First the wallet, then the privacy

North Carolina is seriously considering a really odious idea:

With gas-tax revenues plummeting, the state of North Carolina is looking seriously at taxing motorists for how far they drive.

Because spending less money is apparently out of the question. But wait, it gets better:

If the “road-use tax” is implemented, it would at first be simple – with the state checking your odometer annually and taxing you based on how many miles you have driven. But transportation experts say new GPS technology could allow the state to charge people different rates based on when and where they drive, in an attempt to manage congestion.

Talk of a Vehicle Miles Traveled tax has long been discussed as a necessity in a decade or so, because cars are becoming more fuel efficient, and states and the federal government are losing gas-tax revenue.

But there is now a sense of urgency about the new VMT tax. When gas hit $4 a gallon this summer, Americans sharply curtailed their driving. And when the economy cratered this fall, the driving rollback continued, even when gas prices plummeted.

Got that, in return for the right to drive in North Carolina, they would not only tax you extra on top of the gas tax you already pay, they would demand to know exactly where you drove your car.

By coincidence almost exactly a year ago I blogged here about how automated toll collection data has been used in divorce cases. Is there any doubt that this GPS data wouldn’t be used for law enforcement and civil litigation?

Of course the nanny staters get a say in the same article:

If states wanted to encourage people to continue driving fuel-efficient vehicles, the per-mile charge could vary depending on what you drive. A hybrid might be charged one-fifth-cent per mile, while an SUV might be charged a half-cent.

David Farren of the Southern Environmental Law Center said he supports a VMT tax. He said the tax would encourage people to live closer together, lessening the impact automobiles have on the environment. The government should not only encourage people to use less gas, but also to drive less, he said.

Wonderful. Not only do you pay more to lose your privacy, you get to be punished for what car you drive and where you live.


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