For those of you who don't have the bandwidth to listen to the linked story above, since people a driving less and thus less gas taxes are being collected to fund highway repair and mass transit, the Bush administration's new idea is to do away with the gas tax and instead put an electronic device on everyone's car that records the time of day they drive, the number of miles they drive, whether or not they are carrying a passenger and uses the weight of the vehicle to calculate and collect a "transportation fee" to asses to fund highway repair and mass transit.
1. Lots more red tape with these "devices" installed in everyone's cars- and when/where do they get read? By satellite?
2. Tech ppl will find a way to cheat the system, How could an electronic device tell if you have a passenger or a backpack in your front seat?
3. It seems like an election year gimmick for some politicians to say "We'll the other guy is wanting you to pay gas taxes and I don't want you to pay any gas taxes"
4. Why not just double the gas tax?
They were talking about a similar system proposed in the UK on Top Gear last night. Even they thought it was a really bad idea. The current system is the best. If you want to pay lower gas tax drive a more efficient vehicle. Simply put. I'm sure Rusty pays more than his fair share of gas taxes, and my dad's Ford Focus pays less. It all works out in the end. People driving less means less wear & tear on the roads. If they don't have enough money its because they haven't budgeted properly.
This is an interesting discussion in the Libertarian circles.
On one hand, Libertarians abhor taxes. On the other hand, they feel responsible for their actions. Therefore, they (at least the ones I've talked to) feel some sort of obligation to pay for the roads that they use (amongst many tangential discussions of government waste & inefficiency). In theory, we should also be responsible for undoing any damage we do to the environment (i.e. pollution from the fumes we emit) but until I see someone going around removing these from the air I don't feel like I should pay for them.
The consensus is that the system described above is actually the "fairest" way to do it, despite some problems. Those who use the road the most & hardest would have to pay the most.
Of course the problem is enforcement. Am I going to put some sort of transponder in my window so some giant computer can track my travels?
At the end of the day, the only logical thing to me is the gas tax. I would prefer that you pay $3 per gallon of gas + $1 "usage fee" so that its visible, but that does seem to be the most logical way to account for miles traveled and weight of the vehicle (since heavier vehicles "generally" get lower gas mileage).
Although I have heard a couple of "private sector" solutions described, I can't see any of them being practical (especially when monopolies are considered).