise the gas tax"

    CA:"The people have spoken they want us to raise the gas tax."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:05PM (#11683232)
    Wear & tear on public roads is a function of the weight of the vehicle and the distance travelled on public roads. It really has no relationship to the gas consumed in the process, aside from the fact that lighter cars use less gas regardless of their fuel economy relative to other cars in their class.

    So from the perspective of having a tax that actually is related to the government services it pays for, this is a great idea! Combined with differential licensing fees for different vehicle classes (cars, trucks, commercial rigs), it actually taxes the thing that is related to the provided service. Yay! A bit like a public version of a toll road, really, without the turnstiles and/or pass cards.

    The problem is that there's no way to implement this concept without being very creepy (I'm already creeped out by private pass cards for toll roads!) Good idea in theory + no decent to implement it = crappy idea.

    Not to mention, taxing fuel purchases pays for environmental issues caused by emissions that the state needs to pay for. The fact that the tax base is drying up means that this policy is WORKING and that California will have reduced expenditures in the future, in theory. Except that California shares the same atmosphere as Texas. Environmental-minded laws rarely work unless everyone plays along. See Kyoto.

    Summary: Interesting but ultimately bad idea, and we're all screwed anyway.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:10PM (#11683293)
    Regardless of the reason, you're putting extra wear and tear on the roads, and somebody has to pay for it. Since you're the one who chooses to live where you do, why shouldn't that be you? Why should everybody else subsidize you?

    Some places cost more to live in than others; that's life.

  • by nofx_3 ( 40519 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:11PM (#11683305)
    You think American Politicians want more mass transit??? I would guess that out of all the political/industry associations, oil and gas has to be one of the most likely, take Pres. Bush for instance. I would think politicians would want to quash mass transit (I.E. recent major cuts for Amtrak). Theya are just looking for more ways to increase tax revenue so we don't notice the billions they are depriving us of from all the embezelment and war mongering.

  • by j-turkey ( 187775 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:12PM (#11683328) Homepage
    Here's a better solution. Put vehicle scales at every filling station and have the taxes/gal adjust based on the weight of the vehicle. Obviously, a Hummer is going to put more wear/tear on the road than a Metro.

    Here's what I don't get though...a Hummer weighs more than a Metro. Even if you drove a hybrid Hummer, it would get worse gas mileage than a hybrid Metro (or a normal ICE Metro), and due to the poorer fuel economy, you'll be paying more for gas. That's the nature of the beast. The lighter a car, the more economical it can be while still meeting performance standards (at highway speeds, aerodynamics and rolling resistance also play a role in mileage). You can't beat physics.

    This is a lose-lose situation. If they nix or lower the gas tax, it will kill much of the incentive for people to buy more fuel-efficent cars. If they leave it in while introducing the use-tax on, they will be double-penalizing people (even those with hybrid vehicles).

    It will also serve as a disincentive for people who use special-fuel-vehicles, which may not be taxed, but those people pay a higher premium on many of the fuels, due to a smaller distribution network than petrol.

    There is also an obvious privacy concern.

    I have a simple solution for CA. Stop spending so much damn money!

  • by gaspar ilom ( 859751 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:13PM (#11683335)
    "Californians pay about $60 billion more in federal taxes than they receive in federal services." []

    ...and all you care about is the $10 billion from IMMIGRATION?

    Isn't THAT the "elephant in the room?"

    Please mod parent as immigrant-bashing TROLL.
  • by soft_guy ( 534437 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:21PM (#11683426)
    I seriously doubt that a hybrid prius tears up the road as much as a gas guzzling SUV. THe amount of road wear has to do with the weight of the vehicle. For those who think it is unfair - go buy a hybrid car.

    This isn't about road wear or lack of funds anyway, it is about big brother and tracking where people go.

