Monday, March 16, 2009

Mentally taxing

Expecting sound public policy to come out of Congress is like expecting prime rib to come out of a sausage machine, but sometimes our legislators surpass themselves. The latest turkey to make the rounds of the Capitol building is the proposed mileage tax which would replace the current tax on gasoline consumption. This is an idea so bad as to confirm everything Mark Twain said about our representatives in D.C. (“Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”)

The alleged problem with the gas tax is that as motorists drive more fuel-efficient cars, the gas tax yields less money. And nothing appalls a public servant more than sinking tax revenues. So now they want to tax you on the miles you drive, not the gasoline you buy.

To enforce this, mileage tax proponents want to make everybody install GPS devices in their cars so the government can track where your car has been and how far you’ve driven. Yes, you heard that correctly.

Man, where do you start in taking on this stinker? To begin with, isn’t it a good thing if people are switching to more fuel-efficient cars? Isn’t that what we want, at a time when carbon emissions and dependence on foreign oil are critical concerns? Replacing the gas tax with a mileage tax removes an incentive to watch your fuel consumption. It means if you have to drive 500 miles, you might as well do it in a gas-sucking Hummer rather than an economical Civic. What it amounts to is a subsidy for gas guzzlers. How smart do you have to be to figure that one out?

Smarter than Senator Barbara Boxer, apparently; she calls the mileage tax a “brilliant idea”. But even she balks at the GPS idea, calling it “a Big Brother system”. Well, hello, Senator. Her idea to enforce the law? An honor system in which drivers report their own mileage. This haphazard approach to public policy indicates the fog of cognitive dissonance in which too many of our legislators move.

It’s not too late to deep-six this thing; call or e-mail your representatives in Congress and tell them to start giving the same amount of basic common-sense consideration to the legislative proposals before them that they give to their personal finances. And hope that's not asking too much.

Sam Reaves


Gator said...

Really this is just the stuff of talk radio, it'll never fly for all the reasons you outlined. Worse is if an iPass device is used to track us everywhere then I can't speed any more (there's probably more money to be made given speeding tickets out through tracking, boy would that suck).

bty, your implied insult against sausage was uncalled for!

Sam Reaves said...

I withdraw the remark about sausage with apologies...
Thanks for your comments. Sam