Posted by: bridget | 8 October 2007

All the Nonsense Fit to Print

Massachusetts is considering a per-mile charge for highway drivers.  It claims that it would be in lieu of the gasoline tax, or as a way to pay for needed highway repairs without raising taxes.  Best of all, it claimed that it would ensure that road maintenance is paid for by users. 

What delusions have we here?  Gasoline already includes a tax, the express purpose of which is to pay for road maintenance.  Given that gasoline use is directly proportional to miles driven and car weight (both of which are directly proportional to wear and tear on roads), there is little reason that the gasoline tax would not fulfill the stated purpose.  Consider as well that heavier cars cause more wear and tear on the roads, it would actually achieve the goal of just apportionment of costs better than a per-mile tax. 

Administratively, it is much easier to implement a gasoline tax than a per-highway mile driven tax: one need not monitor every single car that drives through Massachusetts; as of now, the state merely collects its monies from gas stations.  

Massachusetts is a small state. How would a state charge long-distance truckers?  Out-of-towners?  Would this only be applicable to in-state residents, so that out-of-state persons would freeload?  How would the state go about recording people’s driving habits?  Once the door is open to GPS every single car in the state (as mandated by law), what will stop the state from using that technology to monitor speeds, lane shifting, and a host of other behaviours?  Again, people, 1984 is not a how-to guide.

Finally, the idea of replacing the gasoline tax with a per-mile tax, or “needing” extra funds, is absurd.  It is one of the basic functions of government to provide an infrastructure for the citizens.  This money comes first, not last, out of the state coffers.  If the gasoline tax is insufficient to cover the cost of road maintenance, then that tax ought to be raised.  Such will have all the effects of a per-mile tax (encouraging people to carpool, reconsider their driving needs, etc) without the accompanying Nanny State.

———–

Tieki Rae has a great post about Marion Jones’s apology for doping during the Olympic Games.  Tammi pointed out that a commenter at the Huffington Post blamed her doping on…. wait for it…. President Bush. 

All Ms.Jones [sic] has to say is look at America,at [sic] its political and corporate leaders,they all cheat and thats [sic] the reason they got to be No.1,by [sic] concerted “Cheating” and taking advantage of everything that might have stood in their way! Look at President Bush and the Republican Party who fixed & stole the 2004 [sic] Elections (with lots of help from the US Supreme Court!)

These people saterise themselves… but it makes it really, really hard on us to do it.  How can a self-respecting conservative make a joke about the knee-jerk Bush-hating?  “Ya know, I bet those Leftists are going to blame Bush for the Marion Jones debacle!  Ha ha!”  Then it actually happens, and the joke is ruined.  ::Elephant sigh::

Now, let’s examine this claim.  Marion Jones won her vaunted five medals in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.  The women’s track events occurred between 21 September and 30 September (here).  The 2000 Presidential election was held on 07 November 2000 – more than a month after Ms. Jones won her five medals. 

“Logical” conclusion: Bush is so evil that his nefarious influence extends backwards in time.

————-

Jeff Jacoby on art, MIT sweatshirts, and the inanity of the modern art world.  Looks like he took his cues from the Fountainhead:

Either you are sophisticated or cynical enough to gush over the emperor’s wonderfully postmodern and transgressive new duds, or you are one of those reactionary rubes who get all hung up on the fact that the emperor actually happens to be naked. If talent and skill aren’t required to produce a work of art, if a striving for truth or excellence or beauty has nothing to do with artistic greatness, if craftsmanship and effort matter less than attitude and gimmickry – in short, if there are no standards, then why not fawn over an “artist” who “works with rubbish?”

Why not, indeed.  One can hardly say that crumpled pieces of paper, trash, and Christ in urine equate to, say, Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, or da Vinci. 

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Responses

  1. Regarding the per-mile charge, seems backwards. If we are so concerned about global warming, shouldn’t SUV’s and Hummers have a heavier penalty? Oh, wait, they do! It’s called a gas tax (as you noted).

    I agree with your comments.

  2. Here’s a question. Should we have a gas tax in the first place, or is the free market sufficient in regulating driving and gasoline consumption? Does pollution justify a gas tax?

  3. Randy,

    Yeah, that’s my point. A gasoline tax encourages people to drive smaller cars. Sure, there is still stress and strain on the road infrastructure, and they are still sitting in traffic (presumably, this per-mile charge would try to discourage people from driving during rush hour), but, honestly, if you are sitting in traffic on Rt. 128, you have to be at work when you have to be at work. The gas tax is a brilliant way to fund both road infrastructure, to encourage people to drive fuel-efficient vehicles, and to encourage people to limit their gasoline use.

