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

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

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

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

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

  • Go Green- (Score:2, Interesting)

    by georgenh16 ( 1531259 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:33PM (#29430729) Journal
    Recycle Congress.
  • Sweet merciful crap! (Score:5, Interesting)

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

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

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

  • Re:Ummmm (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:34PM (#29430751)

    Am I the _only_ one that finds emphasizing words with underscores _extremely_ distracting and annoying?

  • Re:Ummmm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:35PM (#29430765)

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

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

  • Re:toposhaba (Score:3, Interesting)

    by thynk ( 653762 ) <> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:26PM (#29431657) Homepage Journal

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

  • Re:toposhaba (Score:4, Interesting)

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

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

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

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

  • by shmlco ( 594907 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:29PM (#29432777) Homepage

    Better a gas tax AND a hefty graduated annual excise tax on oversize trucks and SUVs with poor mileage. Make it simple, say, $200/year for every MPG under the mandated 35MPG average. Want to drive that 12MPG Excursion or F-350? Fine. That's $4,600 a year, please.

    Hope the overcompensaion was worth it.

    The average European family does just fine with compact cars like Fiats and VWs. If they can do it, then so can the average US family. (Of course, the average US family may need to go on a diet first. But then again, that will improve mileage too!)

    Seriously, According to the U.S. Department of Energy, we burn roughly 400 million gallons of gasoline day-in and day-out. And roughly 60% of all of the petroleum consumed was imported, with 13% coming from the middle east (shipping is easier from SA). Finally, from 2000 to 2007, the US new fleet fuel economy has averaged 23.1 mpg, with light trucks and SUVs making up about 40% of the vehicles on the road.

    So, LTs and SUVs make up 40%, but since their mileage sucks they burn 55-60% of the fuel. Replace SUVs, and we immediately save 120 million gallons each and every day, cut imports by 30%, and IMMEDIATELY and totally cut our need for Middle Eastern oil.

  • by Fantastic Lad ( 198284 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:33PM (#29432835)

    Why do you limit your frustration to Democrats?

    Republicans are evil also, they're just louder and dumber about it. Democrats are smarter and stealthier.

    There's a reason that Vampires infest pop culture when Democrats are in power, and Zombies when Republicans are in office.

    Government is the problem. Down with the undead.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    [total]: []
    [fourth]: []

  • Re:toposhaba (Score:3, Interesting)

    by welcher ( 850511 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @09:50PM (#29434911)
    The problem with that argument is that it doesn't take into account the basis of the laws of the road: they are all predicated on vehicles being cars. Car drivers have much reduced vision, awareness and control as compared to cyclists and cars also have a far greater capacity to cause damage to others. Thus their behaviour needs to be very strictly controlled. Given these things, it is easy to make the argument that cyclists should be allowed more freedoms than cars, so while these people are breaking laws, I'd argue that the law is wrong and should be based on cyclists taking due care rather strictly adhering the rules for cars.
  • Re:toposhaba (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dr2chase ( 653338 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @10:54PM (#29435365) Homepage

    Your amusing assertion:

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

    inspired me to make my first Youtube video. After reading our claim, on my way home from work, I recorded one minute of traffic at a stop sign (one take, no retries). 6 cars, no full stops, 3 blatant runs, and nobody "stopping" at the stop line. (And the first car, the one that mostly nearly stopped, did so because it was impeded by a car in front of it that did not make the take.) I will admit, this is not a large statistical study, but 0 for 6 would be pretty unusual if even 50% of the cars on the road "stopped at all stop signs".

    See for yourself if you don't believe me []

    You might well argue that it ought not be a stop sign, but it IS a stop sign.
    And if you ever drive on the interstates, at least those in Massachusetts, you will observe that, outside of traffic jams, about 90-95% of the cars on the road are exceeding the speed limit. Unless we get to pick and choose which laws are important in which situations, I'd say that we're all living in glass houses.

  • Re:Dems? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @11:03PM (#29435465)

    The hypocrisy of the right on this would be hysterical if they didn't believe it so deeply. So it's just pathetic.

    Nixon, Reagon, Bush 1 and 2 were not and never were "the right". QED, you're a fucking retard. Even a dillatante of politics knows the two parties acts as a singular whole. The scorekeeping and bickering is just a curious distraction. With almost all issues, there are two choices: freedom or slavery. I promote freedom. I am hard, uncompromising "right", and I don't expect nor care if any politician cut from my cloth ever makes it to Washington. You're mistake is labeling people by what they say and not what they do. It is a tragic, mind-fuckingly stupid mistake on your part.

