Last week I reported on Biker News Online that DOT Secretary Mary Peters launched her own blog to talk about the business of adminstering the nation's thoroughfares.
Since then, I've been reading it.
While I don't respect Peters' quest to get every state to mandate helmets, I still find her writings enlightening regarding the thought processes of our country's highway planning.
Here, she talks about gasoline taxes, why they are so high, and why they can't be repealed...
The gas tax was originally intended to be a form of highway use tax. Unfortunately, due to the growing influence of special interests, gas tax revenues have increasingly been converted into a political slush fund. When the gas tax was instituted, it was only done so because more direct charging mechanisms were not administratively or technologically feasible.In other words, gasoline taxes were meant to pay for highway maintenance, but are no longer being used for that purpose, and instead is being raided by our elected officials and lawmakers for political leverage.
The other thing is that she said the reason why taxes were instituted back then, is because at the time, they didn't have the technological know-how to charge highway users in an efficient way.
But even though we could address the technological part now, there's basically no hope in lowering or eliminating gas taxes.
It reinforced the notion that once a tax get instituted it can never be repealed.
The other thing she says is this...
The objective should be to develop an economic model that charges users the true cost of travel.What exactly IS the true cost of travel? Well, I believe what she's implying is that some people get 80 MPG on their scooters, while others get 15 MPG in their pickup trucks. If they all travelled 100 miles, the pickup trucks would pay far more in taxes.
And that brings up another point.
If Americans as a whole gravitated towards scooters and small displacement motorcycles for their commuting, what effect will that have on local, state, and federal gasoline taxes? Will the slush fund get smaller?
As we decrease our dependence on gasoline, government will have to find another way to make up that loss in tax revenue.
In other words, there really isn't any such thing as "fuel efficiency". In the end, lawmakers will ensure that driving a gasoline powered car for 100 miles will cost us the same as driving a solar-powered one the same distance.