The State and Roadsby James E. Miller
Jan. 11, 2013
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Last December, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed a new standard that would force automobile manufactures to install "event data recorders" (typically known as black boxes) in all vehicles starting in September of 2014. Because Congress failed to pass legislation containing the provision, the executive branch is doing the heavy lifting and trying to force it through. In other words, since the cabal of liars and thieves that pretend to be the voice of the people refused the mandate, an unelected, unaccountable group of lifetime bureaucrats will now proceed with implementation.
The idea behind the black boxes is that it would allow the NHTSA to better evaluate why auto accidents occur and what steps to take "to save lives and prevent injuries" according to Administrator David Strickland. Of course, this is only so much obfuscation and contemptuousness. With the exception of killing, government excels best at pseudology. Most cars produced today already contain black boxes. And most cars already have these trackers equipped to relay data to an internal GPS. Some insurance companies offer discounts to those drivers who willfully allow data to be transmitted to their agent. The opportunity for state monitoring of vehicle traffic will certainly prove to be all too enticing
The idea that "event data recorders" are to be used for safety assumes a brazen stupidity on the part of the public. Here is a device that is able to relay the kind of information law enforcement can make a great deal of money off of. The question isn't if it will be abused; it is when and to what degree. Like all erosions of privacy, the abuse will escalate till it reaches a new normal. At that point, most will have surrendered to the idea that their benevolent leaders are taking care of them.
Politicians who pride themselves on taking measures to increase public safety are really laughing at the hapless fools who take them out their word. For every state decree, look deeply enough and you will find someone, somewhere getting paid off. In foreign policy, it is the litany of military contractor that produce weapons of murder. With central banking and money nationalization, the fractional reserve banking system maintains profitability with a safety net to fall back on. Universal schooling is a simply jobs program that spits out a bunch of pampered brats every year who haven't a clue of what a decent work ethic looks like. And with compulsory car insurance, the cartel of insurance companies makes a killing off guaranteed demand paired with a shortage of supply.
In each of these instances, the state maintains an everlasting presence in the public psyche. This generational conditioning makes it so the next wave of serfs is increasingly unaware of a life without omnipresent dictation. The rape and pillage of the productive class manifests itself into what Leo Tolstoy called the "state conception of life" where men gladly submit to an authority so long as it's centralized government.
In terms of automobiles and roads, the state has done an exceptional job of wielding unquestionable authority over the area of motorized transportation. Not only are the roads crucial for travel totally socialized, the car industry is bound by an almost impenetrable web of regulations that prop up politically-favored companies. Along with state mandated insurance, the very act of starting to drive has become as irritating journey through the depths of fatuous bureaucracy.
The Department of Motor Vehicles is an exemplary form of torture for the common person. Unlike other government agencies staffed with unsociable, empty-headed drones, the DMV employs anyone capable of turning bureaucracy into an audible science. With little expression and scant feelings of shame, the counter attendees spend their day in a haze of personal disappointment they project on to every visitor. Even the self-loathing types have difficulty finding pride while working at the DMV.
To justify its monotony, the state and its apologists will loudly proclaim that the act of driving "is not a right, but a privilege." Therefore, the compulsory management by the state should go unquestioned. But the idea that driving is not a right is deceiving. The car, like any other material object, is an extension of owned property. Presuming it was acquired justifiably, there is no claim a bunch of unimaginative blowhards known as government has over an automobile. However, since roads have been monopolized, politicians and their enforcers are able to declare that operating an automobile is a privilege to be exercised only at their discretion. This was the goal all along: to keep a clenched grasp on the movement of people to ensure subservience.
The idea that all of life's risks can be removed from the Earth is nothing but sheer nonsense. The very act of leaving one's home greatly increases the chances of harm. If the hyper nannies and cowardly wish to live in complete security, they are welcome to stay indoors till their dying day. Counting on protection from an institution with more casualties to its name than bodily disease is an exercise reserved only for the most simpleminded among us. After all, as economist Walter Block points out, over 40,000 people die on American roadways every year. Instead of choice and liberty, the state exerts further oversight as a solution. The result is only a continuous stream of unnecessary death.
Similar to apocalyptic novels, the state operates as the meandering rove of thieves with roads. Should you be caught by its uniformed officers, you can be shaken down for the grievous crime of not having the correct sticker on your windshield. You are then sent on your way to be pilfered on another unannounced day. The only difference between government goons and private thieves is, as Lysander Spooner aptly explains,
The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit. He does not pretend to be anything but a robber.Government, on the other hand, says “your money or your life” and proceeds to strip men of their wealth. Should they resist, the state tax collectors feels no moral qualms about locking them in a cage. Supremacy belongs to the lords of the body politic and nothing else.
Road socialization, traffic control, automobile regulation, and the excuses of providing for “safety” which accompany these measures are only so much posturing for the sake of domineering control. State control of roads results in politicos patting themselves on the back for creating a more secure country while their pockets are lined with the windfall of cronyism. Empowered bureaucrats relish in the authority they have over a populace in need of transportation. And the people lose their sovereignty to move freely about the world.
James E. Miller holds a BS in public administration with a minor in business from Shippensburg University, PA. He is the editor-in-chief at the Ludwig von Mises Institute of Canada and a current contributor to his hometown newspaper, the Middletown Press and Journal. He currently works in Washington D.C. as a copywriter.