Doing

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Ben Evans worked hard to host a joint event with St. Louis Tea Party Coalition and Heritage Foundation a couple years ago.

Because of Ben’s hard work, we met Dottie.

Then the trouble in Ferguson happened last August. Fearless Dottie joined our band of BUYcotters who went to Ferguson to shop while the city still smoldered.

We met Dellena.

Dottie cultivated a relationship with Dellena.

Saturday, February 28, Dellena hosted Level One training in Self-Governance at her 911 Beauty Salon on W. Florissant at Canfield in Ferguson.

Level One teaching centers on understanding political power: its source, its control, and its uses. Also, how the corrupt bastardize language to steal your power for themselves.

This is profound work. These are profound ideas that transcend the busy work assigned to us by the political parties. The parties want us working on their elections and fighting against our neighbors. But Self-Governance training helps us get beyond party and faction.

Yesterday, a handful of people took a giant step toward learning they have all the power they need to own their own lives. The veil was lifted thanks to Dottie, Ben, Mark Herr, Dellena, and many others.

 

What Is Success?

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Could I ask you to answer a couple of questions. You can do this offline or in the comments of this post.

  1. Name 3 people you consider wildly successful.
  2. For each person you named, what is the number one criterion for establishing his or her success?

Please do that before continuing.

Done?

Okay. I’m going to guess that, when all the answers are tabulated, wealth and income will be the top criteria for success. The people will be mostly famous and rich with a smattering of Mother Teresas and Martin Luther Kings.

The problem with measuring success with money is that we might admire horrible people. Adolf Hitler ruled Nazi Germany by decree and acquired access to any luxury he desired. By that measure, Hitler was one of the most successful people of the 20th century.

Another way to measure success is whether you leave the place better than you found it. Or do people get better or worse because of exposure to you. On those measures, Hitler was, perhaps, the greatest failure of the 20th century.

I’ve heard my whole life that politics is “rough and tumble,” “dog eat dog,” and “winner take all.” So the only thing that makes a politician successful is winning an election. The only thing that makes a political consultant successful is the consultant’s wealth.

If those are our criteria for success in politics, then people need to stop whining about corruption, crony capitalism, decaying values, deteriorating schools, and declining civility. Working to make our communities and our country better interfere with financial success in this dog-eat-dog, winner-take-all world.

Zahlungsmittel über alles!

Some Thoughts on Tom Schweich

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Excerpts from past posts on Hennessy’s View about Tom Schweich

“Integrity” is the first word I think of when trying to describe Tom Schweich.

Rock n Roll Lunch

We met for lunch on a hot day in April 2010. I expected a typical GOP establishment hack: smooth, overly friendly, defensive, and forgettable. I expected the man others told me to expect. But I met someone very different.

How different? That lunch ended listening to his band’s recording of their original rock song. We were sitting in Tom’s car in the parking lot at Lamp and Lantern Village. The car was suffocating, but the music was great.

“Reminds me of the Rolling Stones,” I said.

“I love the Rolling Stones,” Tom shot back. Beamed back. “They’re a big influence.”

Of all the many politicians I met in 2009 and 2010, none stood as distinctly as Tom Schweich. Most of my friends adamantly opposed him, of course, preferring his competitor Allen Icet. While Icet garnered the full support of the tea party movement in Missouri, Schweich’s support–financial support in particular–came from Sam Fox, John Danforth, and others in the intellectual Republican world.

Schweich addressed his donors head-on and before I asked. “I am one-hundred percent completely pro-life,” he told me. “I disagree with my donors on many issues, including pro-life, and they don’t expect me to change my position. Because I won’t.”

Lincoln Days

I kept in touch with Auditor Schweich after he became auditor. We meet occasionally for lunch. Our conversations usually touch on politics, but only briefly. Literature, business, and music consume most of our talks.

I hadn’t seen Tom for a few months before Lincoln Days in St. Louis in 2013. On opening night, Auditor Schweich gave a speech that several of my friends found disturbing. Schweich urge all center-right people to look for common ground we could take together. He asked the Republicans assembled to give their fellow conservatives the benefit of the doubt and a little slack.

