Warning: Your Bumper Sticker Might Be Illegal
By: J.J. Jackson
John McCain and his love for the government nanny state has struck once again. Now because Mr. McCain and many other politicians are not capable of exhibiting self control your bumper sticker might land you a letter of admonishment or worse from Big Daddy government. Why are you laughing? Oh ye of little faith in our power hungry bureaucrats! Do you not know the lengths to which our politicians will go to shred the Constitution and our basic rights as Americans?
Kirk Shelmerdine, formerly one of NASCARâ€™s greatest crew chiefs and since turned struggling driver, has already been attacked by government bureaucrats empowered by Mr. McCain. You see, Mr. Shelmerdine is not exactly a driver who has sponsors falling over themselves to plaster their brand name on his racecar. He is perpetually at the back of the pack in any race he manages to qualify for and about the only time the cameras or the crowd even look at him is when he is getting lapped by the race leader.
Overall he is not what we would call a â€œgood investmentâ€ if you know what I mean.
So during the 2004 race season and during the last Presidential election he decided to slap a Bush/Cheney 2004 bumper sticker on his race car to fill up some of the empty space. Well that was simply too much for one Sydnor Thompson! Comrade Thompson, as he shall now be known, simply could not deal with someone else practicing their free speech. So he filed a complaint which basically boiled down to how dare Mr. Shelmerdine be allowed to do use the first amendment.
The FEC graciously spared Mr. Shelmerdine a fine. But they did admonish him. How nice. Maybe our government masters can be even more gracious and let him have an extra log for the fire too?
Where do we go from here? Companies pay thousands of dollars for billboards and other outdoor advertising after all. So your back bumper must have some value and it just might exceed an arbitrary limit and trigger a violation of campaign finance laws.
The answer is as obvious as ugly is on Helen Thomas. We need a new government bureaucracy! Weâ€™ll call it the Bureau for the Establishment of Noticing Deficiency with Obedience to Vehicle Election Regulations or BEND OVER for short.
BEND OVER will set up government stations where you will be required to report to each month during a presidential campaign. To keep costs down however we will only have one per state. Youâ€™ll just have to deal with driving several hours to get to your stateâ€™s facility.
Once there and after inching your way up through the line a government bureaucrat not even capable of asking â€œwould like fries with thatâ€ and holding down a real job will inspect your vehicle. He or she (or possibly it?) will take a mandatory two hours to check every inch of your vehicle with a high powered magnifying glass for political advertisements and endorsements. Luckily these only cost the taxpayers $500,000 each due to a bulk discount.
If your car is deemed not have such things you will be free to go; after paying a $500 inspection fee of course. However if you do have a bumper sticker or other form of political endorsement anywhere on your vehicle it will be duly noted in triplicate. At this point its exact size will be measured by three other government bureaucrats.
They will then retire into committee to discuss the exact size of said political advertisement while consulting thousands of pages of guidelines. Some of the regulations will obviously contradict each other so only those regulations that will maximize your potential violations will be used while all others are discarded.
If these bureaucrats are unable to agree upon the actual size, your vehicle will be impounded for up to six months while lesser qualified but higher ranking bureaucrats are consulted. Where do you think you are going? You will not be allowed to leave the facility. Instead you will be placed under arrest for the potential violation of campaign finance laws. At the end of those six months if there is still no agreement your car may be impounded for another six months repeating this cycle until consensus is achieved.
However, once the exact size of your political advertisement has been agreed upon, another bureaucrat highly trained in reading numerals will record your odometer reading. This will be done ten separate times over the course of a day just to verify that the readings are accurate and then sent to the newly formed Department of Odometer Standards and Measures for approval (a procedure that can take several weeks).
At this point you will be allowed to leave but only after posting $200,000 bond (in cash) to cover any potential fines. If you cannot post the bond you will be held in a special detention center while your case is under review. Donâ€™t worry, your family will be allowed to visit you once every six months and a government approved illegal alien will fill in for you at work.
If you are capable of posting the bond you will have a special tracking bracelet clamped to your ankle just in case you have any ideas about not showing up for your court ordered re-inspection next month. You may also notice black helicopters and vans filled with federal agents following you. Have no fear. They are just there to make sure you do not try to flee the country.
After month of â€œfreedomâ€ you will return and your odometer reading will be rerecorded and your vehicle checked for any new political advertisements which you might have dared to add to your vehicle. Then the Department of Odometer Standards and Measures Oversight Committee will be consulted to approve the difference between the new reading and the old reading.
Now the real fun begins!
The previously agreed to size of your political advertisement and your odometer readings will be fed into a state of the art computer (with no paper trail of course) along with the total number of people which have seen your advertisement and which you will be required, under oath of course, to keep records of and attest to. Remember, there have been federal agents on your tail for that month so you had better be honest!
You will also turn over the records for things such as hourly wind speed and direction, cloud cover, precipitation, and assorted other meteorological data. Donâ€™t roll your eyes at me young ward of the state! This information is important to determining the value of your advertisement.
As the computer spits out the final value, it will be written down by yet another bureaucrat on special paper and sealed without you being allowed to look at it. This package will then be sent to the offices of the FEC where they will review the information for the next two years. During those two years you however will be free to go. However your car will not be allowed to leave the inspection station.
Once the FEC has reviewed your case the packet will be sent back to the inspection station via armed courier along with either an â€œadmonishmentâ€ (if you are lucky) for daring to show support for the candidate of your choice in public or (if you are unlucky) a fine to be paid plus interested accrued since the date your political advertisement was first noted by the government bureaucrats. If you posted the $200,000 cash bond and your fine happens to be less than that amount sorry, but you will not receive any refund. The federal government has already spent the money. There are tons of people out there with their hands out after all!
If your fine is determined to be in excess of your initial bond and you cannot pay the difference you will be thrown in jail for not less than 50 years for daring to practice your free speech. But if you can pay all applicable fines your vehicle and your keys will be returned to you.
You might however notice that the vehicle is in decidedly worse shape than when you first got it and that your â€œpolitical advertisementâ€ has been forcibly removed by scraping the paint off the vehicle down to the bare steel. This is because for the two years while your vehicle was impounded the government was using it for a variety of purposes to better serve the â€œcommon goodâ€ and being generally run into the ground. Hey, just be thankful that you got it back!
Please also be aware that in order to be â€œfairâ€ to â€œpoorâ€ families who obviously do not have the means to post the $200,000 bond when they place political endorsements on their vehicles, you may be asked to post the bond for them. If you are not able to post the bond for them then you will be treated just as if you were not able to pay your own bond. Hey, youâ€™re â€œrichâ€ so stop your damn gripping!
So have you learned your lesson about expressing your political beliefs in public yet?
J.J. Jackson is a libertarian conservative author from Pittsburgh, PA who has been writing and promoting individual liberty since 1993 and is President of Land of the Free Studios, Inc. He is the Pittsburgh Conservative Examiner for Examiner.com. He is also the owner of The Right Things - Conservative T-shirts & Gifts The Right Things. His weekly commentary along with exclusives not available anywhere else can be found at Liberty Reborn.