Column by Paul Hein.
Exclusive to STR
Day after day I’ve trudged to the mailbox, heart in my mouth. Yes, I know: I wasn’t allowing enough time since my application. But today--today!--they arrived.
I knew as soon as I saw the envelope with the return address: Missouri Department of Revenue, Motor Vehicle Department. My hands trembled as I ripped it open--and there they were: glorious yellow, highly reflective, measuring about one by one and a half inches each, with my license number printed thereon.
Reverently, I peeled them from their card and applied them to my license plates, front and rear. A gorgeous sight! Yes, they cost $55.50, but cost be damned! Now I could operate my car with the full approval of whoever it was that sold me the lovely stickers. I can’t bring myself to think of what might have happened if I had attempted to operate the vehicle without those golden embellishments! An act of terrorism, without doubt!
Forgive me for pointing out, with what I hope is pardonable pride, that not just anybody is privileged to buy such stickers--no siree! To qualify for sticker purchase, there are requirements to be met. I had to prove to the sticker-vendors that I had up-to-date insurance (approximately $697.00), that the car’s emissions ($24.00 for the test, but who could deny its benefits?) were as pure as a baby’s breath (maybe purer!) and, most importantly, that I had, for the years 2011 and 2012, taken advantage of the opportunity to send $1,659.07 to a person designated as the “assessor” in return for the privilege of owning my automobiles--the other one of which had similar golden adornments on its license plates. And now, after the almost negligible cost of licensing myself, I’m fit to go!
My neighbor is a bona-fide grouch. Seeing me attaching my beautiful stickers, he felt obliged to make a snide remark. “If the car is really yours, why do you have to pay strangers to drive it?” I could hardly believe what I was hearing! How could anyone living in our advanced society question the obvious necessity for the license plates, stickers, and drivers’ licenses? Does my neighbor live in a cave or something? With as much dignity as I could muster, I replied, in the words of the eminent Justice Holmes: “Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society!” The oaf actually laughed! “Taxes are the price we pay to support a den of thieves,” he said. Right out loud, for Pete’s sake! My voice shook with emotion as I reminded him that our taxes pay for our great highway system. “No,” he said, “gasoline taxes pay for them. And bonds that will be repaid with depreciated money. Other people’s money. And the highways are falling apart.”
Well, how can you argue with someone like that? Thank God he’s in the minority! Most Americans, I am sure, share my feelings of gratitude that we live in a country whose rulers have our interests at heart, and will stop at nothing to make our lives serene and peaceful according to their prudent plans for us, including providing us with license plates for our cars, and colorful stickers yearly to adorn them. And, if that weren’t enough, they allow us to keep some of what we earn (what my foolish neighbor would claim is ours!) to spend on amusements, provided, of course, that they do not include certain forbidden plants, or too much ethanol, or travel to certain nations our rulers find objectionable.
I hope you do not think me smug when I proclaim that I am a good citizen, and proud of it! Excuse me while I run up the flag and sing the National Anthem.