too much typing—since 2003


an inanity wrapped in dumb inside stupidity

Apparently, some officials in California are considering replacing the state's gasoline tax, currently assessed per gallon, with a tax-per-mile scheme that might, among other idiocies, entail tracking the driving habits of every Californian. Aside from the rather massive privacy issues involved here, this is an idea that shoots for, and achieves, previously unheard-of levels of dumb.

Let's see, first of all, such a policy would all but eliminate a key incentive for people to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles, such as hybrids. So J. Flatchlington Asshole in his Hummer would pay exactly the same as the Thrifties in their Prius, assuming they drive the same number of miles. And of course there'd be a thriving market in odometer rollbacks, GPS disablers and misleaders, and other system hacks. People would suddenly develop addresses in Nevada or Oregon...and of course, while the current system assesses the gasoline tax to out-of-state drivers who purchase gas in California, the proposed new system could not do so.

Oh - and would there be either (a) a massive initial expense in converting every vehicle in California to the new system, or (b) a massive lagtime while newer vehicles are fitted with the system, while older ones wait to be replaced (creating a drag on the new-car market as well - not to mention raising yet again for Californians the price of new cars with state-specific gizmos included)?

The rationale is that - horrors! - fuel-efficient vehicles mean less gas purchased, and therefore fewer funds in the coffers to maintain roads. The proposal, then, is rather like that of a heroin addict trying to figure out what he needs to do to get more money...rather than addressing the addiction that's his real problem.

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