Tuesday, April 10, 2007

State Robbing Highway Fund To Subsidize "In God We Trust" Plates


Bowing to pressure from religious right organizations such as the American Family Association and Advance America, the legislature and Governor Daniels last year approved legislation authored by Rep. Woody Burton (R-Greenwood) designating a new special plate emblazoned with the logo "In God We Trust." What made this plate different than other special license plates, however, was the absence of any special fee to offset the BMV's $3.59 per plate expense for producing the license plates. As AI previously reported, the "In God We Trust" plate is being offered as a standard license plate to BMV customers, along with the state's designated standard license plate. As a consequence, the state has issued nearly 400,000 of them since January. A Fort Wayne area blog, Left In Aboite, notes the cost to the state's highway fund has already approached $1.5 million. Quoting a Terre Haute Tribune-Star article, the blog writes:

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.

If the trend continues, the state's highway fund could be hit to the tune of $6 million this year alone. That means less money to pay for the state's roads. The BMV is already scheduled to invest $12-$17 million in the issuance of a new regular state license plate next year.

If that isn't enough to anger you, this will be. The American Family Association's Micah Clark boasts at his organization's website that the "In God We Trust" license plate is one of his "proudest accomplishments", and that he was allowed by the BMV to participate in the design of the plate. Clark writes:

It’s hard to believe now that it took several years of legislative battles and overcoming some alleged controversy raised by groups like the Indiana Civil Liberties Union to create the new "In God We Trust" specialty license plate.

The plate is one of my proudest accomplishments over the last fifteen years in the State House as I was fortunate to be a part of the design meetings because of AFA’s strong support for Representative Woody Burton’s license plate legislation year after year. When the design was chosen, the BMV ordered an ambitious 500,000 plates based upon an unexpectedly high number of people who voted on the on-line poll choosing between four possible designs.

It looks like the bureau will have to order more. Just three months after it became available the BMV has reported that around 400,000 national motto plates have already been given to motorists requesting them! The plates are available upon request and do not cost any additional fee. As far as we know, Indiana is the only state with a specialty license plate with our nation’s motto.
There's a bit of irony in the BMV allowing Clark to participate in designing this new license plate. Observant AI readers will recall Clark was one of the most vocal critics of Governor Mitch Daniels' EEO policy for state employees because it prohibited discrimination against persons based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Clark mounted an e-mail campaign to the Governor seeking the repeal of the policy. Clark said Daniel's policy "gives special rights to homosexuals and cross-dressers." He also falsely and hatefully asserted that "policies like this could eventually force churches to hire homosexuals and cross-dressers and damage our free speech rights by outlawing people to speak out against sins like homosexuality." The effort angered Daniels, who ousted Clark from his education round table, a post he had been appointed to by Daniels' Democratic predecessors. Don't ask me why a Democratic governor would have appointed Clark to anything, let alone something important as education.

Whatever anger Daniels felt towards Clark and others on the religious right, including his 2004 GOP opponent Eric Miller, it is all in the past. This is further evidence of just how far Daniels has gone to appease the religious right and distance himself from any voices of moderation within the Republican Party on social issues to avoid a primary fight next year when he seeks re-election. Daniels has been noticeably silent as the state's leading businesses spoke out against SJR-7. Interestingly, the Indianapolis Business Journal, which is owned by Daniels' former economic development guru Mickey Mauer, editorialized against SJR-7 in this week's edition. The IBJ also ran another well-argued column, "Wedded to the Economics of Intolerance", against the discriminatory amendment written by Baker & Daniels' partner Ronald Gifford.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like the state needs to charge a small fee to cover the cost of the plate. If they did that, would you folks still be pissed off?

Wilson46201 said...

You anonymous nobodies would still find some way to feel victimized and use it to raise money for your pseudo-Christian organizations!

Anonymous said...

Yeah. Why isn't the basic cost being covered? Just 3.95 more.

Anonymous said...

I must say the plate looks good on the back of my Caddy and Jeep, right next to my Dickerson in '08 sticker.
I would put one on the RV if I could.

Maybe Indygo could use the surplus plates. That way Wilson wouldn't be left out.

Wilson46201 said...

"I must say the plate looks good on the back of my Caddy and Jeep, right next to my Dickerson in '08 sticker.
I would put one on the RV if I could."

So Eric is planning to be another GOP "rape and pillage the environment" candidate? A suck-up to the foreign oil dictatorships? Oh well, we have no polar bears in Indiana ...

Anonymous said...

How did this thread get hijacked? Wilson, pay attention! Don't play along with the trolls.

4:49, you apparently missed fourth grade history class. In most Indiana schools, that's where they teach the Indiana constitution and state history.

You'd have learned that our state and federal constitutions mirror one another in the establishment of religion clause. A worthy document, and a noble clause.

Because my God is a Christian, I presume this plate is meant for Christians. And if the plate is provided in a manner that differs from other vanity plates, i.e. cost, it amounts to state-sanctioned religion.

Which is unconsitutitional, twice. State and federal.

But with the wanton disregard for Constitutionality lately, it's not hard to see how you missed this blatant attempt to sanction Christianity.

Error forgiven, but, to answer your question, yes, we'd still be angry. And we'd be right.

Wilson46201 said...

Theological/political question: wouldn't it be sacrilegious for an observant Jew to use such plates with the word for Ad*n*i spelled out plainly? Wouldn't "In God we trust" be an abomination?

btw, sorry for taking the troll-bait -- sometimes low-hanging fruit is irresistable!

Anonymous said...

"4:49, you apparently missed fourth grade history class. In most Indiana schools, that's where they teach the Indiana constitution and state history."

