Micah Caskey’s thoughtful words on gas tax bill

When I first met Micah Caskey last year, I was still toying with the idea of running for the House seat he was seeking. My interview with him put that out of my head, I was so impressed with him. I agreed with him on so many things, and was so impressed by the thoughtful way he approached every issue even when I didn’t agree, that it occurred to me that if I did run against him, I might be tempted to vote for him anyway.

The statement he posted on Facebook regarding the roads bill just passed over the governor’s veto provides a sample of what I’m talking about. When I posted in passing about him and the bill yesterday, I had not yet seen this.

I’m not sure if this is the same statement he made on the floor of the House yesterday, but whatever he said there also made an impression, judging by multiple Tweets from  and , reporters for The State.

An example:

As I said, an impression was made.

Here’s what he said on Facebook:

The #1 issue in South Carolina is improving our state’s transportation infrastructure. Our roads are in terrible condition and we’ve got to fix them.

Micah Caskey

Micah Caskey

I want to address my position on the roads. This is a rather long post, but I think it’s important that I share where I stand on the issue. I ran for office promising folks that I would call the balls and strikes as I saw them, even if it wasn’t politically popular.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to pay the piper. It’s time to raise our state’s gas tax.

Sadly, the Governor hasn’t had anything helpful to say about fixing the roads. Instead of drawing a roadmap for how things can be improved, he’s chosen to do what we’ve come to expect from career politicians:

1. Put head in the sand
2. Yell “CONSERVATIVE!”
3. Hope nobody pays attention to reality

In the absence of Executive Branch leadership, the task of fixing roads has been taken up by the Legislative Branch. Unfortunately, crafting the law to fix the roads in the General Assembly as been incredibly contentious. There are a lot of cooks in the kitchen and everybody thinks his or her solution is best.

The 124 members of the S.C. House gave it our best shot in House Bill #3516. And, as is their custom, the 46-member S.C. Senate returned the House bill will something that looked very different. (To their credit, the Senate did at least manage to break from their tradition of not passing a roads bill out at all.)

When the House and the Senate don’t agree on versions of a bill, the parliamentary rules require there to be a “Conference Committee”, made up of 3 members from each body, to sit together and negotiate a compromise.

If you think of each body’s initial bill as a compromise from within that respective body (you need a majority vote to get out of the body, after all), the Conference Committee’s version is a Compromise of Compromises.

An ugly baby, to be sure.

I have broken down the Conference Committee version of H.3516 below. Like me, there’s probably a lot you don’t like about it. But, ultimately, the two must-haves (for me to vote for it) are there:

1. Gas tax money goes ONLY to roads (no sidewalks, parks, etc.)

2. There is reform in governance at DOT so that citizens can rightfully hold the Governor accountable for the performance of his agency.

This bill has both. (1) All new revenue must go into the Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund for existing infrastructure improvement only. (2) The Governor directly appoints all of the DOT Commissioners, with approval by the entire General Assembly — not just the Senate — and can remove a Commissioner at-will, on his own.

In truth, I think we need to eliminate the DOT Commission entirely and elevate the Secretary of Transportation to a Cabinet seat, but my view is a minority view in the 170-member General Assembly (we lost an amendment vote to do that in the House 33-84). Nevertheless, I think the Conference Committee version gives citizens the ability to hold the Governor accountable when the Commissioners he appoints stray from his priorities.

South Carolina deserves action. If past Governors or General Assemblies had acted in the past, we wouldn’t be in this position. However, since we can’t go back in time, our choice is simplified.

I don’t think raising taxes is a good answer, but I also see it as the only realistic answer for this problem. There’s no magic roads fairy coming to fix this. Waiting on the ‘perfect’ answer doesn’t work in the military, and it doesn’t work here.

I will vote to adopt the Conference Committee Report, and if the Governor chooses to put his own career ahead of South Carolina’s best interest, I’ll vote to override his veto.

Certainly don’t let me get in the way of your government-hating. I encourage you to be skeptical. I implore you to scrutinize SCDOT more than ever. I certainly will. Whether through the Legislative Audit Council, Inspectors General, or the Legislative Oversight Committee, I will be working to ensure SCDOT delivers a better investment return of tax dollars than they have in the past. I invite you to put your energy toward the same.

From where we are today, a gas tax increase is the only responsible solution.

