Good Riddance to Thieves
There is a whiny blurb in today’s King County Journal that laments the idea that people can purchase gasoline at reservation based service stations and avoid paying the state tax levy:
Would you drive to a tribal reservation if you could save $5 to fill up your gas tank? If you live close enough to one, of course you would, and that scares state officials assessing the impact of a court ruling that bars Washington from collecting state tax on gas sold on reservations. – The impact of that decision, made last November by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Zilly of Seattle, has the potential for losses to the state of $100 million a year…
Why not lament the loss to the citizens from whom that potential $100 million is stolen in the first place?
Oh, you argue that gasoline taxes are reasonable user fees? Not as currently constituted. These taxes become an approximation of a legitimate use fee only the extent that they are used to provision/maintain the routes driven by the specific assessee. Tolls would be more appropriate.
Suburbanites might ask how would this apply to the roads in their subdivision or cul de sac. Well, first you should be the owners and maintainers of these roads; and it’s fine for you to subcontract the building and ongoing upkeep to some other entity, even one like a city. But, the full cost of your section should be paid by you and your neighbors and those you charge for the use of your roads. If you can’t afford them then your roads will eventually be closed and your housing well readjust as well.
The key point is that by making roads a kind of public good, a commons, we have created a tragedy that manifiests itself in thousands of deaths every year, millions of hours lost to commuting, sprawl, loss of community (check out the ‘burbs folks), over reliance on oil and so on.
It is time for a radical change.