Thursday, July 19, 2012

From "See the USA in Your Chevrolet" to America's 'Highway Robbery' Transportation Horrors

Driving in America used to be the ultimate symbol of liberty because driving was an exaltation of the freedom to move and explore. Folks loved jumping into their cars and just taking off. The federal funded interstate highway system facilitated efficient personal and family travel (even if it was built for the benefit of the military). These days, Fedzilla is planning to churn our nations roads and highways into a high cost Nazified police state surveillance system with constant monitoring and tracking.

This analysis will focus on two aspects of roads/highways: 1. the fiscal and 2. the civil liberties crushing surveillance nightmare.

In the way of background information, the entire Federal Highway System, authorized by Congress in 1956, was substantially built with a federal gas tax of just a few cents a gallon. The first federal gas tax was 1 cent per gallon in 1932.

1941 1.5 cents
1952 2.0 cents
1961 4.0 cents and remained 4 cents a gallon until raised in 1983
1983 9.0 cents
1991 14.1 cents
1993 18.4 cents

The Tax Foundation reported that “Since 1977, governments collected more than $1.34 trillion, after adjusting for inflation, in gasoline tax revenues…”

State gasoline taxes range from a low 8 cents a gallon (Alaska) to a high of 49 cents a gallon (New York), here.

The sole purpose of gas taxes was to fund the constructions and maintenance of roads, highways and bridges.

What did the federal government and the states do with our gas tax receipts?  Well, they didn't use the money to fund roads and bridges. In fact, our gas tax dollars have been used by state and federal legislators as a slush fund to finance all kinds of non-highway projects.

According to Mary Peters, the Bush Transportation Secretary, the Federal government squanders about 40% of our Federal gas tax dollars and she admitted on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer (PBS) that only about 60% of the gas tax is funneled into roads and bridges. What happens to our gas tax dollars? Every year tens of billions of our federal gas tax dollars are siphoned off by Congress in a transportation bill to fund pork and other slop.

Every American can categorically be assured that $1.34 trillion was not spent on our bridges and highways.

However,  Fedzilla is hatching new schemes to massively increase gas taxes despite the fact that it admits that it doesn't spend our tax gas dollars on road, highways and bridges.

In January 2008, the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission released a study recommending a 40 cent increase in the Federal gas tax as well as a 60 cent increase in state gas taxes. The study even went further and essentially recommended the Federal takeover of America's entire road/highway transportation system and the creation of new federal bureaucracies. The Commission also recommended new federal taxes on every mode of public transportation.

This, of course, is a chapter right out of the Agenda 21 playbook - force everyone out of their cars and into government approved modes of transportation.

So now the government’s solution for pissing away our gas tax dollars is to increase the federal gas tax from 18.4 cents a gallon to 40 cents a gallon? Americans can also be categorically assured that any new gas tax revenues won’t be spent on bridges and roads either. If anything, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters probably low balled the waste but assuming she’s reasonably accurate, 40% of $1.34 trillion is $536,000,000 that just managed to get pissed away in the congressional corruption cesspool. That kind of money would undoubtedly build and maintain a lot of bridges and highways. But making America’s bridges and highways safe for Americans and their families has never been a congressional priority.

At the state level, gas tax dollars are also squandered.

Taxes are never used for their intended purpose. For more on this issue, see:

Taxation is Theft and Tyranny. The Power to Tax is the Power to Plunder and Enslave

Because of transportation fraud and waste at the federal and state level, many of America's bridges are unsafe.

In January 2008, MSNBC reported that the “Feds let states delay inspections of bad bridges. Loophole allows infrequent checkups for spans in poor condition”. So now the federal government is covering-up its crimes by avoiding safety inspections?

On a far more troubling note, The Better Roads Bridge Inventory survey disclosed some rather startling information.

REPORT: More than 25% of US bridges are "structurally deficient or functionally obsolete"
Here's some bad news for all of us: Over 150,000 bridges in the U.S. have been judged to be "structurally deficient or functionally obsolete." And get this, there are less than 598,000 bridges in America. That means 25.7% aren't in very good shape. It turns out that the state with the most structurally deficient or functionally obsolete (SD/FO) bridges is Texas, with 9,564 such bridges.