  • by lew3004 ( 577895 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:37PM (#11683622)
    Having multiple drunk driving convictions does not make you corrupt nor does being a heavy drinker. Stupid decision making maybe but not corrupt.
  • by cwg_at_opc ( 762602 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:39PM (#11683655) Journal
    since this article started out with the usual, "due to lack of revenue" excuse, i have a seriously better idea that
    will kill two birds with one stone:

    more frequent driving tests(not the written)

    bird #1: you must take the driving test every three years, it'll cost 15$ - presto! instant revenue.

    bird #2: we weed out the truly inept, suck-@ss drivers.

    as a commuter that drives 64 miles a day through the san fernando valley(on the 101, ech) improving the driving
    conditions by removing the morons would make me so much happier due to the increased safety. i'd gladly pay
    $15 every three years to retake my driving test; i'm a good driver, so i don't have anything to worry about.
  • by buraianto ( 841292 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:39PM (#11683661)
    And it's not a linear relationship, either. A 10-ton truck tears up the road a lot more than 10 1-ton cars.
  • It'll never work (Score:2, Insightful)

    by daddymac ( 244954 ) <> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @08:19PM (#11684079) Homepage
    They tried this in Oregon, and it was met by a resounding "fuck no". I'm surprised they are even trying this, when you look at the lack of common sense taken to propose this bill in the first place. Take these grossly exagerated examples, for instance:

    Vehicle A: A hummer. it weighs 6 tons, it gets 5 miles to the gallon, and it costs half a million dollars to purchase. (yes, those numbers are all made up)

    Vehicle B: An 80cc Honda elite (scooter). it weighs like, 100 pounds. it gets 60+ miles to the gallon, costs well under a grand.

    Who's damaging the roads? Vehicle A. Who's paying more for gas? Vehicle A. Who can afford to pay more for gas? Owner of vehicle A. Who gets screwed by a bill like this? Owner of vehicle B.

    To me it's very simple. INCREASE THE PRICE OF GASOLINE. Those who are responsible with the roads, who drive smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles (gas/electric hybrid, for instance) are being penalized because daddy's little princess (or prince) wants to drive a big road-tearing military grade vehicle 10 miles to work every day. Make gas cost 10 bucks a gallon, people will take the goddamn bus to work, or drive a vehicle that is less damaging to the roads, or pay out the ass, and provide enough money for road repair.

    To me that makes a lot more sense than keeping track of every (free?????) citizen's wherabouts.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @08:57PM (#11684458)
    This is a tax on the poor of California.
    Think of it this way, where are the best jobs in California? In dense, very expensive counties of Orange county, San Diego County, LA County. Now where do younger average families who work in those counties live? In Riverside and San Bernadino counties. The younger less affluent ones have to drive longer distances, while those who have more, live closer to the higher employment areas.
  • Congestion Tax (Score:3, Insightful)

    by podperson ( 592944 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @09:06PM (#11684540) Homepage
    There's a perfectly good way for taxing road use -- taxing gasoline. In general, this has a number of positive effects:

    1) It taxes miles driven.
    2) It's simple and robust.
    3) It doesn't invade privacy.
    4) It encourages fuel economical vehicles.

    It is somewhat unfair on people who buy small, fuel inefficient vehicles -- such as porsches and BMWs. I think they can afford it.

    It's ironic that the alleged reason for Oregon exploring this system is that they fear improved fuel economy will reduce gasoline tax revenue. If so, good -- raise gasoline taxes more: it will create a virtuous cycle of improved fuel efficiency and reduced road use.

    The main benefit of a GPS-based tax system is that you can implement congestion tax (tax people for using popular roads at peak times). The big question is just how big a congestion tax you'll need to levy to have any useful effect (the difference between a car registration that only allows off-peak downtown driving and one that allows peak downtown driving in Singapore is tens of thousands of dollars...)
  • by stmfreak ( 230369 ) <> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @09:09PM (#11684571) Journal
    ...such as:

    1. this won't be a replacement tax, but rather an additional tax.

    2. there will have to be some supporting laws such as "tampering with the GPS tracker on a vehicle punishable by $1B and two consecutive life imprisonment terms.

    3. we'll need a complex DB to find people who travel virtually no distance between fuel-ups.

    4. development of this database seems to have slipped some milestones... and GPS-Tax revenues are not quite what was expected, please raise the per-gallon gas tax to fund further development of the database and enforcement software.

    5. compliance is up! but people have moved closer in and are now travelling much less. as a result, the few remaining in the outskirts are insufficient to fund the major highways... which are rapidly becoming unusable.

    6. Our cities are cesspools of crime due to overpopulation and crowding! Gah! Home values are skyrocketing, no one can afford to buy a home of their own now and multi-family, 100-year leases are starting to become common. We need to find some more rich people to subsidize this housing market...

