Pete Buttigieg shuts down lying pro-gas lawmaker with quick concise facts (video)

That’s what the general fund is for. Anything that the government does that is necessary or beneficial to the public interest should be paid for with taxes. Trying to tie them to some specific source then panicking when that source decreases is just silly. Roads don’t have to be paid for by drivers. We all benefit from them.


I am fine with putting it all on the general fund, too, and your argument for it is a good one. What I’m trying to do is be sensitive to the equity complaint often raised by gas car drivers – “I have to pay fuel tax, they tell me it’s to pay for the roads, you drive on the roads too, you should have to pay fuel tax”. If you haven’t engaged in a few online conversations^H^H^H flame wars about EVs you would probably not believe how often this point is raised; I think it’s good to be able to meet it.

The part I object to most is taking our existing Rube Goldberg system of (allegedly) funding the roads [*], and patching it in the clumsiest possible way. Eliminating it completely and paying for roads from the general fund would be best, I accept that. If that’s politically untenable, because we’re addicted to the idea that fees are better than taxes because DAMN IT I AM NOT PAYING FOR YOUR STUFF WITH MYYYYY MONEY (sigh) then we should at least move to something that’s less silly, like a mileage fee.

But anyway, run on that platform, I’ll vote for ya.

[*] Allegedly, because as I understand it the fuel tax is commonly raided by legislatures to pay for whatever they feel like. Yet another reason user fees are stupid.


Not because we want the whales for anything. But just, you know, to own the libs.

Sport-fishing for whales – they can have my harpoon when they pry it from my cold, dead, hands. As Ahab-raham Lincoln probably said.


“elegant gazelle-like creatures with silken coats and dewy eyes which the Vogons would catch and sit on. They were no use as transport because their backs would snap instantly, but the Vogons sat on them anyway.”
― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy


Some people obviously benefit more from roads than others, and there are obvious drawbacks to subsidizing road use more than other environmentally friendly options. I’d say 100% free-to-ride publicly funded trains and busses should be the priority before we consider removing the fees/taxes associated with driving personal vehicles.

I’m not suggesting that. I’m suggesting that, instead of twisting ourselves in knots trying to disincentivize people from adopting EVs by taxing the hell out of them to pay for roads, that we just pay for roads.

Likewise public transportation. They aren’t mutually exclusive. And we’re a very long way off from structuring our geography to leave roads behind. Asking people to stop driving before those changes have happened is not reasonable.


If we want to do that for the (reasonable) policy reasons you describe, though, it seems as though being transparent about the policy goals would be… I want to say “better” but that invites discussion of better along what metric. Let’s say, more honest.

So, if we want to disincentivize personal car ownership, slap a hefty annual registration fee on cars and be above-board about the policy reasons for why. Some countries do this, to my knowledge. In the USA we seemingly will do anything to avoid it.

(Back in the real world, I’m picturing exactly how long an American politician would remain in office who ran on the platform of levying a luxury tax on private cars because they want people to ride buses instead of owning a car at all. I think it would be measured in microseconds. And so we arrive at the system we have, instead.)

N.b. there’s a similar discussion about, instead of incentivizing behavior with tax credits, leaving the tax code the hell alone and simply Paying People To Do Things We Like, also something that apparently works quite well in other places.


I’m not really talking about actively trying to disincentive personal car use in any serious way. I’m talking about not subsidizing it so much, which is what we’re doing when we allow unlimited use of public roads without charging any specific taxes or fees to the user.

The existing system is obviously very imperfect but at least the folks who get the most use from the roads are also the ones who pay the most in fees (in the form of gas tax) and those fees are specifically allocated to maintaining the roads. Saying that electric car users (which will eventually be most car owners) should pay no more towards road maintenance than the guy who takes the train to work means that you’re actively subsidizing and encouraging personal car use over train use. And that’s hard to justify, at least as long as you still need to pay for a ticket to take the train.

Cool. When cities are set up for public transport, go ahead and fund roads on a per mile basis from EV drivers. But the reality of how US cities are structured is that your train rider (or bike rider) was able to afford housing where public transit is accessible. Few people are in that situation. Now you’re subsidizing wealthy (or at least relatively so) people’s housing and punishing people who can’t afford to live downtown or along a train line or in the wealthy suburb where their job is located. I guess fuck them, then.


