Thursday, June 21, 2007

"In God We Trust": A New Standard?

A Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette editorial opines that the "In God We Trust" plate has essentially become the state's standard plate, the law is being ignored, other special license plate benefactors are taking a big hit and it's costing the taxpayers dearly. The editorial reads:

A dark blue plate with the familiar design of the state flag was unveiled last month as the favorite among finalists for Indiana’s new standard license plate. But the Bureau of Motor Vehicles’ uneven policies involving the “In God We Trust” specialty plate appear to have made it Indiana’s standard plate instead.

Reports from across the state suggest that motorists are being offered the plate even without requesting one.

As The Journal Gazette’s Niki Kelly reported Wednesday, that seems to contradict the legislation creating the specialty plate, which stipulates that motorists are eligible to receive the plate after “completing an application.”

The BMV needs to review the legislation establishing the “In God We Trust” plate and set uniform policies to be followed at each of its license branches. Its uneven procedures appear to place the state in the position of promoting “In God We Trust” as the standard state license plate.

The emphasis on distributing the specialty plate is especially puzzling considering the agency’s recent efforts to control costs. The “In God We Trust” plate costs more to make than the blue-and-green standard tag – 50 cents more per plate, to be precise. With 824,504 “In God We Trust” plates distributed as of last Saturday, that’s an additional $412,000 the agency has spent on plates. Six months into the year, that takes a hefty chunk out of the $1 million annual inventory cost savings the BMV boasts will be realized by replacing the one- or two-digit county indicator plates with a county sticker.

The BMV has even discouraged car owners from choosing the more cheaply manufactured standard plate by placing a premium on it. Those who request a new standard plate because their 2003-issue plate has been damaged must pay a $9 replacement fee. But they can accept a new “In God We Trust” plate with no replacement fee.

The state requires motorists who want certain specialty plates to provide additional paperwork to obtain their plates. Anyone requesting a Taylor University plate, for example, must produce an authorization form from Taylor and pay a $15 administrative fee and $15 group fee, which supports university programs.

There were early indications that the “In God We Trust” plate will cut into sales of plates supporting such worthy programs. In the first three months of this year, sales of the popular environmental trust plate were almost half what they were for the same period a year ago. Group fees from that plate go to the Indiana Heritage Trust fund to buy and protect land.

The Indiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has sued the state on behalf of an Allen County resident who believes the plate is unconstitutional because it is exempt from the $15 administrative fee charged for other specialty license plates. The courts will have to determine that.

But BMV officials need to take a close look at policies and procedures involving distribution of the plate. BMV spokesman Greg Cook told Kelly the agency wants to make people aware of the “In God We Trust” plate but doesn’t want to promote it.

Yet promotion of the plate as Indiana’s new standard plate appears to be exactly what is taking place – at an additional cost.

Just another example of what happens when you let phony nonprofit organizations run around lobbying the State House pretending to represent God.


Anonymous said...

If someone bought a specialty plate last time why would the new plate keep them from buying the same specialty plate again ?

Maybe they like the new plater BETTER than the specialty plate they had last time ?

The question should be - If the new plate cost as much as the specialty plate which one would they buy ?

Anonymous said...

free versus $45 -- only part of which goes to the charity.. and when they replace your plate they push the blue one first.

easy to figure this equation out, but I wonder how much the charity plates are hurting. THAT may eventually be the rub.

Jay C. Howard said...

When I renewed my plates this spring at the Fishers BMV, I heard both BMV workers on either side of make ask if patrons wanted the "blue or green" plates. The woman to my left was new to the state and she asked what the difference was and got this reply, "Blue or green?" There's some deception going on here, combined with laziness and misinformation on the part of BMV staff.

Anonymous said...

Not to mention that if the state is pushing a plate that says "In God We Trust" it is violation the whole speration of church and state thing.

Anonymous said...

But the money I used to PAY for my plates has In God we Trust on it ?

Anonymous said...

which also violates the seperation of church and state in my eyes.

Unknown said...

Exactly. The fact that our money says in God We Trust on it doesn't make it appropriate for government to promote religion, even though this seems to be one of the proponents' most common rationalizations.

Wilson46201 said...

Let's compromise on the plates -- using Arabic script, put "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great!) on them. The essential message of sucking up to the fundamentalists remains the same and greater international harmony can be achieved perhaps ...

Let it never be said Hoosiers are religiously intolerant bigots or xenophobic yahoos!