Not So Merry Men

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Robin Hood may have been a fictional character, but the thing that drove him and his “Merry Men” to become outlaws was real enough:

Oppressive laws.

Specifically, oppressive taxes.

At every turn, the Sheriff of Nottingham and his not-so-merry men would demand their pound of flesh. The only way Robin and his men could survive was to forget the law – and live outside the law.

It was an act of desperation and necessity.

This is happening again – to millions of American drivers.

None of them merry.

It starts with a ticket for a traffic offense – a pratfall that is becoming hard to avoid because of the profusion of offenses, most of them purely statutory (i.e., involving no harm to anyone) but subjecting the victim (i.e., the person waylaid by the armed government worker) to an extortionate tax. Calling it a “fine” doesn’t legitimate the taking-by-force of someone’s money who has not damaged anyone, for the benefit of the government – which is precisely what a tax is.

In California, the minimum fine/tax for failing to “buckle-up” (“failure to eat your veggies” is next) is $162 – and the fine for “improperly restraining a child under 16 is $465.

In Virginia, the fine for failing to come to a complete stop at a stop sign – even if there is no reason to come to a complete stop – is $200.

In the District of Columbia, the fine/tax for warming up your car longer than three minutes – yes, really – is $1,000 for a first offense.

And “reckless” driving – defined by statute in Virginia as anything faster than 80 MPH, even on a highway with a speed limit of 70 MPH – can entail $2,500 of literal highway robbery.

These are just a few of the many. And there are usually “processing fees” or “court costs” – secondary taxes laid on in addition to the primary tax. It gets into money.

The problem is that while the resources of the government are infinite, those of its victims are not. Many people simply can’t stand and deliver (this phrase was used by highwaymen in Europe back in the 1600s; it meant hand over your money; maybe it ought to be brought back into currency).

The much-plucked victims haven’t got many feathers left to pluck. They are already broke – or close to the edge of it.

Whatever they manage to earn is eaten up by other taxes -including the new Health Insurance tax – as well as the taxes on their food, gas and pretty much everything else. What remains is ravaged by the ongoing devaluation of currency (by issuing more of it) called “inflation,” which is really just another form of taxation.

Result? Millions of drivers no longer have hundreds or thousands of dollars available to just throw away on yet another tax – which is how they rightly regard this business. They have rent to pay, food to buy. If the choice is between paying the highwayman (plus “costs”) vs. making sure the kids will have a roof over their heads next month and food on their plates . . .well, the choice isn’t exactly easy.

But it is obvious.

They choose not to “stand and deliver.”

And it is millions of them. At least 4.2 million of them, according to a Sept. 27 article in The Washington Post, which quotes a study done by an outfit called the Legal Aid Justice Center.

That’s a bunch of unmerry men (and women, too).

These 4.2 million have become outlaws as a result of not having ponied up. Which triggers escalation by the “sheriff” – who revokes their “privilege” to drive. Very much in the way Robin and his men were forbidden to hunt the King’s deer in Sherwood Forest.

The situation goes from bad to worse. They lose their driving “privileges,” which exposes them to even more highway robbery if they happen to encounter one (or several) of the “sheriff’s” men. Which is not unlikely, given the gantlet of “safety” checkpoints and automated license plate readers (APLRs).

These people face what amounts to Robin Hood’s choice: If they don’t pay, they can’t (legally) drive. But they can’t afford to pay, especially if they don’t drive. On account of they need to drive in order to get to work . . .  in order to get paid.

So they do drive – illegally.

Around and around we go.

It is not unlike forcing people to buy health insurance they can’t afford – and then wondering how come people don’t go to the doctor . . . when their co-pay is $500 and they haven’t got it because they had to pay for the “coverage” . . .

The well-paid bureaucrats and even better-paid politicians who impose these laws – and the fines/taxes that accompany – are so financially distant from the concerns of people who have to work for a living that they do not appreciate what it means to an average working person to be faced with the Hobson’s Choice of paying a fine they can’t afford or operating as an outlaw.

That 4.2 million figure is not a nationwide figure, either. The study only looked at five states: Virginia, North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and Michigan.

Given that every other state in the country uses similar tactics to mulct motorists – in some cases, it’s done assembly-line style, using automated speed cameras, the payin’ paper sent out via the mail without even the formality of pulling the driver over – the figure must be at least three or four times 4.2 million.

Probably a low estimate at that.

To what end?

A very large (and growing) portion of the population is being turned into outlaws. But like the Robin of myth, these people aren’t criminals.

It’s a distinction worth considering.

. . .

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42 COMMENTS

  1. Another extortion that evolves from these silly fines is insurance premium increases. And just like the fines, it’s not based upon some real event happening, but the increased possibility of some event having a chance of occurring.

