by Leo Hohmann
Obamacare required Americans to turn over their health records to the government, Common Core forces them to turn over their children’s education records and smart meters installed on their homes reveal real-time water and energy usage to government-regulated utilities.
With all that data being collected on every American, now the government wants something else.
It wants to track your driving habits.
On July 1, Oregon became the first U.S. state to roll out a “vehicle mileage tax,” or VMT. Oregon’s program, WND has learned, will serve as a global model. It is being closely watched by other states and by Congress as they search for an alternative to the sales taxes drivers pay on each gallon of gas. Other industrialized countries, such as Germany, are also experimenting with the concept.
How does it work?
Think of it as a smart meter for your car. The more you drive, as tabulated by the GPS in your car, the more you pay. And the government would set the rate. Oregon is charging 1.5 cents per mile as the introductory rate for drivers who opt into the voluntary program.
Various studies and pilot programs for the VMT, funded mostly by the Federal Highway Administration, have been done over the past 12 years but it was just too expensive to convert every car to a GPS format.
That has changed.
Most newer cars now have built-in GPS systems that allow tracking through satellite systems and the older cars can be retrofitted with sensors that are relatively inexpensive and already in use on toll roads across the U.S.
The last hurdle is how to set the rates. A major federally funded study by the University of Iowa in 2008-09 called the “National Evaluation of a Mileage-based Road User Charge” laid out the possibilities.
Judging your ‘carbon footprint’?
On page 16 of that study, authored by public-policy professors Jon Kuhl and Paul Hanley, three alternatives are given.
States could make the per-mile fees neutral to the current gas tax, they could base them on the “fuel efficiency” of the car each motorist drives with “green” vehicles getting a cheaper rate than gas hogs, or they could tailor the rate to each driver’s “overall carbon footprint.”
technocracy rising 2This sounds like something out of an Al Gore wet dream, says Patrick Wood, an economist, researcher and author of the new book, “Technocracy Rising: The Trojan Horse of Global Transformation.”
“Your mileage rate would be customized just for you based on your carbon footprint throughout your lifestyle profile,” said Wood, who also authors the blog August Forecast and Review. and co-authored the 1978 book “Trilaterals Over Washington” with Dr. Antony Sutton.
“This could only be predicated on a massive database of carbon-related information about each citizen, especially from the smart grid,” he said. “The fact that they call it a ‘National Evaluation Study’ clearly reveals that it is intended to be nationalized at some point, as enough states buy into it.”
Regardless of whether you buy into Gore’s claims about “global climate change,” there is another issue – privacy.
Critics see the system itself, no matter how the rates get set, as intrusive.
“It goes beyond just collecting taxes because it also tracks your every movement,” said Wood. “Where does all this information go after they collect it? It’s not deleted, but is it shipped off to some central databank? It’s about the data, it’s about collection of data and storage of data. It’s not about a tax.”
Congress and 29 states considering VMT
The VMT is being pitched as an alternative to fuel taxes and 29 states are in various stages of considering it. The 18.4-cent per gallon federal gas tax may also go by the wayside as Congress looks for a “more efficient” and lucrative model of funding the nation’s transportation infrastructure.
Many in the “green” movement like the idea that people could be charged based on how much they drive rather than everyone paying the same flat-rate sales tax on the fuel the buy.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., said he was one of the first to sign up for Oregon’s new road user-fee, called OReGO, and he hopes it takes off nationwide.
“I’ve introduced legislation in Congress that would fund projects like OReGO all across the country,” Blumenauer told CNSNews.
Blumenauer said the program will “improve the way we drive and the way we plan our communities as well as our trips.”
He said it will help his state pay for a 21st century transportation system and “will lead the way for the nation to follow suit.”
Listen to Oregon Democrat Earl Blumenauer pitch the “pay-as-you-drive” system: watch video here: http://www.wnd.com/2015/07/track-this-feds-want-to-tax-you-by-the-mile/
And for people worried about privacy issues, the OReGO website assures volunteers who enroll in the program will have their personal information “kept secure and private.”
But will OReGO’s assurances be any more trustworthy than those provided by Sony Inc., Bank of America, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Obamacare and countless other companies and government agencies that have been hacked?
In fact, the Iowa study, on page 12, admitted that VMT systems “would be an attractive target for various types of cyber-attacks.”
Another study on the VMT tax conducted by Georgia Tech in Atlanta suggested that states should offer a “rebate” to drivers who drove fewer miles than the year before.
If this sounds like a line straight from the United Nations’ sustainability agenda, that’s because it is.
Implementing the U.N. agenda: Get people out of cars
The U.N. has been prodding industrialized countries to make it more costly for drivers to drive for years with its sustainability and “smart growth” policies, said Tom DeWeese, founder of the American Policy Center. And every U.S. president since Bill Clinton has bought into the sustainability agenda.
“This (VMT) is part of the sustainability program that has been kicking around the Obama Administration for years,” DeWeese said. “They use the excuse that, with falling gas prices (and more fuel-efficient cars), states need a more stable way to collect funds for highway infrastructure. That way they can pretend to be concerned with sound and responsible fiscal policy.”
