07 May 2012

Murphy vs. The Man

Conspiracy 33 Comments

My Facebook “friends” already know about this, but for those who haven’t heard: Over the weekend I had to attend an 8-hour defensive driving course. Since moving to Nashville, I have accumulated too many “points” on my driving record, and this was my punishment (in addition to paying the tickets, which actually weren’t as expensive as I’d worried). I’d like to say my brush with law enforcement was due to my rebellious nature, but actually I got the tickets for things like:

* Going 42 in a 30, and not seeing a cop in somebody’s driveway.
* Sitting at a red light at 12:30am with no other cars in sight, and going through it because I really had to go potty, not noticing the cop with his lights off hanging out in a parking lot on the corner.
* Failing to move over to the left lane when driving at 38mph by a cop who was giving a ticket to someone else.

Anyway, I’m in a bad mood going to this thing, which started at 8am. (What a way to kill a perfectly good Saturday.) But I warmed up to the instructor who had a nice Tennessee drawl and said things like this in his opening remarks. Note, he wasn’t saying the following with any type of judgment; he was just letting us know that this is how it was, and we’d better understand it if we didn’t want to keep running afoul of the law:

“You have no right to privacy anymore [since 9/11].”

“Due process kinda went out the window.”

“If you see a car on the side of the road [in Nashville], trunk open and being stripped down, you know somebody tipped them off that somebody’s coming from Chattanooga that the police want. And if your car looks like that guy’s car, it’s your bad luck.”

“Take out your license. You see the DD number? That’s your Department of Defense number. It’s your national ID card. If you get stopped anywhere in the world, they can run that and in a few minutes know everything about you.”

“If there’s a lot of wrecks on this curve [referring to a dangerous stretch of road], rather than spending the money to fix it they’ll put up a $100 sign [warning dangerous curve ahead].”

“Who owns the most alcohol in the country? The U.S. Treasury.”–referring to some quirk in the production process of alcohol where it’s not the property of the distiller until the tax is paid.

He also said that the #1 cause of truancy in Tennessee is fast food restaurants, because they’ll call up teenage workers and say, “Hey, Jim called in sick, we need you to work the morning shift. Just call in sick to school.”

33 Responses to “Murphy vs. The Man”

  1. david nh says:

    ” Failing to move over to the left lane when driving at 38mph by a cop who was giving a ticket to someone else.”


    The southern US used to have a bad reputation for, shall we say, predatory ticketing. Does it still?

  2. Major_Freedom says:

    Those in the state and those who support the state can’t consider themselves above foreign laws if they don’t consider themselves above domestic laws as well.

    The only way the neocons (Republicans and Democrats) could release US state hegemony abroad was if they unshackled the US state from domestic laws.

    The US state cannot become a part of the movement to world government, let alone leader of it, by remaining chained to notions of individual liberty of citizens.

    You and I and every other non-special citizen are just fodder.

  3. Jonathan M.F. Catalán says:

    I live in San Diego, California. I remember someone telling me about their father who saw a policeman parked in his driveway, and the father told the cop to skedaddle. Here, I’m not sure they can give you tickets if their lights are off: entrapment and all of that. At night, most policemen have at least their headlights on, even when parked. In San Diego, getting caught by a traffic cop is hard, because they’re limited in technique. In Los Angeles, I know cops sit on the slopes of onramps onto highways and will catch you like that. They don’t do that in San Diego, which means someone might have gotten away with some kind of entrapment defense.

    The one about not moving to the left if there is a policeman giving a ticket applies; it’s either you move or you slow down. I try to move, ever since I found out that you could get a ticket like that. They do it with construction workers too, and I think anybody on the side.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Well I don’t know if what he did was legal, Jonathan, but I assure you I didn’t go fast by a cop with his lights on, and I didn’t blow through a red light at what I thought was a “deserted” intersection with a cop sitting in the parking lot with his lights on.

      • Jonathan M.F. Catalán says:

        I wasn’t trying to say that you were lying or that you were wrong wrg to the policemen and their lights. I was just contrasting with San Diego.

    • Ken B says:

      One cop in the town next to mine got in trouble for telling reporters there was a quota. His comment was colorful: if you have a teen aged driver just keep $100 on hand to pay the young driver tax.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Also, the cop giving the guy a ticket wasn’t merely in the shoulder of the road. It was a separate lane, next to a pond where people go fishing. So people on other days would literally park there, while they were fishing. And the reason I didn’t get in the left lane, is that people drive way over the speed limit on that stretch, and I was afraid of getting hit from behind (coming over a hill). So ironically it was only because I had gotten ticketed there before (for speed), that I stayed in the right lane at well under the official speed limit, and hence got another ticket for not moving over.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        I want to say your experience is a classic example of unintended consequences of government intervention, but then I begin to doubt that…

  4. joshua says:

    Sometimes I wonder what will happen to police in ten years if everyone has driverless cars and marijuana is legal.

    • integral says:

      They’ll find some hobo to beat to death.

      • Dan says:

        That video is so messed up. I didn’t think it was possible for me to have a lower opinion of cops before I saw that.

  5. Brian Shelley says:

    Never do the on-line defensive driving. The face-to-face classes will count general conversation and bathroom breaks as part of your 8-hours. Internet classes will not. They will make you click on something every little bit or the clock stops. It took an additional 1 1/2 hours for mine a few years back. The face-to-face guys, as you noted, are FAR more interesting than the on-line version.

    • David R. Henderson says:

      Brian, My guess is that it depends on your state. The on-line one I took in California was only about 2 hours if you did it really efficiently.

