Big Brother in Oregon

December 30th, 2008

The Albany Democrat Herald, in Oregon, reported on a scheme being cooked up by the state to measure how many miles people drive and tax them on the mileage.  The new tax would replace the state gas tax.  The plan would require that every car and service station be equipped with GPS devices, all to be monitored by the government.  The paper reports that the governor’s website says,

As Oregonians drive less and demand more fuel-efficient vehicles, it is increasingly important that the state find a new way, other than the gas tax, to finance our transportation system.

So, there you go.  Do what the government urges you to do–drive less and buy fuel-efficient vehicles.  But since that means they’ll collect less in gas taxes, they start looking for another way to get their hands in your pockets.  But in this case, they want to track you by GPS.  You’ll be required to have it on your car for that purpose.  But are you worried that the government will have a record of everywhere you drive, including your identity?  The Democrat Herald reported,

critics worried that the technology could be used to track where vehicles go, not just how far they travel, and that this information would somehow be stored by the government.

But relax, Oregonians.  The official in charge of the project “…tried to assure the public that tracking people’s travels was not in the plans.”  All the data will be in the government’s computers, but they promise not to do anything except use it to tax you.  Honest, that’s all that’s in the plans.  For now.

I have a few questions.  Shouldn’t people driving on nice highways be taxed more than those on country roads?  What about out-of-staters–when I cross the border into the People’s Republic of Oregon, will I have to buy a GPS for my car and fork over all my identity data?  Will the local sheriff be able to use GPS date to catch bank robbers fleeing the scene?  Will divorce lawyers be able to subpoena GPS data to prove that a guy in his car and a gal in her car were in the same remote spot on the same night?  The possibilities are endless….

All I can say is, my sympathies to my friends in Oregon (you know who you are).  Keep voting all those leftists into office, and this is what you’ll get.

For the record, as I’ve written elsewhere, I support increasing federal gas taxes by a reasonable amount.  It’s simple, easy to do, and helps reduce energy use and limit emissions.  Tax-hungry Oregon bureaucrats should think about that–unless they’re just itching to get their hands on all that GPS data.

And just to show that the rest of us are watching, when Drudge linked to their report, the Democrat Herald was deluged with internet traffic.  Including me.

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9 Responses to “Big Brother in Oregon”

  1. doris |

    You are sounding more and more right wing-always the leftist… I suppose leftist are responsible for global warming,too,oh yeah,I forgot,that is a leftist plot,and isn’t real.That is an absurd plan and I can’t imagine anyone supporting it,except those who drive very little.

  2. Tom |

    I’m not a right-winger, dang it! I’m a moderate democrat who is mostly liberal on domestic issues, with an admitted conservative streak in foreign policy, who would be a libertarian if libertarians weren’t quasi-anarchist, inconsistent, impractical loons. Or maybe I’d be an independent, if I knew what that meant. Clear? 😉

  3. doris |

    As mud!!!I think Independent means,I can’t make up my mind,or, I just don’t give a rats’rear,or,there’s no good choice?

  4. Kevin |

    This idea was first floated here in Oregon a year or two ago. There are plenty of leftists who would vigorously oppose any attempt to impose this well-intentioned, but utterly unrealistic idea.

    While I don’t doubt that those who dreamed this up have the best of intentions and genuinely mean it when they say that it wouldn’t be used to track anyone… the reality is exactly as Tom spelled out here. As sure as night follows day, someone somewhere would get a precedent set for using it to track someone and Pandora’s Box would be forever open afterwards.

    I would be happy to sell some tropical beachfront property just outside of Vale, Colorado to anyone who truly doesn’t believe that it would ever be used for anything other than determining gas taxes.

  5. Tom |

    Kevin, I hadn’t heard about the original plan, but once I saw it in this article, given the state involved, I couldn’t resist! And I agree, plenty of people of all political stripes would be nervous about something like this.

  6. Kevin |

    Most people have at least heard of the “western” stereotype of individuals who prize not having the government (or anyone else) butt into their business. But fewer seem to realize that it extends across the entire West, not just the Southern portion of it. Which stands to reason if you think about it…

    It’s like a sort of selective breeding. Back in the day when the West was being “won” it was mostly the brave/foolhardy individualists who yearned to make it under such hard conditions. So not only was that streak that we now label “libertarian” entrenched in the Western culture, but so too was whatever genetic impetus which drove it.

    It’s a different topic for another day but my pet theory is that this at least partially explains/describes some fundamental differences between Eastern and Western Americans. Yes, we’re all Americans. But our cultures are as different East to West as they are North and South of the Mason-Dixon line.

  7. MaxedOutMama |

    Remember Joe the Plumber? Can you imagine a political incumbent getting the agencies to trace his challenger’s movements in the hope of discovering a mistress? I can.

  8. Brian |

    I think it was FDR that said “Government never does anything by accident” or something along those lines. Does anyone honestly believe in the “good intentions” of the statist thugs that would propose such an invasion of privacy?

  9. Brian |

    Found a good quote by Daniel Webster on “good intentions”: [i]Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters. [/i]

    — Daniel Webster

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