Rising MPG Shifts Burden To the Vehicles Doing the Damage

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MoDOT - Gallons of Fuel Taxed in missouri

Rising fuel economy is often cited as a reason to not raise the gas tax and instead raise funds via some other mechanism to pay for our road network. Total gallons of fuel taxed has been declining in Missouri and is expected to continue dropping.

A 0.75% state-wide sales tax increase will be on the ballot this November. We will find out in a few months what will be on the project list. Most of the perceived need is in highways, the rebuilding of I-70 at a cost estimate of $2B being the premiere project.

MO VMT

Another trend that plays into the falling number of gallons of fuel taxed is fewer vehicle miles traveled (VMT). It peaked in 2007 on Missouri state highways. This is a problem for the latest idea in raising funds for roads, a VMT Tax. Oregon is giving it a try. It has privacy and practical concerns. What if you travel a lot out-of-state? What about travelers from out-of-state? These are certainly concerns for Missouri given that its two big metro areas straddle the state line. It would offer the opportunity to charge rates depending on the type and weight of the vehicle, though probably politically tough. Also it keeps very high mileage vehicles and electric vehicles on the hook. You are charged for your road use, not on how much fuel you use. This tracks better with the damage done especially if vehicle weight were factored in.

Tolls would work well on Interstates and bridges. It would be a great way to pay for the I-70 rebuild. They can be different depending on the size of the vehicle. They would capture use as well. The consumers of a load of goods going from Denver to Indianapolis would chip in for the highway rebuild, whereas with the sales tax proposal they’d contribute nothing additional. But it would be impractical to put a toll on the majority of our roads so isn’t a comprehensive solution.

Inflation has been a much bigger contributor to declining gas tax revenues, 1996’s 17 cents is 50% more than today’s 17 cents. If it had kept up with inflation, it would have raised about 20% more over that period. In 1996 the tax was around 15% of the price of gas while today it’s about 5%. If the gas tax were a percentage of the price of gas like a sales tax rather than a set amount, it would be about 50 cents today if set to 15% like in 1996, raising even more revenue. With the volatility of gas prices the set amount is attractive though in hindsight would have done better considering how much the gas price has gone up. Illinois charges both a 19 cent gas tax (21.5 cent diesel) as well as applying its sales tax.

All of this masks the real problem. The way the funding system is set up gives a massive subsidy to heavy vehicles. Rising fuel economy has been a great thing. It’s shifting the burden of paying for our roads onto those doing the most damage to them, thus making it a more fair tax, cutting into the subsidy.

Transportation Funding Sources Pew

This graph from a Pew article on transportation funding reveals one aspect. Consider all the driving done on local streets and how much gets kicked up to the State and Federal governments to pay for something other than the local streets. In Missouri local governments can’t levy gas taxes.

The other big subsidy is that the gas tax doesn’t come anywhere close to taking into account the relative damage done. The weight limit for most interstates is 40 tons. A 40-ton semi does 9600 cars worth of damage. If a mid-size car weighs 3,500 lbs., or 1.75 tons, the relative fuel efficiency would need to be 420 times more for the car in order for the gas tax it generates to cover the damage it does relative to a fully-loaded semi.

Let’s compare a 40-ton semi and a car going 100 miles. Let’s assume the car gets 25 mpg and the semi gets 6.5 mpg. In Missouri the tax on gasoline and diesel is the same. The car uses 4 gallons and pays 68 cents in gas tax, while the semi uses 15.4 gallons and pays $2.62 in fuel tax. A ratio of 3.85, hardly 9600. Let’s say the car’s fuel economy increases to 40 mpg. Now it uses 2.5 gallons and pays 42.5 cents in tax. Gas tax revenues are down, but the ratio is up to 6.16, more fair. To make up for the lost revenue just raise the gas tax to 18.44 cents. Or raise just the diesel tax to 19.77 cents, this raises the ratio to 7.16.

Before you get upset about hurting good blue-collar trucking jobs, consider how much this subsidy undermines local manufacturing. So, until the average mid-sized car is getting 2,730 mpg, let’s keep raising the gas tax.

