Car Guy

Bald Tires and Worn Out Brakes

The safety inspection racket at an Officially Authorized service station near you.

By 8.18.11

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One of the hallmarks of the Clover Mind (that is, of the anti-liberty mind) is acceptance, as an article of faith, that most people are too dumb to do that which is in their self-interest without the prod of "the law." Vehicle safety inspections are a case in point.

Many states require you to waste an hour or more (in some cases a lot more) of your time every year -- for every vehicle you own -- waiting in line to have the vehicle given a once-over at an Officially Authorized service station. In return for your time (and money) you get an ugly little sticker for the windshield, your permission slip to continue operating the vehicle.

The argument, as presented by Clovers, is that most people would never check their brakes, or drive around on bald tires, were it not for these annual safety inspections. In other words, most people (in the Clovers' worldview) are just too dumb to keep track of such things for themselves. And in a way, they're right. But not for the reasons they think.

Cloverism breeds Clovers.

That is, the taking away of personal responsibility by "for your own good" laws tends to breed people (Clovers) increasingly incapable of exercising either personal  initiative or personal responsibility. Instead, they Wait to be Told What to Do.

And I think that is just what is wanted. Herd-cattle. Compliant, unquestioning.

With regard to vehicle inspections: The average person no longer takes any interest in the functional aspects of his or her car. It has become an appliance -- and they're as likely to pop the hood and check the oil (or notice that the tires are looking ratty) as they are to read up about the role of the Federal Reserve and fiat currency as they relate to our current economic woes.

Let someone else take care of that.

Responsibility is not eliminated -- just transferred. Instead of mentally awake people taking responsibility for themselves and their own lives, they surrender both to the Clovers -- who know best. This has become so ingrained, so commonplace, that most people aren't even aware of it anymore, much less offended by the degradation it implies.

Consider: The mentally awake person who does take responsibility for his life -- and thus for his vehicle's upkeep -- will pay attention to such things as the condition of the tires and the function of the brakes. He will look at whether the exhaust note has changed and whether the windshield wipers have begun to streak. He will notice such things -- and take the appropriate action -- because it is in his self-interest to do so. Only an idiot -- a Clover -- would drive a car with worn-out tires or bad brakes (or both).

But because there are so many Clovers out there (more of them all the time, it seems) the mentally awake, responsible car owner who takes good care of his car -- because he is mentally awake and responsible and understands that by doing so he is taking care of himself -- must nonetheless join the Clover Queu at the gas station, waiting pointlessly (and expensively) in line and going through all the rigmarole in order to get his little sticker confirming that, indeed, he is not a moron.

It's a cynical, circular, and self-fulfilling way of viewing the world: People are irresponsible so we'll "guide" (that is, force) them along the proper path. This has the effect of making people less and less responsible, which in turn requires more and more laws (and more and more force).

The excellent (if not well-known) film, Idiocracy, showed us how this dynamic ultimately plays out, but we can see it all around us already: The passivity; the servile acceptance; the cow-like instinct to just go along (and never go it alone).

This is probably the conscious ultimate goal of the uber-Clovers, the ones running the show. Orwell called them the Inner Party; Lenin the Vanguard of the Proletariat. The names don't really matter. But the ends (and means) do.

Motor vehicle safety inspections may seem like a trivial thing. But the principle at issue is of extreme importance.

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About the Author

Eric Peters is an automotive columnist and author of Automotive Atrocities: The Cars You Love to Hate (Motor Books International) and a new book, Road Hogs.