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Congress Mulls Research Into a Vehicle Mileage Tax 792

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

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  • Dems? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:23PM (#29430567)

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

  • toposhaba (Score:5, Insightful)

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

    Can't they just read an odometer

  • Ummmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by homey of my owney ( 975234 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:24PM (#29430581)
    Isn't that what the Federal Gasoline tax does?
  • hacking (Score:3, Insightful)

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

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:24PM (#29430587)

    Already exist, it's called the fuel tax.

  • by noidentity ( 188756 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:24PM (#29430589)
    Why do number of miles driven matter? I'd think the central concern is wear on roads, which is also dependent on the weight of the vehicle. So they want to charge based on weight*miles. Guess what? A vehicle's gasoline usage is closely related to this; big heavy vehicle, more gasoline used per mile. So they could just increase the gasoline tax.
  • RFID? KISS! (Score:5, Insightful)

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

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

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

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:25PM (#29430605)

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Am I the only one who finds that terrifying?

  • No GPS thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

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

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

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

  • Two Words: (Score:5, Insightful)

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

    HELL NO.

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

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

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

  • Diverted taxes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:28PM (#29430671)

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

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

  • Re:Ummmm (Score:5, Insightful)

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

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

  • Re:Ummmm (Score:5, Insightful)

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

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

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:34PM (#29430747)

    Wear is a minor concern. Revenue is the real problem. Since people have started buying more fuel-efficient cars, and driving less (something that the government has been pushing), there is less revenue from gas taxes. It's almost like there are consequences that people didn't intend. Imagine that.

  • Re:Ummmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:34PM (#29430749)

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

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

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

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

  • how about... (Score:5, Insightful)

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

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

  • Re:RFID? KISS! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tsstahl ( 812393 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:40PM (#29430821)
    We already do with existing gas taxes. Unless you push, or mule team those couple miles.
  • Re:Ummmm (Score:5, Insightful)

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

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

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

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

  • Re:Ummmm (Score:5, Insightful)

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

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

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

  • by Bobfrankly1 ( 1043848 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:45PM (#29430909)
    Can't seem to evade these cops, it's almost like they've got a tracking device on me....
    You mean to tell me Mr. Officer, that you're giving me a ticket for speeding two weeks ago?
    I'm being taxed on miles traveled after I was taxed for the price of having my car towed? It was a flatbed, the tires didn't touch the ground!
    Wow, I've never seen 15 minute parking enforced so timely and yet so viciously...they've got tow-trucks lined up around the corner just waiting...
  • Re:toposhaba (Score:5, Insightful)

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

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

  • Re:Ummmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clampolo ( 1159617 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:47PM (#29430949)
    I have a better idea. Let's tax campaign contributions from auto makers, auto unions, and gasoline manufacturers at 50% and the proceeds will go to fund the roads.
  • Re:Ummmm (Score:5, Insightful)

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

    Only government would be this stupid!
  • Tax tires (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mollog ( 841386 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:48PM (#29430975)
    Then put the tax on tires. You can't roll back the odometer on a tire.
  • Re:Ummmm (Score:5, Insightful)

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


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

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

  • Re:toposhaba (Score:5, Insightful)

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

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

    The same is true in Oregon with sales taxes. There are always people pushing them. What they always leave out is that they aren't going to decrease property taxes, state income taxes or any other source of state revenue accordingly. They're just going to tax you even more than before.
  • Re:Ummmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gnick ( 1211984 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:53PM (#29431073) Homepage

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

    It's far from a perfect solution (possibilities for fraud, including mileage traveled on privately maintained roads, etc.), but it's pretty simple and fairly implementable.

  • Re:toposhaba (Score:5, Insightful)

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

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

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

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

  • Re:Ummmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by andymadigan ( 792996 ) <amadigan@gmaERDOSil.com minus math_god> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:55PM (#29431119)
    Electricity is used for quite a lot of other things, taxing it for road use doesn't make sense.

    Two solutions I propose:

    - Only track commercial vehicles, make them pay the tax
    - Just maintain the roads through general revenues. No matter how much you drive you benefit from the roads in some way.

    Overall, I like the second better. Tracking where I'm driving is totally unacceptable.
  • by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:57PM (#29431179) Journal

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

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

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

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

  • Government FRAUD? (Score:5, Insightful)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And by "junk" I mean bullshit.

  • Re:toposhaba (Score:4, Insightful)

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

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

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

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

    I certainly fucking mind.

