Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Big Oregon Brother is Watching

I warned you that I would occasionally touch on topics other than real estate. Here goes....

Oregon depends on a gasoline tax for much of its road maintenance budget. Oregon is facing a shortfall in its road maintenance budget due to more fuel-efficient cars (First, what kind of screwed up system makes fuel efficiency sound like a bad thing? Second, what more fuel-efficient cars? All I see are more SUVs.). To counteract this, Oregon intends to implement some "revenue enhancement" in the form of a road user fee, and it is enlisting high tech help to do it. Oregon is working on a system using 1) GPS to determine when a vehicle is in a fee zone and 2) an odometer tag to count the miles the vehicle travels in a fee zone. When the vehicle pulls up to a gas pump, the system signals the pump how much of an extra fee to charge.

James Whitty, program administrator, does not believe there are any privacy problems because the system is not really "tracking." Apparently Mr. Whitty believes "tracking" only includes actually following someone down the road with a camera, a la O.J. Simpson in his white Bronco. Most people, though, would consider that knowing what town and neighborhood you are driving through and when is "tracking," and that Mr. Whitty should pull his head out of his cubicle.



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