When it comes to the metastasizing growth of government over the lives of those who are supposed to be free individuals, those labeled as “Chicken Littles” usually are proven right.
And a new proposal being readied by the Democrats for their impending control of the House is a prime example of this phenomenon.
Years ago, when various states began to push the idea of handling road tolls via radio-signal transponders, privacy advocates warned that such technology (as well as the emissions-reporting tech that the feds forced auto-makers to put into cars) would open the door to an expansion of the surveillance state. They warned that it might lead to police ticketing people for speeding, and politicians establishing “mileage taxes”, based on constant monitoring of driving speed and distance – monitoring that would be conducted contrary to the Fourth Amendment, which requires warrants issued by judges for cops to search people or invade their private belongings.
And while the idea of using an electronically monitored toll system based on mileage to help pay for government-run roads has been justifiably noted to be more efficient and user-specific than gasoline taxes, it does not address this fundamental privacy issue, nor call into question whether government politicians and bureaucrats are the best option for running roads. And, in fact this kind of “mileage tax” is not precisely what the Democrats propose. Take a look at the details, because the leftists in DC are salivating over this one…
Incoming House Transportation Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) is planning to propose a new tax that would penalize drivers by taxing them at a higher rate when they experience traffic. The traffic tax would be part of a new pilot program for a “vehicle miles traveled” (VMT) tax which would replace the federal gas tax and instead charge motorists based on a per-mile fee.
First, it might be worthwhile to call into question the very idea that there is a justified constitutional provision for members of Congress to have a “Transportation” bureau. Simply put, there’s no enumerated power that gives Congress any such authority.
Second, as noted, this bill proposes more than just a mileage toll. As Mr. Palicz explains, the Right-Mighty Congressman DeFazio also wants a “congestion” tax included in the poisonous mix of monitoring and highway robbery.
In order for a VMT system to work, GPS systems would be installed in vehicles which would track vehicle movement and measure miles traveled in order to calculate the tax. Rep. DeFazio would then use the guise of replacing the gas tax with a VMT tax to charge differential rates based on highway congestion.
So he wants to punish you for driving when he prefers you don’t, because, of course, you’re burning fuel, and, according to him, contributing to his giant mythological bogyman of “anthropogenic climate change”. He’s got to save the world from your carbon profligacy -- of course he’s justified!
Never mind the fact that we already have an in-built desire to cut our own costs, but we have to battle with the way the government-run roads are built and poorly maintained, and fight the fact that they toss good and bad drivers into them in a perennial “tragedy of the commons” of public use. Don’t bother noting the fact that you and your political pals have already trapped us in the government-run Minotaur’s Maze of rotten public roads, Congressman DeFazio. That’s some neat prestidigitation, there, sir.
With that political magic DeFazio wants something rather nasty. As Palicz adroitly observes:
To be clear, DeFazio isn’t talking about creating new toll lanes or raising toll prices to reduce highway congestion. He is instead talking about installing a tracking system in your car that would monitor your vehicle’s movement and location at every moment, transmit this information to federal agencies, and then tax you based upon how busy traffic is when you’re driving.
Government is an avaricious beast, always sucking the financial lifeblood of productive citizens, and it grows in ways that people usually would not choose if left alone.
Like a cancer, the landscape it shapes is ugly and unnatural, syphoning away from the healthy choices people could make on their own, choices from which people could learn should they make mistakes and others could learn through observation in a free market.
It is unlikely this bill will get past the Senate. But the idea will not die.
Listen to Chicken Little.
When it comes to government, he’s usually right. The collectivists will work for this, and your rights won't matter to them at all.