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  • STLEnginerd

    With the reduction of the state income tax I’d wager the General Fund appropriation are about to go to 0%.
    I also don’t mind a sales tax to pay for some transportation priorities but a “temporary” sales tax hike is 5 kinds of stupid. MoDOT readily admits that it only has enough to maintain their current network. If they pass this tax and continue road expansion what happens in 10 years? More roads to maintain, and a giant funding shortfall unless the voters agree to extend/increase it for another 10 years, and the cycle continues. Taxes should not be passed as temporary increases. They should be sized appropriately to maintain or grow the network as needed but in a way that is honest about current and future costs.

  • Austin Ratzki

    Thank you for writing this. I am a big proponent for VMT Tax to help fund the maintenance and fixing of our nation’s interstate system (albeit a great system that was only designed for loads 20 years past its completion…in the 50s…before internet shopping was even thought of). With our nation continuing to expect faster and faster results, whether that is construction shipments or your new book from Amazon, more freight is getting shipped every day on our roads.

    I’m just happy that this is becoming part of the conversation, if people treated our nation’s ASCE 4 year report card like their own 4 year college GPA, this would be in the forefront of the national discussion

  • DanieljSTL

    Tolls on I-44 and I 70 would prevent semis and travelers from going through MO on a full tank and avoiding the gas tax entirely. You want to use our roads, you should pay for them…

    • Tpekren

      DanieljSTL, I don’t think you quite understand how commercial fuel purchases of over the road diesel works. As a commercial tucker, they have to buy fuel in the state to cover the miles in the state they drive. I can’t spit out word for word on regulations but believe your statement is actually quite false. The biggest gripe from a good friend of mine who was an of a over the road independent trucker for while was keeping up with various state fuel taxes in his log book and then report accordingly. Otherwise, some state with a record of him at weigh station would start calling. Hours driving was a different story.
      .
      However, I think your point is very valid. The diesel tax in MO is very low relatively to the impact that trucks have on the toll free highways. Gas tax, and if the sales tax passes, means that Missouri residents will continue to heavily subsidize the trucking industry

      • DanieljSTL

        You’re right… I didn’t understand that. Thanks for posting.

  • dempster holland

    The real problem is that the 1 per cent has purchased a cut in the top state
    income tax rate, thus reducing state revenues by hundreds of millions of
    dollars. Now they want the rest of us to pay a higher sales tax because it
    turns out the state really does need the lost revenues to pay for roads. We
    would be absolute idiots for falling for this shift in taxes from the rich to the
    middle class. The way to show our opposition is to vote down the sales tax
    increase for roads. Maybe then the rich will start being more public-spirited

    • moe

      1%??? Be serious. You mean The 1, don’t you? Darth Rex.

    • flyover

      Why do you think “the rich” are in favor of increasing the sales tax? They spend more and would pay more.

      • dempster holland

        There is no sales tax when income is reinvested, but there is an
        income tax on income that is subsequently invested. But if your
        theory is correct, then a lot of Republican legislators and their
        rich contributors have made a big mistake and perhaps should
        heed your advice and shift back from a sales tax to an income tax

        • DanieljSTL

          Why so much animosity against the wealthy? Don’t we all strive for success? Isn’t that what America is built on? So that one day my kids can have a life that was better than the one I had… and their kids.. and so on?

          I work a lot of hours so I can someday, maybe, earn like the top 1%. If not me, maybe my kids will…

          It’s not so I can “line the pockets of my greedy cronies”, like the democrats will make you think… Personally, I’d like to invest a lot of money in STL to make it a better place for everyone. Maybe save some turn of the century mansions from the wrecking ball, and sell them to families who want to see areas thrive once again.

          Don’t let the democrat and republican parties make your arguments for you. Both parties do little to make your life or my life any better.

          • dempster holland

            This is not animosity against the wealthy, but simply pointing
            out the harm they have done to the vast majority since the
            1980s. They have consistently lowered their in come taxes,
            have fought the unions which give working pepole some
            power, resisted even modest increases in the minimum wage,
            and have corrupted the political system with their money.
            That’s for starters. Something happened in our society
            to create this new generation of wealthy. And America is
            not all about success; it is about a society where all people
            can have a decent life, not just a fortunate few

          • DanieljSTL

            ” …it is about a society where all people can have a decent life…”

            I agree with this statement, but I would change “have” to “earn”. A decent life (success) to some is being able to buy groceries without worrying about store brand vs. brand names. To others, it’s buying a pool for the backyard. To some, it’s being able to afford luxuries such as Ferraris and mansions. It’s not up to you or me to decide how much is too much. This is America. If someone defines “success” differently than you it doesn’t make them evil or corrupt.

