There are two types of cars on the roads of Massachusetts - those with “green plates” and those with “red plates”.
On the surface, this seems innocuous enough. But, what does this tell us about government in general and how it operates? Why does it matter? Let’s look at some facts:
- The green plate was suitable for identification of vehicles from 1977-1987.
- A single license plate was suitable for identification of vehicles until 1987.
- New vehicle registrations must use the red plate and are required to display two plates on their vehicles.
- There are 4.7 million registered vehicles in MA as of 2010
What can we deduce from these facts?
- A bureaucrat decided that they would force taxpayers to pay for the development and manufacturing of a new license plate design - to replace a perfectly good one – for the 16th time since the plate’s inception.
- A bureaucrat decided that you must drill holes into your front bumper, or pay for a front license plate bracket, to mount the mandatory second plate - forcing you to alter your property in a way you might not agree with.
- Estimating 4 million registered vehicles, these mandatory second plates consume 41 football field areas (41,000ft^2) of excess metal (4,000,000x12”x6” = 2,000,000 ft^2).
So how does this relate to the workings of government? This simple example shows exactly what they do best.
Government enacts new laws at the expense of a peaceful portion of the population, thus expanding their power, while they are careful to keep their existing political base happy. Eventually, the “new” law becomes status quo, and the once “new” power is exerted over citizens without resistance. Once complete, government looks to repeat the cycle elsewhere.
When the plate change was made in 1987, green plate holders were (and still are) allowed to keep the single green plate on their vehicles. This action prevented uproar from the existing power base. Meanwhile, government exerted their new and expanded power on new registrants by forcing them to affix two plates on their vehicles - effectively enforcing a double standard.
The new double plates cost more to produce, ship, and manage than single plates, causing the RMV to extract higher taxes from citizens to cover increased budget “requirements”. Likewise, vanity and special plates must have increased overhead to manage their design, production, and distribution when compared to generic plates. This also causes an increase in budget “requirements”.
Furthermore, the government forces citizens to pay for the management and manufacture of “sought after” low number plates – whether you give a hoot about your number or not!
So, when taken together, these actions have allowed government to increase its power over all citizens with little resistance.
Green plate registrants don’t see the added cost to maintain the red/vanity/specialty plates, so they do not protest. New registrants can do little to protest the squandering of their money as they are a minority group by definition and have few political “connections”.
In the end, the only winner is government as they extract taxes from citizens through force in order to pay for superficial projects that keep other bureaucrats employed.
So, the next time you walk by a front license plate, you can smile knowing that the money you could have used for something productive in your own life is staring you in the face – and there are 41 football fields of plates just like it on the road.