But the real agenda behind the VMT has nothing to do with fiscal responsibility, DeWeese said.
“The fact is, sustainability advocates call for less driving of cars,” he said. “Smart growth in the cities is all about getting people out of their cars and into ‘walkable’ communities and public transportation. That is where highway funds are disappearing into – expensive high-speed trains, trolleys and creating mandatory bike paths.”
The Rand Corporation and the University of Iowa have been at the forefront of research into mileage-based “pay as you drive” schemes, according to the Federal Highway Administration, which has funded the bulk of the research.
The University of Iowa’s “National Evaluation Study” of the VMT concept concluded that the federal fuel tax “no longer generates sufficient revenue to fund highway infrastructure needs.” The study’s authors lamented that the Federal Highway Trust Fund – funded by the 18.4-cent gas tax and 24.4-cent diesel tax – was running annual shortfalls due to Americans’ buying less fuel.
But why is the Highway Trust Fund running shortfalls? Yes, Americans are driving less and the cars they buy can go further on a gallon of gas, but the Iowa study ignored the biggest drain on the trust fund. Since the late 1990s Congress has been siphoning billions of trust-fund dollars away from highways and into non-highway projects such as bike paths, walkways and mass transit systems.
COGs in the wheel
A May 2015 study by the Heritage Foundation found that Congress has wasted 25 percent of the Highway Trust Fund money on non-highway projects. It has been especially fond of lavishing federal fuel-tax dollars on mass-transit systems. This federal transportation money gets passed through the states and often through unelected regional councils of government or “COGs,” finding its way eventually to cities of all sizes. COGs plan future transportation projects for every metropolitan area in the U.S.
The COGs then implement the U.N. transportation agenda to a tee, said Wood.
“COGs are notoriously unconstitutional and, in my opinion, generally illegal,” he said. “Still, they are everywhere and are implementing sustainable development in local communities. You will find all COGs as being in the dead center of any toll mechanism that spans multiple cities or counties.”
If COGs are the implementers, Congress is the enabler.
Of the 25 percent of Highway Trust Fund spending sent to non-highway projects, the largest of these diversions is the Mass Transit Account, which spent $8 billion in 2014 on buses, rail, streetcars, and other projects that should fall under the responsibility of municipal or state governments, the Heritage report stated.
Other programs include the Transportation Alternatives Program, which spent $820 million in 2014 on projects such as sidewalks, bike paths, scenic overlooks, vegetation management and recreational trails, the report said.
“These diversions sap funds that could be spent on the highway system – the purpose of the Highway Trust Fund – and shortchange the motorists and shippers that pay directly into the system through fuel taxes,” Heritage concluded.
So advocates of the new VMT such as Oregon’s Rep. Blumenauer are correct when they say the current method of investing in infrastructure through the Highway Trust Fund is not working. What they fail to point out is that the system has been intentionally broken by Congress steering highway money away from highways and into other projects meant to get people out of their cars.
Ford makes astonishing admission
Even Ford Motor Co., in a stunning admission, told the Detroit Free Press last week that it was planning for a future in which it would sell vastly fewer cars.
“Ford is planning for success in a future with more congestion, fewer cars and fewer people driving them,” Free Press reporter Alisa Priddle wrote in her opening paragraph.
That “congestion,” as Priddle explained, will no longer be in the form of cars but a combination of cars, buses, street cars, bicycles and walkers all sharing the same space.
“Instead of fighting public transportation, bicycles and car-sharing services, Ford is looking to join them. And still make money even if fewer people are buying cars,” Priddle wrote.
Ford is trying to “reinvent itself as a mobility company” and address the trend in urban areas of cities growing and becoming more congested, CEO Mark Fields told Priddle. “People value access (to mobility) more than ownership. We need to understand customers’ concerns and make their lives easier.”
The final cog in the anti-car wheel could be the VMT tax, which will likely be packaged, at least initially, in such a way that it would appeal to conservatives and progressives, hitting them softer in the pocketbook than the traditional gas tax.
But once the fuel tax is completely phased out the new VMT tax could easily be “adjusted” with a rate structure that punishes the middle-class driver.
Another Orwellian system?
But the elephant in the room is the privacy issue. Blumenauer and the other politicians pushing the VMT have not offered any serious solutions to privacy concerns, preferring to paper over the issue with sweeping assurances that have no basis in reality.
In 2013 the American Enterprise Institute posted an article by Mark Perry, “Gas Tax on Mileage Shatters Right to Privacy.”
In that article, Perry wrote:
“One feature of the VMT tax is that it would require some way to measure travel, creating the possibility that the government will use advanced technology to track movements of every car and truck.
“Under one scenario, automobile manufacturers would be required to install a GPS system – a ‘black box’ – in every vehicle to measure miles traveled. The government would then track your vehicle by satellite to follow each vehicle’s total travel and calculate the tax.”
Are Americans ready for this?