Cities are “set up” the way that they are as a direct consequence of which transportation systems the government chooses to subsidize. Countries like Switzerland, France, the Netherlands and much of the rest of Europe didn’t end up with excellent public transportation by accident.

But cities were not structured that way by the people who have no choice but to use those means of transportation for their very survival because they are not served by public transportation. Thus, the structure needs to change first, or people who had no part in how things are will be punished for no good reason.

Your argument comes from a position of unconcious priviledge. You might examine that.


The “folks who get the most use” thing sounds truthy but needs supporting analysis. For instance, if I don’t own a personal car or even know how to drive, but I frequently order from Amazon, where do I fall on the “most use” spectrum? How about if I want to be able to count on emergency services being able to reach me if I have a fire or a heart attack?

Another thing that needs supporting data is the notion that “those fees are specifically allocated to maintaining the roads”. I’m not going to supply links, because in a quick search most of the ones I found land on sources I’d rather not associate myself with… but it ain’t necessarily so. (E.g. in my state of Michigan a lot of gas tax money is diverted to education. I like education. I like funding it. I don’t like funding it in such a bass-ackwards way.)

Sure. And if we made all the policy changes you specify tomorrow morning, the built environment wouldn’t change one whit on day one. It’s been more than a century since the introduction of the personal car. It’s not very realistic to expect the United States’ built environment to turn into that of France overnight, even if one accepts for sake of discussion that it would be a desirable outcome.


My argument is not that electric car drivers (who, speaking of privilege, currently tend to be wealthier than average) should get punished with excessive, punitive fees. All I’m saying is that they shouldn’t get a totally free pass that other drivers don’t get when it comes to road taxes.

1 Like

But that is exactly what this subthread sprang from - excessive fees levied on electric vehicles, some of which are quite modest, in a mad dash to make up for declining gas taxes.

And my point is, why not? You’re going back and forth between defending ICE car drivers and defending hypothetical non-drivers from the unfairness of “free roads” for EV drivers. There’s no reason not to allow an incentive for EVs right now, as we’re trying to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels.

To take the next step, we need to make a structural change in how cities are laid out ( and also deal with our housing affordability crisis while we’re at it) before we try to stick it to the private vehicle drivers. Ok?


Who, precisely, is arguing in favor of that strawman?

I continue to think that’s just a pretext and the real motive is to performatively Own The Libs. Much as I’d like for it to be otherwise, the size of the electric fleet is too small to make any meaningful difference in revenues, although that will hopefully change over time.


Apparently I missed that part, and can’t find it when skimming through the comments upthread. Who is talking about leveling excessive fees that are more than what the driver an equivalent gas-powered car would pay?

Michigan is a special case in effed-up because of the flat income tax constitutional amendment passed in, what, the early 90’s? (Before I moved here.) It’s high time to circulate a petition for a repeal of that amendment. Our roads and schools are not adequately funded in large part due to that regressive flat income tax. And lottery money, where does it even go? Private prisons, where prisoners are sexually assaulted on the regular and rented out as may-as-well-be-called slave labor?

Overcharging hybrid/EV car owners is starting to look like small potatoes. :disappointed: Whatever Lansing looks like come January, they have a lot of work to do.

@Otherbrother: upthread with @chgoliz.


Anyone who says that there should be no mile-per-driven tax on an electric car while not eliminating the fuel tax. (And if it’s not clear, I’m not personally in support of eliminating the fuel tax)

Ok, if that characterization of the Indiana law is accurate then I agree it’s a bullshit policy.


Not uniquely special, but yeah. And I would pull the lever to repeal Prop A in a New York second.

Which isn’t anybody you’ve been debating with. (I was going to say “which is nobody” but I suppose there are probably a few comments back up top that could be construed that way.)

ETA: I just skimmed back through the comments, I should have stuck with “which is nobody”.

Oh, and another edit: I’d love for there to be a per-mile-driven tax on EVs, instead of the nastiness we have now which is a flat tax that assumes I’m driving 13,000 miles p/a. It would actually be progress.


My impression was that @DukeTrout was not advocating for eliminating fuel taxes, just the per-mile-driven electric car taxes.

Then we agree that’s the best way to do it!