Driving Drunk In Ireland
By Neil McKinnon
Many farmers in Kerry County, Ireland live in areas where there is no public transport and few local pubs. They have a long way to travel for liquid socialization. Most don’t mind the distance because an evening in the pub is a sure-fire way to combat the boredom and loneliness caused by their isolation. However, there is a problem—the police have been lying in wait for these rural folk as they wend their bleary way home after an evening of battling melancholy and depression at their favorite watering hole.
Recognizing the problem as serious, the Kerry County Council recently passed a motion to create special permits that would allow these poor sots to have a few pints and then drive home while under the influence without getting busted. They say the permits are needed to fight an epidemic of despair and misery.
The national government wasted no time in overruling the local council. On reflection, I feel that the national government is short-sighted. They and governments everywhere should recognize this trend setting move as a novel way to generate revenue, reduce spiraling debt and cut out-of-control deficits. Consider the following:
Instead of an annual license to drive drunk, they could sell one-time permits and make them available right in the pub. There would be no increase in government administrative costs. Pubs would be happy to make permits available as a service to clients because of the increase they could expect in sales. To alleviate the possibility that farmers would only buy permits when they over-indulge, the authorities could begin using random legal limits that vary daily. This simple act would encourage every prudent farmer to purchase a permit along with his first pint.
This is such a good idea that it could be adopted in other areas of criminality with equally lucrative results. A few examples will suffice:
ARSON – If one is afflicted with a desire to watch a building being reduced to a pile of smoldering ash it should be legally possible to engage in the obsession. Any house can be chosen by the firebug as the price of a permit can be set high enough so that the government can reimburse the homeowner for his insurance and still come out ahead. The arsonist will be happy to pay as he or she nullifies all risk of going to jail.
FLASHING – An individual with this particular form of deviancy should be able to acquire a permit that allows him to practice his calling in pre-designated areas—areas where people have been warned to expect a man to leap from a conveniently planted bush while yelling and ripping open his raincoat. Deviancy rarely dissolves on its own, so permit sales will be a permanent source of government revenue. The authorities might, for example, sell a standard one-time flashing license for $50 and then offer a $100 special that would be good for three subsequent streaking performances at sporting events.
SPEEDING – The cost of a driver’s license that makes it okay for one to commit this particular misdemeanor should be proportional to the speed one wishes to drive. For example, the price for someone who wants to drive at 90 miles per hour may be set at $90 whereas another individual who only wants to travel at 80 would be charged $80. The price could be doubled or even tripled if the speeding is to be done in a downtown area.
ROBBERY – A high percentage of crooks are caught, so purchasing a permit before holding up a bank makes perfect sense. It should be easy to calculate the price of the permit so that the government makes money and so that it is advantageous for the robber to buy the license. Perhaps different types of robberies should carry different fees. For example, a license to perform a bank job should carry an added premium if the heist is to be an armed robbery.
HOMICIDE – Say Adele M. wants to do in her husband, Geoffrey, so that she can run off with Lancelot, the man who came to fix the leak in the dishwasher. She knows there is a risk of getting caught and spending the rest of her life incarcerated instead of wallowing in erotic bliss on a Caribbean Island. The cost to the state to catch, prosecute, convict, and incarcerate or execute is very high. All that money is saved and the government gains substantial revenue if they simply issue Adele M. a homicide permit—so much revenue in fact that the state can afford to pay for a nice funeral for Geoffrey.
These are just a few examples. There are infinite possibilities for adding new laws or resurrecting old ones. Think of the potential in areas such as bigamy, blasphemy, polygamy, adultery, self-abuse, suicide and tax evasion. Just as the Catholic Church did years ago with indulgences, the council in Kerry has hit on something and if our government is smart, it will indeed take heed.
(Ed. Note: Neil is the author of Tuckahoe Slidebottle (Thistledown Press) which was a finalist for the Stephen Leacock Humor Award and the Howard O’Hagen Short Fiction Award.)