The Dutch government is planning on installing GPS devices on all cars in their country. The idea is to measure exactly how far each car drives and charge a distance based tax. The idea is that you pay as you go instead of paying a car sales tax or ownership tax. That would have the effect of directly rewarding people for driving fewer miles thus helping to save on gas. The motivation given is environmental. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is the goal. It is also expected to help out with congestion.
The tax will go into effect in 2012 if the Dutch legislature passes the bill, which has already been written and tabled by the government. The tax will be 7 cents per mile in US terms to start and will increase over time reaching 16 cents per mile in 2018. Certain vehicles, such as taxis and buses will not have to pay.
While the motive is good (reducing emissions can only be good for the climate) and the idea of a tax that you pay as you go is fair, I hope we never see something like this in the US. Giving the government power to monitor exactly where every car is at all times is just too much into the world of Big Brother. It always starts out benign. "We will only use this data to calculate the mileage tax." But then after a decade or so it will be routinely used by law enforcement agencies "in the public good." And a decade after that, when the government has decided that the public good includes (for example) suppressing certain social movements the data will be used to track down, break up and arrest the people in them. Never forget that the US government is the very same government that invented the term "extraordinary rendition". Do you want a government that arranges for the kidnapping and torture of its own citizens to know exactly where every car is at all times? I know I don't.
Take this as a warning. If we the people can't control our own gas use and we start seeing extremely high gas prices and resulting social unrest, the government could use that to impose a copy of the Dutch GPS monitoring system "to encourage lower fuel consumption". One more reason to save on gas.