One recent fine spring morning as I started to leave for work, I found that the police had left little presents on both my husband's car and my car. Apparently, we missed – by two days – the deadline to renew the state license plates. Two days.
As it turns out, my car was also ticketed a second time before I could obtain the blasted sticker. The final sum owed the government was now a whopping $180 dollars, plus the cost of the two sticker fees.
No mercy for residents who live on a numbered street where notices are lost because the mail is constantly mis-delivered. No grace period for newcomers who have no idea that cops roam the streets of safe neighborhoods focusing on expired tags rather than out protecting citizens where crime is rampant. Welcome to the neighborhood.
Like many of you, I have to submit all three vehicles for a state inspection. If any of the 300 items the mechanic checks does not come up to state-specified snuff, I can fix it in 15 days and pay another inspection fee, or just pay him to work on my car till it passes.
And that's not all. Because I now live in Northern Virginia – which doesn't meet its Environmental Protection Agency air-quality goals set by bureaucrats – I must also obtain emissions-inspection certificates. Cha-ching! Another tax on the working American!
If the contraption that tests my new car's emissions says I pass, I then go to the state and obtain a license plate or tag that "frees" me to drive on the roads my taxes paid for. (You don't want to know what happens if I fail.) Luckily, my cars passed the tests, and after taking a day off of work and paying the government several hundreds of dollars on top of what they already get from me, I was once again legal.
And this is all in addition to my driver's license, the card that means the state has extended to me the "privilege" of driving on its roads.
Let's see. I pay for the roads, I pay for the car and the gas – both also heavily taxed. In fact, I pay sales tax when I buy the car, then a tax on the car every year for these county and state stickers. I buy the tires, parts, oil, anti-freeze and whatever else is deemed necessary (all taxed.) And the state's going to be all-magnanimous and extend to me the privilege of driving on its roads? Whatever.
When did it get this bad? And why do we put up with it? This past Friday, on Independence Day, I vowed to do my best to put some independence back into living in America.
This recommitment to the cause of slashing government and restoring freedom came on the heels of a speech I recently heard by Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson.
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