The Commuter (and Privacy and Other Things) Tax

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If you don’t wan’t your dog to run away, you leash him. The government doesn’t want you to run away, either – but has a different kind of leash in mind.

The commuter tax.

It’s called the mileage tax but like so many things being pushed down our throats the term used doesn’t describe what’s actually meant.

What’s described by proponents such as Rep. Peter DeFazio, a liberal Democrat from Oregon who unfortunately chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is a merely modern replacement for the gas tax.

But what’s meant is a tax on driving – and the distinction is critical to grok.

When you buy gas, part of what you’re paying is tax, about 50 cents or so in federal and state taxes, folded into the price. But where – and how far – you go aren’t taxed.

The commuter tax (and DeFazio wants a federal commuter tax) will tax them both – punishing you for distance – which means punishing commuters and others who need to drive more rather than less to get to and from their place of employment.

As well as just driving, period.

Put another way, it will be a  new nudge – to use the word favored by the  the coercive utopians pushing this – to get people to not drive as far or as much. To nudge them closer to cities they want the proletariat herded into  – by making it cost too much to live “too far” away from them.

Interestingly, it will do this by punishing people who bought an efficient car – for the sake of reducing their cost to drive.

Peter DeFazio

Which will go up, if this new tax comes to pass – as DeFazio and others in Congress, including a number of “conservative” Republicans such as Rep. Same Graves of Missouri are demanding.

Unless new subsidies are created to compensate the owner of, say, a 40 MPG economy car he will pay the same tax on his driving as the owner of an 18 MPG SUV if they both drive the same distance. There will no longer be any good reason to buy an “economical” car.

And both will have their driving tracked by the government.

The gas tax is anonymous.

You can pay cash. You don’t have to show your “papers.” Uncle has no idea how far you drive – or where.

Or how much tax you’re paying – if you pay cash for your gas.

The commuter tax will require that your car be leashed – electronically – so that Uncle knows everywhere you go.

How else could he tax you for how far you go?

And you will be leashed, as well – since the tax is applied to a specific person – you, the car’s owner – rather than anonymously.

“Papers” will be required.

Among other things, this scheme is also a nudge toward the cashless economy dreamt of by the control freaks and busybodies who constitute “the government – who cannot stand the idea that every single transaction isn’t known unto them. Worst of all, that there might be people out there “getting away” with not paying their “fair share” of taxes by using that loathsomely anonymous mechanism for transacting their business – cash money.

The mileage tax will mean the end of privacy as regards our mobility – as well as economically.

And the commuter tax would nudge something else as well – us, out of cars that lack the “tech” to be taxed in this manner.

Cars made before the OBD era, specifically.

“OBD” is the acronym for On Board Diagnostics – which every new car has come standard with since the mid-1990s. Every car has a universal OBD port – like a USB port for your devices. This port serves as the umbilical connection for scanning tools used to obtain data from the car’s computer memory – including “trouble codes” stored indicating the need for service  – but also such things as how many miles the car has been driven.

A “mileage meter” is plugged into the OBD port and automatically reports your mileage driven to the government, which then duns you – probably via automatic debit from your bank account.

It works like a Smart Meter. The power company no longer needs to send a guy out to your house.

And more.

Smart Meters monitor electricity usage, just as your driving will be monitored. And both lay all the necessary technical groundwork for controlling usage – and driving.

But this commuter tax only works on cars that have this electronic leash – so to speak. Older cars – and motorcycles –  with mechanical speedometers (and without computers) can’t be kept track of remotely. They are free range transportation. Anonymous. Untraceable. Easily “tampered” with.

That probably won’t be allowed.

Not directly, of course. These creeps are subtler nowadays; they have learned it goes down easier if done elliptically. No outright ban on older vehicles. Just a new regulation – or several – that mandate compliance with the commuter tax in some functionally onerous or economically untenable manner, such as that they be fitted with the tech necessary to keep track of their mileage

If you can’t afford to modify your older car or motorcycle so that it is “compliant,” you can no longer drive it.

