Henry Lamb
New meaning for "road tax"
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By Henry Lamb
July 12, 2009

Sara was late for work. The alarm clock didn't alarm, the kids were unusually slow getting ready for school, and nothing went right. She finally got to her car a brand new 2020 Chevy Adventure. She touched the finger-print secured start button. Nothing. It wouldn't start. She touched it again. Nothing. Furious, she banged the steering wheel with her fist. Then she noticed the paper hanging from the receipt printer on the dash.

"Your designated visa account rejected your Road Use Tax in the amount of $87.32 for the month of June, 2020. You must insert a valid account card to activate your automobile."

It's coming. With a $16 million grant from the federal government, the University of Iowa is developing a Global Positioning Satellite system that can measure the mileage, apply a variable tax rate that will increase during rush hours, and in high-traffic areas, calculate the total, charge a designated account card, and shut down your automobile if unpaid when due. Some 2700 automobiles in five states will be used in the test.

The system has been under development for more than a decade. The concept was proven in a similar, but smaller test in Oregon two years ago. The new tax system is being designed to replace the outdated by-the-gallon tax. Government mandated higher mileage requirements results in less tax revenue for all governments. Hybrid and all-electric cars contribute little or nothing to road tax revenues.

The new by-the-mile tax system will give government much more than a new tax collection mechanism; it will give government much greater control over everyone.

The new GM Government Motors can install this new system in all of its vehicles. All that's needed is an instruction from the car-czar. Auto makers that have not yet been taken over by the government can be required to install the system quite easily, by regulation or legislation. With such a system in every vehicle, the government can have virtual control over the population.

Purchase of a vehicle will give the government a database containing the name and residence location of every automobile owner. Since the system has the ability to record and track the geographic location of the vehicle at every moment of the day or night only for the purpose of applying the correct tax rate, of course government can know where your vehicle is at any moment.

Frightened yet? This is not hocus-pocus conspiracy-theory nonsense. The National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission has unanimously endorsed the scheme. A past president of the Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials says that several states have considered not waiting for the federal government, and implementing this system within their states. It is on the horizon, and currently targeted for implementation by 2020.

This system will give the government the power to know your every movement. Where does the Constitution authorize the government to exercise this power? How does the exercise of this power square with the Constitution's 4th Amendment guarantee of a right to privacy? Does anybody care?

Privacy concerns have kept the project out of the public spotlight, but not out of the lab. As the project matures, there will be the obligatory lip-service to "prohibiting" the government from using the capability to invade individual privacy. "Assurances" will be mouthed from both the administration and the Congress, that the rights of individuals will be protected. And the program will move forward.

Imagine this scenario: a police station in Podunk, New Jersey gets a silent alarm that a bank robbery is in progress at the corner of 4th Avenue and Main Street. The chief radios the regional Road Tax Monitoring Center, and immediately, every vehicle in the vicinity is disabled. The police arrive at the scene to find the robbers sitting in their vehicle banging on the steering wheel of an automobile that won't start. The press lauds this wonderful new technology.

Now imagine this scenario: A detective knocks on your door. "Your vehicle was parked on 2nd Avenue Saturday evening between 10:32 and 11:15 pm. Why?"

"It's none of your business," you protest.

You are informed that there was a crime committed in the neighborhood, and until you can explain why you were there, you are a suspect. You are in the position of having to prove your innocence rather than the state having to prove your guilt.

There is no end to the mischief that government can impose upon the people with this system. Government could control when and where people go simply by adjusting the tax rate. Government could force people to use public transportation, by adjusting the tax rate. Government could deactivate vehicles as a form of punishment for unpaid speeding or parking tickets. Government could easily dictate the type of vehicle you drive, simply by adjusting the tax rate on GM vehicles.

Those who think these scenarios are far-fetched have not been watching what the federal government has been doing, especially since the new Democratic Socialists have taken control of Washington. It's going to take more than Tea Parties to prevent this "change" that is being imposed. It's going to take a determined electorate to throw the bums out!

© Henry Lamb

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

 

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