            Businesses fight unions, and unions fight businesses. It’s always been this way (long before the 1980s). Depending on which side of the fence you’re on, you oppose the other. The minimum wage argument, as detailed so nicely outside of my local McDonalds, is a losing battle. Give them the increase to $15/hr today. In 10 years, the cost of everything will have increased so much that the $15/hr will no longer be sufficient. Or the company automates everyone out of a job, because computers become cheaper than the labor. Or they just shut down. Remember the Chrysler plant in Fenton? The Hostess plant on N. Broadway? Do you think any of those workers have begun to regret striking their way out of the job?

            Everyone should have the ability to earn a living wage, but a living wage isn’t a guarantee… Entry level jobs are never going to be able to support a family. This is the land of opportunity. Every one of those workers has the ability to quit their job and start something new. It’s a risk. But sometimes with risk, comes great reward. If they choose to stay, maybe they’ll teach their kids how hard life can be flipping burgers, and convince them to stay in school and demand more out of life than their parents gave them…. I worked the grill for 3 summers in high school, and I told myself that there’s no way I’ll ever have to rely on McDonalds for a future.

            I’m sure we’ll agree to disagree on a lot of this, but that’s what makes America great. We can disagree on a lot, but probably run into each other at a Cards game and high-five after a win. “Merica.

          • Mike F

            “…but I would change “have” to “earn”.”

            There are many problems with this statement, not least of which is how does one decide between those who “have” and those who “earn”. I’ve known many people who have worked their asses off their entire lives, and often have little to show for it, through no fault of their own. You may retort that they should have worked harder, or gotten an education to take themselves out of that situation. The problem with that is this: Who does the menial work, the hard, labor-intensive work, and the long hours, and should they not be the beneficiaries of good wages in reward for their labors? There is nothing dishonorable in honest, hard work, so why do we admonish them, lay upon them the unearned guilt of “not having worked hard enough to ‘earn'” a decent life? Further, when we begin to view others as contemptible because of our own narrow and ill-defined–not to mention highly subjective–criteria for “worthiness”, we engage ourselves into the potentially inhuman and inhumane thought patterns–often followed by deeds–which have lead to the most barbaric chapters of infamy in our human historical past (and present, for that matter).

            “You get decent wages and benefits, because you “worked” for it. You over there, not so much. That’s your grave by the way. Keep digging.”

            I want no part of a society such as that for which you unknowingly advocate.

          • DanieljSTL

            You’re right. Maybe everyone who is working should be given $100,000… no $200,000 per year. As long as we’re all working hard, we should all earn the same, right?

            Hard work and skilled work are not always the same. Your pay is equal to the value you bring to an organization.

          • DanieljSTL

            By the way, I think we’ve completely removed ourselves from the fuel tax topic, eh? My fault. Sorry, Richard. Thanks for the great article.

          • Mike F

            Off-thread happens, this is true.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Off-thread happens…and then off-off-thread happens…maybe time to get back onto the fuel tax?

          • dempster holland

            Not really. The concept that gasoline tax should be paid by
            users made some sense back in the 1920s when very few
            people owned cars. Now car ownership is nearly universal
            and the provision of roads should be considered a general
            public good such as schools and parks. Therefore the
            method of payment for roads should be decoupled from actual
            use and instead based on ability to pay. This means that a
            straight increase in the graduated income tax is the
            preferable method of paying for roads rather than playing
            around with the endless alternatives of how to link road funding
            to automobile use

          • Alex Ihnen

            Now we’re back on topic! :)

          • dempster holland

            A correllary of my suggestion for road funding from the
            graduated income tax is that the legislature would annually
            decide how much to spend on roads, just as it now does
            for schools, parks, health etc. No longer could the highway
            advocates spend whatever the gas tax generated, whether
            or not it was in the best interest of the state to do so; they
            would have to compete with other needs for their share
            of the revenue from a graduated income tax

          • neroden

            What about disabled people? Such as those born with crippling illnesses? You advocate letting them starve and die, apparently, because they aren’t able to “earn” a decent life.

            I want no part of the inhumane society for which you unwittingly advocate.

