Should We Fear the Government Knowing How Much We Drive?

Earlier this year, when discussing a laughable proposal to ban the sale of gasoline-powered cars in California, my colleague Kerry Jackson asked a critical question – “What happens to the $52 billion in revenue the state is expecting from tax hikes on gasoline and diesel sales for road repair over the next decade as gasoline and diesel are being phased out?”

We just got the answer – impose a new tax on every mile you drive.

State transportation officials recently released a so-called “California Road Charge Pilot Program” report, the goal of which is to propose alternate ways to pay for road and highways other than taxing fuel.

They are kicking around the tires on a proposal that would report to the government how many miles you have driven, and then assess a mileage-based tax.

In the report, California State Transportation Agency Brian Kelly writes that, “the state cannot continue to rely primarily on the gas tax to fund the maintenance and operations of our vital transportation system.”

There’s no debate there.  Much like those who install solar panels on their houses still must pay a monthly utility bill for the maintenance of the electricity grid, we will have to figure out some way to pay for roads in an all zero-emission vehicle world.

When I first read about this proposal, my libertarian streak cried foul.  Yes, I’m concerned about the level of taxes under this scheme, but I’m more troubled by this massive intrusion of government into our lives.

One doesn’t have to embrace black helicopter theories to be concerned about the government knowing how much you drive.  In my mind, it could lead to a very slippery slope of the government knowing our whereabouts at any given moment.

When I bought my new car last year, it came with the LoJack system to help recover my car if is ever stolen.  Surely, the government could utilize similar technology to report how many miles we drive, and also where we are and where we are traveling.

State officials say they are “looking for something so simple that there is nothing (the driver) has to do.”  Well, drivers would have one thing to do – fear for some of our liberty disappearing.

Tim Anaya is Communications Director for Pacific Research Institute.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

Scroll to Top