In fact the government’s own studies, such as the one by University of Iowa Public Policy Center, concluded that people might not be ready to give up their privacy rights and submit to a vehicle tracking system. A “long phase-in” period was recommend.
“Privacy concerns: This is the ‘hot-button’ issue,” the study concluded, listing the following hurdles that needed to be crossed at the time of the study in 2008-09.
“Many people fear that government will use the system to track them
Public understanding of technologies such as GPS is limited.
There is a fundamental tension between protecting privacy and providing auditability.”
Privacy experts and small-government advocates are alarmed at the potential for misuse and abuse that such a system would present.
Wood, author of “Technocracy Rising,” says the system fits right in with other privacy-stealing tracking systems that have become ubiquitous in recent years, such as the license-plate readers police use to scan every car tag passing by, in-home smart meters hooked into the smart grid, Obamacare’s digitizing of medical records and Common Core’s data mining of students’ non-academic attitudes, values and beliefs. Not to mention the NSA’s tracking of cellphone calls and emails.
Wood sees the VMT scheme as just one more element of the coming “technocracy,” which he describes in his book as a burgeoning “scientific dictatorship” by a self-appointed group of “experts.” These experts or “technocrats” see themselves as anointed elites using big data to manage and control everyone’s use of energy. And how much of an energy allotment each person gets will ultimately be dependent upon their value to society, Wood says. Of course it will be the technocrats who get to decide your value and thus the size of your “carbon footprint.”
Brzezinski, Rockefeller resurrect old movement
The technocracy movement started in the 1930s but after World War II it got mothballed after some of its original promoters at Columbia University fell into disrepute.
But the modern godfather of the movement, the man credited with resuscitating technocracy and bringing it back from the grave, is Zbigniew Brzezinski.
While teaching at Columbia, Brzezinski wrote the book, “Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era,” which was all about the need for an elite group of enlightened professionals to manage an increasingly chaotic world economy, using technology as their main tool of control.
It was Brzezinski’s book that caught the attention of global banker David Rockefeller, and the two men co-founded the Trilateral Commission in 1973. The TC would become the main vehicle of change working to implement the technocracy, according to Wood’s research. Brzezinski was open about his desire to create a “new international economic order.”
Viewed in a bubble, the VMT may be just one, mildly disturbing change in the way motorists are charged for keeping America’s transportation system up to date.
But viewed in the context of the rising technocratic dictatorship, Wood believes it should be sending off alarm bells, just as the implementation of the smart grid should have alarmed Americans but found most of them accept it with a yawn.
Creating the new international order
The ultimate goal, as Wood sees it, is to replace the free enterprise system with a new centrally planned economic order based on energy credits and carbon footprints.
“There is a group of people operating within our federal government who are hardcore technocrats in the same sense that in the 1940s and 50s we had hard-core communists, Alger Hiss and those types,” he said.
Wood identifies some of the leading technocrats in the federal government under President Obama as John Podesto, the author of his climate-change policy and now the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign; Susan Rice, his national security adviser; Michael Froman, his chief trade negotiator; and Ashton Carter, his secretary of defense. All are members of the Trilateral Commission.
The technocracy movement sees societies evolving from one “order” to the next. The religious-based order is the lowest form of organized civilization as described in Brzezinski’s book, “Between Two Ages.” From there a civilization will evolve into a more nationalistic and capitalistic system, followed by Marxism and finally the highest form which is the technocracy.
The pope on board?
Pope Francis, in his recent encyclical on the environment, spoke repeatedly of “technocracy” and “the globalization of the technocratic paradigm.”
“Where did he learn such words?” Wood asks. “Likely it was from his chief science adviser, Hans Schellnhuber, an atheist and a pantheist who believes in Gaia, or ‘Mother Earth’ as a living, self-aware organism who is plenty upset with selfish, over-consuming humans who live on its surface.”
The same ideology permeates the governments of the E.U. and the U.S., he said.
“We have those in our government today that are dedicated to creating a system of technocracy that they will run,” Wood said. “It is a replacement economic system and it has very specific requirements.”
Wood said the 1932 novel “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley was based on a vision of what the technocratic era would look like in the future.
“He saw this was where things were heading back in 1932 and he drew his information from the technocracy movement,” he said. “Orwell was also influenced by technocracy (in ’1984′).”
But the confirmation for Wood that his book, “Technocracy Rising” hit a home run in its predictions of a new global economic system came just two months after the book went to print. The confirmation came from Christiana Fregares, head of the U.N. framework for climate change, during a Feb. 3 press conference.
“Two months after I printed the book, in which I said they were trying to replace the capitalist model with a new economic model based on energy credits, the head of the U.N.’s climate change program Christiana Fregares said ‘this is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task to intentionally change the economic development model that has reigned 150 years.’
“She’s saying capitalism is going to be murdered, free enterprise is going to be murdered,” Wood said. “So the question is what are they going to replace it with? It’s the green economy, sustainability, it’s just warmed-over technocracy from the 1930s.”