Oh man, you drivers out there, you’re out on the road more and more every year* but the amount of gasoline and diesel ‘n stuff you buy isn’t keeping pace. So when people like you trade in their big old fuel-guzzling SUVs for Toyota Prius hybrids, the amount of gasoline they buy and the concomitant tax they pay to the Govmint goes down, let’s say by a half or two-thirds.
That’s good for Prius drivers but bad for the govmints. This chart from a big new report (free .pdf) out of California’s own RAND Corportation think tank ‘splains it all. See? You people are out there clogging up the roads and tearing up the streets 100% more than you were in 1980, but you’re only buying 50% more fuel:
You drivers are paying more in tax but not as much as if you would be paying if you were taxed by the mile. (That makes you a deadbeat in the eyes of the Powers That Be.)
And things are only going to get “worse” when Tesla Motors’ mainstream Model S hits the streets in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, “late 2012,” right? Electric car drivers pay no gas tax at all, so how are we going to make sure that they pay their fair share to repave our streets ‘n stuff**?
The RANDian eggheads looked at these issues and, out of 15 ideas, decided that these three would be the most practicable:
What if the authorities put a GPS unit in your car or motorcycle? Not the regular kind of GPS receiver, the good kind, the ones that use differentials or whatever to pinpoint your whereabouts down to a couple yards on a 24-7 basis.
You don’t like that? Well how about a cell phone in your car next to the engine that would call the government on a regular basis to rat out how miles you’ve driven the past week?
You don’t like that neither? Well how about a system that ID’s your car when you buy gas and then computes your Miles Driven by looking at your particular model’s EPA rating?
And let’s say this all gets implemented in five years.
Or instead, our electeds could simply raise gas taxes a bit, but that’s not something that they like talking about doing.
Of course they could make this new VMT proposal “revenue neutral” by getting rid of or lowering per-gallon fuel taxes that you pay today. Once a system like this is in place, taxes would correlate more directly with miles driven – it’s up to you if you like that or not.
Welcome to The Future.
Speaking of 1980:
My uncle has a country place
That no one knows about.
He says it used to be a farm
Before the Motor Law.
And on Sundays I elude the Eyes,
And hop the Turbine Freight
To far outside the Wire
Where my white-haired uncle waits.
See how this libertarian, Canadian Power Rock Trio story ends after the jump.
*Not so much this past year or two, but you’ll be out there in force again soon enough.
**And maybe that’s the way it should be. I know all the arguments you’re thinking about – this is a political question, of course.