          • DanieljSTL

            There you go again… Changing opposing views to reflect the extremes. I don’t recall ever advocating for the starvation and death of anyone. Don’t be so childish. If I did, please quote me.

            We’re all adults here (I assume). You’re not likely to change my views, just as I don’t expect to change yours. If we keep the conversations a little more mature, we can get past the nonsense partisianship that divides every issue that this country faces. BTW- Cute play on Mike F’s statement above.

            Again, if we’re going to keep last week’s argument alive, let’s try keeping the argument to the 90th percentile. Take the 5% extreme outliers out of both sides and look at this with more of a realistic/moderate approach. All of the rich aren’t greedy, such as all of the poor aren’t lazy. Agree?

          • neroden

            That was a deliberate “consequences” point. If you say that people are supposed to “earn” a decent life, what do you propose to do for people who can’t “earn” it due to disability?

            If you say that the disabled should be exempt from “earning” and should just be given a decent life, that would make a lot of sense. But then you should realize that you’re supporting Marxism (“from each according to his ability”).

          • flyover

            Not all “rich” people are greedy spoiled trust fund babies.

          • http://donspoliticalblog.blogspot.com Don

            Of course not, but please leave your straw man at home.

            Income inequality in the U.S. is now higher than it was in Czarist Russia immediately before the Bolshevik Revolution. The reason for this is because the very wealthy have gamed the system and loaded it with advantages for them to avoid taxation at the same level as working Americans. At the same time, wages remain stagnant or failing in real terms relative to inflation even as corporate profits soar.

            Henry Ford understood that a rising tide lifts all boats and he needed o pay a living wage so his workers could buy the cars he was selling. That ethos died in the 1980s.

            Germany has found a way to go green, maintain it’s manufacturing base and prosper — but this requires that manufacturers invest in green technology (instead of lobbyist to strip environmental protections from statute books) and people. It’s means less profits but again, a rising tide lifts all boats.

            While Germany and the rest of the industrialized world spent the last decade modernizing their manufacturing to be more Green, US industry spent that time doing everything to could to trade modernization for profits.

            When has any country prospered by denying the modern world? In the 20th Century the U.S. taught the world how to build a dynamic economy but along the way we seemed to forget everything we knew.

            This is the problem with the Republican Party today. They are at war with modernity — an unwinable war that only idiots would even fight — and they will destroy our economy before they stop.

            And I’m not writing this out of class envy; I am the 1%.

          • flyover

            I think you are confused that there are only Republican lobbyists when in fact, the super rich are almost exclusively Democrats. US Industry plays by the rules set by Congress. Yes, those rules can be influences by lobbyists on both sides. However, post-Enron, when we criminalized business decisions, something Germany didn’t do, public companies were forced to maximize profits by any means possible, or risk being sued by the Democrat shareholder derivative lawyers, who are, by the way, almost exclusively Democrats. Is the Republican Party perfect? No. But, the spend, spend spend ethos of Democrat party isn’t either. What conservatives want is to live within our means. What Democrats want is to ignore responsibility and spend money we don’t have in order to buy votes. When we criminalized business decisions something else happened. The smart, really smart business leaders decided they didn’t want to play that game anymore and left public companies and went into something called private equity. There, unencumbered by the light of disclosure, they played their spreadsheets with abandon. Elections have consequences and so does legislation. I saw Timmy Geithner on TV today. Isn’t he a Democrat? Guess what he’s doing now? Running Warburg Pincus, one of the biggest private equity firms in the world. When I ran a public company you know who the biggest, loudest mouths demanding we lay off people were? The public sector unions. All they cared about was making the stock go up. It didn’t matter how many jobs were lost. Yeah, its all the GOP.

          • neroden

            The obscenely rich have purchased a lot of power in both the Republican and Democratic parties; they certainly control Obama, just as they controlled G W Bush. The bankers have bought into both parties.

            However, the obscenely rich have *total* control of the Republican Party at the moment. (They even rewrote the rules for the Republican National Convention just to make sure that no grassroots Republicans could ever get control of it again — do look this up.) The oil and coal guys (destroy the landscape and poison people for personal profit) in particular control the Republican Party.