Easy Peesy.

“That’s where we’re headed in the future,” DeFazio recently eructed.

If so, it’s a worrisome future – if you worry about the implications of taxing people for driving – as such.

And despise the idea of herding people into urban hives – so that the countryside can be opened up for the elites, like DeFazio, who are behind the herding.

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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56 COMMENTS

  1. Of course, your driving information will be available to AGWs and admissible in court. They may promise it’s for tax purposes only, but soon enough, it will be used to prove someone patronized a prostitute or visited a drug dealer or violated parole by going to another state.
    It’s like the patriot act, which was supposed to be for anti-terrorism only, but is also being used for state level crimes like drug dealing or to wiretap a presidential campaign.

    • Well-said, Amy!

      Anyone who is naive enough to believe in benign motives animating anything the government does these days is to be pitied as well as feared, since such people are the reason why these things are happening.

  2. Everything to make this work would have to be outside the car.

    Me and my fellow ‘hobbyists’ have found ways to work around or disable things in modern cars.

    For example:
    There is a type of data recorder in most cars and IF you do not want it to record ANYTHING, I heard this is very simple to do.
    The technology that sends updates and data to/from your car can be mitigated by sound generation on two frequencies.
    There are also things I have read about which can make the OBD2 port appear to be broken and cannot be fixed without knowing the secret.
    Modern cars with turbo’s usually have some data in the ECU which is marked read-only. But you can pull that data, edit it, and put it back in the ECU and get 25% or more increased horsepower.

    There are always ways to ensure you do not comply with oligarchs making decisions for you. Find those ways and implement them on your vehicles and other devices.

    Never stop railing against the rules, and do everything you can to NOT COMPLY!

  3. Will not happen anytime soon. The backlash would be lethal against the politicians who try to implement this- not to mention it would cripple the economy

    Ain’t gonna happen, imho

    • Hi Equalizer,

      I used to think so myself… then the TSA happened. Gate rape. I never would have believed Americans would accept being groped and scanned as a condition of travel… had I not witnessed it happen myself.

      I have a very low opinion of the resistance capabilities of the average person.

      • TSA side story… The wife and I decided to fly to Vegas where we had our honeymoon 20 years ago. Going through the gates, I went first so that I would already be finished when it was my wife’s turn and I could monitor the situation. As my wife was going through, I had my eyes on the TSA agent, waiting for one wrong move and I was ready to “intervene”. Well, after the wife was finished, incident free, I turned around to walk off and there was a huge hulking gorilla TSA agent standing right behind me waiting to pounce on me if I had felt the need to defend my wife’s honor. I called him a clown right to his face as we walked off. That was the last flight I’ll probably ever take. Imagine what would have happened to me if they had decided to violate my wife.

      • It’s disgusting. In the past I’ve flown with no ID at all. These days flying is not an option. Most likely I’d wind up in jail rather than on the plane.

        • There’s no need to go anyplace you can’t get to in a pickup truck with a .357 Magnum under the driver’s seat.

          Period.

      • But without the TSA the terrorists will “win!”

        Never mind that allegedly Osama Bin Laden said the point of his attacks was to bankrupt the United States by forcing a security state on the population…

      • Oh, and it’s more than tolerating the groping and loss of dignity. The people who actually thank the agents that make me cringe (my chickenhawk mother being one of those people, BTW).

        Open carry on airliners would fix a lot of problems, IMHO. No mass murder at the gun range, right? Even the school shooting in Denver this week shows that if you just rush the shooter/terrorist they’ll stop.

    • You’d have to make it a believable amount. Otherwise you’ll raise “suspicion” and trigger an audit. And then come the enforcers, to make an example out of you for the rest of us to get in line.

  4. The government, like any cancer, is always growing and always needs more nourishment (sugar for biological cancer, money for government) as it surrounds and envelopes us. Until we start seriously cutting it away, things will only get worse.

