The Catch

They have a right to do anything we can’t stop them from doing.

I’m not a full-on libertarian; I’m ambivalent about the death penalty, we tend to rely on ‘spontaneous order’ as a deus-ex-machina and ignore its complexities, and I don’t have any clue how libertarians should go about foreign policy and intelligence issues.

But this morning Radley Balko has a story about becoming more libertarian. See, he moved out of D.C., but has to deal with a speeding ticket that never reached his mailbox.

I called the D.C. DMV. I explained the problem. I asked if I could simply change the address they have on file for me to be sure the answer to my challenge actually gets to me. The helpful public servant told me that—and you can see where this is going—I can only change my address in person or by mail. And it’s actually even more complicated than that. D.C. got my address from the Virginia DMV. Which means they won’t change my address until the Virginia DMV does. But because Virginia has a car tax, you can’t change your address to an out-of-state address until you can prove to them that you’ve registered your car in your new state.

I explained this to the D.C. DMV public servant. All I want here is to make sure that the adjudication letter actually gets to me so I know if I have to pay $150 or $300. She said I’d have to spell all of this out in a letter and . . . send it to the same address to which I sent my challenge. I said, “And they’ll then respond to me by mail?” She said yes. I said, “And they’ll send their answer to my question to my Virginia address that you have on file?” She said yes. I said, “And that will go to the same backlogged office that my challenge went to?” She said yes. I said, “Do you see the problem, here?” She non-answered, in an automaton, I’m-done-with-you voice, “Questions and challenges to automated tickets can only be made my mail.”

Ah, public “servants”. A nice little reminder that dealing bureaucracy is a low-grade, irritating cancer of the soul, making everyone’s day just a little worse. Dealing with someone who actually cared about fixing a problem would be a welcome change.

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