Parking Tickets and the “Consent of the Governed”

ConsentThere’s been a theory floating around America for the past couple hundred years suggesting that government people gain their power and legitimacy via the “consent of the governed”. As I understand it, in the world of Legal Land, it is commonly held that silence is tantamount to consent. In that, if the government people demand something of you and you either comply or say nothing that you are consenting to their rule over you.

Some of us liberty activists say that that is absurd. We say that the reason people comply is not because they consent but because they are frightened of violent government people hurting them, their family, or taking away their property.

Perhaps it’s not an either-or situation. While it is true that most people comply with government people’s demands due to fear of violence, it is also true that if enough people withdrew their consent and therefore their compliance, government people would no longer have their precious legitimacy.

The question becomes, how will the government people respond when people start withdrawing their consent? Will they behave as the theory suggests and respect each sovereign individual’s choice to live their life how he wants? (As long as he is not harming others, of course.) Or, will they reveal themselves as violent, antisocial thugs?

With that in mind, I have decided to test the consent theory. I will start simple, with the issue of parking tickets but eventually would like to move on to other, more pressing issues such as gambling and drug prohibition and even property taxes. I doubt I will be very effective alone, so I invite you to join the fun. Perhaps we can get our freedom back!

Earlier this week I received a $5 parking ticket for not feeding the meter as I went to check my mailbox in downtown Keene, NH. Thanks to the help of Rich Angell at Sovereign Solutions, I crafted a letter to the Keene Police Department Parking Bureau:


February 28, 2008

400 Marlboro Street
Keene, NH 03431-4336

To Whom it May Concern,

I am writing in acknowledgement of the receipt of a “CITY OF KEENE PARKING TICKET” # 60220797, regarding a Subaru, Florida Tag XXXXXX, issued on the 26th of February 2008 at 11:37, demanding the amount of $5.

It is not my intention now, nor has it ever been my intention to defraud anyone. If in fact, I owe such an amount to your agency, I will pay it.

To prove that I am, in fact, bound to such an obligation, please provide the following:

• Evidence of the valid, original contract with my signature binding me to said obligation.

Unless I receive evidence as noted above within ten business days of the receipt of this response (03/13/08), I shall assume that there is no contractual authority for your agency to demand such a “fine” and that I am not obligated to pay any “fine”, with no legal repercussions for any perceived “failure” to do so.

For your convenience and as a show of good faith I am including a prepaid return envelope so as to make your response as simple as possible.

Please note that any correspondence is subject to being posted on the blog at

Ian Bernard
(my address)

So, if I have actually consented, then they certainly will have no trouble finding evidence of that. Of course, I have not consented. In fact, at the time I registered to vote here in New Hampshire, there was a paragraph that said:

In declaring New Hampshire as my domicile, I am subject to the laws of the State of New Hampshire which apply to all residents, including laws requiring me to register my motor vehicles and apply for a New Hampshire’s driver’s license within 60 days of becoming a resident.

Prior to signing my voter’s registration I made certain to cross this paragraph out and initial it. How could I possibly agree to it? I don’t know what all of the laws are in New Hampshire, nor do I care or have enough time to bother reading them. The Attorney Genital’s office even sent someone to investigate me for crossing it out. I told him the same thing. I am not dangerous and will not do harm to others, but I do not consent to be governed by anyone but myself.

How will the parking bureaucrats respond to my letter? Only time will tell. Stay tuned to for the latest!

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  1. I think you are a brilliant individual but, need to have a drink; perhaps a few.

    As a parking ticket expert I can tell you exactly what will happen.

    1. you'll get penalty notices.

    2. in due time you will acrrue enough tickets they will graduate in to judgment tickets.

    3. a judgment will be filed against you in civil court.

    4. you will ignore that judgment.

    5. your credit reports will receive negative entries reducing your credit score.

    6. you will accumulate higher penalites and interest on the tickets.

    7. your registration will not be renewed.

    8. your insurance coverage on your car will beome invalid (you may have a contract with them I suppose).

    9. should you get stopped by police, you will be held acountable for driving without a current registration. should you get in to an auto accident well, your insurance will not cover you because you do not have a valid registration.

    10. you can't inspect your vehicle because of the lack of a current registration.

    11. you will incur more penalties.

    12. your ticket will not be dismissed based upon the grounds you submitted.