    And this leads to drivers not being able to afford their increased insurance premiums, so they let their coverage lapse. And in my state (Oklahoma), it is estimated from drivers’ license records, that over 30% of all the drivers on the road do not have any liability insurance! And when you get in a collision with an uninsured motorist, you find out what your uninsured motorists’ coverage doesn’t cover. But that’s another story for another time.

    I would prefer that states and municipalities replace their system of targeting drivers to issue infraction tickets to with a system of only getting involved when an accident actually occurs. This would give plenty of “law enforcement” officers something else to do. Maybe they could re-educate themselves so that they could learn how to investigate accident scenes, rather than sit in their car all day pointing some ridiculous radar gun at oncoming drivers as they hope to meet their quotas. I could write a whole article about this issue alone! But I will close with one further thought on this: Why do so many violent confrontations between civilians and LEO’s happen after traffic stops?

  2. Despite the fact that all motor vehicle “statutes” apply only to commercial use of the roads, despite the fact that these statutes apply only to “persons” (legal entities), despite the fact that these “officers” are issuing judicial presentments, but are, in fact, executive officers and can not issue judicial presentments, and despite the fact that people VERY well versed in law are challenging their jurisdiction, the state is ramping up their tyranny in response to perfectly lawful challenges to their authority and is now ignoring law completely. People, in general, have refused to learn the law, have refused to assert their rights, have refused to understand where political power resides and have refused to even question the authority of their servants. They have asserted there is nothing they can do and we are now paying the price. It’s about to get a whole lot worse.

    We, as a culture, have allowed that cute little alligator to grow into a monster. “I know why you did it”…listen to V for Vendetta’s speech to the British people for the rest. Those who trade a little temporary safety for essential liberties deserve neither liberty nor safety.

  3. Eric as usual you’re right on target. These cops are just tax collectors for the state. In Ft Lauderdale my son got a ticket for backing into a parking spot at the beach. Why? Because the “Highway Janitor” couldn’t scan his plate quickly while driving by. They keep pushing the envelope. Reminds me of the quote ” When people lose everything, and they have nothing left to lose… They lose it!!

    • Hi Peter,

      Thanks for the kind words!

      I wish I didn’t have to write about these “endless train of abuses” but it’s become impossible to not write about them.

  4. A couple of years ago I got pulled over for speeding on my way to work. After running my license, the officer asked me to step out of the car because I had a bench warrant for failing to pay a speeding ticket in another county. However, I had paid that ticket. Originally, I had forgotten to pay, but I realized it a few days later, called the court house and made arrangements to be put on the docket for the following week. I went to court, showed my updated registration to the judge and paid my fine. I thought everything was fine. Not so. The judge that day was temporarily filling in for the regular traffic court judge who had recently died. Apparently, he didn’t know there was extra paper work necessary to remove the bench warrant. Hence, I spent the day in jail, had my car impounded, and paid a $500 bond. Subsequently, I contacted the county where I received the original speeding ticket and they admitted it was their mistake. I got the $500 bond back, but not the money I paid to get my car back and since I’m a contractor, I lost a days worth of wages. I contacted a couple of attorneys to see if there was anyway to be reimbursed the lost money. They each told me there was nothing that I could do because of something called “Sovereign Immunity”, which would have been called “Crown Immunity” back in Robin Hood’s days.

  5. Let me preface my comment by saying no NFL players should be using any issue to disrespect our flag and the Constitution, which is the only document that might separate all of us from tyranny. The Industrial Race Complex has high jacked this issue that is affecting all of our freedoms. Police use to be the *protect and serve* 1 Adam 12 peace officers risking their lives and protecting the citizens. Not any more, there is a bad brew in our country which is not race related, it took off after 911 with the Patriot Act and as Eric has described turned the police into tax collectors for the failed cities and states. I think it is well past time there is a national discussion on police abuse of power, asset forfeiture. Maybe it is time for a state’s convention as allowed under the constitution to redress our grievances?

    • Things promised in the constitution include the several states being voluntary members of a beneficial union.
      https://mises.org/library/libertarian-principle-secession-0

      The principle, on which the war of yankee aggression was waged, was simply this: That men may rightfully be compelled to submit to, and support, a government that they do not want; and that resistance, on their part, makes them traitors and criminals.

      No principle, that is possible to be named, can be more self-evidently false than this; or more self-evidently fatal to all political freedom.

      Yet it triumphed in the field, and is now assumed to be established.

      If it really be established, the number of slaves, instead of having been diminished by the “civil” war, has been greatly increased; for a man, thus subjected to a government that he does not want, is a slave.

      And there is no difference, in principle — but only in degree — between political and chattel slavery. Both forms of slavery deny a man’s ownership of himself and the products of his labor; and asserts that other men may own him, and dispose of him and his property, for their uses, and at their pleasure.

      Only when the individual is again easily and simply free to move from one jurisdiction to another. From Seattle to Tokyo to Seoul to London to Berlin, is a limit is put on the extent to which the government may use its monopoly power.

