Lie ability

With the spectre of mandatory health insurance looming in the shadows, Miriam has decided that we probably shouldn’t have mandatory auto insurance either:

I have car insurance, because I own assets, including property. I can’t afford to be sued. Poor people, however, don’t have anything to lose.

If everyone didn’t have to buy this expensive and totally useless product, those who do want it — like me — could purchase additional coverage for accidents involving uninsured drivers for a nominal sum. That’s the way things used to be before mandatory car insurance was instituted.

I dunno how “nominal” this coverage is: it costs me over $300 a year. Then again, this isn’t so surprising, since something like 25 percent of drivers in Oklahoma can’t be bothered to obtain insurance, the state mandate notwithstanding, which gave the Department of Public Safety a less-than-wonderful idea:

State officials are looking at beefing up the state’s electronic insurance verification system by setting up cameras across the state to randomly record vehicle tags.

Cameras set up at about 200 locations along selected highways would focus in on a tag’s bar code — found at the bottom of each tag — and record it. Bar code scanners would match the tag numbers with a national database containing real-time vehicle insurance information. Vehicle owners without valid insurance would be mailed a ticket.

Beyond the usual Big Brother considerations, this will not work worth a damn: a substantial proportion of drivers have metal or plastic plate frames that obscure the bar code, and J. Random Deadbeat is a lot more likely to fork over $19.95 for a piece of frippery than to pay for actual insurance.

Suggestions are welcomed, since I can’t see any plausible way to improve the situation.


  1. fillyjonk »

    30 November 2009 · 1:08 pm

    Allow garnishment of wages of uninsured driver involved in accident until accident is made up? Allow their car to be seized and sold for what it’s worth, the proceeds going to cover the cost of the accident?

    Yeah, yeah, I know: cruel. But having had a friend get a car totaled by an uninsured driver, and seeing the resultant headache…

    I don’t know. I don’t like being told what to do but I also get awfully tired of being the responsible person who winds up getting screwed because there are irresponsible people out there.

  2. McGehee »

    30 November 2009 · 3:46 pm

    Here’s an idea I could go for: if you’re uninsured and you cause an accident, you get to be indentured to the injured party for a term of years depending on the damage and harm resulting from your causing the accident.

    The party to whom you’re indentured needs to pay for your health care during that time, but if they’re willing to cover cigarette burns and assorted contusions, more power to ’em. If not, they either restrain themselves or they end up indentured to you until your medical costs have been made up.

  3. CGHill »

    4 December 2009 · 8:29 pm

    Steven Roemerman has actually tried to photograph the bar code, with the (lack of) results I might have expected.

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