Again, work kept me from the Friday night opening events, but arrived early on Saturday. I made a point to say “hello” to the Auditor, but he saw me before I saw him. He was on me in a second.

“Listen, Bill, I might have some things last night that you might not like. I wanted to tell you about it myself.”

Different. Other politicians who’ve said things I might not like simply dodged me. Not Tom. As with the Danforth thing, he addressed this issue head on and directly with me. If his words had disappointed me, his courage and straight talk immediately won me back. I’d rather deal with a politician who honestly and openly disagrees with me than with a politician who says one thing and does another.

Auditor Schweich’s Municipal Courts Project

In November, State Auditor Tom Schweich announced the Municipal Courts Project. The Auditor will audit 10 municipalities suspected of violating state limits on fines from traffic tickets. Missouri law requires cities to forfeit to the state revenues from traffic tickets that exceed 30 percent of total revenue.

On to November [2010]

Tom Schweich took a lot of heat during the primary, but no one challenged his credentials for Missouri Auditor.  I was personally skeptical of Tom before I met him.  His only public service involved foreign service, working for the State Department at the UN and in Afghanistan. When we met for lunch, my doubts about his fitness for Auditor quickly disappeared. In fact, I got the sense that it was all Tom could do to restrain himself from running over to the bar and balancing the cash drawer. He has a lifetime of experience overseeing various kinds of corporate audits and criminal financial investigations.

Today

                  
Rest in peace, good and faithful servant.

What the hell got me involved in politics to begin with?

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Paul Hamby asked a question last month.

I was only one of the many he asked, and, being the rude bastard I am sometimes, I took a month to reply. And being lazy, I figured I should get a blog post out of it.

So here’s my answer to the question “who inspired you to get involved in politics?”

In the Summer of 74, I was between 3rd and 4th grade (I think). I’d swim all morning, then come in and watch Green Acres at 11:30. Then the Watergate hearings would air from noon till 3 or 4, and I’d watch every minute of those hearings that summer, even though I didn’t understand half of it.
So Sam Ervin (nickname “Eyebrows”) might be the person who got me into politics. (Look it up)

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Senator Sam Ervin.

Or was it Nixon?
Or Agnew? When did Agnew resign?
Because the day he resigned, I was home sick from school. I wasn’t actually sick. I faked sick to stay home. Being healthy, young, and male, a spurt of energy hit me about 10 a.m. So I decided to start a newspaper. I’d discovered the miracle of carbon paper recently, and I gather four or five oft-used sheets of the miraculous stuff, plus five or six sheets of that really expensive 25% cotton typing paper that only people over 45 remember.
I slid the 5-part carbon pack behind the platen of our Smith-Corona portable and started typing. The TV was on in the background. As I made shit up (and my blog readers can appreciate my skill in that endeavor), I heard breaking news interrupt “Days of our Lives” or some damn thing on TV.
“Vice President Sprio Agnew resigns,” or words to that effect.
So I wrote that story. As best I could, I typed out what Walter Cronkite or Morton Dean was saying. Then I created some fake ads, added a few more made-up stories, and rolled the carbon pack out of the Smith-Corona. For affect, I glued on some pictures cut from magazines, so each copy of the paper was unique. Then I rolled up each sheet, tied it with some red yarn, and stuck a copy on four neighbors’ doors.
A few hours later, Mrs. Hume from across the street knocked on the door. She wanted to congratulate me on the originality of my fiction, but she scolded me for making up something as ridiculous as the Veep resigning.
“He did,” my mom told Viola Hume. “He resigned this afternoon.”
I had a scoop!
That sort of hooked me on the whole blogging thing. If you make up stuff long enough, you’re bound to be right once or twice.
Dad. He was a cop, too.

Dad. He was a cop, too.

