Vehicle mileage tax driving us crazy

The fact that every level of government taxes our income, consumption and property prompted  John R. Smith to ask in the title of a recent BizPacReview post, “Why don’t they just tax our corpses?”

Owning an automobile requires that we pay a sales tax, title and registration fees, annual registration fees, ad valorem taxes, state and federal gas taxes, and, if we want to avoid the “I-95 parking lot,” we pay a turnpike toll. Even if we don’t own an automobile, our taxes help pay for our neighbor’s hybrid car, and for the ethanol he pumps into it. Apparently, this isn’t enough for the Obama administration.

While the nation’s libidos were all a-twitter with Weiner’s salacious tweets, and our imaginations were stirred by graphic details of the Casey Anthony murder trial, government minds were at work (scary thought, I know). Last month, “The Hill” reported that the White House now suggests taxing the number of miles we drive.

Named the Transportation Opportunities Act,  “the purported reason for including the per-mile taxing system is the potential for increased use of electric vehicles. The administration has poured billions in gas tax dollars to subsidize the companies that manufacture these electric vehicles as well as the end users who buy them,” according to “Topix“. The law of “unintended consequences” is at work here.

Production subsidies reward failure. There’s no incentive to produce a cost-effective product when government is willing to subsidize its manufacture. End-user subsidies create a fictional market for an otherwise unacceptable product. In this case, the government projects increased electric car sales due to end-user subsidies. Because manufacturing and end-user subsidies are paid by gasoline taxes, an increase in electric cars will mean a decrease in gasoline tax revenue. Tangled web?

For the same reason, GM’s CEO called for a $1-per-gallon gas tax hike.  I couldn’t believe it at first. Then I remembered — this isn’t a real CEO. This is the guy Obama appointed after he fired the real CEO, which occurred just before the president said, “I don’t want to run auto companies.” After that statement, Obama cut Chrysler’s advertising budget in half, closed thousands of thriving auto dealerships (adding tens of thousands to the unemployment line), and forced a legally questionable reorganization of GM.

But back to taxes: Taxes change the way we do things. Eliminate the mortgage-interest deduction, and 15-year mortgages will become the norm. Similarly, increase the gasoline tax, and we buy vehicles with better gas mileage. Tax the miles we drive, and what? Bicycles?

When they start taxing my walking shoes, just lay me in bed and put me on life support. Before they come to tax my corpse, though, throw it into the furnace and have me cremated.

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