The favorite past time of Oregon legislators is passing laws without consequences. They enjoy it so much that they keep passing and revising the same laws without consequences in serial fashion. They do this so that they can look earnest, resolute and decisive while knowing full well they have done nothing to disrupt, impede or punish a single would-be voter. Second only to this is their propensity to enact criminal laws banning the same conduct but with different names – think of violent crimes that also disturb their sense of political correctness.
With regard to the former let me give you three of my favorites – handicap parking violations, cell phone use while driving, and littering. Each has been the subject of initial prohibitions including fines and followed routinely thereafter by an increase in those fines on a periodic basis. And yet despite all of the attention given by Oregon’s legislators, the freeways look like garbage dumps (except when a prison posse is sent out to clean small areas), every third car that passes by has some nitwit thrashing away at the air as (s)he gestures while talking on a phone or stares blankly as (s)he thumbs another text message, and parking lots with acres of handicap parking are littered with twenty something sprites alighting from monster pickups that a handicapped person would need a step ladder to enter. All of this in spite of fines that now reach $6250 for littering, $500 for talking or texting, and up to $2000 for handicap parking violations.
While the legislators pat themselves on the back over decisive action to raise the fines, not a single dime is spent developing, implementing or enforcing these prohibitions – laws without consequences. It requires certainty of punishment (active enforcement) and/or threat of public humiliation to drive compliance.
So, with my tongue planted somewhat firmly in my cheek, let me propose two solutions that will do more to eliminate these three nuisances than any actions taken by the legislators to date. The first relates to certainty of punishment and the latter relates to public humiliation.
The legislature should authorize a new, independent, self-funded corps of misdemeanor bounty hunters. (That’s pronounced core Mr. President, not corpse.) By simply amending the existing laws to allow “bounty hunters” to recover one-half of the fines levied, Oregon could create a cadre of good citizens willing to enforce the very laws that Oregon’s policy makers have said are important to the beauty and safety of all Oregonians. (Of course, the fines for handicap parking violations probably ought to be increased to the same as littering and the fines for using a handheld cell phone ought to be increased to the same as driving while impaired – do I need to explain the logic for either or both of these.)
Virtually every cellphone in America now comes with a digital camera –many with digital camcorders – which can be set with a time/date signature on the image. A quick snap followed by an e-mail to law enforcement and away you go.
Just think of the opportunities. You’re sitting in the parking lot at Target thinking about dinner and a movie but knowing that your budget is too tight. Bingo, there goes a guy in Gold’s Gym T-shirt, muscles bulging, and making the high-climb alone into an SUV parked in a handicap spot –sure he has a handicap sticker but there isn’t anyone with a handicap in the vehicle. Snap, Snap and you are $1,000 richer.
Or you’re driving down the road and some guy in Lincoln flicks his cigarette out the window. Snap, Snap and you are $3125 richer. (You could even avoid further bans on smoking on Oregon’s beaches by doing the same thing.)
Or you’re sitting in the “gossip lane” with the other parents waiting for your school child and some ninny pulls away still yakking on the cellphone. Snap, Snap and you’ve made another $250 – maybe even a bonus if the children aren’t in their seat belts.
All in all this is a good deal. The government gets more revenue – and according to the Democrats they need every extra penny they can get their hands on. Oregonians feeling the pinch from the economic downturn have the opportunity to earn extra dollars. And most importantly, Oregon will actually enforce existing laws instead of passing new ones.
The second part relates to public humiliation but can also increase desperately needed revenue to the state coffers. (You have to keep those public employees in a lifestyle to which they have become accustomed.) Through a state licensing program, citizens who pass written and operational tests are issued paintball guns and ammunition. The ammunition is color coded – say red for handicap parking violations, blue for talking or texting, and green for littering. The licensed paintball gun carriers are then authorized to target vehicles of offenders.
So, again imagine with me that you are driving down the highway and you pass some idiot texting on the phone – pow, a bright blue splotch appears on the side of his car and everyone recognizes immediately that this fool is texting while driving.
Or, as you pass a Prius, the driver calmly chucks his “doobie” out the window – pow, a bright green splotch appears on the side of the Prius and everyone recognizes immediately that this is a litterbug.
Or, you’ve just pulled into Costco and you notice some twenty-something sprite bounds from a pickup truck and races into the store – pow, a bright red splotch signifies that this lowlife illegally used a handicap spot.
The blue and green paint should be easily removed using a cleaner only available at traffic courts and priced at an amount equal to the fines. The red should be indelible and incapable of removal without a total paint job. Tough s—t, you are self-centered moron.
Pretty crude – but effective and virtually cost free to implement.