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The Soulless Nanny State

Tricia was just trying to take her little boy to preschool when the tentacles of the Nanny State invaded her car and terrified her little boy. The young mother of two little boys, whose husband died suddenly and tragically barely a year ago, has courageously blogged about her journey as a widow. On this day, she was trying to get her son to preschool on time when she went through a yellow light, resulting in flashing lights and an unplanned visit by a police officer:

“Ma’am, obviously I pulled you over for running that red light.”

“Yes, I see that. I’m sorry about that.”

“License, registration and proof of insurance, please.”

I retrieve them all from the glove box. Robb has taught me faithfully to keep them at my fingertips when driving (although I don’t think Mr. Citizen of the Year ever needed to call upon them at a moment’s notice).

“Ma’am, are your plates expired?”

I recall the sticker that came in the mail.

“No, they’re current.”

“Well, your registration has expired. This form expired in 2011.”

(I wanted to say, and we are roughly 23 days into 2012. Happy New Year.)

“Well, my insurance is up to date, but I think I forgot to put the new card in my car.” My husband always did that for me.

“Ma’am, your insurance card is expired as well, but I’m talking about your registration right now.”

I can’t really listen to what you’re talking about right now. Because all I can see is my husband handing me the new insurance card, four months before the old one expired, reminding me to keep both of them in the glove box, just in case.

Oh, how I drove him crazy with my carelessness about such things. “Robb, it’s February. I don’t need that until April.”

“Tricia, put it in there, please. Just… please.”

On day three of my forgetting, he would move it from the kitchen counter to my glove box. Just in case.

“Officer, my husband died one year ago. This is a detail he took care of for me. It, um, this one apparently slipped through the cracks. I assure you – everything is current.”

“Well, I will need to make sure of that. Do you know that it is a summonsable offense to drive a car with an expired registration? I take people to jail for this.”

I could practically hear Tyler’s eyebrows shoot through the ceiling as she walked back to her cruiser.

He was terrified. He has one parent left, and this police officer just threatened to take me to jail. I cried. Not because of the threat, not because of the pending ticket, not because I was pulled over at all. I cried because I missed my husband. Tyler asked a million questions.

“Mommy, why did she take your stuff with her?

Where did she go?

Is she coming back

Are you going to jail?

Am I going to school?

Why are you crying?

Are you crying because you’re going to jail?”

I’m crying because this is the ‘just in case’ Robb tried to prepare me for. The officer returned to my window. “Ma’am, I called the DMV, and your registration is in fact current.” (I told you it was.) I nod. “But that phone call is not my job, ma’am. That’s your job.”

Add it to the list. Everything is my job now. [emphasis added]

The police officer added a cherry on top by lecturing her about how short life is and warning her about the dangers of running red lights. As if she didn’t know about the fragility and brevity of life on this earth.

Of  course, we can argue that the police officer was “just doing her job” and following the state traffic laws. She was. But the patronizing editorializing and threats of jail time for a questionable traffic violation belie an attitude of arrogance that bureaucrats of all stripes seem compelled to lord over their subjects.  The Czars of the Administrative State hold the freedom and liberty of the rest of us in the files and computers in their dingy government offices.

Now imagine these same soulless bureaucrats running our healthcare. You’d better hope your papers with the Ministry of Bureaucratic Nighmares are in order at all times lest that emergency heart cath be denied by some faceless paper pusher at the other end of the phone. The only question will be whether you are merely denied coverage or you’re also threatened with jail time for not complying with the Department of Obamacare’s Nine Circles of the Nanny State requirements.  It’s a terrifying prospect.

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