            The Democratic Party still has some functioning grassroots who can get people elected against the rich-backed candidates. I haven’t seen a decent (non-corrupt) Republican candidate at the state level anywhere in the US since Charlie Crist in Florida (now a Democrat).

          • flyover

            I wish you had been with me at a GOP caucus before the last election. The Ron Paul guys made mincemeat out of the party elite. It can be done. We are all just too lazy. Business owns the GOP and unions own the Dems.

          • neroden

            Yes, the Ron Paul supporters’ actions were why the rules of the RNC were rewritten — so they won’t have influence ever again for the Presidential election. They were deliberately disenfranchised by rules changes. Do look it up if you haven’t.

            Anti-corporate left-wingers have a lot in common with the Ron Paul supporters. Ron Paul supporters are people I can talk to and work with — they’re wrong about some things (gold standard is an awful idea) but they aren’t the sort of *scam artists* who constitute the party elite.

          • Eric7365

            We have animosity for wealthy people who manipulate tax law so that they pay a smaller percentage in taxes than the middle class.

            http://money.cnn.com/2013/03/04/news/economy/buffett-secretary-taxes/

          • neroden

            We strive for success. We don’t strive to be billionaires who cheat their stockholders, cheat their customers, and steal people’s homes. That’s the new class of rich, represented by Jamie Dimon.

            You really really have to study the “CEO class” in order to understand what’s going on. They’re mostly sociopathic.

            I have studied them due to my work investing.

        • flyover

          I am retired and without putting too fine a point on it, I would bet you would consider me one of “the rich” (although if you saw me in person, you probably wouldn’t). I am voting against the sales tax. For retired people a sales tax increase simply reduces the value of your savings by that amount. I paid 39.5% Fed and 6% state for most of my working career. I think it also unfairly impacts the poor who struggle to make ends meet.

          • neroden

            No, you’re not one of the truly rich. I’ve got several million in the bank and I’m not one of the truly rich either.

            The truly rich are the people who can buy Congressmen without thinking about it. Billionaires. A few of them (Warren Buffett) are decent folks; but most of them (Jamie Dimon) are grifters looking for the next scam.

            This is the Enron economy. Make no mistake about it.

            The truly rich want to raise sales taxes, raise property taxes, raise fees, and indeed raise income taxes on ordinary work. But they will fight as hard as they can to cut taxes on *unearned* income — dividends, capital gains, interest. It’s all about the unearned income for them.

      • Mike F

        As a percentage of their income it is considerably less than the average person would pay as a percentage of their income. It is decidedly unfair to ask those who can least afford to pay more, especially when the income tax “cut” will essentially be a wash (if that) when all of the extra sales tax expenses visited on the poor and middle class are taken into account. It’s funny, really, that people have been bamboozled into thinking that they have gained something, when in fact they’ve been robbed again.

        The wealthy may not be “in favor”, as you put it, of increasing the sales taxes, as much as they are for reducing their already light burden with regard to taxation. The wealthy didn’t become wealthy in a vacuum, by the way. People bought the products or services of the companies they control or operate, and some of that money went into the pockets of the wealthy. No sales, no money. It is not exactly a symbiotic relationship, but without us buying the crap they sell us, the wealthy would disappear in a puff of logic. For the wealthy to advocate against good wages and benefits is incredibly illogical and shortsighted, as eventually the well dries up and no one is left to maintain an economy, and the system collapses. This current trend towards lower wages, coupled with increasingly expensive health care (and the insurance to pay for it), commodities prices increasing, continued automation and offshoring of jobs, fewer educational opportunities due to the increasingly escalating cost of higher public (due to lower state input, ie, taxes) and private education are all factors which will lead to social disruption. That’s just historical fact. I’m sure the wealthy would rather not be consumed by the maelstrom of societal chaos brought upon by the want of decent wages, jobs, housing, healthcare, and transportation.

        Rex Sinquefield cannot have his cake and eat it, too.