  • Re:Ummmm (Score:4, Insightful)

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

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

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

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

  • by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:23PM (#29431581)

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

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

    Personally, I think gas is too cheap anyway. Raise the gas tax on gasoline, and you'll see an explosion in public transportation, fuel-efficient cars, etc. Yeah, there'll be an initial hit on transportation business. But if the tax is raised incrementally, it can be done slow enough to keep up with improvements in fuel-efficient technologies.

    Then again, I don't expect politicians to stand for this, nor for enough voters to understand the concept.

  • Re:Ummmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:37PM (#29431865)

    First off, don't you dare compare Commercial Trucks to oversize vehicles like SUV's. Commercial vehicles are a vital part of the nations infrastructure. They deliver ALL of the nations goods to local stores and other points of sale. The hummer is a gas wasting passenger vehicle that is just for looks. A tractor trailer has one purpose: move goods. Sure you can try to group them together but don't bitch when the price of goods rises due to an increase in fuel tax surcharges.

    However, we're all subsidizing trucking companies' use of the roads. The trucks do all the damage to the roads, and crowd the highways, but don't pay their fair share for it.

    There's other ways of shipping goods long distances: trains. If we were smart in this country and hadn't deregulated the trucking industry while keeping the rail industry regulated and nearly killing it, we'd be shipping more goods by train instead of truck. The only good uses of trucks are (1) shipping goods and containers from the local rail depot to the point-of-use (like retail stores), and 2) shipping goods which need to get there faster than a train will take it, but not as expensively (or quickly) as a plane.

    By all rights, trucks should be taxed a LOT more than they are. That might make goods cost more, but we should get a break on income tax to compensate for it: the roads should be paid for by taxes on those who use it, not regular income taxes as they are now. And a lot more stuff needs to be shipped by rail. And there should be a national law that anyone stupid enough to get hit by a train is automatically at fault and can't sue, and is deemed too stupid to receive any government benefits at all (including medical care for their injuries). If their family can't or won't pay for their hospital care, they should be left to die.

  • Re:toposhaba (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:06PM (#29432383)

    Or just don't tax us for no reason. We're already being taxed for whatever it is they think this is supposed to cover.

  • Re:toposhaba (Score:5, Insightful)

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

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

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

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

  • Re:Ummmm (Score:5, Insightful)

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

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

    2009 15 09 15:37 - Startup (Snip)

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

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

  • Re:Ummmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mhajicek ( 1582795 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:20PM (#29432635)
    Maybe they should stop throwing away trillions of dollars so that they don't have to tax so hard...
  • Re:Ummmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Buelldozer ( 713671 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:22PM (#29432665)

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

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

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

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

  • by EdIII ( 1114411 ) * on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:53PM (#29433115)

    but I do know that using a GPS over an odometer is not a case of teh ebil gubermint wanting to spy on you. There are legitimate reasons to do so.

    No you don't. How are you using the word "legitimate"?

    If you mean lawful, well then that is bullshit. It used to be lawful to own black people as slaves. Forgive the hyperbole, but a laws are not intrinsically ethical, moral, fair, etc. If a law is unjust then it is my duty to perform civil disobedience. The idea that I should follow all laws and use the "approved" channels to change it is is insanity. When those "approved" channels are tightly controlled and effectively blockaded, by only remedy IS civil disobedience to the point I can attempt another avenue, which is the judicial process. Sometimes change can only occur through a litigation vehicle. Most bullshit does not get changed through lobbying, but through court processes in which laws are found to be unconstitutional. In order for that to happen though, someone has to be harmed by that law first .

    Now if you mean genuine, which is another definition of legitimate, you cannot possibly know that. Additionally, tin foil aside, the actions of the U.S government have demonstrated a complete disregard for our rights to privacy, anonymity, etc. What about the scandal with the telcos, the NSA, and phone records? That has less media attention now, but they got away with it.

    It is quite reasonable for me to believe the worst intentions with this GPS data as my government has already demonstrated an intense desire to possess this information and use it for intelligence gathering purposes. My government has also demonstrated a concerning pattern of abuse of it's citizens in the last 100 years for sociopolitical reasons. Hoover is well known to have hated Martin Luther King and to have abused his power to illegally monitor a U.S Citizen because of conflicting ideologies and political beliefs. MLK was just one of many and Hoover has not been the only government official to abuse their position of power.

