Sometimes, the frog leaps before he’s cooked.
Remember the story about the frog and the pot of boiling water? So long as you raise the water temperature gradually, Mr. Frog doesn’t notice the increasing temperature until it’s too late too get away.
The analogy is used to convey, in easy-to-understand language, the process of “government creep.” We don’t go from freedom to tyranny overnight; statism sneaks up on us incrementally, one step at a time. Each step, by itself, doesn’t seem all that bad; just another annoyance to deal with or avoid if you can.
But one day you find yourself living in a country that looks more like Orwell’s 1984 than the place envisioned by the authors of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Government — its laws, its minions, its petty harassments and endless rigmarole — is an omnipresence that is inescapable.
Which brings us to the matter of Virginia’s “abuser fees,” the brainchild of Republican state lawmaker Dave Albo.
Albo, who just happened to be a big-time lawyer connected with a firm that specializes in defending traffic cases, pushed for and got a new law that went into effect last July. It imposed unprecedented fines, as high as $3,000 per incident. These fines were charged to motorists for traffic infractions, including routine speeding, on top of whatever fine the court levied for the infraction.
The justification given was that the fees would help fund transportation improvements, and of course, “safety,” that well-worn bray that’s still remarkably effective, despite the obvious cynicism with which it is deployed.
But Albo and his backers made a mistake. They went for broke, and all at once.
Not only were the fines outrageously high relative to the offenses; not only did they constitute a “double tap,” where violators paid, in effect, two fines; but to add insult to injury they only applied to in-state drivers.
A Virginia motorist convicted of driving 80-something mph on a Virginia highway with a posted speed limit of 65 mph faced a “reckless driving” charge, a court fine of several hundred dollars, plus an “abuser fee” of more than $1,000. But an out-of-state driver caught doing exactly the same thing only got the court fine.
Seem fair to you?
VIRGINIANS FELT THE same way. Lawmakers got an earful of a different sort of abuse. Several delegates who voted for the fees were turned out in the recent elections. Not even seven months after Albo’s law went into effect, it is on the verge of being repealed in toto.
So the “abuser fees” will go, but it may be only a temporary victory. Albo and his friends will realize, if they haven’t already, that they overplayed their hand. Gradualism is the key.
Next time, the “abuser fees” will only apply to indefensible acts — DWI, vehicular manslaughter resulting from gross negligence, etc. Then, the law will be expanded to the next-down category of offenses — things not quite so bad but still hard to make excuses for.
Few will complain. It will become accepted practice. Other states will pass similar laws. There will be uniformity, and reciprocity.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?