Saturday, March 07, 2009
Mileage Tax Is A Terrible Idea
Currently this country has far too many miles of overcrowded and deteriorating roadways, and crumbling bridges that are reaching the danger point. This is because for the years they were in power, the Republicans were more interested in giving tax breaks to their rich buddies and promoting the use of fossil fuels.
This has left America in trouble. We now must not only rebuild our poorly kept infrastructure, but we also need to reduce our dependence on and use of fossil fuels. These carbon-based fuels are not only destroying our climate, but they leave us far too dependent on oil imported from foreign countries (many of whom are not our friends).
To undertake the massive rebuilding of our infrastructure, huge amounts of new money are now needed. At its current level, the federal gas tax cannot supply the money in the amounts that are needed. That is why some in Congress have come up with a new idea for taxing Americans. They want to tax U.S. drivers for each mile they drive. This is a terrible idea.
How are they going to do this? Are they going to use GPS devices to monitor where and how much each American drives? If so, this is a clear invasion of privacy. Frankly, it is not the government's business to know where, when or how much any American drives. Using such an electronic device to monitor Americans just smacks a little too much of Big Brother.
Senator Boxer (D-California), a proponent of the mileage tax, doesn't want to use the technology to monitor Americans. Instead, she said we should use the "honor system" and let each American report his own mileage. This is just as bad. Then you would have honest people paying the tax and dishonest people being rewarded by not having to pay.
And there are plenty of cheaters who wouldn't pay their part. Just look at the income tax and note how many people try to cheat on their taxes. Are we going to have to have mileage tax inspectors to keep people honest? Do we really want that?
But collecting the tax without invading a citizen's privacy is just one of the things wrong with this mileage tax. It would also encourage the use of carbon-based fuels at a time when we really need to discourage their use. With a mileage tax, the person who drives a small energy-efficient car will pay the same as someone who drives a huge gas-guzzling SUV, if they drive the same amount of miles.
Americans have always loved their large and powerful gas-guzzlers. They are not going to have any incentive to give them up, if the small cars must pay the same tax for mileage driven. There is a better way to finance our infrastructure -- the existing gas tax.
It makes a lot more sense to simply raise the gas tax to raise the needed money. That will raise the cost of gasoline -- perhaps significantly. But that is actually a good thing. The more gasoline costs, the more Americans will have an incentive to drive less miles and drive those miles in more energy-efficient vehicles.
This will give us a double-barreled bonus. It will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and it will also help to slow the impending global climactic change caused by the use of carbon-based fuels. Doesn't that make more sense?
The mileage tax is a terrible idea, and we need to nip it in the bud before it gains momentum.