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Monday, April 09, 2007

In God we trust, the rest of us pay cash

Way back in August of 2006, I read a fantastic rant from Paddy Kraska (Who now contributes here at Left in Aboite) on the new "God plates" that the state of Indiana was spending so much time and effort on. We all had a great discussion regarding our thoughts on these new "specialty" plates. MY main beef, other than the obvious issue of state-sanctioned religion and the blurring of church and state, was that these so-called "specialty" plates were, in fact, not treated like every other available specialty plate offered by Indiana - There was NO EXTRA CHARGE for this plate!

If you want to pick any of the offered specialty plates, you'll shell out an extra $40 for the privilege , with $25 of that going to the plate's sponsor group and $15 for administrative costs. The IGWT plates DO NOT carry either of these fees! In my opinion, this furthers the case that the state of Indiana is sanctioning Christianity. I don't see any "no-extra-cost" plates for any other religions, organizations, schools, etc. . .

A good friend of mine, who's a devout Christian, opined that "Who would the sponsor money go to?". A valid point, as "foul" could easily be called by any religious organization other than the one who was recieving these funds. My thoughts were that some sort of public non-denominational fund could be set up and the proceeds could be distributed by an impartial panel. The discussion never went much further, and I never thought much about it again until I started seeing these plates all over the place this January.

Apparently, quite a few other folks were interested in the popularity of these plates. Some of them were interested enough to do some investigating and, you may want to take a deep breath here before reading the rest of this (particularly, you Libertarians),

as Thomas points out, WE, the taxpayers, are subsidizing these plates!

From Blue Indiana:

"The Terre Haute Tribune-Star reports today that the new "specialty" plates have taken Indiana by storm, and in turn have cost the state $3.69 for each public affirmation of spirituality. But that is more than fine, as BMV communications director Greg Cook doesn't even consider the new plates "specialty," but rather a legitimate alternative to the standard design. From the article:
Since the new "In God we trust" plates became available Jan. 1, nearly 400,000 have been requested and issued around Indiana, said Greg Cook, communications director for the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles. That means more than one in four vehicles eligible for the new plates have received one, Cook said.

A new state law that passed overwhelmingly in the Indiana General Assembly last year called on the BMV to issue the new plates beginning this year and to make them available to passenger vehicles, trucks with a gross weight of 11,000 pounds or less and recreational vehicles.

The law, authored by Rep. Woody Burton, R-Greenwood, also requires that the "In God we trust" plates be offered to Hoosier motorists at no additional charge compared with the standard Indiana plate.

In fact, the BMV is absorbing a cost of $3.69 for each plate ordered, according to a report in the Gary Post-Tribune.

The money needed to cover the cost is coming out of the Indiana Highway Fund, Cook said.

"It's more of an alternative standard plate," Cook said.

Nearly $1.5 million dollars later, the BMV appears ready to admit there is nothing special about these new plates, and they aren't treating them any differently than the standard state offering. How can you have something that you consider an alternative to the standard plate design, and yet still assert with a straight face that you don't treat the two as the same? All reports seem to indicate that the two are offered together, or in some cases, the new plate is being offered first and foremost.

The article goes on to mention that Georgia, North Carolina, Arkansas and Louisiana all offer their own version of this same design, but with statewide charities benefiting from the fee usually associated with such programs. Now let me ask you: If given a choice between a plate that isn't necessary and is costing the taxpayers nearly $4 bucks a pop, and a process that would allow those inclined in the state to affirm their trust in God while benefiting some social program in Indiana, which do you think they would choose? This was a perfectly legitimate opportunity to raise money for some worthy cause, and instead, it will instead go down as just another example of politicians who were happy to privilege an act of political pandering over the good of the people.


Ridiculous, indeed! We certainly have such marvelous roads here in Indiana that we can just pull $1.5M from the highway fund to sanction your right to wrap God in the flag and stick it on your bumper for all to see! What a deal for YOU - what a complete rip-off and disregard for the rights of the rest of us! What's next? Free "specialty" tags featuring anti-abortion messages? (I THINK there may already be one of these!) Anti-GLBT messages? Anti-Caucasian messages? (Should I be offended by the Black Expo plate?) Where will this end? When YOU become one of the groups who has to pay for YOUR specialty plate while others do not? Aren't we already there? ? ?


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Blogger Paddy said...

I did not need to know this.
Seriously pissed off now.

title="comment permalink">April 09, 2007 9:36 PM  
Blogger John Good said...

Can't blame you a bit - I wanted to spread that around a bit for those who don't follow Blue Indiana or our dual efforts.

title="comment permalink">April 09, 2007 9:44 PM  
Blogger LP Mike Sylvester said...

I tend to think that specialty plates should all be treated the same.

I really do not care what plate anyone decides to put on their car.

It is 100% absurd that the taxpayers are subsidizing the cost of the license plate.

What a wate of money.

Mike Sylvester

title="comment permalink">April 09, 2007 10:16 PM  
Blogger Parson said...

I was worried the "god plate" was the new standard plate for hoosier land.
I renewed my plates this year, but by doing it over the internet, I just got a sticker. Maybe that offsets the cost of the "god plate" people.

title="comment permalink">April 09, 2007 10:34 PM  
Blogger Robert Rouse said...

So, when will someone have the guts to actually sue the state? This is a pure, unadulterated example of the violation of the separation of church and state. Where are the Constitutional Law attorneys now?

title="comment permalink">April 09, 2007 11:02 PM  
Blogger msliberty said...

*rolling eyes

It's amazing what we subsidize, and you've found another fine example.

This could be a topic for posting in its own right...

title="comment permalink">April 09, 2007 11:54 PM  
Blogger torporindy said...

Yeah, I hate to say it, but I cringe everytime I see one of those plates.

title="comment permalink">April 10, 2007 12:12 AM  
Blogger sumo said...

It would make me uncomfortable.

title="comment permalink">April 10, 2007 2:21 AM  
Blogger Undeniable Liberal said...

Ugh. In the interest of equality, perhaps they should offer plates that say Allah Akbar.

title="comment permalink">April 10, 2007 6:46 AM  
Blogger Parson said...

Akbar? was he the guy that lead the rebal assualt on the Death Star in Return of the Jedi? That would be a cool plate to have. "IT'S A TRAP!"

title="comment permalink">April 10, 2007 4:00 PM  
Blogger John Good said...

Paddy - Sorry, had to be done. Love yer new look too! Chrissie would be honored!

Mike - I thought that would be how you felt.

Parson - Read the comments over at Masson, who was kind enough to link this post, you're dead on.

Robert - I'm surprised that nobody HAS taken that step yet!

MSLib - Well, it seems that they tried to hide it from us here!

Torp - Me too. So many plates, so much anger, so little time.

Sumo - As well it should! Lucky YOU out there in the land of my birth where insanity such as this doesn't happen, right?

Undeniable - STIR that kettle, sir! ;)

Eric Foreman, errrr Parson - Everything does NOT relate to Star Wars!! ;)

title="comment permalink">April 10, 2007 8:49 PM  

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