      Government is held in restraint by the fear of losing its taxpaying citizens, just as loss of customers tends to keep other monopolies from getting too arrogant.

    • @ Hans

      What do you mean “our” flag and the Constitution? And surely you must be joking if you think the Constitution is protecting any of us, let alone if it even applies to any of us in the first place. They’ve shit on that document for over 100 years. One need only look at their actions and see they give 0 fucks about the constitution. You don’t think we currently live under tyranny?

      I haven’t stood for the anthem for 4+ years. My reasons being different than that of NFL players. The flag represents government (see the pledge of allegiance…”and to the republic for which it stands”). If people give me grief I tell them I’ll stand for the anthem when the government stops stealing from them and I on a daily basis. Or if they stand for the anthem when they are at home. They surely do not so all this nonsense about standing for the anthem is merely virtual signaling.

      And I really wish they’d stop calling not standing for the anthem a protest. We’re merely not taking part. I’m not out in the streets urging on others to do the same. Am I protesting church because I do not attend? Am I protesting a restaurant because I don’t patronize their establishment?

      • What I mean by “our” flag and constitution is in fact the only items we as countrymen (and especially between you c dub 250 and me) that we have in common. So yes, disrespecting the very principle that separates us from full on tyranny is wrong and misdirected anger. In your case go ahead and burn your flag if you feel the need, it is your right. Try to burn my flag and you see my conviction for the 2nd amendment. So much for rational discourse.

        • I don’t own a flag & would never try to burn yours. And we probably have a lot more in common (far beyond a piece of cloth or paper) than you think, as much as that thought might grate you.

          Also, this website tends to be a bastion of rational discourse. But thanks for bringing the ubiquitous “tough guy patriot ‘murica” act to the table.

      • c-dub, standing for the flag/anthem is based on the very erroneous yet well ingrained belief that one “owes” their loyalty to The State. This idea has always been a curious notion to me.

        Why do I owe an allegiance to any government let alone one that actively works against my interest (I know, which government does not)? For what is government but a group of avarice men and women. I owe them nothing but well earned contempt.

        My loyalty is only to my moral principles and to me and mine. And the only moral principle is the NAP which the US of amerika despises.

        • Absolutely spot on skunkbear! Well said. I feel the same and could not agree more.

          I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Marc Stevens work but he was the first person I ever heard talk about how there is no such thing as a citizen. I was just getting into digesting the red pill so this threw me for a loop initially. The idea behind a “citizen” is that we owe a duty of allegiance in return for protection. It being a reciprocal relationship; can’t have one without the other. Well there are several supreme court cases that ruled that the state owes us no duty of protection. The whole thing breaks down right there and that means there is no such thing as a citizen. Now, include your salient point about how it actively works against our interests and it really begins to make a man’s teeth ache.

          • The big Con was written basically for one purpose and that was to force people of one state to value their goods based on the goods of other people in other states, the Commerce Act that regulated prices from one state to another. Had the general population known of it the Con would have been burned in it’s gestation.

    • evidently you are uneducated about cop. I’m not going to inform you here other than tell to find out why we use the nomenclature called Irish cops. l’m from Chicago. Want to tell how cops protect and serve and when was that in your pipe dream??

    • I quit standing for the flag in high school when I realized what the Vietnam was was about and haven’t stood for it since. I bear no allegiance to that flag and defy anyone to tell me since Lincoln razed and burned the South for no other reason than to kill as many people who didn’t want to work for the real tyrants in England why it should be so. The anthem bs was more govt. bs dreamed up during WWll because it was such an unpopular war.

      That flag has broken more innocent people than could be counted and continues to do so every day.

      LONG LIVE THE SOUTH!

  6. and the fine for improperly restraining a child under 16 is $465.

    I see these kids roaming all over the place. Never on a leash or anything. I say the law needs to be enforced!

    And then threaten to send ’em off to fight in some God awful place just because they turned 18.

  7. Eric, another excellent article. I know that for a fact because I’ve been there & done that. One time I had the choice of whether to fix my brakes or buy tabs. Foolishly, I decided to fix my brakes & Officer Anus reminded me that I should have coughed up the cash for the tabs. When I couldn’t pay the fine, they suspended my DL (A $5oo ticket) & there was no point in having insurance (another $500). So, when I got pulled over for a burnt out license plate light, there was over $1200 in penalties. More than a months pay at the time. To add insult to injury, when a crime is committed on me, those ”Fundraisers with firearms” don’t even pretend to try to catch the perp.

    • Hi Kevin,

      Ditto – it’s happened to me as well. I also once faced a life-ending stint in prison for having grown some plants. I was 19 years old at the time. Luckily for me, I escaped with a pled-down charge, from felony possession with intent to distribute to simple misdemeanor possession. But the experience really opened my eyes and made me realize how the state can (and does) destroy people over… nothing.

