There is a proposal on the table that will pluck the last cent out of the average American’s pocket. It appears that the rise in gas prices, which is eating up the disposable income of the middle class, is not enough for the Federal Government. The current administration is promoting a repeal of the 1956 ban of charging tolls on the interstates by the individual states.
The cost of repair to the major roadways is normally paid for by the Highway Trust Fund. This is going broke, as cars become more fuel efficient. At least, that is the rumor. There is still a tax of 18.4 cents on each gallon of gasoline sold.
There is no corresponding proposal to repeal this fuel tax, if the ban is lifted and tolls are set in place.
How will this affect the economy and the consumer?
Many areas are highly dependent on tourism. A number of historic towns have little to no other industry to provide jobs for their citizens.
The cost of air travel has escalated. Driving is slightly less expensive as the cost can be divided by the number of passengers. If tolls are set in place, this will add cost to the price of a family trip. As the stagnant economy has tightened up everyone’s pocketbook, vacations have become something of a luxury. If a family of four can get together enough money for a few days away from home, the cost is still restrictive. With toll expenses the trip would have to be shorter and less indulgent, or off the table completely.
What does that do to a town with a purely tourist driven economy?
Hotels and motels get less traffic, restaurants do not sell food to tourists, or checks are kept to the bare minimum. Shops are perhaps frequented, but actual purchases are light.
Business owners are forced to lay off workers in an effort to retain some profit. However, it is a vicious cycle as laid off workers have no buying power, and the local stores lose that income as well.
The local governments and the states lose tax revenue, both from payroll and sales and excise tax.
Even in towns with a viable economy, tolls would cause the cost of goods to rise as trucking companies would pay tolls and pass the cost onto the consumer. It could lead to a loss of trucking jobs as consumers are unable to afford the goods that would like to buy, but are unable to purchase at the increased prices.
Since our economy has evolved from a manufacturing economy to a consumer driven economy, more retail jobs will be lost due to a decrease in sales.
Of course, the idea of better management of the tax money has not been proposed. An audit of how the money is spent should be the first step before more taxes or tolls are put upon a consumer that is already strapped to the eyes with the cost of living.
Americans should demand an audit by outside accounting firms to all government agencies. It is public tax money that is being squandered.
It is time for an outcry to stop the bleeding of cash and close the wounds inflicted on the public by any possible mismanagement. If government is allowed to continue to tax and spend at will, enough will never be enough.
Image: Courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindsaykinkade/6959341769/