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Left Hand, Right Hand

One of the ways you can tell something is wrong in government is when … well, when it does stuff like promote alternative fuels on one hand while with the other hand it clearly has no processes to deal with people who heed its advice:

The [government] agents informed the Wetzels that they were interested in their car, a 1986 Volkswagen Golf, that David Wetzel converted to run primarily from vegetable oil but also partly on diesel. [source]

The agents were "interested" in the car. That's a scary word when it comes from the government. They weren't "interested" in order to praise the Wetzels for being good citizens and taking initiative in energy independence. No, they had other motives. And I'll bet you can guess what they were.

"They showed me their badges and said they were from the Illinois Department of Revenue," Wetzel said. "I said, 'Come in.' Maybe I shouldn't have."

Gary May introduced himself as a special agent. The other man, John Egan, was introduced as his colleague. May gave the Wetzels his card, stating that he is the senior agent in the bureau of criminal investigations.

Mr. Wetzel didn't have a license to make biodiesel. He's a retired chemist; he knows what he's doing. But it's not even a safety issue, it's a revenue issue. The government wants its gas tax, and he hasn't been paying … because he hasn't been using gasoline.

I don't want to be misunderstood here — I'm no biodiesel booster. I think it's great for the few people who can take advantage of it, but from an engineering point of view it simply does not scale up to the volumes needed to make it a viable alternative to gasoline for the broad public.

David Wetzel, who has been exhibiting his car at energy fairs and universities, views state policies as contradicting stated government aims.

Indeed they do.

Read the story; it gets pretty outrageous. The government told him to apply for licenses as a special fuel supplier and receiver, but then Wetzel discovered that he doesn't meet the definitions of either, so he's not licensable anyway!

Mike Klemens, spokesman for the department of revenue, explained that Wetzel has to register as a supplier because the law states that is the only way he can pay motor fuel tax.

But what if he is not, in fact, a supplier? Then would he instead be exempt from paying the tax?

"We are in the process of creating a way to simplify the registration process and self-assess the tax," Klemens said, adding that a rule change may be in place by spring.

Broken. Broken. Broken.

The government just wants its money. As with the IRS having to lose a dozen court cases over the long distance telephone excise tax before finally giving up last year, this is another case of government going to absurd lengths pretending to be in the right in order to get every penny it can.

Tiny Island