One million California citizens are above the law, they:
can drive their cars as fast as they choose. They can drink a six-pack of beer at a bar and then get behind the wheel and weave their way home. They can zoom in and out of traffic, run traffic lights, roll through stop signs and ignore school crossing zones. They can ride on toll roads for free, park in illegal spots and drive on High Occupancy Vehicle lanes even if they have no passengers in the car with them. Chances are they will never have to pay a fine or get a traffic citation.
And it’s not just police officers that are members of this “privileged” class. It includes their family members and now an increasing number of other government agents. As Steve Greenhut explains in his book Plunder! the special license program started out like many absurdities, as innocuous. It was intended to protect the addresses of officials who have to deal directly with criminals. Imagine evil criminals tracking down the home addresses of people who ticketed them or worse. Of course, I know of no such epidemic here, nor have seen investigative reports on the severity of the problem, but it at least passes the smell test as a reasonable rule.
But of course, soon after this was passed, not only did police officers get to enjoy the privileges, it has been extended to retired parking-enforcement officers, DMV workers and much more. That’s government at its best.
And as Greenhut starkly reminds us:
These protections are pointless now, given that the DMV long ago abandoned the practice of giving out personal information to the public. Yet the list of categories keeps growing and growing.
This sort of reminds me of how much I hate those stickers I see on people’s cars that say something like, “Supporter of Our NYS Troopers.” Is that sort of a thing any different than the corruption and bribery that characterizes some of the major development problems in the developing world? How is that any different than being forced to fork over some money at arbitrary traffic stops in Central and South American countries? It doesn’t seem any different to me, only except for the fact that in the U.S. for some reason we seem to elevate the status of the folks benefiting from the bribes. At least in the developing countries those folks are rightly looked upon with scorn.