Oregon’s running another test of a per-mile tax to replace gas taxes at the pump. At least, they will be, when they get 5,000 volunteers signed up.
The state is starting to sign up volunteers for the program, including Friedman, with the goal of getting 5,000 testers in place by next spring to try a variety of mileage calculation methods.
One way to monitor mileage would be an odometer-like device that simply tracks miles driven. (The motorist would receive a refund for miles driven out of state.) Another could involve GPS monitoring, and others could rely on smartphone apps or a combination of tracking systems.
The proposed tax rate is 1.5 cents per mile, which is the current state gas tax rate of 30 cents per gallon divided by the average car’s 20 miles per gallon. Friedman, with his gas-guzzling Suburban, probably would do better under the mileage tax than the per-gallon tax. Drivers with more-efficient cars might do worse.
Although unmentioned, one presumes that the testers would receive rebates from the state for taxes paid at the pump – though it seems likely that federal gas taxes would still apply. The reason behind all of this, of course, is governmentally-driven in the first place: mandatory fuel efficiency standards, mandatory ethanol inclusion into the fuel mixtures, and the push (through subsidies) for ev and hybrid vehicles all conspire to reduce revenues collected at the pump even as infrastructure costs increase.
Of course, it would be helpful if they’d simply stop diverting fuel tax funds to build things like Portland’s floating “East Bank Esplanade”, bicycle paths, light rail, streetcars, and the like, but politicians – like crows – simply cannot resist the allure of shiny objects. And so, a change in tax collection systems is underway.
And more changes are underway as well; among them: your gas can.
Back in 2008 the California Air Resources Board had stomped out all the major sources of air pollution in California, so they turned their Sauron-like gaze upon the evil, fume-spewing, toxin-dripping gas can as the next target of their regulatory empire. They mandated new containers and spouts that would eliminate those noxious off-gasses that contribute to smog in the valleys, and also prevent any possibility of spilling gas onto the ground. Of course, we all know what happens when bureaucrats design a new device, right?
Yep, that’s right. The new gas cans with CARB-compliant spouts require three hands (at a minimum) to operate, inevitably cause the user to spill far more gasoline with each refuel of a lawn mower than he managed to spill over the previous decade in total, and flows with the velocity of a mouse with a bad prostate. So, ingenious Californians that we are, we’ve resorted to throwing the useless spouts away and simply pouring the gasoline from the container into a funnel, thereby eliminating all spillage and at the same time releasing approximately ten times the amount of aromatic fumes as before CARB got involved in the man-machine relationship.
Thus having proven the wisdom of bureaucrat-designed gas cans, the Federal government then decided that they should adopt CARB’s brilliant dictates and apply them across this fruited plain.
To actually make the new and improved gas cans work, you’ll need to purchase a different spout; one recommended variety is the EZ-Pour, though depending on your state, you may have to buy the water spout rather than the fuel spout, because CARB restrictions. They’re the same spouts, but with different packaging and labeling specifying that they are not for fuel use – if you say it’s for use with water, you’re legally in the clear. Amazing, isn’t it?
We’re from the government, and we’re here to help.
Oh, and while you’re buying your new spout to go with your new and improved gas can, you might as well buy more toilet paper and a good plunger; you’re going to need the latter in particular, starting next year. If, like me, you remember with fondness the days of the three-gallon, single-flush toilet prior to its mandatory replacement with the 1.6 gallon commode (which often doesn’t work as well), there’s a new mandatory replacement coming down the line: the 1.2 gallon pissoire. Because water conservation.
Look for sewer bills to rise again; toilet paper and feces tend to accumulate in lines as it is, thanks to the 1.6 gallon units’ inability to push sufficient water down the lines to carry the stuff where it belongs. That problem will be exacerbated with the 1.2 gallon requirement.
Perhaps you’ll want to consider a nice Clivus Multrum, instead. Don’t forget the shovel.