Police Stops in the First World vs. the Third World (The Dollar Vigilante) I have been stopped by the police for minor infractions and for no legitimate reason on numerous occasions in the USSA, the Balkans, and Mexico. Perspective is vital when doing a cost/benefit analysis of police encounters.
An indoctrinated American statist might say something to the tune of, "well, at least we're more civilized and safer with the rule of law!"
To which I might reply "you are correct, now el presidente may legally and safely put you in jail forever without cause and assassinate you, making life secure for everyone!"
Life in a foreign country has advantages and disadvantages. In Mexico, I really miss deep dish pizza, but I now enjoy real tacos which are unlike anything a Taco Bell customer will ever see in their life. I once unwittingly ordered and ate brain tacos. In Mexico, I also miss out on "safe" fluoridated water. Wait, nevermind, that's actually an advantage!
My permanent tourist gauge is the balance of freedom and personal safety. The USSA used to honor this principle of maximum freedom and personal safety by pretty much allowing people to do what they wanted and only making sure people weren't killing each other or stealing the hard-earned wealth of their neighbor.
Let's take a trip down "police stop" memory lane and see how each country fares. While I must admit, the roads in the USSA are wide and the traffic population makes it generally safe to drive a vehicle, the number of ways the state can entrap you for cash is astronomical. Below are a few of the encounters I can roughly recall, having left the USSA over five years ago.
1) Not wearing a seat belt: $85.
2) Speeding on more than one occasion. Once I firmly believed it wasn't the case, but the cop wouldn't show me the radar gun. I probably would have been ticketed for daring to question his ethics: $200+.
3) Parking car in front of my home on a "snow day": $100.
Checkpoint Balkans (driving with no registration or insurance on foreign plates)
1) Stopped for having only one headlight. Pretended I didn't speak the local language: $0 (shooed away by officer).
2) Legitimately stopped for speeding at 3AM in a village in the middle of nowhere. Cops actually show me the radar gun with my speed. Cops tell me normally I'd have to pay a higher fee and go to court, but that by paying right now the problem will be solved. And by the way, the cops were "out of ticket receipts": $20.
Checkpoint Mexico (driving with no registration or insurance on foreign plates)
1) Stopped recently for no infraction, but only because of my foreign plates. Having recently purchased the (used) vehicle from another expat and due to my lack of diligence in managing some paperwork (after driving it around for more than six months), the cop harassed me for the illegal standing of my vehicle. He spoke perfect English, so I couldn't play the "stupid American" card: $75.
Permanent Tourist Tricks
Now go ahead and make your own conclusion. You can pay hundreds upon hundreds of dollars for a semblance of safety in the USSA. Or you can work out problems yourself with the authorities in the 3rd world. You can pay the corrupt policeman or you can pay the corrupt politician.
Obviously, where this crosses the line is when things become so dysfunctional simply being able to walk around safely is no longer possible, which I will admit is not the case in any of the above countries. Though you might be surprised to find that the only time I was forced to stare down the barrel of a gun was in the USSA, but that's a story for another day.
One trick you may have noticed was that in a foreign country I drive around on foreign plates. One benefit is that due to loopholes, I don't have to pay annual registration nor bother with annual vehicle checks in either the USSA or Mexico because foreign plates with expired stickers are allowed in most Mexican states. I also drive around in older used vehicles, making myself inconspicuous. This greatly lessens the chances of one being pulled over. The authorities themselves are somewhat confused on how to deal with foreigners and pay less attention to them as long as they are not outright breaking any laws. They also have a certain respect for foreigners because of their benefit to the country's economy. On the other hand, for the really corrupt authority, a foreign-plated vehicle will signal an ATM on wheels as was my case in Mexico.
A Lesson to the Resistance: Love Your Enemies
In its observance of freedom, the Dollar Vigilante is great for allowing its writers to post articles with a range of spiritual perspectives (from atheist to Christian). Some might question my perspective as a Christian, but Romans 13 simply states that believers are to submit to authority so that no one has anything at all negative to say of the believer. One can see me submitting to authority in all instances, regardless of whether the authorities are corrupt or not. Give to Caesar what is Caesar's (meaning unethical taxes) and give to God what is God's (separating state and temporal obligations from spiritual obligations). We know the IRS is a fraudulent agency and there is no income tax, but try not paying your taxes (as one Christian evangelist attempted, who is now behind bars).
Now don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean one should roll over to be steamrolled by the state. Citizens are also called to make sure the rule of law and justice are upheld and that corrupt authorities are to be confronted. However, choose your battles wisely.
Did you know that the phrase "go the extra mile" comes from one of Jesus Christ's teachings? In Roman times, soldiers could force any citizen to carry their load for them customarily for one mile. Christ was emphasizing the love of the enemy when He told people to go two miles instead. The Roman soldier would be bewildered by this show of love and not know how to react. This too can be an extremely effective approach toward disarming corrupt authorities.
I had no qualms giving the Mexican policeman what he asked for, I understood the situation as a resident of Mexico and the cost/benefit to a police stop in the USSA. However, I am getting the correct paperwork I need to ensure this won't happen again! Aside from the fine, I ended up giving my beloved corrupt Mexican policeman a million dollar bill which doubles as a Gospel tract, in hopes he might think about the error of his ways for treating me as an ATM on wheels.
You want to know the quickest way to get out of a checkpoint? A few years ago, Pastor Anderson refused to answer questions at an unconstitutional checkpoint in the USSA. The cops broke his window and the pastor was injured as the cops dragged him through the broken shards of glass. He was found not guilty in court.
In his latest checkpoint stop, he demonstrates the contrast of resisting authority to loving them, albeit somewhat sarcastically. This time around he attempts to preach to the authorities and they get rid of him faster than Emperor Barack O'Bomber can spend your paycheck!
Jorge Gato is The Dollar Vigilante's Mexican-based Education Correspondent and is a social sciences educator who is in the trenches daily, warding off severe cases of cognitive dissonance, mass indoctrination, and unhealthy reasoning. You can reach the dissenting professor via dissidentthinker [at] hush . com. He writes at http://dissidentthinker.wordpress.com/.