No Emergency Wasted! Why the Washington D.C. Government Loves the Blizzard

The media has been piling on us with stories of snow piling on the Eastern states. They make it clear that we are supposed to regard the blizzard as a hardship for the people there.

Yet there is one group of people for whom the snowstorm seems to be—pardon the pun—a windfall. The Washington D.C. government seems about to make a killing off the storm because it has turned average drivers into a source of cash by being caught in the snow. According to NBC News, D.C. has issued parking tickets amounting to over $1,078,000 and have additionally fined drivers an amount totaling $65,600. They have also towed 656 cars. Every day those cars stay in impound means a $25 fine to get them out.

This is how government “serves” the people.

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Since this was a revenue surge, we know that many of these people were ordinarily in the habit of parking legally. Why would thousands of people who normally obey city ordinances suddenly rebel against authority?

They wouldn’t. They just got caught in a snowstorm.

“Don’t park your car illegally, and that includes parking it kind of in the middle of the street next to the snow bank,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Tuesday. Cars should be parked no more than 12 inches from a curb, not a snow bank, or drivers risk a ticket, she said.

But many drivers said they simply couldn’t move their cars from emergency routes after the blizzard dropped two feet of snow on the District.

“They gave me a $250 ticket just for being snowed in. I couldn’t get no help,” driver Danielle Smith said.

I’m sure that some of the people will be willing to spend the time and go through the hassle of appealing their fines and tickets, and maybe some will find a sympathetic judge.  But the majority probably will not take the time off to try to argue in court. The city will make out.

This reminds me of an observation by Ayn Rand in her novel Atlas Shrugged. She puts these words in the mouth of a government functionary who is explaining the situation to a businessman.

“Did you really think we want those laws observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them to be broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against… We’re after power and we mean it… There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Reardon, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”

In this case the law could be obeyed under normal circumstances. But when a massive amount of snow is dumped on the city, suddenly normal residents are turned into lawbreakers, enhancing the city’s revenue.

The Washington D.C. government is cashing in on the guilt.

Now, if only they could find a way to prosecute Walmart for not wanting to open extra stores in the city.

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Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder is the "nom de plume" (or "nom de guerre") of a fifty-ish-year-old writer and stroke survivor. He lives in St Louis with his wife and still-at-home children. He has been a freelance writer and occasional political activist since the early nineties. He describes his politics as Tolkienesque.

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