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> Yet nobody objects to ordinary citizens having to pay water or power or phone bills, rather than the bulk of the cost being subsidized from tax revenues.

All of those things are also subsidized, to some extent. Water is the classic example, but the government subsidizes both fossil-fuel and clean energy, as well as the companies proving phone/cable/internet. The difference here is that you're paying your taxes on your vehicle and the gas, the latter of which is essentially a use tax on driving.

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