  5. While I value freedom of speech for all points of view, politicians who utter such ideas in public should be shouted down, as though they were conservative speakers on a liberal college campus. There is no right to speak such threats against our freedom. The local government here in Kansas City can’t even keep up with the potholes. How are they going to maintain all those electronic monitors?

    • Hi Patrick,

      None of this makes sense until you realize the long-term goal is to get us out of our cars. Then it all makes sense.

      One way to get us out of cars is to make driving as miserable – and expensive – as possible.

      Makes sense now, eh?

  6. Stupid flag-waving “conservatives” and “patriots” need to get woke on the fact that the Constitution of limited and enumerated powers is dead, and a goodly number of people in our government are practically indistinguishable from party commissars in the Soviet Union.

    Elections across the Western world are a sham — the bureaucratic apparatchiks control everything. A half-year of rioting in France, and nothing has changed — the smug little prick Macron is unaffected. What has it been, three years since Brexit? Yet the government practically laughs at the voters. Trump was elected, and the FBI, NSA and CIA tried their damnedest to take him out on bogus accusations.

    Sure, we don’t have the gulag — yet. For now, they’re able to control the stupid masses with porn, football, and Facebook.

    For now.

        • Hi Anon,

          Off topic. This is a polite request to you and all other “anon’s”. Would you consider creating some differentiating handle? I understand the desire to be anonymous but, can this only be achieved by using that word?

          One of the great things about this place is participating in a voluntary community. We begin to know and appreciate the individual members. We begin to respond directly to each other and eagerly anticipate the interaction. Of course, it is open so everyone else can ignore or participate at will. A level of intimacy develops that nourishes this vibrant community. I suspect that many regular “anon’s” feel this (because they can identify “us”) but, we don’t get to share it with you.

          Just a thought,
          Jeremy

      • He also stated, “There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.” Just goes to show this crap has been going on for a very long time though it has certainly been escalating and steamrolling in recent years.

        • At least when Mark Twain was alive, Congress turned over every few years; you didn’t have the career politicians like you do now. The career politician (i.e. someone serving in Congress for DECADES) is a relatively recent development. It’s a TRAVESTY when you have guys like John Conyers serving for 52 years! Then, their kids take over the seat…

          • Americans (at least the ones who actually vote) are hidebound navel-gazers and extremely conservative. Most of the 70+ voters, the vast majority, are still reeling from the events of 1968 onward and are overly nostalgic for the 1950s again. They watched their parents vote FDR in 4 times, never question why only 435 voting members of the house and think everything would be perfect if the other party would just get out of the way.

            • I understand what you’re saying about 435 representatives. However, if we adhered to the Constitution’s stipulation of one per 30,000 of population, we’d have something like 10,800 representatives now! How would such a large group be managed? That’s why they cut off the number @ 435.

              • Actually it might be better since they would probably never get anything done and leave us the hell alone while they fight amongst themselves.

              • Hi Mark,

                The cap at 435, along with the 17th amendment destroyed even the possibility of a functional limited, democratic republic. As you know, each house member “represents” an average of about 850,000 people. So, given the original 30,000 to one ratio, the relative power of each individual has decreased nearly 30 fold. The 17th amendment destroyed the bicameral system and effectively neutered the ability of the states to check the power of the Federal government. Senators were supposed to represent the interests of each state, and could be fired at the will of the legislature. Now they are just better paid, more pretentious and less accountable “representative”.

                You ask, “How would such a large group be managed?” Easily, eliminate the physical house, stipulate that all representatives must live full time in the jurisdiction they represent and conduct “business” over the internet. Today, there is no reason why “representatives” need to meet in a single building. Thus, the existence of 9 to 12 thousand representatives does not pose a logistical problem, as it did in the past. Requiring them to live among their constituents would make it almost certain that they would actually have to interact with them, which would impose some external check on their behavior.

                Counter intuitively, drastically increasing the size of the House is a form of radical decentralization. It would dramatically increase the power of each individual relative to their “representative”. In addition, it would make rent seeking by corporations far more costly and inefficient because they would need to buy off hundreds, or thousands, of congressman instead of just a few.

