As a columnist sometimes one wonders where the next column is coming from. You need an idea. Then lightning strikes. In this case, what we are talking about could be a small side show, but it is a philosophically defining moment that brings great clarity to everything the Left does.
Have you gotten a traffic ticket in California recently? It used to be you could go to traffic school and that would relieve you of the fine and erase the ticket on your record. No more. You have to pay the fine even if you go to traffic school. And the fines have become insane. It will cost you $500 if you get caught turning right on a red light without coming to a proper stop. Some drivers have been hit with a $1,000 fine for that little transgression.
These fees are obviously ridiculous. The government in California sees this as an easy target –very much like hotel taxes. They see these people as able to pay so let’s go after their money. Who you going to complain to? They anticipate huge revenue from these fines. The total in 2019 was $1.4 billion. When you have an immense number of employees and ridiculous pension payouts you must somehow feed the beast. The problem is there are $1.8 billion in unpaid fines.
In the recent budget proposal, Governor Gavin Newsom decided to tackle this problem. He is listening to the public who complained that the charges for these infractions are not only exorbitant, but many people just flat out cannot afford them. When your state has the largest percentage of people living in poverty, paying $500 for an untimely departure on a red light for those people is not just prohibitive — it means eliminating basic aspects of survival like food, clothing or housing.
What does Guv Newsom propose? We should help pay for the fines out of the new state budget. He is proposing $11.5 million to pay for the unpaid fines escalating to $56 million three years from now. Of course, the proposal does not address the fact that someone has to prepare the paperwork challenges for this new program.
The program establishes economic hurdles that have to be met. How that is going to happen is not explained. Are the offenders going to bring in their tax returns to show they earn a meager living? What if they are part of the underground economy? Or they are not here exactly legally? How willing will they be to meet with an officer of the court to discuss their economic hardship? On its face, it seems the bureaucracy for this program will cost more than the fees relieved. When public employee unions have as much sway over the state as they do, there will be no complaints from that corner.
This is what happens regularly when you think government is the solution. They create a problem. This can be in the form of ultra-costly traffic infractions, rules for health insurance coverage or the ridiculous costs and time delays to build housing. Then they hire consultants to study the problem who take years to submit a report. Then there are hearings where aggrieved parties plead their case and the elected officials with the help of the expensive consultants extrapolate those peoples’ challenges onto the population as a whole. The solution is more government programs to counter the effects of the original government programs with more government workers hired to “help us.” Some may actually speak English clearly.
All the time there is a simple solution. In this case, LOWER THE DAMN FINES. They are crazy.
An additional issue is creating people who are treated unequally under the law. If I can afford to pay the fine and the next guy says he cannot, why should I be treated differently? Talk about no one being above the law. Democrats in D.C. keep telling us no one is above the law. Apparently if you are “poor” in California, you are above the law. You don’t have to pay fines for traffic infractions.
Why do these elected officials continue to create these problems? They rail against Trump, but he just cut the time to build a government project from ten years to two years. Two years is a long time to study and object to a project. There were people arguing “No, no — it does take ten years.”
When you look at this you really begin to believe we are on different planets. The Left doesn’t understand why average people are done with them. All the Left does is create more hurdles for the average person. The people don’t like it.
Governor Newsom listen to me — LOWER THE DAMN FINES. Life will be beautiful.