    With all due respect, you cannot state you know the government has no intentions of spying on us. Your usage of the word tin foil is also offensive (mildly). You do not need to denigrate and disrespect those of us that have good and legitimate reasons to fear this government. If you are an activist working against unjust laws and corruption, or are a whistleblower, you have good reason to fear the apparent conspiracy between corporations, government officials, and our legislators. All three entities possess a non-trivial amount of power and influence over our lives and there are examples in which political activists have been targeted and powers abused.

    Your point is logical and reasonable about how a GPS is required to tax mileage. Of course an odometer will not work in this situation at all. I agree GPS is required. However, I think the real argument comes down to whether or not I want a presumably more fair and efficient method of tax collection (ostensibly to provide me with a well working infrastructure) while also risking the government permanently recording my movements and then later using that against me.

    Personally, I fear the government's actions with the data more than my concerns over an unfair and less efficient method of taxing vehicle usage. We can come up with different, more passive methods of tax collection. THAT is not tin foil speaking, Sir. Not at all.

  • Re:Ummmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @07:23PM (#29433509)

    Those who CAN afford more fuel efficient cars will buy them, leaving those who cannot afford new cars to shoulder an increasing share of the burden.

    So what? People have been doing that for decades, by buying newer cars and selling their old cars to poorer people, who then have to deal with the repair costs. I don't see anyone proposing that rich people be force do buy old clunkers and keep them repaired, and then give free brand-new cars to poor people. A few big repair bills will easily outweigh whatever you spend per year on fuel anyway.

    And besides: driving is a privilege, not a right. If driving a car is too expensive for you, you're always free to take the bus, or move somewhere where you can walk to work. Being able to own and drive your own car is a luxury.

    An odometer check will provide them with everything they need.

    What's to stop people from adjusting their odometers? It's pretty easy on most cars that have mechanical ones. The only reason people don't do it more is because it's not really worth the trouble; how much extra are you going to get by taking 50k miles off your odometer in a private used-car sale, assuming the buyer is such a moron he can't tell just by looking at the beat-up exterior and interior that the car has way more mileage than you're claiming? And many people take cars to mechanics for inspections before buying anyway. The government isn't going to start having mechanics go over everyone's car every year to check for odometer fraud--that would cost a fortune. But the gains by taking 1/2 your mileage off your odometer could be significant, and the possibility of getting caught pretty much nil.

    And besides, why should I pay for miles I drive outside the USA? For state-level taxes, odometers cannot be used because many people drive a very large portion of their miles outside that state (and many people drive in that state who don't live there)--think people who live near the border and drive across to work every day. That's the whole reason Oregon and Mass. came up with the GPS plan.

    Increasing the fuel tax to offset reduced revenue by reduced usage is still not a good solution. It's a very regressive tax specifically targeted at people who cannot afford newer and more fuel efficient vehicles.

    Why is it that liberals are all for environmentalism up until the point that it inconveniences some poor person, then it's suddenly OK to spew out as much pollution as you want?

  • by EdIII ( 1114411 ) * on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @08:00PM (#29433935)

    Your fear of the government is naive. It isn't the government that is out to use and abuse us, it is the ruling class, and they gave up on using governments as their primary tool long ago. Nowadays, the weapons of oppression are called 'corporations.'

    I am NOT naive and your insult is uncalled for. Your distinction between government, the "ruling class" (now that sounds like tin foil), and corporations is unnecessary and only serves to support your baseless insult.

    I had already mentioned the interaction between government and corporations, so I clearly have an understanding of the relationship between the two. Therefore, naive is hardly a word to describe my understanding, and it's context can only be construed as a condescending insult.

    Furthermore, although corporations wield influence, ONLY the government can effect the theft of life, liberty, and property. There are also considerations in the many Wars (Iraq,Terrorism,Drugs,etc.) that are completely separate from corporations.

    A corporation may collect data on me and annoy me with advertising, affect my life with usury, and disseminate information without my consent. It may abuse the legal process and my ignorance of the legal language to gain judgments against me and my property. However, in order to DO anything they must still obtain the services of the "government". A sheriff has to show up to my property to evict me. A foreclosure must be approved by the judge. So on and so forth.

    So it is not "simple" or naive to fear the government more than corporations, since in the end, it will be a representative of government that knocks on your door to deprive you of your freedom (jail) and your possessions (judgments).

  • Re:toposhaba (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @08:53PM (#29434429)
    I am a cyclist, and I'm sure you hate how slow I ride my bicycle as you blow by me, passing illegally.

    It is not illegal to pass a bicyclist, no matter how slowly they are going. That's what bike lanes are for -- you get a lane, the car gets a lane, everyone should be happy. Except, apparently, you.

