Monday, November 21, 2011

Times like this it occurs to me, we were lied to by The Jetsons

You know, that's the damn problem with this country. People used to throw their hats over walls. People used to have sack.

From Will pay-per-mile be a buzzkill for American road trips?

Ahh, what speaks of freedom more than the time honored tradition of the American Road Trip? Pointing that streamlined hunk of metal towards the unknown horizon and gunning the pedal to the floor. But with gas prices and other various costs associated with maintaining a vehicle on the road, the past time is dying out. And now, in the American 21st Century, for the first time it appears that horizon no longer carries the mystery of the unknown, but rather the final nail in the coffin of the American rite of passage.

You see, the government is worried. The combination of fuel efficient vehicles and increased gas prices keeping people away from the pumps is resulting in a stagnation of flow of tax dollars to maintain the highway system. There is a federal tax on every gallon of gas you purchase, which is then used to maintain the massive spider-web of concrete that keeps our country moving. But with this revenue stream drying up, politicians are looking for new cash cows.

And the answer they've come up with is a pay-per-mile tax system in which motor vehicles will be electronically monitored, and then charged a yearly tax for the number of miles they have driven. OK, that sounds kind of reasonable. Combat rising fuel efficiency by directly taxing drivers based on mileage driven. Simple enough. Until you consider the fact that there are over 250 million vehicles that would have to be monitored around the clock. The enormous task of collecting, processing, and billing citizens based on this data would just put another drain on the system. Many experts are saying that the cost of implementing this new tax system would in itself require a new tax to pay for. Or keeping the current fuel tax to pay for the cost of switching to the new pay-per-mile tax.

Beyond the monetary considerations of such a switch comes the privacy concerns. Honestly, who is comfortable with the thought of taxmen monitoring GPS data of every mile your vehicle drives? What happened to the right to privacy? While many motorists in recent surveys are expressing that they would be more willing to acquiesce to these regulatory changes provided the system did not record specific locations along with its mileage, I simply don't care for the idea of having a little black box in my car ticking data to the G-Men.

All in all, this seems to simply be an effort to place an adhesive strip (that's a Band-Aid for you brand-name shoppers) over a gun-shot wound. The CNN article mentions that by 2020, the cost of maintaining the roads, highways and bridges in this country could be up to 1.7 trillion dollars per year. I would therefore imagine that the proper response to this quandary would not be to generate more funds for a growing beast of a problem, but rather to look outside the box for a new solution.

And for that solution, I submit that we look to the answers provided by children's cartoons. The lovable Jetsons had us all believing that by this time we would all be able to rise above this situation, literally, with the advent of the flying car. After all, who needs highways and bridges when you can have a flying car!

So get to it, inventors of America! Throw your hats over the wall! Your country needs you!!

Three Monkeys Say: Yo yo, get this! We're goin' to the moon!!

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