    7. Interstate commerce is complaining because the roads are unusable and this is affecting delivery of goods and foodstuffs! Obviously we can tax the truckers to repair the Interstates... Everybody pays!

    As usual, the government seems to be living up to my expectations of "a problem in search of revenue."
  • by isdnip ( 49656 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @09:21PM (#11684700)
    Your arguments are entirely correct, of course.

    But Gropernor Ah-nold owns several Hummers. As a big friend of Dick Cheney and the Shrub, he likes wasting gas. So he wants a subsidy for Hummer owners and a tax on Prius owners.

    Betch fewer than 25% of Prius owners are Republicans.

    Betcha more than 50% of Hummer owners are.
  • by Futurepower(R) ( 558542 ) <> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @09:34PM (#11684802) Homepage

    "And then when there's a huge discrepancy when you get your annual inspections, you'll explain how?"

    I've been an electronics design engineer, so maybe it is obvious to me, but wouldn't be to others. A hundred screwy things could happen to disturb the readings. It could not be proven that the person who owned the car did anything to change the readings.

    They are talking about each person having an on board computer linked to a sensitive receiver getting signals from thousands of miles away. What about computer crashes? What about reboots? What about car electrical problems? What about people deliberately jamming the GPS signals with a battery operated transmitter left on the side of a road? What about newly installed equipment that is defective and is emitting radio noise? Even car alternators sometimes become very noisy. What about a woman changing a baby's diapers and putting a wet diaper wrapped in plastic over the GPS antenna?

    This sounds to me like corrupt people taking advantage of the technical ignorance of politicians.

    GPS only works if the people who have the receivers want it to work, and are willing to maintain it when it fails.
  • by Kaelem ( 263513 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @09:43PM (#11684868)
    So, what if you take a 2 month road trip across the United States? Is it fair to get charged for the miles you didn't drive on California roads?

    Your idea doesn't include an easy way to subtract miles that "don't count", where the GPS would.
  • by Cappy Red ( 576737 ) <> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @11:01PM (#11685327)
    That is not a helpful post. Not only does it resort to name calling, but it also promotes political group-think.

    And can you show a source on the subsidy/tax statement? Based on the rest of your post I'm a bit leery of the claim, but would nonetheless like to see what you base it off of.
  • by rbinns ( 849119 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @11:19PM (#11685425)
    I live and drive long distances in California frequently. The vehicles that do more damage to these freeways are not even registered here. San Pedro/Long Beach is one of the two busiest ports in the country. So everything that comes from china, etc. to be stocked at Wal-Mart or wherever comes through by means of a)train and b) SEMI-TRUCK. Trucks hurt the freeways more than anything because they are almost always loaded just below the maximum allowed for a vehicle traveling on the road (reason for weigh stations) and in the case of trucks with an open bed or hopper, debris loss is frequent. I have seen many a windsheild broken because of this. And no trucking company would be insane as to register their trucks in California. Why? Because the government has painted themselves into a corner charging confiscatory rates for commercial vehicles plus the fact that these trucks rarely stay in the state for the majority of their life. Will California require them to place these transponders in their trucks to pay when they fill up at the truck stops throughout the state? I can't see how this would work. Even if they tried, the trucking companies (especially the independents) would revolt. Ideas like this make me think that this state needs to split. I'm not trolling, just reacting to the sentiment amongst my colleagues.
  • by Agent__Smith ( 168715 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @11:38PM (#11685589) Homepage
    "Betch fewer than 25% of Prius owners are Republicans.

    Betcha more than 50% of Hummer owners are."

    Betcha you're a douche. Did you happen to take note of what Tereza drove? How bout your friend Barbara Streisand? In the case of the latter, she goes shopping on RODEO in a 5MPG RV that is bigger and heavier than any HUMMER on the plannet. There are plenty of jackasses in both partys, so quit being another one!
  • Read the Article (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @02:49AM (#11686578)
    The article states that the representatives are considering the new system of taxation. Much like the percentage representation of 14-17 year voters in California that was recently consider, this idea is probably going to fail. If you are genuinely worried, you may be having a psychotic break and should visit your local physician. Otherwise, go watch that "How a Bill Becomes a Law" video, and understand that a small minority of lawmakers probably like this idea, and the majority think its too crazy to be implemented.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas