News & Politics

That Senate Infrastructure Bill Shreds Privacy in the Sanctuary of Your Own Car and Blows Up the Budget. Why Is the GOP Helping?

Image from Pixabay.

The U.S. Senate plans to take a vote on the infrastructure bill on Saturday, according to the best available reports for you late-to-the-party fact-checkers. The bill as it’s currently written is fiscally disastrous, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and removes what’s left of any vestige of privacy in your own private vehicle.

If the 2021 infrastructure bill passes, which it may due to the help of Republican senators who apparently couldn’t care less about our privacy, it will likely become a rhetorical trope the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the passage of the “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001” – otherwise known as the Patriot Act.

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It would become a swear word.

I’ll take a moment here to talk to so-called “fact” checkers whose favorite trick is to “check” stories after the story has changed — as in the case of the senators changing the bill after the publication of this article — or more information can be deciphered from the 2,700-page bill, and then call a story “false” or “half true.” Before you attempt to destroy my credibility as you have attempted to do multiple times for which you may be subject to legal action, this story with my copious opinions is based on the state-of-play on the day before Senator Chuck Schumer has called a vote. Hope that clears things up for you forever-befuddled losers.

Now, here’s what the bill would do to you inside and outside your car. They call it a “pilot” program. That’s just government talk for we’re not going to screw all of you yet. 

China-Like “Mass Surveillance”

The Intercept interviewed the policy counsel at the Lefty-organization Demand Progress. He characterized a key piece of the legislation as “mass surveillance.”

It’s concerning to see the advancement of a plan that appears to depend on the government’s mass surveillance of vehicles’ location simply to function,” said Sean Vitka, policy counsel at Demand Progress.

Gosh, why would that be a problem?

The Truth About Cars website reports that the bill sets in motion the, ahem, infrastructure to network your car with “automated traffic enforcement hubs, networked with speed and stoplight cameras (similar to what currently exists in China).”

Per Mile Taxes

That “mass surveillance” is part of a system to keep track of where and how much you drive, as if that’s any of their beeswax. But they’ll use it against you eventually. No doubt it would have Fourth Amendment implications.

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Breathalyzers for All Private Vehicles
The bill requires that breathalyzers— which detect too much alcohol but not weed or other substances—be installed in all vehicles. 

You may think this is a grand idea. It’s for safety after all.

But look at what has to happen for it to “work.”

Cockpit Cameras and Facial Recognition?

Cockpit cameras check to make sure your sober buddy isn’t blowing into the contraption for you, and facial recognition software will “track face and eye movements in case you’re planning to get drunk while driving.”

You might think that, well, come on now, Tesla already has cameras in the cockpit and my new fancy  car comes with a luxury add-on package that includes a camera.

Good for you. But you chose that. This bill requires it.

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The auto industry is all-in on the new safety mechanisms, which, of course, you’ll pay extra for.

From The Truth About Cars:

“The auto industry has long been committed to supporting public and private efforts to address this tragic threat to road safety,” John Bozzella, CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, stated. “This legislation furthers the possibility for advanced technologies to help address the risk of impaired driving.”

In addition to the breath machines and cameras, Time magazine reports that the bill contains “infrared touch tests on ignition buttons” to keep people from starting the car if they don’t pass muster.

Driving You to Distraction

The facial recognition/cockpit cameras are also designed to stop you from being “distracted” in whatever form the car poobahs dictate.

It’s meant, as The New York Post reports, “to detect erratic driving and gauge driver distraction by measuring when a driver’s eyes leave the road.”

Does singing in the car count? Checking your mirrors? Talking to your passengers? We’re sure all of it will go on your permanent record, in whatever form that may eventually take, and be given over to the “authorities” or insurance company to use against you someday.

It doesn’t take Nostradamus to figure this out, so don’t say you weren’t warned.

Congressional Car Crash

And in yet another display of the “we don’t know what we’re doing but we’re voting for it anyway” mindset that has taken over the Congress, the bill contains language that says if Department of Transportation bureaucrats “can’t agree on the specifics of the new regulations governing the technology within 10 years, they will have to explain to Congress why not.”

What fresh hell is that? Congress passes a ghost bill and lets the unelected bureaucrats fill in the blanks. Is there any limiting principle involved in this legislation whatsoever? Well, no, of course. Or they’ll let us know in ten years. What happens if they can’t come up with new regulations in ten years? Will senators send them a vewy, vewy strongwy worded wetter?

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Critical Race Car Driving

The infrastructure bill introduces the idea of charging a per-mile tax for the privilege of driving your car on their infrastructure — “you didn’t build that!” — because those bureaucrats can’t ‘jack enough of your money from gas taxes to do their jobs of maintaining freeways.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg requires the Treasury Department to set up a way to collect your per-mile fees — which doesn’t sound very pilot-ey to me — and seeks “volunteers” to give the per mile program a whirl.

The “pilot” program with a $10 million a year ad budget would also establish an apparently permanent advisory board that has “equity” as a goal. From The Epoch Times:

“The advisory body would be required to include as members “at a minimum” representatives from state departments of transportation, the trucking industry, data security experts “with expertise in personal privacy,” academic experts on surface transportation, consumer advocates, operators of toll systems, owners of motor vehicle fleets, and tribal representatives.

The advisory body would also include “advocacy groups focused on equity,” as well as “any other representatives or entities, as determined appropriate by [Buttigieg].

The proposal doesn’t elaborate on why a transportation tax advisory board should have members representing nonprofit advocacy groups dedicated to “equity,” which is a term often used by advocates of the divisive political and social perspective known as critical race theory.” [emphasis added]

Senator Susan Collins says she and ten other Republicans favor its passage, according to Reuters, but 17 senators voted to advance the $1 trillion bill.

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Here are those 17 Republican senators who helped advance the bill. From CNN: 

Roy Blunt of Missouri
Richard Burr of North Carolina
Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia
Bill Cassidy of Louisiana
Susan Collins of Maine
Kevin Cramer of North Dakota
Mike Crapo of Idaho
Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
Chuck Grassley of Iowa
John Hoeven of North Dakota
Mitch McConnell of Kentucky
Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
Rob Portman of Ohio
Jim Risch of Idaho
Mitt Romney of Utah
Thom Tillis of North Carolina
Todd Young of Indiana

Those Republicans threw in their lot with the huge catch-all bill, which does a lot more than help the electrical grid and build highways. We’ll see how they vote on the final bill.

Just as the Patriot Act and ObamaCare destroyed swaths of privacy before, this “infrastructure” bill will mark the point at which Americans surrendered whatever shred of privacy that was left in the sanctuary of their private vehicles.

They built that.