There’s also my mom and dad who never shielded us from politics and from real life. I still remember (going back to pre-school days) the evening news showing footage of a fire-fight in Viet Nam. And my dad sitting in his chair with a newspaper folded on his lap, sometimes crying. He was a WWII and Korea vet. Only in my imagination do I understand what he was crying about. But seeing your dad cry sticks with you. It makes you want to do something.

And my grandma, a life-long Republican in a Republican family who called for a van to take her to the polls in 1972 to vote for McGovern because she “wouldn’t trust Nixon to walk my dog.”
And my Uncle Pat who talked about politics and ‘civics’ with me as if I were his

Uncle Pat in the Pacific, World War II

Uncle Pat in the Pacific, World War II

equal even when I was nine and he was a battalion chief on the St. Louis Fire Department. He took me to meet Ronald Reagan in 1984, just a couple days before I went into the Navy. I dedicated my first book to Pat, and I named my youngest son after him.

Mostly, though, I have to credit William F. Buckley Jr. He made politics intellectual, cool, snotty, and, somehow, sexy. The day Buckley died, I knew America was in for hard times. Not because he was dead, but because the next generation was so weak in comparison. I love PJ O’Rourke and the other Boomer conservatives. But neither the Boomers nor my Gen Xers has a Buckley, Reagan, Goldwater, or Taft among us. Or a Patrick Mahon or Jack Hennessy (my dad, not my son) for that matter. Millennials—maybe. (My son Jack’s a millennial, and he’s the Navy now.)
Because of that, I am so glad Paul Hamby included over 130 people on his email. That list of addressees—I’m humbled to be included.  Maybe together with you, dear ready–together we can touch Buckley’s cuff.
William F. Buckley clipped from http://granitegrok.com/blog/2013/07/notable-quote-william-f-buckley

William F. Buckley, clipped from http://granitegrok.com/blog/2013/07/notable-quote-william-f-buckley

This Seems Like a Really Big Win

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I am so embarrassed.

I didn’t even know that Fred Sauer, Gretchen Logue, and Anne Gassel were suing Missouri over Common Core.

Did you know that?

(I probably knew it and forgot. Sorry.)

But here’s the thing: THEY WON!!!!

Wait. YOU won. You won because Fred, Gretchen, and Anne stuck their necks out for you. And for me.

So Thank You! to Fred, Gretchen, and Anne. And this case seems really, really big. Like headed to the US Supreme Court big.

Since I don’t remember the case and know nothing about it, I’ll quote heavily from Fred Sauer’s email:

Jefferson City, Missouri.  On February 24, 2015, the Circuit Court for Cole County, Missouri ruled in favor of Missouri taxpayer plaintiffs Fred N. Sauer, Anne Gassel, and Gretchen Logue in their constitutional challenge to one of two interstate entities charged with implementing Common Core.

The Court blocked the payment of $4.3 million of Missouri taxpayer funds as membership fees to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, an interstate organization that is implementing tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards (“Common Core”).

The Court’s Judgment states: “The Court finds that the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium . . . is an unlawful interstate compact to which the U.S. Congress has never consented, whose existence and operation violate the Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Article I, § 10, cl. 3, as well as numerous federal statutes; and that Missouri’s participation in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium as a member is unlawful under state and federal law.”

Plaintiff Fred N. Sauer stated: “The Court’s judgment recognizes the reality that the interstate ‘consortia’ charged with writing and implementing the tests aligned with Common Core are, and have always been, unconstitutional interstate compacts.  Missouri should not be a member of such an illegal entity.”

The Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution states that “No State shall, without the consent of Congress … enter into any Agreement or Compact with any other State.”  In their lawsuit, Sauer, Gassel, and Logue contended that the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is an unconstitutional compact because (1) it undermines the authority of the U.S. Congress, which has passed numerous federal statutes forbidding the establishment of a national curriculum; (2) it threatens the sovereignty of member States by forcing them to cede some of their control over educational policy within their borders to an interstate entity; and (3) it threatens the sovereignty of non-member States by seeking to create an educational “cartel” aligned with Common Core.