Funny thing. I was given copies of these documents, which they said limited the power of government. I then looked and saw how a 40 year old who passed a bad check when they were 18 and became a felon couldn't own a firearm for life. I saw how my taxes went to layabouts, bums, and mopes who pop out kid after kid and live in housing that I help pay for. I saw how my money is taken from me and given to various folks for "research" and "medical stuff." I saw how the government forces large companies to keep date on how many people they hire based on skin color, religion, sex organ, and age as to not get sued for "discrimination." I saw how local schools used 50%+1 to slam taxpayers and get multi-million dollar sporting centers built, which have nothing to do with basic education.

I saw how the government does all these things and came to one conclusion, that these documents no longer mean jack.

thomas said...

Not to nitpick or anything, but all of the above quoted material from the Left in Aboite post actually came from my post on this very same subject last week.


Petty? Sure, but I'm ill with the flu and don't have much else to do with my time...

Anonymous said...

The Plate has more to do with patriotic pride than religion. Get a grip it's about time that Americans showed pride for our country without a couple of our buildings being blown up for a loss of life. If this plate makes us all stop and reflect about our freedom then it was worth the few dollars extra that it cost.

Anonymous said...

"sorry for taking the troll-bait -- sometimes low-hanging fruit is irresistable!"

So Wilson admits that he to is a troll, will wonders never cease? That’s not what you stated at TDW.
As to Dickerson in '08, I can only hope. For your answer Mr. Allen, why don't you ask him? His phone number is known. I understand you shared many conversations with him last election. Those who were supporters know of the information exchange. Wilson does Carson and the party know?

Anonymous said...

10:30, the "few extra dollars" is exactly the point. If it's you, and others, who perfer this plate, spending the extra dollars, on a par equal to other vanity plates, have at it.

But it's not. It's me. And everyone else.

Which, by any definition, amounts to state endorsement of Christianity.

And regardless what history class you took, regardless what we put on our money, that's Constitutionally forbidden. Thank God.

Please, for the love of my God, leave the blown-up buildings argument out of it. Can't you right wingers ever have an intellegent discourse on civil liberties, without bringing up blown-up buildings? Try to focus.

Mark said...

So, seriously, if there was a fee (even just to cover the cost of the plate) what's the big deal? And Wilson chastising others for playing the victim....now that's rich.

How does the word "God" endorse one religion? I admit that it does endorse religion on the whole (we use money with the saying on it every day, remember, and no one throws a fit). But to say that one religion in general is endorsed, to me, is a little far-fetched, no matter what bigoted, hateful organization thinks that the plate is its' "greatest accomplishment". I'm not against the language on the plate, but I'm sure against it being free - there would be a huge demand for it, even if it cost $20. The money the BMV is losing will just come out of our paychecks somehow, and I don't know about everyone else, but I'd rather have a choice in paying for it directly at the BMV, or being forced to out of my paycheck.

Anonymous said...

I just don't see how religion figures into that new license plate.
I, like most patriotic American citizens, place money before anything else in life. That was the intent of the In God We Trust plate because that phrase is on our $$ currency.
I like money and that's why I chose the In God We Trust plate to go on my Hummer. Hell, I couldn't tell the difference between a Babtist or a Methodist or a Hindu but I sure as hell know what money looks like. I worship money and that's what I thought Woody was doing when he got these plates approved. A religious issue? Nah, just a chance for Hoosiers to really show what they truly belive in, money. And lots of it!

Jacob Perry said...

Wilson and Gary, the paranoia you both have towards Christianity lends me to wonder if you have concerns regarding how you'll spend eternity.

Next thing you know, this site will begin advocating for removal of teh term from our coinage.

Hate to be reminded that He exists?

Wilson46201 said...

Do all the reminding about whatever deity as you wish -- but why not do it on your dime and your time and not everybody else's?

In the 1600s or so, England and Europe went through horrendous religious civil wars -- our wise Founders desperately wanted to avoid the religious schisms and favoritisms they'd seen wrecking and wracking civilized nations. Believe whatever you wish but dont try to use our common Government to enforce your religious opinions onto others!

Is your God so unknown it needs the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to back it up? Omnipotent? Pshaw!

Anonymous said...

Wilson finally makes a good point. I often wonder if many of these "shove my Christianity down your throat with the help of the government" types are really worried about their own faith.

Do they really need the BMV to pick up the cost of these plates, or could we have made some real money off it?

Do they need their "version" of a good family / marriage forced on everyone through the Constitution or can they just show us by example?

Do they need a plastic Baby Jesus lit up on the Courthouse square to prove they worship him instead of the almighty Dollar at Christmas?

Do they fear they are becoming the minority? Paranoia is more than a diagnosis.

I see all of this as part and parcel of the same syndrome. "I got mine, I'm saved, You're goin to Hell and I'm gonna help ya."

I wonder what they would do if we slapped DOG over the word God on all those plates? Praise from a dyslexic worshipper.

Anonymous said...

I forgot! I once heard a Methodist pastor make the best point. He said that Christians should live so that they would be convicted in court, if accused of being a Christian. In other words, live your beliefs and others will follow.

One of the reasons many laws don't work if that you have to change the hearts and minds of the people, or punish them severely and consistently. Think seatbelt laws.

Anonymous said...

How I spend eternity is between me and God. It should not have the state, or posters here, involved.

He does exist, and I celebrate that fact daily. I know He msiles on this nation, but not preferentially over other nations. My God loves all people, of all faiths and nations.

But my best friend is a Muslim, a college professor and a brilliant addition to the Hoosier economy and landscape. His chosen diety is Allah.

Make no mistake--the word "God" on those plates is Christian. Period.
And no, it should NOT be on our money either...

Don't cast aspersions on my faith because I believe that. I fervently guard the religious part of my life, from the government part of my life. One is necessary (taxes, roads, etc.). The other is my soul.

N'er the twain should meet.