      It was one of the things that set me on the road to Libertarianism.

      I’ve never looked back…

      Thanks for the kind words!

  8. Cummins finally released their 2.8 4 cyl replacement engine( it comes with most ancillary devices, even the PS pump) it’s almost a drop in certain vehicles with the proper adapters) costs a cool $8.999.00.I guess it would be a good investment for an older rust free Jeep or old tin box pickup( seen an old Stude flying down I-81 years ago. bet it had a 4 BT on board, you could tell it was diesel powered ) And Cummins has issued a survey for the next engine to be available for repower( get your votes in. probably be the 5 litre V-8)
    These freakin taxes, I almost goody the land hoarders high taxes, the trouble is they usually get a tax break and” Mr. Joe average owns little taxpayer” usually has to pay the full brunt. Good grief ice on the “Fit” this morning and looks like light frost in the field, its so dry and clear ( conducive to radiational cooling ) the sun really blasts on these clear days.Wife is chewing my ass right now for wanting to go to Church( single Guys really reconsider before tying the knot .)

  9. I never stopped on a bike to find out what they wanted. I knew the roads and ones they couldn’t box me in.

    I once pulled around to the back of a house, grabbed the water hose and began misting my engine. A woman happened to be home and looked out so I smiled and waved and told her my bike was overheating and I was sorry I hadn’t asked first. Just like all Texas people back then she said to help myself and never noticed the pursuit. Once my bike was cool she invited me in and we sat at the kitchen table and drank iced tea and found out how many people we knew and how many kinfolk we had. That’s how it was till 911 and still is to a great degree….just don’t count on it in big cities and upscale neighborhoods.

  10. The real story of Robin Hood, not the modern sanitized version:
    He didn’t rob from the rich. He robbed from the sheriff and the govt. and gave back to the poor what had been stolen from them.
    .
    We could probably use a Robin Hood about now, especially when you consider that the TPTB have stolen over
    $5 BILLION from citizens in the form of civil asset forfeiture.

    • Bus? What bus is that? If I can’t drive it’ll be rubber heels, thin,holey rubber heels.

      When I can’t drive the wife can go to the only person left alive in her family and me and Colley will head out to a life roaming pastures with a thick piece of rubberized tarp, a sleeping bag and a pot and pan and all the staples and ammo we can carry.

      I had one pit who loved to carry ammo and I’d put two military style bandaleros double loaded on him and me carrying 4 of same and head off to parts unknown. I carried enough water for both of us and some rations since we could live off the land.

      Roy my Boy looked like the red pit in No Country For Old Men. He was a great dog who never asked for slack and didn’t give any.

      That’s the future I see with Trump who intends to extract,via tax on taxes, the very last vestige of hope the people have.

    • Bus? WHAT BUS? The busses my tax money suppotys (85% of their budget comes from out taxes, bot rider “contributions” ) don’t go anywhere near mo house nor to more than a couple places I have to go. Worthless roadblocks, them busses

      • Bus? WHAT BUS?

        The buses my coerced tax money supports don’t go anywhere near my house nor to more than a couple places I’d need to go. Worthless.

        85% of their budget comes from our “taxes”, not from rider “contributions”.

        Worthless rolling roadblocks, them buses.

        • Yep, exactly right about buses. The city buses in Richmond have limo-tinted windows so that people can’t see that they are rolling around town mostly empty. It would take 100 years of collected fares to pay for one of them and the city has a whole fleet.

  11. I have friends, the majority of whom ride motorcycles, who have decided that it’s better to run than stop, even for a minor speeding violation, for just this reason. Their logic being that if they stop and can’t pay, the outcome isn’t much different than if they run and get caught. Of course there’s the risking their lives and the lives of others thing, but if the alternative is not being able to get to work or feed your family, I can see their point.

    • This summer an off duty Chicago cop was going be pulled over for what officially is “a similar vehicle was involved in a crime”* by cops in an unmarked gang unit car. He fled at high speed. He it a woman’s car and both cars ended up wrapped around one of Chicago’s numerous heavy steel immovable light poles. Both were killed. Officially nobody knows why he fled.

      *IME this is just a BS excuse for pulling someone over when there is no reason to.

    • …in California, if you are behind on child support payments, they take your driver’s license…and keep it until you are up to date. But…before you can get it back, you are forced to pay something like $1700 for the same classes the convicted DUI recipients are forced to take before they get their license back. It makes no sense, as there are 1st time, low-level DUI offenders in the same class with hard-core alcoholics on their 5-6-7 DUI? Not only do those groups have nothing in common, but what does getting caught up on child support have to do with DUI classes? They are all revenue generating scams being pulled by the powers that be, who are benefitting directly and indirectly through their graft and corruption.
      RJ O’Guillory

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