      • Ken B says:

        Is this an outbreak of speeding amongst economists?

        • Brian Shelley says:

          When I was in grad school I rationalized tickets as a voluntary tax to drive the way I wanted. I haven’t been pulled over in a few years, but I wracked up 20 pull overs by my count. Only 4 tickets, though.

        • Jonathan M.F. Catalán says:

          The marginal benefits of an increase in speed from 65 to 75mph are greater than the marginal costs, what can they say?

      • Brian Shelley says:

        Clearly we need to promote on-line defensive driving competition across state lines. In Texas, it’s 6 hours for face-to-face (which I’ve done twice), but it took me 7 1/2 on-line (done only once).

  6. Scott Lazarowitz says:

    This is why government should not have a monopoly in policing and law enforcement. This is why government should not have a monopoly in legislating the whims of ignoramuses who know how to get elected to city councils and state legislatures, but who have no common sense and who do not understand the history of tyrannies.

    Government monopoly leads to tyranny, and this is a good example of that. The only real reason for all those laws is for the non-producers, non-workers to steal more wealth from the society’s workers and producers, and reduce productivity in every municipality all across the country.

    And I think that stinks.

    But here’s something that definitely doesn’t stink:

    Walter Block: Privatization of Roads and Highways:


    • Major_Freedom says:

      “Government monopoly leads to tyranny,”

      What leads to government monopoly? That’s what leads to tyranny. Government monopoly is but a consequence.

  7. Christopher says:

    “Sitting at a red light at 12:30am with no other cars in sight, and going through it because I really had to go potty, ”

    Putting the anarchy back into anarcho-capitalism, eh? Always fighting for the good cause!

  8. Mr. Magoo says:

    In the Netherlands cops find it fun to ticket people cycling with a bicycle on the sidewalk, even if you cycle slowly and carefully, because they are an easy target. They even handed out tickets were the bicycle lane was under construction. Well it happens sometime, I suppose you find policeman doing stupid things in every country.

    The police isn’t afraid of such people, in contrast to maroccan youth gangns, to mention a big issue , because they don’t want to get hurt. ( Maroccan’s are unfortunetly overrepresented in crime statistics here, but not as much overrepresented as blacks from the Dutch Antilles, but they are mentioned way more because they are one of the largest immigrant groups. Of course the leftists in our country like to ignore the problem or blame rascism ( very popular among the left is to accuse people of rascism), but never bother to contrast them with immigrant groups from other poor countries that are not represented in crime statistics).

  9. Mr. Magoo says:

    Maby people who like authorithy are drawn to a job as a policeman, among people with other reasons of course.

  10. backyardfoundry says:

    “And the reason I didn’t get in the left lane, is that people drive way over the speed limit on that stretch, and I was afraid of getting hit from behind (coming over a hill).”

    It’s the classic choice between driving safely and driving legally.

    To minimize waste-related tickets I recommend driving diapers or driving catheters. It worked for that NASA chick.

    Was the instructor named Syme?

  11. Tel says:

    Murphy, you learnt a valuable lesson there, and I’m talking about the instructor’s remarks… you might have even picked up a few tips on driving too, but who cares, I’m sure you already knew how to drive.

    Interesting that those in the law enforcement industry know the deal so well, they know that this isn’t really justice and legitimate, it’s just the stuff that happens. They shrug and get on with the business.

    I think there’s a huge advantage for the powers that be to encourage a bit of predatory policing. Firstly, it encourages normal people to dislike and distrust cops, and it encourages cops to look down a bit at everyone else. That means instead of ruling over one close-knit community they rule over a divided community — that’s the key to keeping people weak.

  12. Tom Mullen says:

    I hope you took the opportunity when pulled over for going through the red light to say, in a heavy Akroidian accent, “The light was yellow, sir.”

    I got pulled over in Tampa a few weeks ago because my passenger didn’t have his seatbelt on. The donut feeder actually walked up to the passenger side window instead of mine. They were pulling people over by the dozen at that intersection. I suppose I should be encouraged that that many people were flouting the law.

    BTW, it pisses me off that I was wearing a seatbelt even before they passed the law. I would wear it anyway. Then, when they passed it, they were telling me that I had to do what I already wanted to do. So, I either do what I want and let them win or I defy them by doing something I don’t want to do anyway. Not fair!

  13. DD says:

    From what the states are saying, DD stands for document discriminator, and is used in conjunction with the bar code. (You can see the patents for “document discriminator” by searching in google.)

    Most agencies so far say that it only identifies where the license was issued. However, I don’t generally believe most government agencies.

    The claim is that it was done because makes us all safer after 9-11. However, this code was not added until recently; I have old licenses dating back to the years following 9-11, and there is no such code on the cards. I do find it interesting that after the National ID card failed, this code seems to have been added without informing drivers who renew their licenses.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Hmm that’s troubling. I thought DD=Department of Defense seemed a little odd. So you think he just made that up, or that it has a double meaning? It’s hard for me to convey in print the attitude of this guy. He seemed sincere, but also that he liked to tell a good story.

      • He Who Has Blasphemed says:

        “He seemed sincere, but also that he liked to tell a good story.”
        Et voila, the Sunday posts perfectly epitomized!

        • Ken B says:

          Oops. Sorry, that was me Bob. Forgot to switch back the name.

  14. Lisa says:

    If you go to traffic school, you don’t build up points (and I’ve actually had fun at traffic school in Nashville).
    Also, at least you didn’t make a u-turn in Franklin…only place in TN where it used to be illegal. 🙂

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