There’s a joke in there, somewhere, about how many doctorate educators it takes to read the Constitution. But let’s not be petty.

We have a WIN!!! And it’s thanks to three people who give a crap about the country and its children.

I look forward to AG Chris Koster’s appeal. Nothing like a gubernatorial candidate breaking bad on three citizens who simply want their ultimate contract with Washington (and Jefferson City) enforced.

Humble thanks and congratulations to three wonderful people: Anne Gassel, Gretchen Logue, and Fred Sauer. I’m proud to know them, and I’m thrilled their on our side.

The New Russian Empire

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The last two years of Barack Obama’s presidency will see the rise of a new Russian empire.

This new empire will resemble the Soviet Union in shape, the Czars in style.

We looked at this subject over the summer (here and here). To summarize those blogs:

  • The US-led coup of Ukraine convinced Putin to reassert safer borders
  • Russia wants to build a buffer between itself and NATO

  • Putin wants to re-establish a Russian Empire to revitalize Russian pride and influence

  • Western debt and war-weariness make NATO impotent

  • Putin knows the next US president might be more of a man than Obama, even if its Hillary

  • Putin will want to complete his expansion by January 20, 2017

  • Ukraine is as good as done and Poland will fall under Russian influence

I still believe all of that. And today we learned that Ukraine has entered its death-spiral as an independent country. Hyperinflation–the thing Krugman says went extinct with the gold standard–has returned. As ZeroHedge points out, this is the end-game for Ukraine.

And here’s more, also via ZeroHedge:

So as the Ukraine government watches its country go down in flames, with the blessings of the US State Department of course, it decided to take action. According to Reuters, with the hryvnia in free fall (see above) the central bank tried to call a halt on Wednesday by banning banks from buying foreign currency on behalf of their clients for the rest of this week.

To summarize:

  • The US backed a coup of Ukraine’s pro-Russian president (because US foreign policy had been so successful backing coups in Bay of Pigs, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, and Syria)
  • Putin retaliated by seizing Crimea

  • Then Putin attacked Ukraine proper

  • Then the US and Saudi Arabia flooded the oil market to hurt Russia

  • Then Ukraine went into hyperinflation, which will end with capitulation to Russia

  • Then Poland will ask, “should we trust America’s promises or Russia’s threats?”

  • If you were Poland, how would you answer that question?

    The tangled web of net neutrality

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    A friend asked my thoughts on net neutrality.

    I hemmed and hawed and told her a story she probably didn’t want to hear. The best I could come up with was:

    • I don’t trust the FCC or the Obama Administration to do anything honest
    • I don’t trust the Republican establishment to do anything right

    First, the Obama Administration would love to get control of internet content. They can already read every message, every keystroke anyone types anywhere. The next step is to “protect” us from error. And the Gods of Washington believe only they can judge error. The internet is full of error, but it’s also the greatest source of truth-sharing in human history.

    Next, the Republican Congress. The GOP establishment does the bidding of huge corporations. If huge corporations have no position on an issue, the GOP will mostly agree with you and me. But on most issue, corporations have a position and the Republican establishment makes the corporate position their own. That means crony capitalism wins out over free markets. Incumbents get to dominate insurgents. Might makes right.

    On February 26, the FCC will make a decree. The internet will become a telephone line, subject to massive federal regulation. In Mark Cuban’s words, the FCC “will fuck everything up.”

    Here’s what you can expect:

    • All innovation that touches the internet will have be dumb enough for a political appointee to understand. That means the iPhone, the iPad, and most cat videos on YouTube are done evolving. What’s there now is all there ever will be.
  • The incumbents (ATT, Comcast, Verizon, etc) will get federal protection on pricing. The government will also protect the giants from innovation. The way it works is so New Deal. The government will force the incumbents to provide some level of service for some low price. In exchange, the incumbents will be granted monopoly status. So new inventions can’t be sold into existing markets. The incumbents might lose money for a few years, but they can eliminate R&D altogether. (Have you wondered why the big incumbents haven’t been jumping up and down over net neutrality? Who do you think is funding the “grass roots” movement?)

