Every move you make

Just when I was starting to get into a festive mood for the season, a reader sent me a link to this story, reminding me about the ongoing efforts by our elected officials and their bureaucratic minions to put tolls on our roads. I hope they don't get around to doing that until after I'm gone. One of the great joys of moving out west was getting away from the hideous tolls on the East Coast. Out here, "freeway" meant free. So refreshing.

You would think that our politicians would get off the toll bandwagon, at least temporarily, during the bleak times in which we find ourselves. I'd love to hear the governor, the mayor, or somebody else important, step up and say something sensible like, "This is no time for us to be putting greater economic burdens on businesses, working people, and families. Until the pandemic and accompanying recession are over, I'm directing that all plans to put tolls on our roads be placed on hold." 

That's a speech we'll never hear, of course. They can't wait to get their hands on that money.

Part of the problem is the culture of car hatred that the urban planning overlords have foisted on us. The young people have all been indoctrinated. We're supposed to ride bicycles and mass transit everywhere. At this point, it's hard to tell which of those two options is more life-threatening, or a greater time suck, even for the brave. But that's the gospel.

I understand the concerns about burning fossil fuels, but the tolls aren't going to care what you're driving. Every form of licensed vehicle will be forced to pay. If you've got a real life and somewhere to get to, it's going to cost you. If they could, they'd put a turnstile on your front door, and you'd pay every time you went anywhere.

It's not like the roads around here are so great. They're not even adequate, considering the population that's moved in over the last 40 years. The freeway system was built pretty much for the needs of 1980. The population has doubled since then. The number of cars has probably more than doubled. With few exceptions, the roads are largely the same old roads they were in the days of Robert Moses. Interstate 5 through Portland narrows down to two lanes in either direction. The road system certainly hasn't kept pace with the increased demand.

But now, in addition to wasting your time, battling the congestion on the inadequate roads will cost you money.

And the means of enforcement they've got planned? That's amusing. There will be no toll booths. You can put a transponder in your car, or just let a network of license plate cameras track your every move. You'll get a bill at the end of the month from Salem. Salem is so good with technology. What could go wrong?

Anyway, I'm going to stop thinking about tolls now. This is no time of year to be dwelling on such negativity. There's too much year-end tax planning to do.