        • flyover

          I agree with you on Rex. When I see him giving money to someone like Charlie Dooley, you have to wonder. I think you have generalized a cartoon characterization of “the rich.” Henry Ford pioneered the concept of paying his employees enough to buy his product. I doubt if very many of those employees would have considered their Model A’s as crap. The thing that those who continually carp about the “rich” forget is that they do understand that without people able to buy their goods and services, they will fail. I just don’t get the demonization that has emerged from the left. A true capitalist wants everyone to succeed for exactly the reason you presented. They want them to become customers. The problem in America isn’t a change in moral attitudes, it is a global shift in production. During the first 175 years of our country, our educated masses set us apart from the rest of the world where illiteracy reigned. Now, that gap has closed and capital will chase value. The jobs that we used to have here have gone away. Many were chased away by things like environmental laws and regulations that do not exist in those cheap-labor markets. Those jobs are probably not coming back as much as car dealers and retailers and realtors wish they would. The guys I went to high school with who skipped college and got great jobs in the steel mill or the Ford plant are now fighting for jobs that would have gone to teenagers or low skilled workers. It makes me sick, but it isn’t the fault of the rich. It is simply the new global reality. Those who adapt will succeed. Those who don’t will be lucky to get one of those minimum wage jobs. I grew up having to work during my school lunch hours so my brothers and sister could eat free. I got my tennis shoes out of the lost and found. I worked over 40 hours a week in high school to help my family when my dad was disabled. I have no trust funds. I give away over 50% of my taxable income each year and I made dozens of people millionaires and still some of them are unhappy they didn’t make as much as I did developing a service that truly changed people’s lives. You can’t please everyone. I’ve been on both ends of it. Rich is better, no question. But, I’ll be damned if I am going to be ashamed of it.

          • DanieljSTL

            Similar to what I was trying to say earlier, just put into words much more eloquently than I could.

            My grandfather (an Italian immigrant) left school before high school and carried bricks until his back gave out. He then took a union job at the brewery. When he came home, my grandmother (a czech immigrant) took the only car to Deaconess hospital where she worked over night in the cafeteria. They worked their hands to the bone to provide a better life for their kids. My father and two uncles all went on to become successful a business owner, a doctor, and a chemist. They were given an opportunity that was better than the life their parents had, and they ran with it.

            Because of his efforts, I had better opportunities than my father… better schools. We had 2 cars, safer neighborhood, etc. His business became successful. Are my kids supposed to start all over again? Am I supposed to feel guilty that I’m not going to have to carry bricks until my back gives out? No. I will take the opportunities that I’ve been given, and make sure my daughter has a better shot at life than I had. Maybe she’ll go to private schools. Maybe I’ll be able to buy her a new car, or give her a down payment for her first house….

            The class envy in this country, as promoted by the left, has grown to be completely opposite of what this county used to stand for. Those who have more than others are demonized rather than admired…. unless, of course they are a celebrity, who is rich and famous, only because they’re rich and famous. When I was in school, I learned about great leaders like Jack Welch, or Lee Iacoccia… or Henry Ford. Rich Guys. CEOs. Now all we hear about is “Corporate Greed”, etc.

          • dempster holland

            Obviously, you have never worked for a corporation where
            the top executives give themselves huge bonuses, then fire
            as many low level people as they can and cut the pensions
            and benefits of the rest

          • flyover

            While there was no doubt I used to be poor, I never admitted it. I only felt I just didn’t have any money at that moment. I had no doubt that if hard work was all that was standing between me and money, I wouldn’t have a problem. Poor can also be a state of mind.

          • neroden

            You need to learn about the current crop of corporate CEOs — the Jamie Dimons. They didn’t build anything, they didn’t do anything, they basically just made their money by fraud: defrauding homebuyers, defrauding securities buyers, defrauding their own stockholders.

            This is the Enron economy. And that’s why you’re hearing about corporate greed.

          • DanieljSTL

            I’m sure there are extreme examples of fraud, regardless of the level of employment you look at. There are CEOs who cheat, and others who don’t. There are $8/hr cashiers who do a great job, and others who don’t.

            If we’re going to keep last week’s debate going, let’s take the blinders off a bit and look at the entire picture.

          • neroden

            Really, the percentages have changed.

            I’ve gotten lucky. I’m in the 1% and I’ve been doing investment analysis for decades. It’s become harder and harder to find investments which aren’t being outright looted by their CEOs, and it’s even hard to find ones which aren’t running scams against their customers.

            The CEO situation… CEO salaries have skyrocketed to ridiculous levels in the last few decades, because they’ve figured out that they can get away with it. The CEOs generally don’t care about the stockholders, let alone the workers; it’s all about extracting as much as they can into their personal accounts as quickly as possible. They’ve set it up so it’s very hard to remove them, with all kinds of roadblocks to concerted stockholder action.

