It’s too bad – for cows – that they don’t have opposable thumbs. If they did, they could do something about those tags that farmers put in their ears.
Luckily, we’ve got opposable thumbs – and could (in theory) do something about the tags . . . on our cars. You know, license plates. They amount to the same thing as those tags in a cow’s ears. They are a way for our farmers – the people who operate the levers of state power – to keep track of us . . . a startling thing, given all the prattle about America being a “free” country. Free people ought to be free to come and go without being kept track of.
Prisoners (and cattle) are kept track of.
So what are we, exactly?
License plates are another (one of many) assertion by the state of ownership over us, in this case, via ownership of our vehicles. Because control of a thing – who has the legal power to determine how a given thing shall or shall not be used – is the essence of ownership. If I am in a position to tell you how you may use your car, and have the power to compel you to obey my orders, then you’re not really the owner – are you?
The state says we may only travel with its permission, which is an assertion of ownership. It does this via driver’s licenses – and by licensing “our” cars. Both types of license must be regularly renewed – in perpetuity. There is a fee involved, of course.
Each bite (annual renewal) is small but cumulatively, it amounts to a considerable sum. Let’s say the state demands $50 annually per licensed vehicle. Over 25 years, that’s $1,250 of your money you were forced to part with in order to operate your (ahem!) vehicle.
Well, yours in name.
But that’s piddly stuff compared with the true purpose of plates – which is to keep track of your comings and goings. Why do you suppose the state is beginning to deploy scanners capable of taking an electronic snapshot of every car that passes by – recording the information and cross-referencing each plate (and vehicle owner) against a database? This being done without warrant, without probable cause or even a whiff of specific suspicion – in keeping with the New American Idea that the presumption of innocence is old hat, an impediment to “keeping us safe.” Someone, somewhere might be up to no good. Therefore, everyone must beassumed to be up to no good – at all times. Innocence at the moment doesn’t mean you won’t be guilty of some offense later on.
By monitoring all people all the time – and keeping records of this in perpetuity – the people who run the government have a much easier time of it. And that’s what matters – to them. Not your liberty, not silly old-fashioned ideas about self-ownership and being free to come and go as you please without being watched, recorded and catalogued. Not your “safety,” either. Just their control over you. That is the only relevant consideration. You are their property. Not merely your vehicle.
License plates are quite literally on the technological cusp of becoming the functional equivalent of electronic ankle bracelets worn by felons. And the purpose is exactly the same: To monitor and control. Prisoners have to accept this. They are, after all, prisoners.
But are we?