At the Intersection of Tyranny and Dictatorship

Every time I assume a bad law can’t get worse, Our Rulers prove me wrong.

This summer, New York State’s politicians joined those of “[t]welve other states and the District of Columbia” in forcing “illegal immigrants” to buy driver’s licenses. Known as the “Green Light Law,” their bill went into effect this week and “allows [sic for ‘coerces’] all New Yorkers age 16 and older to apply for a … driver license or learner permit regardless of their citizenship or lawful status in the United States.”

I know, I know: “Green Light Laws” seemingly hand a victory to Progressives in their battle to obliterate national identities. But really, is this a hill we want to die on? Like all permits, driver’s licenses per se are as inimical to liberty as the Highway Patrol: motorists buy back the right to travel that the State stole in the first place while enabling the thief to track, monitor and fine them. Tweaking licenses cannot make them deadlier to freedom than they already are. Why not direct our energies instead at abolishing government’s stranglehold on transportation?

Meanwhile, let’s enjoy the brouhaha as the “Green Light Law” pits one species of political animal against another. Bureaucrats at DMVs across the Evil Empire State recognize the bill for what it is: politicians’ brazen effort to draft more voters. “’I never thought it was about driving,’ [Republican Rensselaer County Clerk Frank] Merola said. ‘I think it’s more about voting than it is about driving.’” Another clerk “filed a lawsuit against the bill” though he’s “a registered Democrat.” Is anyone surprised that a ruling last month upheld the law? Halestorm Akers, Becky Buy New $8.57 (as of 10:30 UTC - Details)

The legislation also infuriated the Department of Homeland Security—a compelling argument that the bill can’t be all bad. Officially designated the “Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act,” it prohibits “agencies that primarily enforce immigration laws” from snooping through the records of drivers who are “illegal immigrants.” It also “requires disclosure to the license holders when immigration enforcement agencies request data from DMV.”

I’m jealous. As Political Insider puts it, “Illegals Given More Rights Than Citizens. Not only can illegal immigrants drive around freely without restriction, but the Green Light Law also privileges them above American citizens. When anyone from the Department of Homeland Security runs the licence plates of a car registered to an illegal, they will be stopped from accessing the public records associated with the vehicle.” Would that such immunity blessed us all! The states hardly ever defy the Feds; each time DC shreds our rights, fifty lesser regimes rush to cooperate. Now, in one of the exceedingly few instances to depart from that pattern, New York defends foreign chattel instead of its own from DHS’s spying and prying.

That behemoth of a bureaucracy doesn’t take well to slaps at its power. One of its spokesliars thundered, “This will protect criminals at the expense of the safety and security of law-abiding New York residents.” Ah, the pot’s calling the kettle black! Private criminals are mere pikers at ravaging the safety and security of the law-abiding when compared to the professionals at the DHS.

But I interrupted our latter-day Dr. Goebbels: “Besides giving drivers licenses to hundreds of thousands of people who broke our laws and have come to our country illegally,”—again with the pot and kettle: DHS routinely breaks not only laws but the highest one of the land—”the New York law also blocks DHS law enforcement officers who investigate crimes like child exploitation, human trafficking, terrorism, the targeting of gang members, sex offenders, and drug smuggling, from accessing important public records … Accessing this information is vital to building out these criminal cases, identifying criminal suspects, and enhancing officer safety’…”

Hey, that last consideration alone rehabilitates the Green Light Law, if only by a smidgen.

In addition to voters, the “Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act” nets politicians something they covet even more: money. Remember that New York plunders residents mercilessly (“For state and local income taxes alone, New York state ranked highest in the nation for the amount collected per capita — $2,789 — in 2015 … For property taxes, New York state ranked fourth in the nation for the amount collected per capita — $2,697 — in 2015”). Adding insult to injury, its notoriously corrupt politicians squander billions of those taxes every year. Yet despite its staggering amounts of loot, New York will shamelessly extort another “$60 million in revenue a year” from the poorest among us by selling them driver’s licenses at $64.25 to $102.50 a pop. Abducting Arnold--A No... Akers, Becky Buy New $2.99 (as of 10:30 UTC - Details)

But what else should we expect from despots who proclaim, “There’s no right to driving… It’s all a privilege”? Predictably, gowned clowns agree. They’ve compiled an impressive array of cases that bleat this mantra, as if repeating a lie makes it true. Many of those cases date to the early 1900’s, when Americans first took to the roads as Progressivism devoured the country. Driving cars we buy on roads we pay for was only one of the liberties that Progressive governments subsumed.

Tragically, too many serfs echo the craven nonsense that the State grants us the “privilege” of driving—probably because they can’t envision anyone other than Leviathan owning and managing roads. But with annual “traffic fatalities” hovering around 38,000, isn’t it time someone else did?

A final and poisonous fruit of “Green Light Laws” may be the one rulers savor most: these bills distract us from the real issues. We fight over whether the DMV should victimize “illegals” as it does us rather than asking why we ever surrendered our freedom behind the wheel.

And, more importantly, when will we wrest it back?