            The scam situation…the SEC and the other regulators simply haven’t been on the beat the way the way they used to be.

            Angelo Mozillo of Countrywide paid a settlement for criminal activity
            which was far less than the amount of money he’d made off his criminal
            activity… that’s not a fine, it’s just a cost of doing business. This sort of situation *attracts* crooks for fairly obvious reasons.

            It’s a change and it’s a bad change. I spend a lot of time filtering stocks trying to find the few remaining honest CEOs. (One good clue is that they don’t accept large salaries.)

            So that’s why you’re hearing about corporate greed. It’s because there’s *actually more of it going on now*. This is because CEO cheating simply doesn’t get punished the way it used to, so the field of CEOs attracts crooks.

          • neroden

            The current crop of rich — and I’m tallking billionaires here, not merely the upper middle class — actually don’t understand that without people able to buy their goods and services, they will fail.

            You have to actually listen to these people — bank CEOs, etc. They really don’t get it. They think they can make more money by reducing workers to serfs and they don’t understand that the economy will collapse if the 99% have no money.

          • flyover

            They actually can make more money screwing people here, they just make it in the global economy. We set up the rules. they are playing by them. Who do we blame?

  • moe

    Raise the damn fuel tax. Why must Missouri constantly be ranked in the bottom in almost every area?
    As for toll roads, the East is full of them. We’ll get use to them and many of them are better maintained. I don’t think I would mind as much as long as it was coupled with a fuel tax increase as well.
    As for a sales tax, then I would suggest they start taxing cycles, both motor and pedal…they use the roads too.
    Then the other side of the equation needs to be looked at as well. 2 Billion for a rebuild???? Yeah, I know it’s union jobs and all that, and I’m NOT against unions, and labor is only part of the costs….but really 2 Billion???? Drivers get upset if they think waiting in traffic 15 minutes is a rush hour Armageddon. We’ll NEVER get rid of traffic back ups, no matter how many lanes we build. Those that complain need to drive in Boston or LA for a week or so and MODOT needs to realize that no matter how many lanes they build, they will still have people complaining there aren’t enough of them.

  • flyover

    An easy way to help would be to increase the license plate fee on electric and hybrid cars. They are using the roads and paying little or nothing. They should pay their fair share. It would be simple to calculate how much tax these vehicles are avoiding versus a regular car. I continue to push for a gas tax increase that would go into effect when gas prices dropped as they do several times a year. Maybe a penny when gas is under $3.50; a nickel when it drops under $3.25. Nobody would mind paying a little more when prices drop as I predict they will as more fuel efficient cars are introduced and our own petro-resources are exploited. Any attempt to monitor milage with meters will never pass in this state. I’m okay with toll roads on the major interstates outside the metro areas.

    • Alex Ihnen

      There’s definitely a point to be made regarding electric/hybrid vehicles, but many don’t get much better mileage than smaller gas cars, or diesel vehicles. In theory all vehicles should pay their fair share, but that would entail huge costs to tractor trailers, and we want to encourage commerce. We also want to encourage higher gas mileage and less dependence on fossil fuels. Taxes are the way a government incentivizes action.

      • flyover

        These drivers should not get a free ride. Many received a tax credit for purchasing these vehicles. In my plan, hybrids would pay less than a Telsa as they buy some gas.

        • neroden

          Special taxes for electric cars are a dumb idea because it punishes people for getting more efficient cars.

          The trucks are what do the damage to the road. Tax the truck fuel.

          Toll roads are fine too.

          • flyover

            More fuel efficient cars are the problem. We still need to pay for roads.

  • ScottF

    Please just increase the gas tax first before we start to talk about implementing a VMT. There may come a time when VMT is needed, but I don’t think it’s now. Let’s not provide a disincentive to buying fuel efficient vehicles.

  • Eric7365

    I believe it is illegal for a state to toll a highway which was built using federal money, which includes the interstates in our area.

    • rgbose

      That is the current overall law. A few states including Missouri have a waiver.

      • Eric7365

        Well then, toll away :)

    • Steve Kluth

      You could also toll any new limited access highway. The Page Avenue extension and 370 should have been toll bridges. There was no reason to build 21 and M as freeways in Jeffco either.

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