Domestic propaganda office planned to convince US public to accept taxation-by-surveillance
The $200 million propaganda unit would be aimed at American citizens principally to convince them to support tax a based on the number of miles they drive, and to persuade them to go along with mandatory installation of government electronic surveillance gear in their vehicles to collect that tax.
The surveillance equipment would record every vehicle’s odometer readings for the purpose of calculating a tax that drivers would be compelled to pay every time they refuel.
This tax presumably would be in addition to existing federal and state taxes on gasoline and diesel.
Presently the federal tax on gasoline is 18.4 cents per gallon, and 24.4 cents for diesel. State fuel taxes, on average, are higher, so the consumer pays a national average tax of about 45 cents a gallon for gasoline and about 51 cents for diesel.
The propaganda office is being floated as part of the administration’s Orwellian-sounding “Transportation Opportunities Act.”
The plan was first reported by the industry publication Transportation Weekly and then by the Capitol Hill newspaper, The Hill.
Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND), Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, also supports the idea of taxing drivers based on the miles they travel in order to take more money from the people and transfer it to central government. Conrad says the extra cash flow would be used to fund centrally-planned highway projects.
The North Dakota senator commissioned a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report earlier this year that supports his idea. According to The Hill:
“Among other things, CBO suggested that a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) tax could be tracked by installing electronic equipment on each car to determine how many miles were driven; payment could take place electronically at filling stations.”
Two-year propaganda campaign to build ‘user acceptance’
President Obama is proposing the creation of a Surface Transportation Revenue Alternatives Office within the Federal Highway Administration. The office would “study” the modalities of the VMT, and then would perform a propaganda function to persuade the American public to go along with having the government electronically monitor their day-to-day driving for the purpose of raising their taxes.
The Obama administration’s draft legislation envisiones a two-year propaganda campaign to adjust public attitudes for acceptance of the electronic monitoring and taxation program that would be field tested in four years.
Note the careful wording of the administration’s language, as reported by The Hill:
“The administration seems to be aware of the need to prepare the public for what would likely be a controversial change to the way highway funds are collected. For example, the office is called on to serve a public relations function, as the draft says it should “increase public awareness regarding the need for an alternative funding source for surface transportation programs and provide information on possible approaches.”
The draft legislation envisions establishing the office, then developing a “study framework and “public awareness communications plan” over two years, with field tests to begin in four years.
“The office would be required to consider four factors in field trials: the capability of states to enforce payment, the reliability of technology, administrative costs, and ‘user acceptance,'” according to the news report.
Not public relations, but propaganda for behavior modification
It is not “public relations” for a central government office to persuade the public to go along with electronic surveillance of their daily lives for the purpose of taxing them more.
“Public relations” is a term used to describe how an organization such as a government agency informs the general public about its activities. Public relations is not calculated to influence people’s perceptions and attitudes for the purpose of behavior modification.
Government communication with the public for the purpose of behavior modification is called propaganda.
And that is precisely what the administration is planning to implement its taxation-by-surveillance vision.