Shell Gas Station in Hiroshima, Japan. Public domain by Frank Gualtieri, God rest his soul
Thank you Lord, for helping me clean house of hypocrisy! I've realized a hole in my thinking (willful or otherwise) regarding taxation, and am seeking to partially address it here:
One of the fundamental dilemmas of government is that you need to pay for government services. Not everybody wants these services, and not everybody believes in them. In a way, to enact laws and taxes is to steal from those who would never spend their money that way. But stuff does still need to get built.
But I do see one way out of this moral quandary: what if you provide for certain less crucial (but still highly beneficial) government services such as freeway construction with usage taxes? Now there are two traditional ways to tax a freeway: a toll and a gas tax.
A toll involves setting up certain payment stations where in order to use that section of the road, you must pay the fee. Then you may drive a certain distance on it. The trouble with tolls is unless they are equitably applied across the whole landscape (something that will never happen - politicians love to make deals with each other) they will create distortions in traffic patterns as people seek to avoid (as always) paying the tax.
A gas tax involves adding a little bit to the cost of fuel to pay for the roadway that's been built and is being maintained. You pay it to the exact degree that you use it, and the only avoidance method is purchasing more fuel-efficient vehicles, which we currently give tax deductions for anyways and is a fundamentally beneficial behavior. And before you ask, a gas tax high enough could pay for the entire road system, though it should ONLY be used to pay for the road system or any expenses related to gas consumption and cars, such as maintenance of any publcily-owned oil pipelines (do they exist?) and proper enforcement of various regulations and laws (such as State Patrol speeding cops) related to the two.
These roads have to be paid for one way or another, and paying for it with a gas tax puts the cost ONLY on those who use the roads and only to the degree to which they use them. This seems to be very fair and equitable, and avoids stealing from anyone. It also puts the cost of maintaining a freeway grid squarely on those who use it, with those who benefit the most paying the most.
Now on the flip side, there's a less traditional method as well: Car GPS tags, but the enforcment cost would be huge and it might not be difficult to mess with them. It would give a more accurate measure then gas consumption for sure, but the cost of building the national surveillance system required for such a thing is tremendous and enforcing such a thing on a population that would surely try to avoid it with transceivers that are themselves very technologically complicated and thus, breakable, is tremendous. Still, it is something to think about, and I guess electrocution hazard could keep some people from messing around.