No Cops Around?

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Recently by Eric Peters: Inflation Plus…

You can’t fight city hall, the saying goes – and it’s true. You’re at their mercy – and are forced to play by their rules. When you get a traffic ticket, for instance, you have to pretend to agree with the premise (i.e, that the law you were charged with violating is fundamentally legitimate) but you should be let off because of some extenuating factor, such as poor signage or your speedometer wasn’t reading accurately. Your honor, I didn’t mean to speed… . It’s degrading to have to play out this pantomime but there’s not much choice because resistance – overt resistance – is futile.

However, evasion is still possible. And it can make you glad.

There is a stop sign at the terminus of a T intersection I know very well because every day I run that stop sign. Well, sort of. As I approach the T, I look left – you can see down the road a good half mile – and if no one’s coming, I make my right turn without coming to a complete stop beforehand, as required by “the law.” There’s no good reason to come to a complete stop – other than it being “the law.” And I do my best to evade and ignore “the law” when “the law” conflicts with reasonableness and common sense – and because I chafe at obeying anything “just because.” There is no reason to come to a complete stop; you lose momentum and that wastes gas – no small thing these days. If one can see that there’s no opposing traffic, why stop?

I know – because it’s “the law.”

Here’s another:

There is a traffic light at a certain intersection. If you sit at this intersection waiting for the green light to make a left turn you will wait a very long time. The bureaucrats who time this signal have it set so that it does not give the drivers waiting to go left a green light for 5 minutes, from one cycle to the next. And it often skips cycles – so that opposing traffic gets the green but you don’t. If you obey “the law,” you may be sitting there for as long as 10 minutes – staring at the empty road in either direction, servilely obeying a light.

Because it’s “the law.”

I routinely run this light – because I find the prospect of just sitting there for 5-10 minutes for absolutely no reason (other than “the law”) to be idiotic. My time – and the $4 per gallon gas in my tank – are valuable to me. Much more valuable than obeisance to “the law.” So, if my V1 radar detector (also against “the law”) and my eyes tell me there’s no cops and no traffic and it’s safe to proceed, I will proceed.

And boy does it feel good!

Not just the “getting away with it,” either. (Though that is enough all by itself. Each time you “get away with it,” you amortize the costs of the times you didn’t. So, for example, if I “speed” every day and get away with it, the occasional ticket I get works out to mere pennies per offense.)

But there is also the empowering satisfaction that comes of exercising one’s own judgment – and of exercising initiative – as opposed to the doughy, filmy-eyed passivity that “the law” demands.

Too bad so many Americans have forgotten what it feels like.

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Eric Peters [send him mail] is an automotive columnist and author of Automotive Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his website.

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