Saturday, February 21, 2009

No Secrets

As America looks uneasily into the financial abyss of world that few can comprehend, everybody is wondering how we will continue to pay for the life to which we are all so accustomed. So far, all the money seems to be flowing toward maintaining what we have, a natural inclination, but only as good as the sustainability of that system.

America's transportation system (motor vehicles and highways)is now facing a sea change in financial assumptions. We've funded highways primarily based on the assumption that fuel consumption will continue to rise. Last year, for the first time, consumption dropped, reducing available funding. Since EVERYONE in America favors reducing fossil fuel consumption in the future, it's no surprise that policy makers are looking at alternate financial arrangements.

One of these is mileage-based transportation taxes where vehicles record and report distances traveled and fuel stations add tax accordingly. Privacy advocates object to a system that would document individuals' movements so precisely. They have a point but they are way too late. That system already exists for virtually every American. It's called your credit/debit card. Look at your statement for the past few months or years and it's pretty easy to track where you've been. I'm pretty sure cell phone records can also provide equal or maybe even better documentation.

I would prefer that my movements and whereabouts not be recorded but as long as I engage in normal commerce, a record of those transactions will exist. Hell, the government already knows when I purchase fuel. I use my debit card rather than stand in line behind three people buying god knows what.

Privacy advocates have good reason to be concerned. It's just that the game is pretty much over.

Excuse me now. I need to get some cash from the ATM.



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