The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

7 June 2003

Lo, these fuelish things

The state of Oregon isn't pulling in enough money from its 24-cent gasoline tax to cover its road-maintenance budget. What to do? Why, spend millions on a GPS-based system to tax motorists by road usage, of course.

To me, the only good reason to have a GPS in your car is to tell you that you're about to drive into the middle of Lake Itasca, a dubious functionality in my view, and there's always the concern about giving Big Brother access to my dashboard. And where will all these black boxes come from? The auto industry is going to be loath to install Oregon-specific equipment in one percent of its vehicles.

What's most annoying about this, I think, is that the state is going through all this folderol because the electorate won't put up with an increase in the gas tax, fully in keeping with today's modern "We want this service but we want someone else to pay for it" attitude. For the amount they'll spend on this, they could buy every driver in the state an early-Seventies Ford LTD or comparable beater that struggles to get 8 mpg when it's in tune, which would increase the take from the gas tax considerably and simultaneously cheese off the Greener Than Thou crowd.

(Muchas gracias: Alexander Craghead.)

Posted at 10:35 AM to Driver's Seat , Family Joules


the oregon thing is stupid, imho. however, they really don't want people to drive in that state. they have prohibited certain types of garages, they used to prohibit self-serve gas, thus raising prices (they may still -- i don't know), and car registration was on the expensive end. this is a state that wants cars to be very expensive to discourage their use.

i dont know why they need to do the gps thing. Instead they should just make people submit their odometer readings every year when they reup their registration. make it annoying and require a notarized form or something and the intent of making cars expensive by the mile will be served.

honestly, this seems like the result of some left coast policy gone awry, where they have forced people to buy cars that are efficient enough that the cost of the gas tax is not burdensome enough to achieve their real purpose, so now they are going to tax by the mile rather than by the gallon. oh the tangled web we weave ...

somebody once said that in a democracy, which oregon still is, the people get the government they deserve.

Posted by: rammer at 4:18 PM on 7 June 2003

I'm pretty sure that self-service is still illegal in Oregon. It was when I went up there last year, at least. Ostensibly it was to keep people from topping off, but I always thought it had more to do with the gas stations wanting an excuse to charge us more.

Going up to college there next year. This stuff makes me kind of glad I'm not bringing my car.

Posted by: Jonathan at 5:02 PM on 7 June 2003

As I understand it, only Oregon and New Jersey forbid self-serve — and New Jersey, I've observed, has slightly cheaper gas than either Pennsylvania or New York. (Of course, you drove a toll road to get to the station.)

What I want to know is this: will I, as a resident of another state, get a tax break when driving through Oregon because I have neither the state-mandated equipment or the annual odometer statement — or will gas stations in Oregon have to maintain two-tier pricing?

Posted by: CGHill at 5:38 PM on 7 June 2003

I don't know about New Jersy, but in oregon we ban self-serv gas station for two reasons i believe. One, the self serv ban employs thousands of people, If we were to go to even half self-serv, and half full-serv many people would still loose their job. And second there is someone on hand who is trained in the clean up of gas spills, granted in self-serv stations there is still the cashier, he may not be able to get out to clean it up, or even know about it.

Posted by: jacy at 6:17 AM on 3 March 2004