However, Texas is ginormous – almost half the size of Alaska – and therefore has a lot of bridges, but the percentage of Texan SD/FO bridges is 19%. And that's significantly lower than the national average.

What state has the most SD/FO bridges? Betcha never would have guessed the District of Columbia. For one thing, it's not even a state! For another, you'd think being in such close proximity to all that Washingtonian largesse would be good for something. Turns out, not. Anyhow, 55% of the bridges in our nation's capital are going to fall down/fail sooner than later says The Better Roads Bridge Inventory survey.

The actual State with the highest percentage of bad bridges is Rhode Island with 53%. Pennsylvania takes second place honors with 39%. The really bad news, according to the frighteningly detailed article, is that all these numbers might be low.
The horrifying 2007 Minnesota bridge collapse momentarily raised the issue after 13 people died and 145 were injured when the bridge totally collapsed. That case has been tied up in the court system in a complex maze of finger pointing lawsuits.

The bridge had been maintained (or, according to some reports, not maintained) by the State of Minnesota. Pursuant to regular inspections, the bridge had been classified as "Structurally Deficient" every year from 1991 to 2007. For that same time period, the bridge's superstructure had been declared "in poor condition," meaning that the “Superstructure has advanced deterioration. Members may be significantly bent or misaligned. Connection failure may be imminent.” The bridge, which had been designed for 60,000 cars per day was actually carrying some 160,000 cars per day.
Politicians dole out lucrative contracts to their pals and those who fill their campaign coffers. Public safety is never the issue.

Still, the political class continues to view citizens as objects to plunder.  In the California Bay area, a scheme has been hatched to track folks with GPS systems and tax them by the mile they drive. This tax is on top of the state and federal gas taxes.

Bay Area Drivers Could Be Tracked By GPS, Taxed Per Mile Driven
Bay Area drivers could one day be tracked using a GPS-like device in their cars and taxed per miles driven – a scenario which is part of a proposed long-range study aimed at finding ways to reduce traffic and pollution, while also raising revenues.

Members of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments are scheduled to vote on Thursday on whether or not to authorize a study of the proposal. Under the plan, drivers would have to install trackers in their vehicle and officials would tax drivers for every mile they travel.

In Texas, transportation expert Terri Hall has extensively researched and reported on government schemes to rip-off drivers and taxpayers.

They're comin' after your wallet...Report proposes $26/day toll to access ALL U.S. cities! 
A group of think tanks, businesses, and three federal agencies recently published a report, called Moving Cooler, proposing to charge a 5 cent per mile toll to access ALL federal interstates and a 65 cent per mile toll to access ALL 125 metro cities across America. Someone has clearly lost their marbles to put such a proposal in writing.

Not only is this a massive DOUBLE TAX to charge taxpayers to use what we’ve already built and paid for, it’s a recipe for total economic collapse! Few would be able to afford to get to work, and it would bring freedom to travel to a screeching halt. Sure the government CAN price people off our public roadways and into mass transit, but SHOULD it? Certainly mass transit is PART of the solution, but not the WHOLE solution.

Do such proposals advance liberty and freedom or government control of our daily lives, essentially dictating where we can live, work, and worship? Is it economically viable to have such oppressive taxation drive-up our cost of food and other necessities?

Even IF all workers and business owners wanted to take mass transit to work, our public transportation system couldn’t handle it, so that leaves millions forced to pay $26 a day in new taxes to get to work (for a 20 mile commute), which for many means they literally can’t afford to get to work. This report advances an agenda to forcibly change behavior and radically shift how people and goods are transported. It admits rural areas would be hit hardest.

The report also proposes: - Significantly increase parking fees, including a $400 biennial non-residential parking fee. - Instituting aggressive land use measures that "may require strong regional land use planning and oversight agencies,... may result in higher housing prices and...some people might need to live in smaller homes or on smaller lots than they would prefer." - Re-impose national speed limit of 55 MPH.
A 65 cent a mile tax just to drive!! And this is on top of the gas tax to boot – if this isn’t highway robbery I don’t know what is.

Again, most of the advocates for such draconian measures are ideologically committed to implementing Agenda 21 or are so connected to politicians that they will directly profit from such schemes.

This is just a very abbreviated synopsis of what is being planned by the totalitarian central planners and their revenue hungry bureaucrats.

