Friday, January 2, 2009

Damned if you do, taxed if you don't

It seems the average person just can't win:

Motorists' habits spur call for tax increases
WASHINGTON – Motorists are driving less and buying less gasoline, which means fuel taxes aren't raising enough money to keep pace with the cost of road, bridge and transit programs.

A federal commission created by Congress to find a way to make up the growing revenue shortfall in the program that funds highway repairs and construction is talking about increasing federal gas and diesel taxes.

A roughly 50 percent increase in gasoline and diesel fuel taxes is being urged by the commission until the government devises another way for motorists to pay for using public roads.

The 15-member National Commission on Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing is the second group in a year to call for increasing the current 18.4 cents a gallon federal tax on gasoline and the 24.4 cents a gallon tax on diesel. State fuel taxes vary from state to state.

Of course, this couldn't come at a better time, with the economy in a recession and being stalked by a depression that will pounce should it have a couple of wrong moves foisted upon it (like increasing taxes). Yup, more taxes in tough economic times is definitely the way to go. God forbid that services should ever be cut back to match revenues, that might give the impression that government is not, after all, omniscient and omnipotent, and we can't have that.

Actually, I wouldn't be against this tax if it is really needed to repair rotting infrastructure and, now here's the BIG IF, every penny collected would go towards its intended purpose; I believe those who drive, as opposed to those who walk as their main means of conveyance, should have to pay for the upkeep of the roads. But, having lived and learned enough about the U.S. government and the amnesia a fresh batch of money induces in it, I know this will not happen. A few token, pork barrel projects will get the green light but the overall system will continue to deteriorate and the money will somehow mysteriously vanish into black-hole government coffers.

One thing I wonder about, though, is why did this suddenly dawn upon the powers that be? The infrastructure rot they're talking about doesn't happen overnight. Why wasn't the upkeep maintained when the country was awash in illusionary wealth and guzzling gas like there was no tomorrow? Perhaps because the difference between the money collected and the pittance spent on maintenance was so vast? But with just a little more cash, the PTB assure us, things are going to be hunky dory. That's the same old song politicians and bureaucrats having been whistling for generations. They keep doing it, unfortunately, because it works. It's no wonder they have no respect for the electorate.

Take care.

No comments: