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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.

4 Responses to “Good Enough for Me But Not for Thee”

  1. chuck martel says:

    In the Soviet Union the privileged government class was called the “nomenklatura” and they survive today as the administrators of the current Russian kleptocracy. We have our own, the public “servants”.

  2. Harry says:

    A few years ago I believe John Corzine, Governor of New Jersey, was seriously injured on the Garden State Parkway when his chauffeur, a trooper, lost control of the vehicle, traveling at a high rate of speed.

    I could not help thinking of Comrades Andropov and Brezhnev in their black limousines traveling to their dachas.

    I wish no one painful injury. But Chuck makes a great point about the arrogance of our government keepers.

    I thought that whenever someone had blue or red lights flashing they were allowed to do whatever they had to do, while being careful not to run over people, and not to do a Popeye French Connection drive.

    I think Rizzo should have special plates to allow him to talk on the cell phone while going through the toll booth — with his door open. Spitting allowed.

  3. Sherlock says:

    Not only family members, but friends too. My good friend has a dad and uncle who are cops and is on track to become one himself. He says if I get pulled over for speeding, all I have to do is tell them, “My good friend since I was little is a cop,” and provide his name (once he is one himself). And badabing I’m off. He does say, however, that family members cannot get out of driving drunk offenses.

  4. […] protections and privileges given to public employees that the “other 99%” do not receive […]

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