-Micah

—-

Conference Report on Roads Bill
GOVERNANCE AND REFORM

● Provides real accountability and transparency at the Department of Transportation (public records, mandated meetings, ethical requirements for commissioners)

● Gives Governor complete control of the Commission with a clear line of authority and at-will removal

● Highway Commission organized to reflect regional representation with 7 Congressional districts and 2 statewide at-large members appointed by the Governor (adds 1 member to current structure)

● Requires General Assembly, not just the S.C. Senate, to approve all 9 Highway Commission appointees

● Strengthens DOT’s control over project authorization and financial decisions by the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank
FUNDING

● Creates a long-term and sustainable funding stream by increasing the motor fuel user fee by 2 cents/gallon over the next 6 years, not exceeding 12 cents/gallon

● Safeguards taxpayers from future automatic tax increases by not indexing for inflation

● Protects SC taxpayers from continuing to solely foot the bill for infrastructure repair by not using General Fund dollars and captures 30% of the motor fuel user fee revenue from out-of-state motorists

● Creates an Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund to ensure all new revenue collected from the motor fuel user fee is used only for existing infrastructure needs

● Does not increase or change fees for South Carolina driver’s license applications or renewals

● Increases funding for County Transportation Committees targeted to repair rural and secondary roads

● Captures revenue from alternative energy motorists by creating a biennial registration fee for all hybrid and electric vehicles

● Established a road use fee to capture revenue from out of state truckers

● Raises the cap on motor vehicle sales tax to $500 and creates a $250 out of state maintenance fee

● Incentivizes road construction industry to return to SC with responsible infrastructure investment

● Provides $640 million in new annual revenue for infrastructure maintenance needs when fully implemented

TAX RELIEF

● Includes responsible tax relief to offset the user fee increase for South Carolina residents

● Offers a refundable income tax credit equal to the motor fuel user fee increase that must be reauthorized prior to 2023

● Enhances already existing College Tuition Tax Credit for every South Carolina tuition-payer to enhance workforce development

● Contains a non-refundable Low Income Tax Credit for working families (not federal model)

● Increases the maximum income tax credit from $210 to $350 for dual income household joint filers

● Reduces SC manufacturers property tax burden by $35 million using a phased-in approach over 6 years

I’m proud he’s my representative. We need a lot more like him. Keep up the good work, Micah!

63 thoughts on “Micah Caskey’s thoughtful words on gas tax bill

  1. Doug Ross

    Where to begin?

    Let’s start with the entire Tax Relief section of the Conference Report. WTF??? Why in the world should any of those items be in the bill? “● Enhances already existing College Tuition Tax Credit for every South Carolina tuition-payer to enhance workforce development” Are you kidding me? So now we create ANOTHER loophole in an already overly complex tax system for something that has ZERO to do with fixing roads. Why is it necessary to tack on these unrelated items? Oh, I know why – in order to buy the votes of certain factions of the legislature to get them to vote for the bill. This is the stupidity of government – politician A trades a vote for something he wants rather than treat that item as something everyone has to vote on. It’s bartering other people’s money…. and as long as you can raise taxes, you don’t have to worry about the merits.

    Instead of constantly screwing with the tax code to try and tinker with whatever pie-in-the-sky social idea you want to implement, simplify the code all the way down to a flat tax and do your JOB to apportion the revenues.

    As for the Governor having the power to fire Commissioners… Big Freakin’ Deal! It’s a board of nine people — how does one have any authority to warrant being fired? How does this impact the management of the DOT from the top on down? How quickly will any change take place? This provision is pure window dressing for legislators. It doesn’t provide accountability or set standards of performance. It simply creates the perception that the Governor is in charge.

    Let’s see now when we can retire the word crumbling from the vocabulary of South Carolina road descriptions. We’ll be back in 5-10 years repeating this same request for more funds.

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      “Let’s start with the entire Tax Relief section of the Conference Report. WTF???”

      Wow. Doug and I are in complete agreement on something having to do with taxes.

      That loathsome garbage is in there because of, ahem, the radical libertarian element over in the Senate, who irrationally believe that the cure for anything is a tax cut. (Ever see “My Big Fat Greek Wedding?” These senators remind me of the bride’s father. He believed Windex could cure anything. Injured your elbow? “Soak it in Windex!” Of course, these senators are even less rational than that: “We need more money for roads? Let’s have a tax cut!”)

