Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cars (Part 1)

There are those days when NOTHING works.  Then again, there are other days when things fall together unexpectedly.  You don't plan for success.  You have no realistic expectation that something wonderful is going to happen, and then...  

It happens.

I spent more than an hour last night looking for something to post about while my son was at Band Practice.  I found things that other folks had posted about already, stuff that was 'weird', but not weird enough to be 'funny', and then I came across a myriad of stories about the Weasel Rat Boy's Administration which only served to make me sad.  Nope, no hope at all for me last night.  I was more than a few fries short of my literary "Happy Meal" as I lay my head upon my pillow last evening. 

Then, this morning, something wonderful happened - I found one thing to write about, then a second, and then a final third topic worthy of consideration for me (and ultimately 'you' - I hope).  A veritable Trifecta of topics to discuss, and, BONUS!, they were all related via a single four-letter word... 'AUTO'.  Or, to be more consistent with the title of this post, they all have something to do with 'CARS'.

As I'm already into the latter hours of Tuesday evening, I'm going to break the posts into three different parts.  Each one will be a stand-alone entry as each of the topics is unique to itself.  

Without further 'idling' at the keyboard, I am pleased to present: 

"CARS (Part 1)"

Having a bad day?  
Looking to get away from it all - even for a little while?  
Ever wonder where how far south this road goes?
Did you ever just want to DRIVE and dare your troubles to follow you?

Yes, generations of Americans have had a long-term love (and, I must admit a sometimes 'hate') relationship with the automobile.  The 'car' is a symbol of freedom to both young and old - an outward expression of our personality and the thing we all 'wanted most' growing up in a suburban area of the US. 

While some view their vehicle a status symbol, others, like myself, look at it as a tool.  Plainly stated, I drive my car for work.  I am in sales and 'in sales if I do not 'sell' stuff - I do not get paid.  Working in Central New York I have a responsibility to my employer to support a geographic area which is approximately 130 miles wide by 80 miles deep.  Stated Mathematically, we can visualize my employment equation as follows:

Car + Gas + Maintenance/Insurance Expenses = Employment 

Everybody got this so far?  Great!  (I always get nervous when I start doing 'Math') 

This morning I had one of those blinding flashes of Déjà vu.  I came across an article which I remembered writing about a while back.  It wasn't until I read through the entire article that I discovered the main difference between my post of March, 2011, and this one from January 2013.   

That difference?  The post from 2011 focused on the Federal Government implementing a 'VMT', or 'Vehicle Mileage Tax' - today's post included plans to do the same...  At the State level.  And the Tax is no longer theoretical, aspects of it are already being implemented. 

From yesterday's article, found on

"The VMT is likely the way states will raise money in the future for their roads and infrastructure," said Joshua Schank, president and CEO of the ENO Center for Transportation in Washington, D.C. "The states aren't yet to the point where they've figured out exactly how to implement the VMT, but they'll get there."


Why? Blame it on the double whammy of a recession prompting people to drive less, which means they are filling up less often. On top of that, Americans are increasingly driving more fuel efficient vehicles, including hybrids, which means people make fewer trips to the gas station. According to the University of Michigan, the average fuel economy for a new vehicle sold in 2012 was 23.8 MPG, an all-time high. 


Meanwhile, lawmakers in Oregon are kicking around the idea of taxing high mileage vehicles starting in 2015. The Oregon tax could be a flat annual fee and/or a tax per mile driven. 

Either way, what's happening in the Pacific Northwest is raising a number of questions. The primary one being: Is it only a matter of time until anybody owning a car or truck is paying a special tax based on how much they drive their car?


As more states look to VMT or per-mile driven taxes, they will wrestle with the tricky issue of calculating how many miles people drive. They could avoid the problem by imposing a flat annual tax on all vehicles when they are registered each year. Critics say that would be unfair to those who drive only 5,000 or 8,000 miles a year while others who are racking up 15,000 or 17,000 miles are paying the same tax.

This last paragraph is interesting because it focuses on the issue that came to light in my post from 2011 - namely that YOUR government (State or Federal feel free to interchange terms at this point) needs a means to track your vehicle.  Suggestions have ranged from a GPS-like device in your car to a manufacturer added 'Black Box' that you'll not be able to 'mess with'.  Yes, just to be 'Fair', the government will necessarily need to track your vehicle, presumably with YOU in it.  

Okay, everyone got THAT?  You'll feeling warm and fuzzy like me?  Okie dokie, so not only will you have to contend with yet another tax (because EV's and Hybrid vehicles are a 'Fiscally Bad Idea' for the Highways) but you'll also have to give up the teensiest, tiniest piece of yet another protections under the U.S. Constitution and allow your movements to be tracked by satellites circling the Earth.  But hey, what's a little Freedom opposed to the Common Good?  Right?  Nothing BAD could happen there, right?

And hey, not that I'm cheap or anything, but I'll also need to amend my Mathematical equation above to account for the additional expense of the VMT and the loss of yet another Freedom:

Car + Gas + Maintenance/Insurance Expenses + VMT  = Employment - Freedom

Yup, there are some days when a post pretty much writes itself.  This would be one of those...


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