  • About every 10 years, the incumbents will release some marginal improvement to the existing internet. Like when the phone company introduced telephones with dials so you didn’t have to ask an operator to patch you through. Or, later, when they introduced the push-button phone (with awesome marketing name “touch-tone”) so you didn’t have to dial. Maybe Ma Bell will give us an iPhone you have to dial. Wouldn’t that be dandy?

  • People my age will go to their graves cursing the day that innovation stopped. Younger folks will be less concerned. They won’t have the innovation history to compare. They don’t remember going from no computers to Apple IIe to Windows 95 to iPhone to . . . whatever. The incremental upgrades of Mountain Lion to Yosemite will seem like the way it’s always been.

  • The biggest hit will happen to innovation centers. St. Louis has been trying to become the Silicon Valley of the Midwest (just like every other city in the Midwest). Missouri’s slave-like non-compete employment laws thwarted St. Louis’s dream for years. Now, net neutrality will kill it for good. But for those who like pain spread evenly, the Silicon Valley of Silicon Valley will die a painful death, too.

    The good news: 40 years from now, you’ll still be able to buy replacement parts for the very device you’re reading this on right now. Because nothing will change ever, ever again.

    Perhaps after Obama’s gone, Congress can reclassify the internet as an information service, not a phone line. Until then, sell your tech stocks.

    I Might Abandon the GOP in 2016

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    Why have conservatives and right-leaning libertarians made so little progress since 2009?

    Consider that the GOP was written off for dead following the 2008 election. Republicans disappeared from the press. When a Republican popped up on a Sunday talk show, he was talking about compromise and getting along.

    Then the Tea Party happened, and all of a sudden the GOP’s testes descended. But after two off-year wave elections that gave the GOP their largest majorities since Hoover, the GOP seems poised to double down on the crony capitalist, elitist policies and candidates that got them tossed out of Washington in 2006 and 2008.

    If conservatives and right-leaning libertarians gave the GOP its spine, why isn’t the GOP using it?

    Simple. Republican party leaders work to increase their own personal power. They want to take power from you and me and use it for their personal benefit.

    I can’t say I blame. I mean, that’s precisely what we want to do, isn’t it? We want to wrestle power away from Washington and use it ourselves. We echo William F. Buckley who wrote in Up From Liberalism:

    I will not cede more power to the state. I will not willingly cede more power to anyone, not to the state, not to General Motors, not to the CIO. I will hoard my power like a miser, resisting every effort to drain it away from me. I will then use my power as I see fit.

    Our problem with the modern Republican Party is that its candidates pretend they’re on our side in the battle of personal power. But they’re not. They’re on their own side. This isn’t a two-way war between us and Washington; it’s a guerre a trois between us, Washington, and the GOP.

    The reason we’re losing ground is our weak tactics. When the shooting starts every two years, we take bullets for the Republicans. When they win, they leave on the battlefield to bleed out.

    The alternative is to make the game more interesting. Here’s how.

    Even if all the principled conservatives and right-leaning libertarians banded together, we could not elect third party candidate. But we could deny Republicans the win.

    The only way for that to work is to make a strong early commitment and stick to it. Which is what I am doing in this post. I am declaring that I will not cast a Republican vote in any race in 2016 if the GOP nominates Jeb Bush as it’s candidate for President.

    Some will urge me to vote Republican for office like governor. Nope. None.

    If the GOP nominates Bush, I’m pulling a Libertarian ballot in the primary and voting straight Libertarian or Constitution Party ballot in November.

    The down-ticket candidates provide a lot of support and cover to the party’s up-ticket candidates. Jeb Bush would look a lot less tolerable to Tom Schweich and John Hancock if his nomination meant another Democrat governor and losses in the Missouri General Assembly.

    If enough voters committed to voting third party (or staying home) were Bush nominated, state parties throughout the country would distance themselves from Bush.