      That portion of the bill is completely inexcusable. But the Senate was never, ever going to let the rest of the bill pass without it. As insane as that portion was, as Cindi wrote Monday, the rest of the bill was good enough and important enough to pass it anyway.

      And let me note that Speaker Lucas and Micah and their colleagues wanted nothing to do with that foolishness the Senate added. The House had passed a clean bill, without such pointless pandering gestures…

      Reply
      1. Doug Ross

        “As insane as that portion was, as Cindi wrote Monday, the rest of the bill was good enough and important enough to pass it anyway.”

        There’s the definition of compromise. Good enough plus insanity. That’s why we end up with mediocrity.

        And please don’t assign the libertarian modifier to those legislators. Maybe Tom Davis. The rest are career horse traders and influence peddlers who use the State House as their own piggy bank.

        Reply
        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Oh, it’s mostly Tom Davis, and a handful of others who vote with him.

          Tom’s the one they had to sit down the other night so they could pass something…

          Reply
          1. Doug Ross

            I may be wrong, but I am doubtful Davis would include this as a bargaining chip:

            ” Enhances already existing College Tuition Tax Credit for every South Carolina tuition-payer to enhance workforce development” ”

            I would expect him to call for basic tax cuts and a flat tax before anything else. But prove me wrong.

            Reply
            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              And maybe that’s why he was filibustering. Apparently that appealed to someone, though, and the House was unable to ditch it…

              By the way, I’m wondering why you keep getting held for moderation today…

              … oh, wait: The red flag is “Davis”…

              Reply
              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Aha! I think I know who wanted that particular tax credit: The Democrats! At least, they’re claiming credit now. I just got this from the state party:

                Dear Brad,

                Yesterday, the General Assembly overrode Governor McMaster’s veto of a bill to make South Carolina roads smoother and safer, paid for by an increase in our state’s low gas tax partially offset by much needed tax credits for students and the middle class. We’re finally fixing our roads! Enhancing South Carolina’s transportation infrastructure will foster business growth throughout the state, creating good-paying jobs for our people.

                This victory was only possible because of the determination of Democrats to get the job done. When you have a minute, call your Democratic legislators to say thank you (Senate contact info here, House info here). And remember: if our state wants more solutions, we need to elect more Democrats. So in the coming weeks and months, let’s get out on our newly improving roads to tell our fellow South Carolinians what Democrats can accomplish!

                Sincerely,

                Vincent Sheheen
                State Senator, District 27 (Kershaw, Chesterfield, and Lancaster Counties)

                As I said on a previous post, I appreciate the role that Vincent in particular played at the end of this process, leading the conference committee to forge something that both chambers could pass with veto-proof margins. That was important.

                But no one should even hint that Democrats made all this happen.

                If I’m going to use a phrase like “This victory was only possible because of the determination of…,” it’s going to be followed by “Speaker Jay Lucas and the House.”

                Sure, we needed every vote, and in that sense I suppose (I haven’t done the math) you can say that without Democratic votes, it would not have happened.

                But it’s not correct to imply that this all happened because of Democrats. Democrats — some of them, anyway — have tended to be one of the obstacles of getting a tax-hike bill with real reforms passed the last three years…

                Reply
                1. Doug Ross

                  So when things go well it’s because of a person but when they go wrong it’s the system.

                  Apparently the corollary to “success has many parents, failure is an orphan”

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    By the way, my favorite part was this:

    2. Yell “CONSERVATIVE!”

    As you know, I’d had my fill of that word about 20 years ago. It sometimes seems like Republicans only know about 10 words, and can’t bring themselves to get through three of them without jamming in “conservative” once or twice.

    I refer you again to my parody, from 2010, of the standard S.C. GOP answer to anything:

    As I’ve said from Day One I’m a conservative a true conservative my daddy was a conservative daddy my mama was a conservative mama I’m a bidnessman meet a payroll don’t take bailouts lazy shiftless welfare takers the key is to starve ’em before they reproduce 100 percent rating from conservative conservatives of America my dog is a conservative dog I don’t have a cat because cats are effete I eat conservative I sleep conservative I excrete conservative I got conservative principles a conservative house and conservative clothes take back our government from the socialists even though we don’t really want it because who needs government anyway they don’t have government in Somalia and they’re doing alright aren’t they National Rifle Association Charlton Heston is my president and Ronald Reagan is my God I will have no gods before him I go Arizona-style all the way that’s the way I roll I will keep their cold dead government hands off your Medicare so help me Ronald Reagan…