                This, combined with repealing the 17th amendment, which would restore the bicameral system, is the only means, within the current system, that may retard or reverse the growth of Federal power.

                Kind Regards,
                Jeremy

                • I understand the implications of the 17th Amendment and the necessity for its repeal. I’d argue that we should repeal the 19th while we’re at it, because women are natural statists; they’re more COLLECTIVIST in their thinking and emotions.

                  BTW, the right to vote is NOT in the Constitution; it’s not mentioned in one place. I think that the Founders had the right idea: universal suffrage is a bad idea.

                  That said, the cutoff of 435 representatives was made long before the advent of the Internet. I understand you could have 10,800+ reps now with modern tech, but what about in the old days? What about when the cutoff was conceived?

                  • Hi Mark,

                    It is plausible that the stated reason for capping the House at 435 was sincere. I suspect that some well understood the long term implication though. It is telling that discussion of this topic is absent from almost all political debate. Few political opinions are provably true. However, the claim that the relative power of each individual relative to their “representative” has decreased dramatically over time is unambiguously true. It is also true that, as the population grows, this power imbalance will get worse. No matter what the original intent may have been, the cap at 435 renders even the highly flawed claim of “representative democracy” a joke.

                    As for voting, I wish for a day when nobody votes, In the meantime I advocate radical disenfranchisement.

                    – No government employee should be allowed to vote.

                    – No net tax consumer should be allowed to vote.

                    – No person that works for a “private” entity that receives targeted subsidies, including tax breaks, should be allowed to vote.

                    – No registered lobbyist should be allowed to vote.

                    In short, nobody who solicits or receives any targeted subsidies, should be allowed to vote. Consider this passage from Robert Heinlein:

                    “Democracy often works beautifully at first. But once a state extends the franchise to every warm body, be he producer or parasite, that day marks the beginning of the end of the state. For when the plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death…”

                  • While we’re repealing constitutional amendments, guys, we really ought to get rid of the 16th as well.

                    Money is power… when FedGov can take it out of your paycheck before you even cash it and use it to buy votes with, you’re basically a slave.

                    • Hey X,

                      “… when FedGov can take it out of your paycheck before you even cash…”

                      You can thank Mr. Friedman for that one.

                      Cheers,
                      Jeremy

                • Spot on, Jeremy. One thing I would say differently: instead of “Now they are just better paid, more pretentious and less accountable ‘representative’,” my formulation is that the 17th made senators higher priced whores than representatives.

                  • Hey Mike,

                    Thanks and I get what you mean. But, most people don’t understand that the 17th amendment fundamentally altered the American system of government. The bicameral system was conceived as a check against the passion and whims of the people. The entire idea was that a legislative body should exist that is not beholden to the popular will.

                    Now, the Senate is just another house of “representatives”. It can no longer perform its’ intended function as a check on the whim of the people.

                    Cheers,
                    Jeremy

                    • Exactly, Jeremy. The Progressives used a little trick that nobody seems to have noticed: they equated liberty with democracy. Everything since around 1900 proclaims democracy as the ideal. This despite the warnings, going back to Plato, of the inevitable decent of democracy into tyranny. Of course, tyranny is exactly what the Progressives wanted, and still want…with them as the tyrants. Their next target is the electoral college, without which federalism — and any chance of maintaining a degree of liberty — would be dead. But they sell abolition of the electoral college as an advance of democracy, which appeals strongly to a population which has been brainwashed for generations to believe that democracy equals freedom.

                  • Hey Mike,

                    Yep, democracy does not equal liberty. I think it’s accurate to say that the elite class originally feared “democracy”. However, they soon realized that no other political theory was more conducive to their ends. “Democracy” is the only theory that grants seemingly unassailable “legitimacy” to political authority. It is championed not because it limits that “authority”, but because it enshrines it.

