Governor Kulongoski proposes installing GPS units in all cars, dropping the per-gallon gas tax, and replacing it with a per-mile tax, with each vehicle tracked by GPS. Why would he do something so obviously wrong? We’ll see in a minute, but first, the reasons against such a proposal.
- It decreases conservation at a time gas conservation should be encouraged. They’ve actually said the per-mile GPS idea needs to exist because people drive too many fuel-efficient vehicles. Imagine that — Oregon government wants to penalize saving gas. Visualize the adds — help the state of Oregon — drive a Hummer!
- Massive new state bureaucracy. Since none of the infrastructure exists to collect the GPS data, the state will spend millions installing equipment and new employees to handle it.
- Increase price of new cars for unneeded new equipment. As the auto industry stumbles, Oregon wants to make it harder on them to sell new cars. Great!
- The tracking data will be abused as the state monitors every citizen’s movements. Stalkers, divorce conflicts — the possibility for abuse is limitless.
- GPS use fades in mountains, tunnels, in cities or any number of other situations. It’s not reliable for the proposed usage. And suppose your GPS says you drove hundreds of miles in a cross-town commute due to a GPS flaw. Is the guy who fills up your tank going to arbitrate the dispute between you and the state while he fills the tank?
And so on. If people drive more fuel-saving cars, isn’t that a good thing? Why create a massive new bureaucracy which actually encourages people to drive Hummers to pay less tax? Insane. To see the obvious absurdity of the idea, consider the proposed $0.012/mile tax verses the current $0.24/gallon tax. A car which gets 20 MPG is the break-even point. Any vehicle getting above 20MPG pays more in taxes, while gas-guzzlers pay less (obviously, if you play with the numbers a bit, the break-even point moves, but the problem of penalizing fuel-efficiency remains). And you thought Oregon was a green state? Nope, they’ll penalize you if you conserve gas or use alternate fuel vehicles.
Two simple solutions. First, just raise the gas tax. Simple and easy. No new bureaucracy required. Or use the revolutionary new technology called an odometer — when the cars registration is renewed, take a look at the odometer, and pay accordingly. Simple, quick, and easy. No tracking of citizens, no new bureaucracy, no new expenses.
With all the negatives (and no positives) for this crazy idea, why propose it? Only one reason — the state of Oregon feels the need to monitor all it’s citizens movements — when, where, and how much.
That’s not tinfoil paranoia, but reality. Why else propose such a ridiculous idea with so many negatives, costs, and new bureaucracy, while passing on simple solutions? Why the Oregon governor feels the need to monitor his citizens movements is unknown, but if that’s not the primary motivation we’d like to know what is. It can’t be additional road fees, as much simpler ways exist to solve the problem.