It’s the same with things like tax-by-mile.
This can’t, for practical reasons, be decreed overnight. For one thing, most of the cars in service – or at least, a very large number – are not equipped from the factory with the necessary technology.
But, almost all new cars are equipped with the technology. They have some form of send-and-receive-capable telemetry system, marketed as “concierge” or “driver assistance” technology. GM’s OnStar was the first, but pretty much every other car company now has some version of this as well (e.g., Subaru StarLink, Ford MyLink, Chrysler UConnect) and it’s rapidly becoming part of the standard equipment suite.
As this stuff becomes de facto standard equipment in cars – Uncle may not even have to mandate it – it’ll be much easier for Uncle to demand that drivers be taxed according to mileage rather than by the gallon. It is as inevitable as going gray.
If you care about preserving the thing that defines not just a free society but a civilized one (they’re both the same thing, of course). And that thing is…
Being un-monitored, not watched.
Free to come and go as you like, without anyone else knowing a damned thing about it.
You may have noticed the trend toward its opposite. Which is essential culturally as well as legally if this country’s transformation into something very different than the thing described in the (old) history books is to be completed.
And this is why tax-by-mile (and many other things that are of a piece, like Obamacare) is not so much a bad idea but rather an evil idea.
Whether intended or not.
Because it will mean you’re no longer free to go where you like, when you like and how you like because these actions will be monitored and recorded. A government bureaucrat will have the power to obtain that information whenever he likes, for whatever reason “the law” says.
Or just because he can.
Someone will always be looking over your shoulder.
Or could be.
At any time.
It will be claimed that no one’s monitoring your comings and goings. They are just collecting taxes (you know, like the IRS…. which never asks for or stores personal information).
But the fact is the technology makes it possible to do exactly that: Monitor you, all the time. Whether it is actually done at this particular moment or that is irrelevant. The relevant fact is… it could be done.
Whenever Uncle likes. At his discretion.
Just as the relevant fact is that Uncle now has the legal power to listen to every phone conversation we have and can read every e-mail we send and can peruse our web surfing habits anytime he likes. The fact that he may not actually have a Stasi-type stooge actually listening at this particular moment, actually reading transcripts of every single e-mail of all 300-plus million of us in real time, right now, every day, doesn’t change the fact that he could, at any time. The “meta data” has been recorded – and “the law” gives him the power to filch through it whenever he likes.
Anything Uncle can do, he will do.
It will be the same with tax-by-mile. It may be automated, they will sooth with talk of the “safeguards” built into the system, but the nature of thing requires specificity. They have to know it’s your car – and so, presumably, you – driving “x” miles today. Where and When; how Fast.
All of it.
Do you really suppose they will not “share” this information with – for openers – the insurance mafia? Why do you suppose the insurance mafia is literally champing at the bit for real-time monitoring of our driving habits?
Whether they – an actual human bureaucrat or just a bureaucratic computer – keeps track is not the relevant consideration. That you are, in fact, kept track of is.
You no longer have privacy.
The expectation that no one is watching you. That no one else knows – can know (without a warrant) where you’re headed, where you’ve been.
It is interesting to note the perhaps deliberate, perhaps not – but irrelevant as regards the results – conditioning of the populace to accept the promiscuous broadcasting of their once-private business to… we’ll…. everyone.
Call it the Kardashianization of the country. Or perhaps the Facebooking of the country. People have been encouraged by mighty social pressure to gush about things most people used to keep to themselves or at least, kept with their circle of immediate family and close friends.
The societal change is worth noting. It tracks with the rise of the busybody as a political ideal; the ugsome people that H.L. Mencken derisively referred to as “uplifters” and “wowsers.”
We’re all wowsers now.
Everyone’s business is everyone else’s business – from your sex life to your driving habits.
The Brave New World requires this.
I much prefer the old.
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