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      As I also wrote at that time, I wish that just once, one of them would have “the sense of perspective, the sense of the absurd, the appreciation of irony” to say something like:

      Actually, I’m a liberal. A liberal all the way. I drive a Prius, I love wine and cheese parties with the faculty, I think America is a big bully in the world and no wonder people hate us (I’d be a terrorist, too, if I didn’t abhor violence so), and I never saw an abortion I didn’t like. My spouse and I have an open marriage, so scandal can’t touch us, because to each his or her own. I’m a white, male heterosexual and the guilt just eats me alive; I wish I belonged to a group that was more GENUINE, you know? The first thing I’d do if elected is raise taxes through the roof, and spend every penny on public education, except for a portion set aside for re-education camps for people who now home-school their kids. Then, if we needed more money for excessive regulation of business and other essential government services, we’d raise taxes again, but only on the rich, which is defined as YOU or anybody who makes more than you. Probably the best word to describe my overall tax plan would be “confiscatory.” And my spending (OH, my spending! You’ve never seen spending until you see my spending!) would best be termed “redistributive.” If elected, my inaugural party will have music by the Dixie Chicks and the Indigo Girls, and then we’ll all bow down to a gigantic image of Barack (did you know it means “blessed”?) Obama, the savior of us all, and chant in some language other than the ultimate oppressor language, English. French, perhaps. Or Kiswahili.

      Reply
  3. Doug Ross

    Here’s all we need to know about how the new accountability laws will work with the DOT:

    https://thenerve.org/why-is-this-man-still-on-the-dot-commission/

    “That brings us to DOT Commissioner Mike Wooten. Appointed four years ago, his commission expired on February 15 of this year, but on he sits, placing the ball in Governor Henry McMaster’s court.
    “The governor’s office is reviewing the appointment and a determination will be made in the future,” said press secretary Brian Symmes. So when Symmes says “in the future,” does that mean weeks, months?

    “The governor’s going to review the appointment and when he finds somebody who will do the best job for the state, he’ll appoint that person,” Symmes explained. Four years back, Wooten was elected as the only choice for the position when his sole opponent dropped out before the vote.

    His tenure has been arguably bumpy. Last year, The Nerve obtained emails showing that Wooten had “used his position to have DOT staff and elected officials pressure a local government entity engaged in a dispute with an agency over a $1 million contract of which Wooten’s firm” — DDC Engineers, of Myrtle Beach — “was a subcontractor.” Further reporting showed that Wooten’s firm, as a subcontractor, had benefited from projects that DOT helped to fund. The law states that it is unlawful for a commissioner to ask or solicit, directly or indirectly, any money, contract, or other thing of value.”
    —-

    So if McMaster won’t get rid of this guy in a timely manner, why should we expect him to do it in the future?

    It’s sham, scam, thank-you-maam… once again.

    Reply
    1. Doug Ross

      And there’s this to show you what to expect from the legislators:

      “We individually emailed the 24 state House and Senate members of the Seventh Congressional District who must approve whatever action Governor McMaster takes in regard to Wooten’s seat before the candidate goes to a legislative screening panel, the Joint Transportation Review Committee, and asked whether each wished to see Wooten retained or preferred anyone else. We followed up with phone calls to legislators. (For an interesting take on the difficulty of simply determining who they are, go here — and note that the information preceded the last election for state offices.)
      We didn’t get a single response.”

      Reply
    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Doug, I’ve just gotta ask: What is it you think the Legislature should have done? What would satisfy you? What would make you say, “This is a good bill?”

      I’m really curious.

      Reply
      1. Doug Ross

        I’ve said it before. Raise the tax on a temporary 5 year basis. Bump it 12 cents now and fix the roads. Then at the end of five years if our roads are still crumbling, cancel the tax and fire the top two levels of management in the DOT. Also publish all DOT spending online with project plans and performance metrics. Let’s see what we get for our money.

        Reply
        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          So you’d pass the tax increase WITHOUT reform?

          And don’t you see that firing a bunch of people isn’t the cure?

          A big part of the problem is that these people are chosen by congressional districts, and don’t answer to anyone over them in a position to take a statewide view and set real priorities.

          You can fire all of them, then fire their replacements, then fire the next replacements, and you will still have the problem of all of them tending to think in narrow, parochial terms, with no one in a position to tell them to do otherwise.

          That dynamic has to be changed….

