May 22, 2005
Tiger in Your Tank, Stool Pigeon Under Your Hood
Dave at Garfield Ridge, the man who puts the "Air" in "Air Power", announces that Oregon, ("The Bozo State"), wants to put a GPS chip in every car to track your mileage, so you can pay a mileage tax. He links to Partisan Pundit, with much, much more, e.g.: "The state of Oregon is finding ways to anally penetrate its motorists for more cash..."
If there was ever a measure capable of causing a rebellion all across the political spectrum, this is it.
Patterico reported a while back on a similar plan under deliberation here in California. The LA Times article he linked to (now offline) also said that the Federal Gummint is considering implementing a nationwide program to do the same thing, and that research is ongoing at the DOT.
(It's already the law in New Zealand, according to a friend of mine who owns a farm there. He has to write down his mileage and pay an extra tax because he owns a gas-guzzling, forest-leveling V-6 Toyota truck. No chips for them, just a mileage log.)
This is stupid on at least two enormous levels, and probably some smaller ones I haven't considered yet. But to start, see the extended entry:
I. A mileage tax is a perverse incentive against buying a fuel-efficient car. The LA Times article I mentioned above described how, when there were tax breaks for hybrids and the price of gas went through the roof, all us wacky Californians (but me) went out and got new Priuses (Prii?) and low-mileage cars. The environment is happier, I guess, but the state's not because they suddenly take a huge wallop in state gasoline tax revenues. So this is a retaliation against hybrid drivers. SUCKERS! Partisan pundit (linked above) says they might work out an enormous byzantine codification of which cars pay how much extra tax, based on their efficiency, to offset this effect. But it seems there are distortions inherent there as well.
II. The other elephant in the room is PRIVACY. I'm no libertarian but I certainly do not want a chip in my car. It is none of Big Brother's damned business where I drive my car in this free country of ours. If I have a tracking device on my car, someone had damn well better have a search warrant for it.
Where is the ACLU in all this? Here's a sweeping change that affects millions of innocent people's privacy. Are they too busy probing the thread count of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's bedsheets at Gitmo? Or are they still off trying to exorcise Christianity from public life? (As a matter of fact, they are.) ("But we need to have the mileage tax," they might just say--"because this, unlike the War on Terror--is for a good cause".)
If Oregon and California think they're going to pass this satellite-monitored mileage tax without a fight, they're out of their collective gourds.