    Bush has all the money locked up.The only way to stop his nomination is to make that nomination a sure defeat for the GOP nationally and in the states. It’s a recognition that we’re in a three-way war for power. it’s telling the establishment that we’re crazy enough to point our weapons at the side most likely to surrender to us.

    So there’s my plan. If the candidate’s Bush, I walk. And I’ll work against ever Republican on my ballot.

     

    34 to 0: Good Ideas Are Hard to Fight

    Eric Schmitt

    I was scared. Not afraid to say it.

    And some friends turned hostile. They had good reasons. And I was probably a little cavalier. And I talked way too long.

    But last September I wanted to start something that would help real people in our neighborhood while advancing liberty and upsetting abusive government. Sure, I’d rather upset the federal government in Washington, but my arms are little short to box with Harry Reid. St. Louis County’s municipalities, on the other hand, lie within our reach.

    So I took a swing.

    Thank you to all of you who joined the fight against abusive municipal courts. Thank you to my friends who disagreed with the fight but stayed on the sidelines. Thank you to frequent adversaries who put aside differences and helped out.

    Special thanks to Auditor Tom Schweich for his early leadership in launching the Municipal Court Project to audit cities suspected of abusing the Macks Creek Law that capped municipal revenue from traffic tickets to 30 percent of the city’s revenue.

    Most of all, thank you, Senator Eric Schmitt. Despite the risks, you took this fight into the Missouri State Senate. You forged alliances with frequent adversaries and risked some friendships with great conservative Senators around the state.

    In the end, your vision and leadership prevailed. On Thursday, the Missouri Senate voted 34 to 0 to pass your bill reducing the Macks Creek cap to 10 percent from 30 percent.

    Even the New York Times couldn’t help but notice that the right ideas bring together old adversaries. I didn’t do much on this issue–far less than many people whose names you’ll never hear. But I admit I take a little pride in helping Senator Schmitt’s victory.

    Maybe Police Officers Would Rather Be Tax Collectors

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    Do people become cops just so they can write speeding tickets?

    According to the National Sheriffs’ Association, writing speeding tickets is a police officer’s noblest calling. People and technologies that help drivers drive more safely and obey the law interfere with that noble mission of revenue generation, and the NSA is out to stop it.

    According to the Associated Press, the National Sheriffs’ Association wants to crack down on the popular traffic navigation app Waze™ so that people will drive faster and cops can write more tickets.

    Here’s the cops’ logic. Waze™ warns drivers of speed traps. Drivers slow down, so the police don’t get write tickets.

    I know this sounds like I’m explaining it to a child, but don’t get offended. I’m going to explain traffic safety to the people at the National Sheriffs’ Association, and they seem to be a rather slow lot.

    The reason we authorize police to write speeding tickets is to discourage people from speeding. Some people think that speeding increases danger. If we could find a way to discourage speeding and encourage safe driving, we wouldn’t need police writing tickets.

    Waze encourages safe driving by warning drivers of hazards, including speed traps. If driving slower and paying attention to hazards reduces the number and severity of accidents, then Waze works better than speed traps.

    I know it’s politically correct to say that police don’t want to be speed-trap queens; they want to protect and serve the public. But the National Sheriffs’ Association clearly wants to write more tickets. And to write more tickets, they must encourage people to drive dangerously.

    I would love for my many friends who are current or former police officers to answer this question: do you want everyone to drive safely or would you rather write lots of tickets for dangerous driving?

    I’ll send your answers to the National Sheriffs’ Association.

    Do the Speed-Trap Mayors Want You To Drive Dangerously?

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    I had the rare honor of testifying before the Missouri Senate committee on Economic Development. The hearing’s subject was Senator Eric Schmitt’s Senate Bill 5 to reign in traffic court abuses in Missouri.