  • Re:Dems? (Score:4, Interesting)

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

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

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

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

  • by lorenzo.boccaccia ( 1263310 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @04:14AM (#29437185)
    moreover, there ALREADY is a per mile/kilometer tax, paid directly over gasoline/fuel/petrol.
  • Re:toposhaba (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gnupun ( 752725 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @04:34AM (#29437313)

    There's still something that knows you went past point x at time y

    There are already a lot of video cameras at intersections now, instead of the usual red-light camera that triggers only when you run a red light. The video cameras are always ON and keep track (via image processing of license plates) of all cars passing through an intersection. So they already can know that car X was at point Y, at time Z. How is this not a massive invasion of privacy? What level of privacy must be invaded before the sheep stop taking it placidly, and fight back for freedom?

  • by DataSolutions ( 1358505 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @09:37AM (#29439193) Homepage
    People, it's all about the fact that we are already being taxed multiple times for the opportunity to drive a vehicle. We pay a fuel tax, we pay a road use tax (tolls), we pay license fees, we pay fines on things like not wearing seatbelts or motorcycle helmets, (I'll rant about that some other time) and I am sure there are several more taxes we pay that I can't remember right now.

    Do we REALLY need another tax? I try to stay out of political mine fields like this, but good lord, when will there be enough taxes? Pretty soon, we'll just sign over our pay to the feds, and they will take care of everything for us, except we'll still have to buy food, fuel, clothes, etc., but since we are giving all our money to the feds for everyone else to get help, we will be left holding a HUGE bill, and a large stick we can sit and rotate on.

    The only thing that will come from more taxes are less people willing to work, because erverything will be given to us if we are lazy and just ask the feds for assistance with everything. Kinda makes you wonder why we keep increasing budgets for so called humanitarian projects like health care, food stamps, no child left behind, anti-bullying bills, bridges to nowhere, research on why pig crap smells so bad, and twenty million pet projects that simply HAVE to have funding or the world as we know it will collapse.

    IMHO; there should be one more law that says, you cannot be a governmental elected official such as a senator or congressman, nor can you work for them if you have more than a degree in underwater basket weaving. One of the reasons this once great nation is in trouble is because the people that know how to bend the rules to their personal benefit are the ones making the rules.

    I know I'll get flamed for this, I know I'll be modded as a troll, but it's time those of us that have brains and know how to use them took our brains out of their back pockets, dusted them off and started using them instead of simply whining about everything that has gone wrong with society. I'm doing my part, I am running for local government so I can make a difference, what are all of you doing?

  • Re:toposhaba (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @12:35PM (#29441851)

    Where is it stated that this replaces any other tax? Will another tax go away because of this tax? Will there be a GPS reader at the gas station so that when I buy gas in my new car, I don't pay the taxes? Or will I be doubly taxed?

    And this idea taxes miles traveled, not driven.

    If your damned car is being towed you pay.
    If you're traveling off road you still pay a tax for using the roads for those miles.

    This is not replacing the fucking gas tax - it's propping it up and expanding on it. This is what happened:

    Jim: "Oh noes more fuel efficient cars! We're not making as much as we did on the gas taxes! What will we do, Bob?"

    Bob: "ALL NEW CARS MUST BE TAXED PER FUCKING MILE! Let's see them find a more efficient path from point A to point B!"

    Steve: "So Bob, you know we got these GPS dealies we can slap in cars to get that done. You know, for a price."

    Bob: "Hellllllllllll Yeaaaaaaaah!"

    I can't wait for this to devolve into a maze of rate maps and schedules based on hundred million dollar studies.
    Drive from Main Street to Elm street? That's double the normal rate, and triple the highway rate. Summer rates are more. 2AM - 5AM rates are lower. Peak hours are weekdays 7 AM to 10 AM and 3 PM to 6 PM, and all holidays. Driver's who drive in excess of X miles per month receive an additional fee.

    Then comes the other bullshit:

    Vehicles with circumvented tracking systems will be impounded and the owner's license will be suspended until they pay an exorbitant fee and attend 2 full days of reprogramming.

    Vehicles that do not report in at GPS at least once a month will have their registration revoked. Revoked registration can be reinstated, for a fee.

    Any anomalous tracking patterns (BROKEN GPS) will be assumed to be an attempt to circumvent the system, and you will charged a hefty fine. If you attempt to defend yourself, we'll call you a malicious hacker, and throw the T word around liberally.

    Police have immediate access to this data, until your car is stolen. Then there's nothing they can do.

    Etc. Etc. Etc.

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva