Skip to comments.State GPS Tracking Your Mileage and Your Movements
Posted on 01/02/2003 3:43:33 PM PST by EBUCK
State GPS Tracking Your Mileage and Your Movements
Marc Morano, CNSNews.com Thursday, Jan. 2, 2003
CNSNews.com If a proposal by an Oregon State task force becomes law, the government would be able to use satellite equipment to keep track of each driver's mileage and tax that driver accordingly in order to pay for road repairs. Even the state administrator who proposed the plan thinks citizens "should be concerned" about the possibility of civil liberties violations. And Chris Edwards, director of fiscal policy at the free market Cato Institute told CNSNews.com , "I think it's nutty and I don't think it's ever going to happen."
"I don't think Americans are ready to be subjected to that type of civil liberties intrusion," Edwards explained, "where government tracks them around wherever they drive."
Edwards believes the Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) mileage-tracking proposal is the result of overzealous government bureaucrats.
"This is an example of economists gone wild," Edwards said. "Economists often think of these schemes that seem efficient on paper, but they don't think about the real world and the civil liberties aspect of things."
Jim Whitty, administrator of Oregon's Road User Fee Task Force, in an exclusive interview with CNSNews.com , called the GPS mileage tracking tax proposal necessary because "it costs a certain amount to drive on the road per vehicle and people ought to pay their fair share of their usage."
Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber and the state legislature set up the Road User Fee Task Force in November 2001 to explore methods of financing transportation costs.
Noting that gas taxes are unfair because of the large differences in the fuel economy of automobiles, Whitty and the task force explored alternative taxing methods to ensure equity among drivers. Seventy-percent of Oregon's road maintenance revenues currently come from federal and state gas taxes.
Commission members rejected the idea of using automobile odometer readings to track mileage because they figured some people would accumulate out-of-state mileage. The idea of raising the existing gasoline tax was also turned down because with automobiles becoming so fuel efficient, gas tax revenues are projected to dry up.
"If everybody had high mileage cars, our road system would fall apart" from lack of revenue, Whitty said.
'Vehicle Miles Traveled Fee'
The solution seemed clear to Whitty.
"You go to technology and you look and say we can calculate mileage electronically, so it can be paid electronically ... That is where the GPS device came in," Whitty said.
Whitty envisions a system that would either send auto owners a monthly bill for their miles or set up gas stations so they could read the GPS transponders and collect the tax during fueling stops. The new tax per mile would be called a VMT fee or Vehicle Miles Traveled fee.
Whitty would also like to see other technologies besides GPS considered.
"There is an odometer sensor which can calculate mileage and then data can be transferred by radio frequencies to a fuel pump. We are going to be looking at both," Whitty explained.
Whitty believes that despite the fears of potential civil liberties violations, the new method of calculating road taxes is needed to make transportation taxes fairer.
"[The task force] wanted it to look like the gas tax used to look like back around 1960 when all cars virtually got the same miles per gallon," Whitty said. "What has happened though is that in the 70s, 80s and 90s, some cars became more fuel efficient and others didn't.
"There was no longer a correlation between miles driven and revenues raised," Whitty explained.
When asked about possible civil liberties violations, Whitty admitted that people should be cautious about the state's use of the mileage tracking technology.
"They should be concerned and they should watch this and make sure that is doesn't turn into such a thing," Whitty said.
However, "that is not the purpose of this fee," he added. "The state transportation department has no interest in knowing where people are going either currently or after the fact."
Whitty believes police may ultimately end up using the GPS data for criminal investigations.
"If there was a police necessity perhaps, but we are not looking at that. That is not our concern," he said.
Edwards remains unconvinced.
"You can say it's not the purpose, but later on it will be abused and expanded," Edwards said.
"We don't need the government to have Big Brother precise tracking systems to make sure the highways are precisely paid by precisely the right people who use them," Edwards continued. "The gas tax now is roughly efficient."
Edwards also dismissed Whitty's concerns about dwindling revenues from gas taxes.
"The private sector is doing more with less. I don't see why the government sector also cannot continue to improve its productivity," he said.
Edwards also believes the cost of the GPS proposal would be too high considering "all the bureaucracy costs of setting up and installing the system, hiring satellite time, running the computers and having all the analysts looking at data."
"Do we really need all that? Edwards asked.
We're not ready "yet", a few more years and we'll probably be conditioned properly.
NewsMax tends to get a little hyperbole with their headlines sometimes. The headline used here makes it sound like this GPS system is being used by the state today.
Well Mr. Whitty, then maybe you need to clear the fog from your eyes. This is America, not Cuba or North Korea. Do us a favor and practice your big-brotherism somewhere else.
Ah, there's the rub. Which PR firm developed this idea for Mr. Whitty, and what's the money behind it...Saudi? Opec? SUV interests? Trucking interests?
He is/was on the Oregon Economic Development Board
He is/was on the Oregon Marine Board
and then the following from an article in 1999.....
Jim Whitty, of the Environmental Stewardship Partnership, said the hope is that measurable goals will make natural resource management more successful economically and environmentally. Often, he said, businesses have difficulty making gains because they are so focused on regulatory compliance. They see themselves spending heavily in return for minimal environmental and economic returns. He's supporting HB 3135 because of its reliance on cooperation from all segments of society. "We can't deny Oregon is a state most likely to adopt progressive environmental policies," he said."
Stay Safe EBUCK !
Unreal...he concedes were not ready, and in essence implies we need more "conditioning"...Freedom in this country is history folks...
Exactly. Or Freedom Is our History. Those that fail to learn from it are doomed to repeat it.
Yes, there's the real rub. Will the trucking industry, which does 90% of the damage to the nation's roadways, now be made to pay 90% of the fuel taxes used for maintenance?
It always kills me when I see those articles where truckers "rate" certain states roads. They invariably tag a few states as "worst" and never mention which drivers (themselves) put the roads in that shape in the first place.
That sent a shiver up my spine..."adopt progressive environmental policies"... Brrrrr, I feel a chill in the room.
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