But it gets a whole lot worse than mere government plunder.  Liberty and privacy are very much at stake here.  Henry Lamb (may he RIP) followed a ton of issues, including transportation and chirped in on the grand plans of government transportation.

New meaning for “Road Tax”
Sara was late for work. The alarm clock didn't alarm, the kids were unusually slow getting ready for school, and nothing went right. She finally got to her car – a brand new 2020 Chevy Adventure. She touched the finger-print secured start button. Nothing. It wouldn't start. She touched it again. Nothing. Furious, she banged the steering wheel with her fist. Then she noticed the paper hanging from the receipt printer on the dash.

"Your designated visa account rejected your Road Use Tax in the amount of $87.32 for the month of June, 2020. You must insert a valid account card to activate your automobile."

It's coming. With a $16 million grant from the federal government, the University of Iowa is developing a Global Positioning Satellite system that can measure the mileage, apply a variable tax rate that will increase during rush hours, and in high-traffic areas, calculate the total, charge a designated account card, and shut down your automobile if unpaid when due. Some 2700 automobiles in five states will be used in the test.

The system has been under development for more than a decade. The concept was proven in a similar, but smaller test in Oregon two years ago. The new tax system is being designed to replace the outdated by-the-gallon tax. Government mandated higher mileage requirements results in less tax revenue for all governments. Hybrid and all-electric cars contribute little or nothing to road tax revenues.

The new by-the-mile tax system will give government much more than a new tax collection mechanism; it will give government much greater control over everyone.

The new GM – Government Motors – can install this new system in all of its vehicles. All that's needed is an instruction from the car-czar. Auto makers that have not yet been taken over by the government can be required to install the system quite easily, by regulation or legislation. With such a system in every vehicle, the government can have virtual control over the population.

Purchase of a vehicle will give the government a database containing the name and residence location of every automobile owner. Since the system has the ability to record and track the geographic location of the vehicle at every moment of the day or night – only for the purpose of applying the correct tax rate, of course – government can know where your vehicle is at any moment.

Frightened yet? This is not hocus-pocus conspiracy-theory nonsense. The National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission has unanimously endorsed the scheme.
Every American should be absolutely terrified that our roads and highways are about to be churned into Nazi style police state roadways and that taxpayer funded technology will facilitate this transition as vehicles and roads are being reconfigured for constant surveillance. No longer is America the land of “See the USA in your Chevrolet” but we are turning into “May the Force of Big Brother Be with You Wherever You Go in Your Government Motors Surveillance Vehicle”.

Feds plan to track every car
Obscure agency working on technology to monitor all vehicles

A little-known federal agency is planning a new monitoring program by which the government would track every car on the road by using onboard transceivers.

The agency, the Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office, is part of the Department of Transportation. According to an extensive report in the Charlotte, N.C., Creative Loafing, the agency doesn't respond to public inquiries about its activity.

According to the report, cutting-edge tracking technology will be used by government transportation management centers to monitor every aspect of transportation. Under the plan, not only will movement be monitored but it also will be archived in massive databases for future use.

The paper reports a group of car manufacturers, technology companies and government interests have worked toward implementing the project for 13 years.

States the Creative Loafing report:

"The only way for people to evade the national transportation tracking system they're creating will be to travel on foot. Drive your car, and your every movement could be recorded and archived. The federal government will know the exact route you drove to work, how many times you braked along the way, the precise moment you arrived – and that every other Tuesday you opt to ride the bus.

"They'll know you're due for a transmission repair and that you've neglected to fix the ever-widening crack that resulted from a pebble dinging your windshield."

The agency's website says its purpose is to "use advanced technology to improve the efficiency and safety of our nation's surface transportation system."

Critics believe the program will be used to line the pockets of business interests that stand to gain from the sale of needed technology and that the government will use the data collected to tax drivers on their driving habits.

Though the program has ominous privacy implications, Creative Loafing reports none of the privacy-rights organizations it contacted were aware of the government's plans.

The report states that more than $4 billion in federal tax dollars has already been spent to lay the foundation for the system, which will use GPS technology and other methods to monitor Americans' movements.
Many folks consider transportation issues to be boring and mundane so they ignore what the government is doing and/or attempting to implement.

That's a huge mistake that will cost the American people dearly in terms of money and liberty.

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