    Chance,

    I don’t think that pollution justifies a gas tax; however, I think the cost of highway building and maintenance DOES. I don’t like the idea of making walkers and bikers pay for my road use (well, from a selfish perspective, I do, but not from a philosophical perspective). The gas tax ensures that the people who use a resource are the ones who pay for it.

    The neat side effect is to encourage environmentally-friendly behaviour. I, however, think that the gas tax should only be used to fund road building and maintenance – and the fact that there are good side effects doesn’t mean we should tax more to get more of those side effects.

    Does that make sense?

  4. There is also talk of having Peak surcharges on the toll road (Mass.Pike) the thought being added revenue and altering peoples driving decisions. There are also at least two communities in the Commiewealth that want to tweak the excise tax so as to hit SUV’s for a little extra.
    Of note in the article and “official” comments is that the gas tax would not be removed under this plan. Reduced at best ! This is gravy train money.
    theo-“driving on 128 at rush hour ” You mean idling and cursing right ?

  5. In2theFray,

    Yes, that’s what I meant.

    What kills me is that the Mass Pike tolls should have been abolished years ago. The Commonwealth barely earns enough money from them to cover expenses; it increases traffic; and the entire purpose was to cover construction costs. I distinctly remember driving up from VA one weekend and seeing a two mile back up to get off at Exit 15 to get onto 128. It was faster to take the Pike all the way into Boston and to get on to 93 North.

    Anyway – MA doesn’t need anything else that will cause traffic. We don’t need to turn 128 into the Jersey Turnpike, with tolls every five miles. ($0.35 every five miles. Lemme tell you, it’s tedious.)

  6. Wow, I need to add the Marion Jones thing to my blog about horrible things G.W. is responsible for.

  7. TT

    Obviously you are not aware of what goes on at the White House. Every night after the staff goes home you can hear them in the oval office.

    “What are we going to do tonight George?”

    “Same think we do every night Dick, try to take over the world.”

    By the way, I wonder how President Bush did get those Supreme Court justices to help him fix that election, who appointed them anyway?

  8. SST – well, the Republicans, of course!

    Souter, who dissented (and would have put Al Gore in the Oval Office), was a George HW Bush appointee. Breyer and Ginsburg were Clinton appointees. Of course, they weren’t casting their votes to put their nominator’s VP in the Presidency…. nooo…. they are too pure for that! Stevens was a Nixon appointee.

    For the majority:
    O’Connor: Reagan
    Rehnquist: Nixon (same as Stevens… hum…)
    Scalia:Reagan
    Thomas: Bush Sr.
    Kennedy: Reagan

    So we have, on one side, those trying to put their nominator’s VP’s son in the Oval Office; on the other, we have those trying to put their nominator’s VP into the Presidency. But one side is evil and partisan, while the other is pure as the driven snow.

    By the way, that dialogue is far too serene. You know that they eat the flesh of their enemies, conspire to keep women barefoot and pregnant, and dream up ways to erode our Goddess-given right to abortion.

  9. OK, it is becoming clear to me now. The evil Bush conspiracy actually had Nixon elected as part of their evil plan. This is worse than I thought.

    It explains our healthcare crisis too. I bet the flesh of enemies is high in cholesterol. And think of the healthcare cost of all those barefoot pregnant women.

    This has to stop, tonight I am going to try to take over the world.

  10. Here is so more nonsense. Another reality show moron thinks he can sue someone for Battery when said person was only responding to the litigious reality stars dry humping his face.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071010/ap_en_tv/people_bonaduce

    Here is the altercation on video

    What do you think?

  11. SST – take over the world. I’ll help.

    TT – Oh man. I’ll watch the video. My thought, though, is that if you hurt someone (broken teeth, blood), you should pay medical expenses. I’m not big on punitive damages in this situation, because, hey, he started it.

  12. This taking over the world thing is not as easy as it sounds.

    The Environmental Impact Statement is going to be prodigious.

    My insurance company does not offer a taking over the world rider for my liability policy.

    I just found out I am not zoned for taking over the world, in fact our Area Plan Commission does not even have a zone for it. They will have to have hearings and write an amendment which will have to be approved by the county commisioners and all the town and city governments in the county.

    Then there is the matter of my title, chairman, emperor, first citizen? I am going to have to appoint a committee.

    And then there is financing, I am looking for a grant.

    Let me tell you, when I get through all this red tape and take over the world. I am going to simplicy things.

  13. I just found out I am not zoned for taking over the world, in fact our Area Plan Commission does not even have a zone for it.

    So sue under the Takings Clause.

    Environmental Impact Statement: get one of those programmes that randomly generates scientific-sounding gooblygook.

    Don’t get a grant. Make yourself a minority group and get reparations. Much easier, and Barbra Streisand will sing a song for you.


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