          Reply
          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Anyway, a tax increase without reform wouldn’t fly with the House, or the more responsible senators. Or me.

            About the only folks I can think of who’d go for that would be some Senate Democrats and a couple of others who have demonstrated that they’re happy to raise a tax, but see no need for reform of the agency.

            And I don’t hold with that position…

            Reply
            1. bud

              I see no reason for yet another disruptive restructuring scheme that is referred to by the weasel word “reform”.

              Reply
          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            One more thing…

            I wouldn’t go for limiting the increase to X years for two reasons:

            1. The need for the funding isn’t ever going to decrease, unless we expect a dropoff in population, tourism and number of vehicles. All of those things are going UP, not down. The need for cash here is in NO way temporary. In fact, this infusion is inadequate, but it’s as good as we can get in this political environment.

            2. It’s taken 30 years for our lawmakers to bring themselves to pass a gas tax increase. Sorry, but there’s NO WAY I could endorse a plan to start this fight over again in a mere 5 years. With our state’s growing need, the idea of a DECREASE in funding available for roads five years down the line is unthinkable.

            Finally, there’s this problem. You seem to be thinking of funding as some sort of rewards and punishments thing, as though the funding is some sort of reinforcement for DOT, and taking it away will punish them into acting right (even when you haven’t changed the agency to make that likely).

            WE, the people of South Carolina, are the ones who need this funding. We’re the ones who need our roads repaired and maintained going forward. DOT is just a means to our end.

            And as a citizen, I don’t want to see that funding that I need in order to have safe roads taken away from me in five years because somebody at DOT didn’t act right. I prefer to guarantee the funding, and change the agency so that it’s more likely to act right, and so that I have a political mechanism (the governor’s control) for fixing the problem if it doesn’t. If you don’t reform it, you don’t have that lever…

            Reply
            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              I felt like George Bailey just then, explaining about being a citizen:

              You’re thinking of this place all wrong. As if I had the money back in a safe. The money’s not here. Your money’s in Joe’s house…right next to yours. And in the Kennedy house, and Mrs. Macklin’s house, and a hundred others. Why, you’re lending them the money to build, and then, they’re going to pay it back to you as best they can. Now what are you going to do? Foreclose on them?…

              George Bailey may be my very favorite communitarian…

              Reply
        2. bud

          Doug that is by far the worst idea I’ve seen yet. A 12 cent increase for 5 years is completely unworkable. Any big project would have to span longer than that. This would create a huge amount of uncertainty. Clearly the DOT is a good steward of the taxpayers money. Let’s fund the agency adequately like in GA and NC rather than hamstring them with silliness.

          Reply
    3. bud

      Wooten’s firm, as a subcontractor, had benefited from projects that DOT helped to fund. The law states that it is unlawful for a commissioner to ask or solicit, directly or indirectly, any money, contract, or other thing of value.”

      Doug you are all over the map on this issue. Trump is without a doubt the biggest beneficiary EVER when it comes to using his government position for financial gain. Yet here you make a big stink out of this Wooten guy. Yet you defend Trump. I’ll make a deal with you, we get rid of Wooten and Trump.

      Reply
  4. Karen Pearson

    I appreciate the specific points Mr. Caskey makes, and I don’t particularly like other unrelated things attached to this bill or any other for that matter. A ways back there was a bill to prohibit just that, but it didn’t pass. Gee, I wonder why? I also am not in favor of taxing comparatively light, economic, and environmentally friendly cars (such as my Prius) simply because they don’t use as much gas. That’s the idea; it has to do with one’s carbon footprint. However, I will not begrudge that tax if it gets us better, safer infrastructure.

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Well, on the one hand I don’t like the idea of penalizing people for buying fuel-efficient vehicles. We should encourage that.

      But that’s not the intent here. The intent is essentially to charge people for using the roads. And folks with fuel-efficient vehicles use the roads, too.

      So if they’re not paying their share through the gas tax, this is a way to have them do so…

      Reply
    2. Doug Ross

      ” it has to do with one’s carbon footprint. ”

      Actually it has to do with using the roads. If you use them, you should pay a comparable amount per mile of use. Heavier cars/trucks use more gas so they’ll pay more for every mile driven.

      Reply
      1. Doug Ross

        And to make it clear – I’m not opposed to gas taxes. I think use taxes are the best taxes. It shares the cost across everyone. My opposition is based on the poor performance of the DOT. No matter how they change the reporting structure, it doesn’t ensure any better performance.