    Yet you get angry if I break a law?

    No, I get angry when you willfully and deliberately violate a simple, basic law that has no exceptions for how many wheels you are using (for n>0), claim that it's ok because other people break some other laws, and then claim the right to decide for yourself which traffic laws you should have to follow and which you don't need to.

    Yes, that's the argument here in this area now. Bicyclists want the right to decide if they NEED to stop at stop signs and to just blow through if they decide they don't need to stop. I'd love to get that kind of consideration as a car driver, but nobody in their right mind would ever think of passing a law that says stop signs don't mean "stop" for cars. And yet bikers expect it to be that way even when the law doesn't say it.

    And I bet you also hate how fast I drove my sports car and ride my motorcycle.

    I don't give a fuck how fast you drive your sports car or ride your bike, unless you are doing it on my street where children are playing and there is a 25 MPH speed limit, or you are doing 95 on the freeway and endangering everyone around you by swerving into other people's lanes and cutting them off. And as long as you accept the responsibility for the tickets you get for doing it and not whine at 200 dB about how you should have the right to break whatever laws you don't think should apply to you.

    Good thing you're smart enough to recognize that you're perfect and everybody else is an asshole.

    Not everybody, just you.

  • Re:toposhaba (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @09:21PM (#29434689)
    In essence it's replacing the gas tax. The original idea was to tax people in a manner which was proportionate to the use of the resource. A sort of user fee other than tolls. As people use more fuel efficient vehicles, the taxes to pay for the roads are going to have to come from somewhere, charging people a tax based upon roughly how much they used the resource seems fair.

    It's essentially an avoidable tax, if you don't want to pay for it, you don't have to, just don't use the resource that it's paying for. Seems reasonable to me, especially considering the people that take your position on this sort of thing and then demand that I pay higher taxes to fund stupid wars that don't further my interests in the least.
  • Re:toposhaba (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @10:08PM (#29435035) Homepage Journal
    "A gas tax is a simple and extremely efficient way of encouraging taxpayers to carpool, avoid unnecessary long trips and avoid buying low mpg cars."

    And where is it in the Constitution that the federal govt. is mandated to try to influence the behavior of its citizens through punitive taxation??

    I must have missed that little footnote on my copy....?

  • Seriously... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by deAtog ( 987710 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @10:43PM (#29435263)
    I thought gasoline taxes already accounted for this sort of thing. That is the more you drive your car the more tax you pay in taxes. If you're one of those idiots that must drive an 8mpg SUV then you undoubtedly pay more in taxes than someone who drives a midsized or compact car. Is this fair? I think so.
  • by GeigerBC ( 1056332 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @11:07PM (#29435507) Homepage
    Since it doesn't look like anybody actually READ the report Oregon put out on milage taxes I'll provide a link to the report. The reports themselves are in the top right of the page. http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/RUFPP/mileage.shtml [oregon.gov] They realize there is a privacy issue. Transportation Research Board (TRB) who conducts millions of dollars of research each year realizes there is a privacy issue. They are working on it. Please stop yelling "The sky is falling" so loudly and let's have a well informed, civil discussion about this. The gas tax hasn't been increased in ~20 years, so we'll have to pay for new roads somehow. If you hadn't received a raise in 20 years you'd be looking for new sources of income too. On top of that, vehicles are getting more miles to the gallon (a good thing), but are still damaging the road the same amount and paying less to do so (a bad thing). Either way, I think I'm late to this discussion, but they are worthwhile reports to read and should be attached to every discussion on this topic. I'd guess this paper should be read too, but I haven't read it myself. http://financecommission.dot.gov/Documents/NSTIF_Commission_Final_Report_Mar09FNL.pdf [dot.gov]
  • Re:toposhaba (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stevebyan ( 806118 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @09:27AM (#29439051)

    Don't we want to encourage more fuel-efficient road vehicles? Seems like upping the gas tax would be a good way to do that.

    Perhaps once we're all driving electric vehicles we might then consider a per-mile tax. Until then, the incursion on civil liberties and privacy from vehicle tracking doesn't seem to be outweighed by the societal benefits.

    It seems to me that these vehicle-tracking ideas are a clever political scam that combines avoidance of a politically-costly raising of the gas tax, corporate welfare for some well-connected companies, and a plausible-sounding policy-wonkish cover story.

"It takes all sorts of in & out-door schooling to get adapted to my kind of fooling" - R. Frost