                    Cheers,
                    Jeremy

              • As long as we’re talking numbers, why only 12 Supreme Court justices? Why not 50, one from each state?

                The Constitution doesn’t stipulate any hard numbers for the House or the court. The first First amendment was going to hard code the number of representatives but it was never ratified. So the house leadership can increase the number through simple procedural vote. That they choose not to speaks volumes.

                As for the Supreme Court, now we’re hearing that in 2020, if the Democratic Socialists get in the White House, they’ll stack the court with so many radical liberal judges that we’ll never see another challenge to anything the government does. And poor old Ruth Bader Ginsburg, hanging on until Tump’s out of office, just let her die already. If anything needs a constitutional amendment, it’s the process for choosing the court.

                • And why 50 states? Because it’s a nice round number? California should really be at least 10, since it’s population and land area is similar to the east coast. Florida could easily be two or three just based on size alone.

                • Hey RK,

                  “If anything needs a constitutional amendment, it’s the process for choosing the court.”

                  Ain’t that the truth, the current process is guaranteed to select members with a strong bias favoring the exercise of government power. Those who think that conservatives oppose this, are deluded. They just differ in their preferences.

                  To illustrate the absurdity of the proposition that the Court serves as a check on the power of the State, let’s run a thought experiment. Imagine that Goldman Sachs sets up an internal ethics division charged with ruling on the legality of the actions of Goldman Sachs. Let’s suppose that the members of this ethics division are nominated by the CEO of Goldman Sachs and confirmed by the board of directors of Goldman Sachs. Let’s further suppose that they receive their pay from Goldman Sachs. Finally, let’s suppose that this division of Goldman Sachs claims a monopoly on judging the legality of the actions of Goldman Sachs. Is it believable that the CEO of Goldman Sachs would nominate a “justice” hostile to the interests of Goldman Sachs? Is it believable that the board of directors would confirm a “justice” hostile to the interests of Goldman Sachs. Does anyone seriously believe that such an institution could be trusted to limit the power of Goldman Sachs? Yet, this is precisely what we are told to believe with respect to the Supreme court.

                  So, what process might produce a much more independent court? As crazy as it sounds, a Court drawn randomly from a voluntary pool of qualified applicants, limited to one term, would likely be vastly superior to what we have now.

                  It could be similar to Jury duty except that each applicant would voluntarily submit, rather than being called against their will. As for qualifications:

                  – Each applicant must demonstrate knowledge of the Constitution.

                  – Each applicant must not be employed by government nor perform legal services on behalf of the government.

                  As for independence, such an institution could be a privately funded body, not beholden to government.

                  I realize that this is a pipe dream, and there would still be enormous problems. But, what we have now is just a joke.

                  One more thought, citing precedence should be banned altogether. If an earlier ruling is correct, then it need not be cited. If an earlier ruling is perverse (as most are), it should not be used to justify another perverse ruling.

                  Cheers,
                  Jeremy

                  • THIS. Precedent law is a disaster. All it takes is one bad ruling and then everyone is hosed. It is a mechanism by which the machine builds up defenses so that it can never be truly taken down.

          • Another one: Alaska’s ineffective Don Young, who has no party rivals most elections and brags openly about how “bipartisan” he is. Has been in office since before I was born and needs replacing badly.

    • HAHA, well… IMHO the US has not been a Constitutional Republic since the 1860’s and was re-interned into the British Commonwealth since the US bankruptcy in the 1930’s. Read Cecil Rhodes wills detailing his plans to bring about a world British Empire, all Rhodes scholars are groomed to work towards making a global English empire. And yes, Fulbright (sp?) was a Rhodes Scholar so all of the Fulbright Scholars are also working on this agenda.

      Guess who was a Rhodes Scholar?
      .
      .
      .
      Bill Clinton

  7. No matter how it is sliced per mile taxation is very expensive to collect. Transponders, receivers, gizmos using cell phone networks, automated number plate readers, and so on are all expensive to deploy to the level required to make sure every government body got its appropriate slice of the per mile taxes. So expensive it boarders on pointlessness for collecting revenue to take care of the roads and such. It is only pursued because of the ability to monitor people, control people, and engineer society.

