Tender… Except When It’s Not
It still says,
legal tender for all debts, public and private
but its becoming clear the powers-that-be would much prefer
you used something else. Besides cash money, that is.
they are insisting.
A few weeks
ago, for example, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that
a motorist on a toll road who tries to pay the toll with cash may
be physically detained and forced to submit to an an interrogation.
(PDF of the ruling is available here.)
Florida residents Joel, Deborah and Robert Chandler were driving
on the Florida Turnpike hilariously named The
Less Stressway when they came upon a toll both, operated
by private contractor Faneuil,
Inc. for the state of Florida. They attempted to pay the toll
with legal tender cash. A $50 bill. Faneuil, Inc.
really wants people to use SunPass electronic
transponders and has eliminated cash toll lanes on a section of
the Parkway between the Exit 1 and Exit 47 interchanges in Miami-Dade
County. This happened to be the stretch of road on which the Chandlers
were driving that day. They did not have the electronic Sun
Pass transponder perhaps because, like many motorists,
they dont like the idea of a government-issued (or corporate
issued) electronic transmitter in their vehicle which can
track their vehicle. The transponders make it easy to monitor
where a car goes, when it goes and how quickly it goes. Reasonably,
many people including the Chandlers prefer not to
be so monitored.
So, they tried
to pay the toll with cash.
This was refused
and then they were physically detained by not being
allowed to proceed through the toll. Since it is illegal to back
up on a highway, they had no choice but to sit there until the toll
operator now, for all practical purposes their jailer
raised the gate and allowed them to proceed. Which
he would not do until the Chandlers complied with the
toll collectors demand that a Bill Detection Report be filled
out. This report included information about their vehicle as well
as the Chandlers drivers license info, which they were
compelled to provide.
the Chandlers paid well, tried to pay their
toll with a $50 bill. Some might consider that too large
a bill for paying a mere toll. But leavings aside that tolls can
often easily exceed $20 and leaving aside that a $50 bill
is legal tender the court ruled that its ok
to force motorists to stop and accede to the Bill Detection Report
rigmarole for trying to pay their toll with much smaller denomination
bills, too including $5 bills. In principle, Fanueil has
outlawed cash period. On a state road, mind.
That is, on a public road.
and not just Florida is determined to force-feed electronic
transponders to the masses. The better to keep track of you, my
pretty. The ultimate object is, of course, to have all vehicles
on all roads fitted with these transponders. It will make it so
much more efficient, you see, to collect tolls. Also to issue
speeding tickets automatically. Perhaps also
to restrict when you may drive and when. (For
more on that, look up congestion
pricing. Transponders are essential for that little
and its pit bulls in the private sector are literally
salivating at the prospect. (Especially Republicans like Mitt Romney,
incidentally who love efficient government.)
Well, the Chandlers
decided to avail themselves of the courts which, ostensibly,
are there to support the correct application of the law. Such as
the law that still says Federal Reserve Notes are legal tender
for all debts, public and private.
It does not
say some debts.
It says all
Not that it
matters to the appropriately black-robed thugs who operate the courts
in this country. Saith the Lawgivers: In Florida, a persons
right and liberty to use a highway is not absolute.
But of course,
thats not the issue at hand.
[send him mail] is an automotive
columnist and author of Automotive
Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2012 Eric Peters
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