Sunday, July 22, 2012

Don't Fix It--Tax It

Sunday always seems like a good day for me to get nostalgic about my Old San Francisco home, so far away. I've lived in the boondocks for over two years now, and I have yet to encounter a cop, a regulator, an inspector, or anybody trying to find something to tax. But San Francisco--ah--San Francisco! They haven't figured out yet how to tax you by the breath or by the calorie, but they're working on it. The current plan is an admission that they can't prevent traffic jams, so they're going to tax by the mile.

Actually, I do see one local cop quite regularly. Caliente contracts its police services out to the Kern County Sheriff's Department. We have one cop for the entire town. And instead of trying to collect anti-dog barking fines or stop me for speeding, he just waves at me. After all, his kids and my grandkids attend the same local schools, and pretty much everybody knows everybody else around here. On my last shopping trip to Lake Isabella, I encountered three other vehicles on the road and wondered where all the traffic had come from.

Needless to say, that is not the way it is in San Francisco (or any other big city). But San Francisco always seems to be ahead of the pack. Outlawed plastic grocery bags. Goldfish ownership made illegal. Restaurants severely restricted on what they can prepare and serve. No toy water pistols unless they look like Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse. Smoking prohibited, well, almost anywhere. But they just couldn't stop that damned traffic. So they're doing the next best thing. If you can't lick 'em, tax 'em.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) have gotten their fuzzy heads together and come up with a plan whereby all Bay Area residents will be required to have electronic devices similar to GPS communications which will monitor the number of miles a car travels. At the end of a fiscal period, the owner will get a tax bill for the number of miles used up. Can mileage quotas, "excess mileage surcharges" and electronically controlled kill switches be far behind?

This is almost as insane as their plan to monitor gasoline usage. In fact, it's even sillier. In San Francisco, it's impossible to travel very far. It's a very tiny city geographically. But miles traveled would be far less tax lucrative than gasoline usage because traffic in the City is start-and-stop, stop-and-stop, or snail's pace most times of the day. And those hills are not exactly gasoline mileage increasers.

San Francisco depends heavily on tourism. The largest percentage of visitors each year are Californians who drive their cars into town. Many are day-trippers who drive in from the far flung suburbs and exurbs. Under the current proposal, only Bay Area residents would be required to purchase and activate the devices in order to be taxed. How that is going to be implemented remains to be seen. But I can also see a working commuter from San Jose or Concord suing for unequal enforcement of the law when the entire rest of the state remains untouched by the requirements and the tax.

On the other hand, I can see Governor Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown and his tax and spend Democrats thinking that this is such a good idea that they will impose the same thing statewide. Everyone knows that Californians aren't taxed enough already--right? Besides, some of the tax money extorted from drivers could be used to help fund the bullet train to nowhere.

The proposed tax is called the Vehicle Miles Traveled tax (VMT). If you think your AT&T bill is screwy, wait until you see one of these tax bills. The tax would be as much as ten cents per mile, adjusted for location, reason for travel, and even time of day (rush hours, when most commuters actually need to be on the road, will be the most expensive).

A spokesman for the MTA says "We're not interested in where they go. We're only interested in the amount they travel." Well, that's a relief. Oh, wait, they already have GPS to tell where we go. This whole scheme is allegedly to reduce traffic and pollution, but the perpetrators know it won't make a dent. It produces the one thing that liberals in government really love--mo' money, mo' money.

20 comments:

Joel Farnham said...

LawHawk,

Will this be the straw that breaks the camel's back? I mean, will this tax finally wake that cities denizens to the notion that their elected officials don't have their best interests in mind? What will it take?

Tennessee Jed said...

that is just soooooo San Francisco. I think of the old Beatles song "Taxman" when I read articles like this.

LawHawkRFD said...

Joel: If I know my San Franciscans, the answer is "no." They're fiscal masochists. I think it will take complete fiscal and infrastructure collapse to get their attention. If the City ordered everyone to have five different colored and very expensive cans to segregate their garbage, trash and specified recyclables, they would not only do so gladly, but they would find the most expensive and garish ones to be displayed on trash day.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: Two great minds. I did exactly the same thing, and have been humming it ever since.

