More votes may still pour in, and the survey methodology is unscientific, but there's no mistaking the findings of our recent reader poll on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's proposal for a VMT (vehicle miles traveled) tax.
Of nearly 700 people who responded, about 8 percent were in favor. That leaves, let's see, 92 percent who said it was the worst thing they'd seen since the last Adam Sandler movie.
Their online comments jumped off the computer screen:
"We need to vote these losers out of office and take away their inflated benefits."
"These pencil pusher so-called lawmakers never end looking out for themselves."
"This will be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Our family will leave the Bay Area."
So, in the pantheon of good ideas, this one ranks right up there with New Coke.
People haven't been this enthused about a brainstorm since Ford introduced a car in honor of Henry's son Edsel.
The reason for the MTC proposal is to generate funds for road repairs, which traditionally have come from gasoline taxes. Now that we're driving more fuel-efficient vehicles and purchasing less gas -- hey, isn't that what Al Gore wanted? -- a new well needed digging. So policy makers pulled on their pointed thinking caps and dreamed up a novel way of shoveling cash out of drivers' wallets.
Among the aspects of the plan that readers found especially endearing is the installation of a GPS tracking
If there's one thing Americans love, it's having the government climb inside their pockets each morning and follow their every move. Word of this news was at least two minutes old before the first reference to Big Brother popped up in online discussions.
Readers also leaped to the conclusion -- well, it's not much of a leap -- that they would be required to pay for these government-mandated, privacy-invading devices. If the MTC can't afford to fix potholes, it sure can't afford your tracking device.
We can see smiling drivers, lined up bumper to bumper outside GPS stores, anxiously waiting to swipe their credit cards and pay to have their constitutional rights ignored.
This tempest in a teapot would make for some rib-tickling conversation around the water cooler, if it weren't that several hard-talking, well-placed advocates are selling it as anything but a joke.
"Some people are taking this very seriously," said Amy Worth, an MTC commissioner who opposes the plan. "There are people who are against cars. They don't believe you should have them."
There are scads of flaws with the MTC proposal. How to tax out-of-state drivers who use the same roads? Do you assess volunteers for delivering meals on wheels? Room mothers for driving youngsters on field trips? Why does the owner of a 1,600-pound smart car pay the same rate for road repairs at as that of a 6,000-pound Humvee?
And, by the way, how many more government employees will it take to monitor and enforce this policy?
One of the biggest problems with the proposal, Worth said, is it doesn't distribute maintenance costs equally to all who use the roads.
"My concern," she said, "is that you're going to charge somebody for living a long distance from work. The VMT is an inequitable approach that focuses the cost of 50 years of development on a single group of people."
On the other hand, it has the rock-solid backing of 8 percent of our readers.
Contact Tom Barnidge at firstname.lastname@example.org