Today: Feb 19 , 2019

Arizona Dreaming

How freedom of movement - or lack thereof - affects our society.

I spent two weeks in the middle of May in California. The first week was spent up in the Gold Country, east of Sacramento for the annual Long Beach Police Reunion, aptly named “Substation North”. The next week, I traveled to the Mecca of fishing lakes surrounding Bishop, California. I was born in Southern California, spent most of my first 54 years there. It pains me to see what has happened to my once great state.

While growing up in SoCal, one of the things that stood out was a freedom that is not specifically mentioned in the US or any of the state constitutions, although it is an understood right in all of them. That right is the freedom of movement.

Nothing represents that “right” more than the automobile. The right of passage from childhood to adulthood, took place in the middle of the teen years. At the age of 15 ½ , an individual was allowed to obtain a learner's permit, that allowed him or her to drive a car as long as an adult was in the vehicle. At 16, the teenager was given a driving test with a DMV examiner in the car. If the teen passed that test, a driver's license was issued. The efficacy of allowing those of such a tender age to propel thousands of pounds of metal down public streets is debatable, but that was the law forty years ago in California and probably hasn't changed much since then.

What has changed is the infringement on freedom of movement that has been imposed on Californians by neglect, taxes, social engineering and laws. The supposed leaders of the Golden State have ignored the condition of many of the main highways in the state. They have used monies earmarked for transportation for their own pet social programs.

The three main north/south highways are Highways 1, 101 and 99. While there has been a notable improvement on Highway 99 this year, there are still miles and miles where potholes, cracks and crumbling concrete and asphalt will jar the bolts loose on any RV, pickup or car. The axiom that “the power to tax is the power to destroy” is alive and well in California as far as traveling by a motor vehicle is concerned. This year the state legislature and governor have increased the tax on gasoline to almost 42 cents a gallon and diesel by 20 cents a gallon. In addition, they also increased the vehicle registration fee from $25 to $175 per vehicle depending on its worth.

While the left professes to care for the poor and the working class, the effect of their road neglect and increases in taxes on vehicles and fuel are going to hit those at the lowest level of the economy the most. The leaders of California are thereby socially engineering the working class people into using mass transit. This also impairs their freedom of movement. Poor and working people are much easier for progressives to manipulate than the wealthy.

One may ask how using mass transit will infringe on their right to free movement. If a person owns his or her own vehicle and is not burdened with heavy traffic, poor roads or excessive taxes, that person can hop in the car and go to where he wants to go, when he or she wants to go and not have their desired travel hindered by the bus, light rail or subway schedule, transfers of lines or other inconveniences . They can travel beyond the limits of mass transportation. In other words, they can act as individuals instead of a part of a herd. While driving in California, one can't help but think of how much better off we are in Arizona. Let's hope that the current Californians, escaping that once freedom loving state, do not bring the politics that ruined California with them.

Buz Williams, Opinion Columnist

Richard F. "Buz" Williams was born into a police family.  His father, both grandfathers, a great uncle and a cousin were all on the Los Angeles Police Department and he also had an uncle on the Hawthorne, California Police Department.  Buz served for 29 years on the Long Beach, California Police Department were he worked Patrol, Juvenile, Vice, Auto Theft and Gangs.  He retired in December of 2002.  Buz has been married to his wife Judi for 44 years.  They have two grown sons who live in Southern California with their families, which include two daughter-in-laws, three grandsons and a granddaughter.  Buz and Judi have lived in Prescott since 2004.

The opinions expressed in Buz's columns are expressly his own, and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of this publication.