An Amusement & Diversion for The Genteel Cyclist. Daily.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Cyclists: Suckling at the teat of the Nanny State

Out in Seattle, at least one brave newspaper editorialist is taking a courageous stand against misspent public largesse and the freeloaders who take advantage of it: Bicyclists! Writing for the local fishwrap, Jim Vesely says cyclists should cough up $25 per year as a license. Hell, we license dogs and boats and deer hunters. Why should cyclists get off scott-free, when the besieged taxpayer has coughed up so much dough for all those bike paths?



The reasoning is wrong, of course, from top to bottom, considering that cyclists pay sales tax when they purchase their bikes, but more important, I can't think of one cyclist I know who doesn't also own a car and pay all the associated taxes and fees and blah blah blah. Arguments like JV's rely on a simple -- aw, let's not sugarcoat it -- IDIOTIC syllogism that people who ride bikes are scofflaw tax evaders and paintywaists, and probably eat their boogers too, and they're not regular folk like you and me.




That said, I am frankly a little surprised that we cyclists have managed to remain relatively unburdened by license/registration harrassment these many years -- though here in Minneapolis, the local constabulary issued bike licenses (a sticker on the frame with a reg. number) for many years that served a somewhat utile purpose: If your ride was stolen and subsequently abandoned, the police looked you up and gave you a courtesy call.

This happened to me last year, actually. I'd rebuilt an old Trek Antelope and donated it to a community bike shop who then sold it to a guy who then had it stolen. The MPD called me up when they found it, which I thought was kinda nifty -- though of course I didn't want the bike back, and donated it again. Trek Antelope: The gift that keeps giving! The point, I guess, is that the city got its money and I got my bike back, and it cost me something like $10 about 15 years ago. It was voluntary, and I thought a bit of a scam at the time, but true, it very much accelerates the process of recovering a stolen bike from the police, whereas the alternative is to haul your ass down to the impound lot and pray your bike turns up and then when it does, you have to prove ownership by producing a receipt with a serial number etc. etc. etc. (I manage to save wads and wads and wads of useless ATM receipts and grocery store ribbons, but not a scrap of paper that might actually serve a purpose.)

Anyway, the fact that bike licenses/registrations are not (yet) a reality for most folks is just another reason why -- as my buds at the LBS say -- bikes are freedom, and an exceptional freedom at that.

But I think those goddamn skateboarders should be required to get a driver's license after a rigorous oral and anal exam.

12 comments:

Dino said...

Great post. I enjoyed the succinct manner in which you rubbished the argument that cyclist should pay tax. From time to time the same argument rears its retarded head here in South Africa.

And yes, skateboarders should definitely be examined.

Lynne said...

I would gladly pay $25/yr to have dedicated bike police officers patrolling the Greenway after dark!

Bloodclot said...

Uh, dood. I don't own a car....

Jim Thill said...

I recently read one excellent suggestion that only non-recreational cyclists should pay a tax. Obviously, we can't tax those who use bikes for their intended purpose, riding aimlessly. I suppose we could extend the logic to hunting and fishing licenses: no charge if you kill just for fun.

bloodline said...

what about if you kill cars(or hasten their untimely demise)on your bicycle...
gonna get a bike sticker kinda like woodie guthrie's banjo graffiti- 'this machine kills fascists'

rigtenzin said...

“… property tax dollars dedicated to transportation needs in our state now exceed the amount spent on roads and bridges from Minnesota’s gas tax.”
http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/members/pressreleasels85.asp?district=29B&pressid=2998&party=1

This blows away the argument that roads are only for autos, because auto drivers pay for them.

Bluenoser said...

On vacation?

-B

oritiorii said...

Now only if insurance exsisted like they have it in England for our bicycles that cost a pretty penny.

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