Friday, October 21st, 2016

Good intentions gone wrong


Publication: Waukesha Freeman (Conley); Date: Jun 3, 2010; Section: Opinion; Page: 10A

Good intentions gone wrong
Insurance mandates will hurt residents

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)

The Democrats will be gathering for their state convention a week from tomorrow in Madison. Normally, I’d yell something like “incoming!” as a warning, but Democrats in Madison are like children in an amusement park: ubiquitous and annoying.

It’s only fitting that the Democrats are gathering in Madison. Madison is the model liberal city.

Just this week the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison told the story of a woman who decided to comply with the city ordinance on the disposal of cat feces.

Madison requires them to be flushed or buried. No throwing them in the garbage for fear of exposing the garbage men to the feces.

She discovered her environmental regulation-compliant, low-flow toilet couldn’t handle the animal waste because of the small amount of attached kitty litter. Now she just breaks the law.

Call it a metaphor for liberalism run amok.

On Tuesday, the state’s requirement that every automotive driver carry insurance went into effect. The mandate passed last year as part of the state budget rather than receive the scrutiny it deserved if it had been considered separately.

As part of the mandated insurance requirement, drivers are expected to have proof of insurance with them at all times. Drivers will be asked for their papers during traffic stops more often than escaped prisoners were asked in “The Great Escape.” If the driver forgets to keep his insurance agent’s card in the car, it’s a $10 ticket.

The mandate also increased the minimum levels of coverage in insurance, beginning Jan. 1. More coverage means higher premiums. Drivers who avoided getting insurance in the past will also be penalized by insurance companies as perceived higher risks and pay higher premiums, too.

According to the Wisconsin Insurance Association, about 14 percent of Wisconsin’s drivers are uninsured. The higher premium costs will make it even harder for those surviving at the financial margins to somehow budget in the mandatory auto insurance.

The alternative to complying with the law is a $500 fine if you’re caught driving without insurance, about the prize money of a cheap scratch-off game at the convenience store.

Since having a car is often the difference between having a job or not having one, how many people will decide to continue playing the no-insurance lottery? Given the higher premiums for the increased minimum coverage in a shaky economy, how many more Wisconsin drivers will join the ranks of those driving while uninsured?

By the way, you’ll be happy to know Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, is warning his constituents that the mandated increase in auto insurance also applies to mo-peds and scooters, like those commonly seen on college campuses.

So when those crazy Madison college kids zip around town on their environmentally conscious mo-peds, you can ask yourself how many of them are paying for the insurance, and how many of them decided to just break the law.

Assuming the best intentions of the Democrats, here is a classic example of the government doing something to achieve one goal, increasing the percentage of insured drivers on the roads, and achieving the opposite effect. But at least the Democratic legislators who forced the mandate’s passing as part of the state budget can feel good knowing they “did something.”

The Democrats will be returning to the scene of the crime next week to assess the damage they did when they had complete control of the Legislature and the governor’s mansion. When they look back at all of the failures of the Doyle Administration, the unemployment, the chasing of industry out of the state, the higher taxes, the failure to enact serious education reform, I’m sure the Democrats will once again say how they acted from the purest of motives.

We’ll grant most of them the benefit of the doubt. But for all the Democrats’ good intentions, Wisconsinites will have some real reminders that even the best intentions can lead to some really bad outcomes. If nothing else, the Democrats’ time in power should serve as a reminder that there are limits to what government can and should do.


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