It has Begun. Self Driving Vehicles will Reduce Govt Income


It has Begun. Self Driving Vehicles will Reduce Govt Income

This article, posted on, expresses the concern by the State of California over the fact that self driving vehicles may (will?) reduce the revenues the state receives from fines, fees and sales taxes. Seems these critters will follow the rules better than human drivers, not park as often, and in the end they will reduce the number of vehicles sold, thus reducing sales taxes.

The article offers no solution to this shortfall, which could be billions of dollars a year, but laments the poor governments at all levels that will have to exist on less money.

Is there any thinking person on the planet who believes that will happen?

Logically, fewer cars would mean less wear and tear on streets and highways, and therefore lower maintenance costs. Fewer accidents means fewer casualties, less hospitalization, fewer repair bills, and lower insurance costs.

That seems like a good thing.  However the government at all levels reducing income seems like a good thing, too. But wait.

Governments have been relying on fines and fees more and more as people push back against higher taxes.  If those fees go away, what will they do?

Lower costs? Oh give me a break. It is true where public agencies have been forced to ‘make do’ with less money the services continue and in many cases even do a better job than before. Humans are clever that way. But notice I used the word ‘forced.’ If the government can find a way to collect money,it will.

In Oregon, for instance, they are ‘experimenting’ with a road use tax. You pay based on the distance you drive. How many nano seconds do you think it will take states to follow that lead. It seems fair until you remember that you already pay taxes on gasoline to cover road use. That little pesky fact won’t stop them. More money will be collected.

The States and Feds are already bellowing about lower gasoline prices. I thought that was a good thing, but if you are collecting money based on a percentage of monies spent for gas, and the prices per gallon is going down (plus more fuel efficient cars means less gas purchased) then your revenue goes down. How long do you think it will take for some legislator to come up with the great idea of raising gasoline taxes to cover the shortfall.

There is an irony here. The government has forced automobile companies to develop more fuel efficient vehicles and they have done so. Now the government is complaining that their revenues are down because people are using less fuel.

Ah yes, that law of unintended consequences. “A” seems like a good thing, but one of the results of “A” is “B” which isn’t so good.

Remember my posit a few weeks ago that before a law is passed or a tax is raised, a study needed to be done to determine the results of that law or tax and just who is helped and who is harmed by it. Sort of an “Environmental Impact Report” on legislation. Seems to me that here is a good place to start.




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John Van Horn

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