Sunday, January 04, 2009

Oregon looks at taxing mileage instead of gasoline

Oregon looks at taxing mileage instead of gasoline

As reported
here, Oregon is among a growing number of states exploring ways to tax drivers based on the number of miles they drive instead of how much gas they use, even going so far as to install GPS monitoring devices in 300 vehicles. The idea first emerged nearly 10 years ago as Oregon lawmakers worried that fuel-efficient cars such as gas-electric hybrids could pose a threat to road upkeep, which is paid for largely with gasoline taxes.

This is on top of the call for a 50% increase in gasoline and diesel fuel taxes proposed by
the National Commission on Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing, a 15-member panel created by Congress.

The first idea is troubling in that Big Brother the government has no need to know where we are going, and when we are going there, and if enacted will face legal battles based on invasion of privacy constitutional grounds. It is simply none of their business what we do in our cars, as long as we are abiding by the laws.

The second idea is illogical (which has never stopped a government bureaucracy from doing anything, I know) in that the world is facing a global economic crisis and raising taxes now is beyond idiotic.

Why is this commission calling for a 50% increase in gas taxes? Because of two things - people have been getting out of their cars due to the high price of fuel (which isn't quite the propblem it was), and because of the government mandated CAFE rules which stipulate that cars be more fuel efficient. Both factors have contributed to the decline in tax revenue through less fuel consumed, hence the call for the increase in gas taxes.

But raising the taxes any amount (let alone 50%!) will create a "Catch-22" situation, in that as the price of gasoline jumps, people will be motivated to drive even less, which will only cause a decrease in fuel consumed, resulting in even less revenue generated through taxes.

Note to politicians thinking of pushing either of these two ideas - your terms will come to end at some point in the near future, and I wouldn't pin my hopes on getting re-elected if I were you.

Reality Hammer