"There is no maxim in my opinion which is more liable to be misapplied, and which therefore needs elucidation than the current one that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong...." ~ James Madison
A Journey of a Thousand Miles
Column by Paul Hein.
Exclusive to STR
Yes, it starts with a single step. That’s so obvious that it’s easily overlooked, but it’s worth considering when confronted with the realities of life today--especially if what you’re confronted with are the growing challenges to your life, liberty, and property.
In shaking off the rule of George III, the colonists pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their honor, and those weren’t just noble-sounding words. Many of them lost some or all of those things. They took a giant step.
Are Americans today, facing rulers far more odious and oppressive than poor demented George III, willing to make a similar pledge? I hope it is not necessary. George, after all, and his minions, were thousands of miles away; our enemy surrounds us. A frontal attack would seem unlikely to succeed. A few virulent bacteria, however, can bring down an elephant--or a donkey. So my idea is to start small, with skirmishes not likely to cause us serious harm if unsuccessful, while teaching us valuable lessons in tactics. State, rather than federal government, is more vulnerable.
These thoughts occurred to me as I waited at the local automobile licensing office to get new plates for my car. In my state, and probably yours also, you cannot buy the rulers’ permission to operate your (?) car without providing proof that you’ve paid the tribute demanded yearly in order for you to pretend that you actually own the vehicle. It’s the personal property tax, and you must have the receipt in order to buy the plates without which, no doubt, your car would refuse to start or run. I had been unable to find my receipt and told the clerk I must have lost it, until she reminded me (her computer knew all!) that I had been leasing a car before buying this one, and so had no tax receipt, since the leasing company had paid the tax. She graciously waived the penalty I could have been charged for not notifying the rulers when I bought the car. I was so grateful!
The state has, I suppose, a valid reason for putting an identifying plate on an automobile. A criminal, fleeing justice, or what passes for it, might be driving a car resembling hundreds of others. It is the license plate that enables his car, and thus him, to be readily identified. Well and good, at least in theory. But if my license plate--ABC-123--identifies my car now, won’t it identify it just as well next year, and the year after, and forever, as long as I own the car? Do I make the car more identifiable by buying a new sticker for my license plate every year, especially when the sticker is so small it can’t be seen beyond a few feet? Why can’t a license plate be affixed to the car when it’s sold, and remain there forever, without any expensive annual “renewal”? When the car changes hands, the new owner can then register the car under his name. Wouldn’t this greatly simplify record keeping and accounting, while leaving the car as identifiable as under the present system?
The state is charging a fee for these useless stickers/license plates that does little or nothing for the people who pay the bill. The benefit is all to the state, both financially (each sticker costs about $35.00 every year) and in terms of identifying the automobile so decorated. There can be little public enthusiasm for this tax, unlike some other taxes, which provide obvious benefits for the selected group of beneficiaries. Taxes that help pay for housing, or food, or child care, or education, for example, would be vigorously defended by those benefiting from them. Is there such support for the license plate/sticker tax? As best as I can determine from the Internet, there are about 2.613 million automobiles in Missouri. Since each one must be licensed, and each license costs, on average, about $35.00 (the stickers, or license plates, range from $12.25 to $51.25 yearly, depending upon the vehicle’s “taxable” horsepower), the grand total is about $91.5 million every year that the state collects for doing nothing of value to the hapless motorist.
So perhaps the first small step toward the goal of freedom might be to attack something as simple as automobile license plates. Indeed, the public could go on the offensive, demanding that the state pay a fee to the automobile’s owner, in return for the owner allowing the state to put its ID on the vehicle! (I assume that the state will be reluctant to point out that IT is the true owner!) The best defense, it’s said, is a good offense, so why not? As the state attempted to defend its pointless license plate plunder, more and more people would come to see it for what it is: a gang of thieves writ large. That’s a pretty good first step. You have nothing to lose but a license plate sticker.