    Here’s some perspective:

    • St. Louis County accounts for 22 percent of Missouri’s population and over 50 percent of traffic tickets
    • St. Ann’s traffic court revenue exploded from about $500,000 in 2009 to over $3.5 million last year
    • Traffic court generates 90 percent of the total revenue for one Missouri city
    • Ferguson, Missouri, has three outstanding traffic ticket warrants for every citizen
    • The mayor of Edmundson in North St. Louis County wrote a memo to his police chief admonishing him to write more tickets or face wage and job cuts

    I testified immediately following a representative from the ACLU. While this isn’t the first time St. Louis Tea Party Coalition and the ACLU have worked together on an issue, the fact we both see the same problem should tell you the problem is real.

    The opposition to the bill came mostly from small town mayors who don’t want to lose revenue. They’ve become addicted to the fees from tickets and failure-to-appear warrants (typically $600). The other opposition came from my State Senator, Bill Schatz who questioned whether SB 5 would give drivers a green light to tool around like maniacs.

    We Need the Money

    First, let’s look at the revenue argument put forth by the mayors with support from the Municipal League, sort of a union of small town mayors and city managers. These mayors argue that without ticket revenue, they may have to disband their police departments.

    Clearly, these mayors are not interested in safety. If safety, rather than revenue, were the concern, engineers could devise roads to force people to drive slower. Several European cities have designed streets that force slow, attentive driving and eliminated speed limits and stop signs. The result is slower speed, fewer accidents, and faster throughput.  In other words, you get where you’re going in less time.

    If cities like St. Ann, Edmundon, and Bel Ridge followed the safe streets example, their ticket revenue would dry up faster than pony keg at an Irish wake. And, if safety were their concern, they’d do it. But safety is not their concern. Money is.

    We know, for instance, that municipalities that install red-light cameras soon shave time off the yellow lights to generate more revenue. These cities don’t care about safety. They care about money and they’re willing to endanger drivers and passengers to get more money.

    CD Baby’s founder Derek Sivers described the problem. If your company is in business to solve a problem instead of just treating the symptoms, the money will dry up. So companies–and cities–have an incentive to keep the problem around so they can fix it for a fee.

    Senate Bill 5 seeks to lower the cap on traffic revenue to 10 percent of a city’s revenue from 30 percent. Cities would still be able to write all the tickets they wanted. They just wouldn’t profit from the practice. The tickets would promote safety. Excess revenue would go to fund Missouri’s schools. (I would rather the money went into the highway fund, but that’s for a later blog.)

    So mayors don’t want drivers to slow down or to stop at red lights. They want drivers to break the law so their cities can generate revenue. They want to keep the problem around so their police and courts can keep profiting from it. And that’s just wrong.

    We Need the Deterrent

    Now, to Senator Schatz’s point that speed traps and heavy fines deter bad driving. They don’t.

    Senator Schatz’s asked the ACLU Director of Advocacy and Policy, Sarah Rossi, what she would recommend as an effective deterrent to speeding if not fines.

    I have to respond to Senator Schatz with a question: if St. Ann’s ticket revenue went from $500,000 to $3.5 million in six years, what makes you think fines do a damn bit of good at all?

    They don’t. And the idea of “taxation by citation,” as Senator Schmitt calls it, should enrage citizens. The practice of maintaining a police department primarily to ticket to citizens is appalling. And it supports a level of government that’s inappropriately large.

    In the city of Greendale in North St. Louis County, for instance, government is the town’s only industry at $3.5 million a year for 1,800 citizens. Vinita Park, Missouri, whose mayor McGee testified, is a town less than two square miles, but on any given day Vinita Park has over 200 people on a traffic ticket payment plan. By definition, people who need a loan to pay a speeding ticket are not wealthy, so McGee’s government is living off the backs of the poor.

    Support Senate Bill 5

    If you oppose taxation by citation, please write your state representative and senator, asking him or her to support Eric Schmitt’s SB5. The last thing we should expect from local government is to condition people to cow to government overlords.

    And slow down. Without speeders and stop-runners, the small towns would have to muster up the courage to ask citizens for a tax increase or muster up the humility to reduce the size of government.

    Now, check out Senator Schmitt’s interview with McGraw Milhaven on KTRS.