    And of course it will not replace taxes on gasoline. Maybe one of the many taxes on gasoline will be reduced or go away for a short while but then it will come back. The others will never go away.

    • It will be hard to collect? Horsefeathers. You simply add a vehicle inspection requirement (many states do) and note the mileage on the yearly inspection. Then send a bill in the mail. I would actually welcome transponders/license plate readers/high tech stuff, b/c that can be easily defeated. (Tin foil around the transponder/alternate back roads/computer hacking)

      • Hi Tom,

        Indeed. And this will eliminate the current exemption antique cars enjoy from having to be “inspected” by the government or its proxies.

        Also, since it is very easy to “tamper” with the odometers of any older non-digital car (hell, just disconnect the speedo cable) such cars will subject to more onerous examination. As I suggested in the article, it will probably be required that they be fitted with a “tamper proof” means of ascertaining their mileage. Or, an “alternative minimum tax” will be applied across the board.

        • Hey Eric, my 2 paragraphs from yesterday that were right here, have disappeared! Is something screwy going on here? Even the 3 paragraph comment left my another member, which it was attached to, is missing. – Graves

            • It must have been those voices eave’s dropping on our phone conversation yesterday evening, lol! I swear, for the money we pay, our communications network is raggedy-ass wreck!

      • Again, they do not care about the total mileage you drive. They want to know when and where you drive. Government wants to be a able to be the permission giver, the hall monitor, and so on. The total mileage is irrelevant.

        A mere transponder and inspection is too easy to work around. They need a system on the roads that detects and records travels with or without a transponder in the car. Even today’s toll transponders are backed up with video. They just get watched by humans. ANPRs get rid of the slow human.

  8. People have no idea of what is happening. (and many don’t really care) The mileage tax is an infringement on your natural rights of travel and anonymity supposedly secured by the 4th amendment. Eventually using GPS they will track everywhere you go, how long you stayed, where you purchased fuel and where you spent the evenings.
    The Digital ball and chain is tightened a little more around your neck. Going out in a nuclear war will be much more humane than what these demons have in mind for us and using the ‘social sites almost everyone is addicted to there is no way people will ever want to exchange that for individual freedom. I actually had a coworker tell me “I can’t live without my facebook” …… Swear to God.

  9. Somewhat off topic: But have you ever noticed, in buying take out Chinese food, that the cash register *never* rings up a sale amount? They only use it to hold the sorted dollar bills. Of course, a credit card sale has a receipt. My guess is all those cash sales NEVER get reported! My little inner Bernie Sanders (and everyone has a little bit of inner Bernie Sanders in them – to say propensity for jealousy) gets incensed that those Chinese restaurants are “getting one over” on the Man. I grouse that they should “pay their fair share”. My grousing is somewhat justified in that GovCo expenses continue, whether or not those Chinese restaurants pay their taxes or not. (I just end up paying more.) But the inner scofflaw in me (and everyone has a little bit of inner scofflaw in them – to say “in your face”) cheers them on. I sing-song back and forth between these two emotions…

    • I personally cheer them on. I watched them ball and chain Irwin Schiff until he died at 87 a slow painful death in prison for showing people that taxes were ………………. illegal and voluntary. He died alone chained to a bed. Most just laughed at what a fool he was just like they will when this mileage tax is decreed.

      • Agree – i love when small shopkeepers dont ring up some amount you get from them. Infact, I ask them if paying cash is any good to them and pay cash whenever I can. And im a guy whos had a credit card since I was a teenager…. god knows how many free flights ive gotten from credit card airmiles over the years….. but honestly so fed up of all this – i make sure I keep cash for the small guys whenever possible….

    • No. If I’m on the street and get robbed, I don’t get mad at the guy across the street who’s not getting robbed. I get mad at the robber.

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