        Reply
        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Nothing a legislature can do would “ensure better performance.” All anyone can do, through the law, is set things up so that better performance is more likely.

          A governor, or a commissioner, or other official determined to screw up can still screw up. (See Trump, Donald J.)

          So the best thing to do is fix it so you can hold them accountable. Up to now, that’s been impossible…

          Reply
  5. Bob Amundson

    There actually is a policy discussion of charging a “per mile” fee for vehicles, which is possible because of GPS. For those afraid of “Big Brother” watching, there would be the option of paying an annual fee. Of course the details need to be worked out, but the “Internet of Things” makes mileage fees a reasonable, workable policy consideration.

    Reply
    1. Richard

      So who’d pay for the GPS systems… and how many people are going to allow their every move to be tracked by who know who? What if I just take it off and leave it at home and tell the DMV that yes I only drove 10.5 miles last year.

      Reply
      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        You put a proximity detector of some kind that can’t be removed from the car, and the GPS has to stay close to that.

        Or you just mandate that all new cellphones be made with tracking software that can’t be uninstalled.

        Politically, this can’t happen, of course.

        But as much as the libertarians moan and cry and holler about the intrusive government, it seems to me that the inroads the private sector has made into tracking and monitoring us exceeds the governmental type by several orders of magnitude, and you hardly hear a peep about it…

        Reply
        1. Doug Ross

          We don’t need GPS for tax purposes. Why would it matter WHERE you drove? You only need to know how far. A device that can read and transmit the odometer reading monthly would be much simpler to enforce. Send the VIN and the odometer reading to the DMV, then they send a bill to the car owner.

          Ha ha — I just imagined the DMV trying to implement this. I’d say it would take 37 years to get the first one working.

          The reason you don’t hear a peep about the private sector is because it is a choice and there are numerous ways to turn off the features. What part of freedom bothers you so much?

          Reply
          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            “What part of freedom bothers you so much?”

            Well, OK, we’ll change the subject…

            Freedom’s great — up to a point, of course. I mean, I don’t want to live in a Hobbesian state of nature. But freedom’s great among civilized people with a strong sense of responsibility to each other. In fact, it’s essential to a society being worth living in.

            Of course, freedom is not the only thing that makes American special. It would be nothing without the ways in which we have decided to govern ourselves.

            What bothers me is people constantly seeing threats to freedom where none exist. What bothers me is people hating government, when without our system of government, their freedom would go bye-bye.

            I’m bothered, for instance, by people buying what Edward Snowden’s selling — that bothers me, because it’s such transparent bull.

            But there are many, many other examples — people hating taxes in the name of “freedom,” or hating Obamacare in the name of “freedom,” and so forth…

            Reply
            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              By the way, I’ve often thought civil libertarians serve, or can serve, a useful purpose in our society. They can alert us to a threat to liberty way before it’s too late. They’re like canaries in a coal mine.

              But over the past generation or so, there’s been a mutation in these canaries. They now start gagging and choking and crying, “Poison gas!” when we’re not even in the same county as a coal mine, and the air is clear and harmless…

              Reply
          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            And as for, “it is a choice and there are numerous ways to turn off the features,” you really place perfect faith in that?

            You don’t think Apple — which refuses to grant access to the big ol’ bad government — has a way of tracking you that you don’t know about, or at least could have if it wanted to? Do you think you — or even the big, bad government — would know if it did?

            If I found myself in an extreme situation in which I needed to go off the grid, I wouldn’t trust my ability to switch tracking off. I’d ditch the device…

            Reply
            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Of course, my death would have to be imminent. Because I’d find it really, really hard to get along without my iPad. :)

              Tossing devices is really a two-edged sword. You’re not only blinding the people who are after you; to a great extent you’re blinding yourself, cutting yourself off from critical information sources…

              Reply
  6. Karen Pearson

    I am quite aware of the reason they decided to tax hybrids anyway. If you’re going to do that why not tax by the pound, My reason for driving a prius is environmental. That’s why I’ll continue to drive one, tax or no tax.

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, the weight is an issue. Should a Prius driver pay as much tax as a tractor-trailer operator?

      But I think with this tax, the tractor-trailer operator is going to pay a good deal more. That’s the great thing about a gas tax — the heavier you are, the more gas you’re likely to use.

