I have previously written about the proliferation of toll roads in the United States as governments shift the cost of highways to citizens while spending wildly on foreign wars and losing billions of waste. Congress allows billions to literally disappear in places like Iraq and Afghanistan or give billions in aid to affluent countries like Israel, but it insists that American citizens already struggling financially should be forced to pay to use their federal roads. The change is a fundamental shift in our approach to highways which were viewed as the basic service supplied to taxpayers. However, the Administration has quickly open the door in the new transportation bill to end the long tradition of free federal highways. Of course, do not take too much cash on the highways, because it can be seized by police in the growing number of pretext stops called “policing for profits.”
This move follows states like New Jersey closing bathrooms and ending other basic programs. It seems that there are fewer and fewer benefits that citizens can expect for their taxes. They must pay the government and then pay again to use basic government services. This is an effective tax disguised as a toll that will hit low income people the hardest and add a new barrier to their securing or maintaining jobs. I could not care less about the cost but there are many, many families where this seemingly small added toll will be a hardship. It is cumulative for such families. At every turn, they are being asked to pony up for government services. While the Administration and Congress talks a good game about fighting for the shrinking middle class, it routinely shifts more and more costs over to such families while using tax dollars to literally deliver bags of money to such corrupt officials as Hamid Karzai.
The reason for tapping drivers is ironically the success of fuel efficiency standards. The Highway Trust Fund contains a 18.4-cent federal gas tax, but the advances in cars has reduced such revenues so the Congress has to find a new way to tap drivers without using the word “tax”.
The highway trust fund will face a $63 billion shortfall over the next four years. That is a fraction of the money that we burned in Iraq and Afghanistan and continue to throw abroad.
Of course, citizens could move to secede to Iraq and ask for their highways to be built for free on no-bid contracts.
On another example of how such fees can impact families, we recently received a return payment on our Virginia taxes. Rather than send a check as in the past, Virginia now sends you “Way2Go” debit cards from Mastercard. However, if you try to get the money transferred to your bank or make inquiries you face a series of potential charges. For example, if you call five times, they charge you. (We try to reach the contractor repeatedly and we cut off or misdirected — triggering the penalty). If you lose the cards (which is easy because they look like free credit cards), you are hit with multiple charges. You can only inquire a couple times about your balance or . . . you guessed it . . . you are charged. It appears a system designed to get citizens to pay charges to a contractor, a prospect far more likely for the elderly. The charges seem wired into the system — added charges that are treated not as a tax but administrative costs imposed on taxpayers. Again, despite the time and hassle of getting the money transferred, we were not concerned about the charges. However, we immediately thought of the many elderly taxpayers who will either not use the cards, throw them away in ignorance, or fall into the trap of these hidden charges: all this to get their money that was over-paid to their government. Here is a list of the charges, but you will have to use the Virginia Department of Taxation website.
Source: Washington Post