Patriot said...

LawHawk.......in your experience, how many City citizens live in the city and use public transportation? This could be there way of getting back at all those conservative committed who come in to our beautiful city and trash it with their fouls smelling cars. Of course the bureaucrats and wealthy won't have to worry about this tax. Again, go after the middle class....that's where the money is.

I imagine some of these old hippies would gladly give the state 95% of their "income" if it meant that they could enjoy all the benefits of living in the City and not having to worry about such trivial and base things like electricity and food.

Those who have not experienced the extreme liberal mindset of northern California are really missing out on what this country could devolve into.

Nothing surprises me any more........

T-Rav said...

I feel like those conservative counties in CA need to restart that project of seceding and forming their own state.

LawHawkRFD said...

Patriot: Most residents (including myself) use public transportation. Even with all my complaints about the dirty, late buses, San Francisco is a small town and public transportation within the City actually makes sense. I finally gave my car to my daughter because I almost never used it, and bad drivers kept sideswiping it when it was parked on one of the narrower streets. Most of the people who have cars and use them are the very rich who go from their mansions in Pacific Heights, Presidio Heights, and Sea Cliff to their parking structures downtown. Public employees, including City officials have reserved free or highly-discounted parking places. For the rest of us, discount parking anywhere near a workplace downtown starts at about $18 per day. It can go as high as $56 per day if you actually want to park close to your work or shopping center.

The very rich, like Nancy Pelosi and her offshore investments, don't really care about taxes, and the poor don't pay them. That explains why the middle class and small to medium-size businesses are disappearing at an astounding rate.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: I'll volunteer to do any job required at the Kern County Secession Headquarters.

AndrewPrice said...

I think a lot of people would like to see this happen where they start tracking cars individually and then taxing them based on usage. Insurers want to know how fast you drive and if you use your breaks too much as well, so there is a lot of monitoring on the horizon. Let's hope it all gets shot down before it can take hold.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: We both know very well that the ultimate goal is to regulate and tax every single action we perform. Then they'll work or regulating and taxing our inactivity. I'm scared to death of what will happen to me when they impose a couch potato tax.

Joel Farnham said...

LawHawk,

We know that if they succeed in attaching a GPS to every person, they will "fine" not "tax" inactivity. And should it get to the Supreme Court, Roberts will vote that it isn't a mandate.

LawHawkRFD said...

Joel: I hope Roberts isn't reading this blog. He doesn't need any help getting creative. That includes not eating the right veggies. I'll have to pay a lettuce setoff penalty because I don't know what arugula is. I know it's something the pissy rich and wannabe rich eat, and pretentious First Ladies insist on, but I want to eat my goddam iceberg lettuce. "Can't I just eat my lettuce?" Oops, wait a minute, that sounds too much like something somebody I don't like said.

tryanmax said...

This give me an idea. If California residents just can't seem to get their fill of being taxed, what's to stop some other state, say--oh I don't know--Nebraska, from taxing them, too? It sure would take the burden off here.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: We in the conservative counties have a different solution. We're going to send our liberals to Nebraska. You'll love it. In nothing flat they will have committed Californication on the entire state, and you will willingly pay 125% of your income to enjoy the green paradise they have created. As a bonus, we'll throw in the bullet train to nowhere.

tryanmax said...

Yeah, good luck with that. We let everyone think we're a bunch of hicks for a reason. I'd bet that the West Coast Sophisticate are dubious about whether we even have running water. And that just the way we like it.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: You have running water?

tryanmax said...

I never said that.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: Next, you'll be hinting that you have indoor plumbing. LOL

I hate to tell you this, but those coastal leftists think exactly the same thing about us in the Central Valley. We're all outcasts from Oklahoma, we have no dentists and therefore very few teeth, and we believe in close families, which is why brothers marry sisters.

Individualist said...

Lawhawk

I'll bet that the road on which the local Republican Party Headquarters is located is taxes at $200 a mile.

LawHawkRFD said...

Indi: LOL You're probably right.

Post a Comment