Green and Red Plates and how Gov't Works

Green and Red license plates - what do they say about our Government's thought process?

There are two types of cars on the roads of Massachusetts - those with “green plates” and those with “red plates”.

On the surface, this seems innocuous enough. But, what does this tell us about government in general and how it operates? Why does it matter? Let’s look at some facts: 

  • The green plate was suitable for identification of vehicles from 1977-1987.
  • A single license plate was suitable for identification of vehicles until 1987.
  • New vehicle registrations must use the red plate and are required to display two plates on their vehicles.
  • There are 4.7 million registered vehicles in MA as of 2010

What can we deduce from these facts?

  • A bureaucrat decided that they would force taxpayers to pay for the development and manufacturing of a new license plate design - to replace a perfectly good one – for the 16th time since the plate’s inception.
  • A bureaucrat decided that you must drill holes into your front bumper, or pay for a front license plate bracket, to mount the mandatory second plate - forcing you to alter your property in a way you might not agree with.
  • Estimating 4 million registered vehicles, these mandatory second plates consume 41 football field areas (41,000ft^2) of excess metal (4,000,000x12”x6” = 2,000,000 ft^2). 

So how does this relate to the workings of government?  This simple example shows exactly what they do best.

Government enacts new laws at the expense of a peaceful portion of the population, thus expanding their power, while they are careful to keep their existing political base happy. Eventually, the “new” law becomes status quo, and the once “new” power is exerted over citizens without resistance. Once complete, government looks to repeat the cycle elsewhere.

When the plate change was made in 1987, green plate holders were (and still are) allowed to keep the single green plate on their vehicles. This action prevented uproar from the existing power base. Meanwhile, government exerted their new and expanded power on new registrants by forcing them to affix two plates on their vehicles - effectively enforcing a double standard.

The new double plates cost more to produce, ship, and manage than single plates, causing the RMV to extract higher taxes from citizens to cover increased budget “requirements”. Likewise, vanity and special plates must have increased overhead to manage their design, production, and distribution when compared to generic plates. This also causes an increase in budget “requirements”.

Furthermore, the government forces citizens to pay for the management and manufacture of “sought after” low number plates – whether you give a hoot about your number or not! 

So, when taken together, these actions have allowed government to increase its power over all citizens with little resistance.

Green plate registrants don’t see the added cost to maintain the red/vanity/specialty plates, so they do not protest. New registrants can do little to protest the squandering of their money as they are a minority group by definition and have few political “connections”.

In the end, the only winner is government as they extract taxes from citizens through force in order to pay for superficial projects that keep other bureaucrats employed.

So, the next time you walk by a front license plate, you can smile knowing that the money you could have used for something productive in your own life is staring you in the face – and there are 41 football fields of plates just like it on the road.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Robert Orthman February 21, 2013 at 05:27 PM
So after reading this, I am to deduce that the existence of red license plates and requirement to display two plates on a vehicle is essentially tyranny of the state? Wow. Is this an Onion article?
Joseph February 21, 2013 at 06:21 PM
Finally, someone with an alternative opinion of how our local government works!! Amen. "In the end, the only winner is government as they extract taxes from citizens through force in order to pay for superficial projects that keep other bureaucrats employed." You forgot to mention coming up with a state song.
Ajax February 21, 2013 at 06:43 PM
Government busy-bodies hard at work for the tax-payer.
ann gallagher February 22, 2013 at 07:43 PM
If your green plate is faded you cannot get a window sticker, so you must truck on down to the RMV, surrender your green plate and get a red plate, just take another day off from work to spend the day at the registry of motor vehicles waiting in line. Most of the impact of this are older people, who number one cannot get the plate off, spend the day at the RMV, hopefully they can get a seat, and then put the plate on the vehicle which of course is not easy at all, the go back and get your yearly $29.00 window and hope that was the only thing that was wrong with the car!!!


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