      Of course, we might have to do some rethinking when we start seeing electric tractor-trailers…

      Reply
      1. Norm Ivey

        We’ll have to come up with a new model of taxation based on weight and distance. We’ll all be driving hybrids or full electric by 2030–including tractor-trailers–if not sooner. Train locomotives have been hybrids since the 1930s. I’m not sure why it’s taking the auto industry so long to catch up.

        Reply
        1. Bryan Caskey

          “We’ll all be driving hybrids or full electric by 2030…”

          Not me. I plan to drive a car using the internal combustion engine until you pry it from my cold dead hands. Since it’s Friday, and I’m going to take a bit of a liberty to digress: Here are the top five cars I would use as my everyday drivers (assuming money is no object)

          1. Ford Bronco (First Generation 1966-1977) Probably a ’72.
          2. Late 1960’s model 911 (hardtop coupe only, convertibles are for guys who like to pay too much for coffee and work “my Porsche” into every conversation.)
          3. 1955 Mercedes 300SL Gullwing (No explanation needed, I think.)
          4. Near current Chevy Silverado (better design than Ford)
          5. 1963 Aston Martin DB5 (Because if it’s good enough for James Bond, it’s good enough for me.)

          Reply
          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            I’d like a 1964.5 Mustang hardtop (I, too, hate convertibles), but completely gutted so that the car interior — radio, all other electronics, dashboard, etc. — are as modern as next week, and the same with the engine, drive train, wheels, tires and everything else (anything that is functional, rather than esthetic). I’d just want the body to be original, in mint condition. Because it LOOKED awesome, but I insist on all mod cons.

            You did say money was no object, right?

            At the other end of the spectrum, I’d want a 1944 Willys Jeep in mint condition, everything original. I’d want it just as rough and uncomfortable as the GIs had it.

            Preferably this exact one, with everything you see on it. (Yes, sir, I’m talking about that .50-cal…)

            jeep

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              1. Bryan Caskey

                That appears to be a .30 caliber M1919 machine gun mounted on a jeep.

                There also appears to be some non-standard ordinance mounted on the hood of the jeep, but I’m not sure of caliber size or model number.

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                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  I was trying, but failing, to come up with something like that great bit in “No Time For Sergeants” when Will Stockdale — having been coached by Ben that an officer is an officer, regardless of gender — tells the sergeant that all he sees over yonder is an officer, not a woman.

                  “All I see…” he says while staring intently, “is a captain.”

                  This convinces the sarge that Stockdale’s going to fail the eye exam, and therefor he, the sergeant, will likely end up being a Permanent Latrine Orderly….

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              But first, I’d want:

              A new Toyota Sienna, fully loaded, for whenever we had to transport the grandkids around.

              A new full-sized truck, fully loaded, for all the hauling around my extended family does. (But I might just keep that for big jobs, using my old straight-shift Ranger to tool around in on weekends.) With automatic transmission, so that I don’t always have to be the driver when a family member needs to haul something.

              A hybrid Lexus LC.

              So that’s my five. I’d like to have a 1965 Corvette, but I’m out of picks…

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          2. bud

            The first generation Bronco is a great example of corporate malfeasance. Ford peddled these extremely dangerous vehicles as family friendly and safe. In fact they were highly unstable. Statistically it was one of the most dangerous vehicles in its day.

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            1. bud

              Ok that was a bit contrarian. After working in highway safety for 30 years it’s in my blood. I’d go for on of those Tesla sedans. It’s gorgeous, safe, clean and luxurious. It also has instant torque so it’s fast of the line. It’s really the perfect car.

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          3. Doug Ross

            I don’t own a car myself since I travel every week. But I rent a lot of cars. My favorite was a Ford Flex. We’re looking at the new VW Atlas SUV for my wife.

            If I could get any car, it would be a nice pickup with a cap on the back that would allow me to sleep in it. Ideally somewhere in Alaska.

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          4. Norm Ivey

            Tesla for weekends.
            Chevy Volt for getting to work.
            Hmm…
            But if I own a Tesla, then I can afford not to work, so scratch the Chevy. Maybe an electric conversion pickup, but an older model, like a 1950 Ford.

            Sorry, but even in my fantasies climate change is an issue.

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            1. Bryan Caskey

              Part of the car experience, for me, is auditory. Hearing the engine rumble, whine, and roar. Sitting in a Tesla or a Volt would be too quiet.

              Your mileage may vary.

              Reply

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