We're All Just A Bunch Of Filthy Criminals ~ 2012-03-21

It started me thinking when I got another speeding ticket the other day. The cops like to camp out on a back stretch of road and wait for unsuspecting victims. You know the place; there's one in your town too. And so I'm asking myself, who is that cop helping by giving me a ticket? I was already late to teach my audio production class down at the college (hence the speeding) but after that I was even later. And soon to be $163.00 poorer. Yes, that's what it cost me, plus an hour of my day. Oh, the actual fine wasn't that high. Here's how they broke it down:

$60.11Actual fine
$49.89Surcharges (83% of fine)
20.00Probation assessment - I asked the lady what this was for. She said it's a charge but on there by resolution of the city council, and it goes on all traffic tickets.
Additional AssessmentNo explanation here. Just more money.
$20Late fee - yeah, well I tucked this citation away and suddenly several weeks had gone by. Oops.

So was I mad? Yeah. Mad at a system that's taken the desire for protection to ridiculous levels. I felt like I was being treated like a criminal. But people would rise up in rebellion if we went around saying they were committing crimes, so we'll make up this new little term, "civil violation." No, it's not a crime. Don't get your dander up. Just pay us some money and go about your business.

Did you know there was a time when the primary function of policemen was to catch criminals? Just kidding; there wasn't. The primary role of policemen has always been to enforce the system's dominance over it's citizens. I heard tell that the police force really got its start in America in pre-civil war times, when its' primary role was to protect the 'property' of the powerful. Their property, of course, was runaway slaves, and preserving their right to the ownership of property meant catching the slaves and returning them to their rich owners.

That's what I heard anyway.

Cue the Civil War. OK, now that that's over with, what are we going to do with all these lovely policemen? Let's use them to enforce all sorts of other rules. Hmmm... gotta pay for all this somehow. No problem. We'll just start having fines for all sorts of 'civil' violations. It's not a law, because that would have to pass the test of constitutionality. No, it's just a city ordinance. A rule you have to follow if you live here. And if you break it (which we know you will because we have enough stupid rules that nobody could ever follow all of them all the time) then we get to take some money from you. And that's what we want most. What a system... we charge the people for the privilege of being dominated.

Cue the invention of the printing press. Suddenly we have the ability to mass-produce ideas. Before this, ideas were freely shared. Now, because we can print them in great volume, there is a physical product to charge people for. And because I put these ideas together, I better get paid for every book of mine that's printed. And now we have the birth of copyright laws. Because laziness says, why should I go back and work on the farm all my life when I can sit back and get paid over and over for the work I already did in writing that book?

Cue the 20th century. Well, suddenly we have the ability to make recordings of sound, and even moving pictures and reproduce them relatively cheaply. Should we share all this cheap stuff with the world? No, let's sit back and charge everyone over and over again for the work we already did in creating the performance or making the recording.

Cue the digital age. Now we can make identical copies of books, pictures, music, movies and these weird new things called computer programs at absolutely NO COST. That's right... it costs absolutely nothing to make an exact duplicate, other than the tiny amount of digital storage space that the copy takes up. For an mp3, that's gotta be a few pennies or less; I'm not even going to bother with the math. You know full well it's so cheap you don't even think about it. And not only can we make infinite generations of absolutely free copies of everything, we can transmit those copies literally around the world in the matter of a few seconds.

So should we share all this free stuff with the world for their enjoyment, enlightenment and enrichment? HOLY CRAP! WE NEED CONTROLS AND COPYRIGHT LAWS! We need to make sure that I get paid over and over for something I did only one time. Yes, well, copying is so easy and prevalent that everybody has done it at some time. Why not? It just makes sense. And in an attempt to stop everyone from doing everything, copyright law has become a twisted nightmare of fees and permissions.

Take me and my music, for example. I would love to share my music with the world. But the thought that somebody else might steal my ideas and start charging people for them really ticks me off. And of course I'd also love to be able to get paid over and over for writing those songs; after all I put a lot of time into them. Sometimes a few days, even.

And then there are taxes. Oh, taxes. If they don't get you on traffic fines or copyright law, they can always get you on taxes. Because there is no law in our country more convoluted, with more loopholes and booby traps designed to let the powerful go free while ensnaring the common slave.

Let's face it: You're a criminal. They just haven't caught you yet. But any time they feel like it, they can find something. Your only hope is to not get noticed. Note to self: Making posts on a public blog about how we are all criminals is probably not the best way to keep from getting noticed.