    13. you will either pay the fine or incur the above violence.

    14. should you fail to pay the fine (your right) and did get stopped driving without a valid registration certificate you might eventually lose your license.

    15. aaah the license. Didn't anyone tell you that when you signed up for a Driver's License at DMV you contractally agreed to obey the laws?

    Sorry it took me until # 15 to identify the answer.

    Thanks for the puzzle.

    Maybe if it wasn't 2 AM I would have gotten to it before #10.

    Good job !

  2. No, they didn't tell me, so the contract is invalid. Besides, that was in Florida. I do not have a NH drivers license.

  3. It's interesting that they even have that paragraph on the voter registration application; its presence seems to be an outright acknowledgment that they require your consent to be subject to NH laws.

  4. Annie Mous' attitude is disappointing, bordering on statism. While it's interesting and potentially helpful to know the government's official, legal path in their endeavor to aggress against people in this regard, until people start to rebel an the violence of the state is made obvious, the only change will be in the direction of yet worse infringements on our liberties.

    Ian, you probably will need "a drink" after dealing with this particular government bureaucracy, so toke up! And thanks for taking a stand and making it public.

  5. Unfortunately Ian, the bureaucrats will simply follow you around causing trouble with your registration. When paying a speeding ticket at my local DMV a few months ago, I was informed that my privilege to navigate the roads of Massachusetts was suspended for failure to pay some ticket I was given some two years prior for needing to replace a brake light bulb. No one is ever aware of such a thing, but it is simply too much to ask for the police to politely inform you that you have a light out; they need to be an earner for the state as well. Basically, I was threatened with a loss of registration in New Hampshire, and possibly having my car impounded if pulled over in Massachusetts for that unpaid ticket. I still have not paid it and registered my vehicle this year without any hassle. Empty threats or are they really that inefficient?

  6. so were you able to register to vote after crossing out that paragraph?

  7. Yes.

  8. interesting. so it's like a bait clause, they're just hoping you'll think it's mandatory simply because it's there. kinda like the mandatory-ID signs at airports.

  9. Just to make this clear before anyone starts flaming at me, I am an aggressive civil libertarian. I totally agree with what is being done here. I think social security is just clever appropriation of property sans due process, etc.

    However, this is a failed enterprise. Past the obvious fact of the matter that you're gonna have to pay eventually, you're forgetting the fourteenth amendment. "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and SUBJECT TO THE JURISDICTION THEREOF, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." 'Jurisdiction' here being the rule of law of the nation and state where you reside.

    By crossing out the "In declaring New Hampshire as my domicile, I am subject to the laws of the State of New Hampshire which apply to all residents" you have essentially refused to be "subject to the jurisdiction" of your state. You have refused one of the basic aspects of citizenship, and ipso facto, citizenship itself.

    As a non-citizen, you have also lost the protections of the fourteenth amendment. Most importantly that part that says "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law". Without this statement, the government can feel free to fine you at their heart's content so long as you willingly reside in the United States.

    I realize this is purely theoretical in nature. You still have a license, U.S. passport, social security card, etc. But, then again, this whole experiment is really just a test of the theoretical extents of our rights. And, if you refuse the duties of citizenship, you refuse the protections as well.

  10. Multiple Supreme Court decisions have reaffirmed that governments have no obligation to provide any "protections" or anything else to its "citizens".

  11. I realize that. However, the protections I am referring to are protections from the government itself. I realize it is a pessimistic viewpoint to see one needing protection from the government, but that is the world we live in and one of the basic beliefs of the libertarianism you and I espouse.

    The Constitution protects one from the transgressions of government. And, the Constitution, by its very nature, is designed to protect only those people deemed citizens as articulated in the 14th amendment. If you refuse a basic aspect of citizenship (i.e. acceptance of the jurisdiction of government) you refuse citizenship itself. As a non-citizen, the Constitution does not apply to you, and the government can do whatever it wants, including taking property without due process.

    The question is not governmental protection from outside sources, but Constitutional protections from government itself. It is the Constitution which keeps the government off your back and your rights as an individual as secure as they are today. If you give up citizenship, you give up those protections.

  12. Their "due process" is nothing more than a fancy window dressing for theft and threats.

  13. John said <q cite="John">As a non-citizen, you have also lost the protections of the fourteenth amendment. Most importantly that part that says "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."</q>

    If you repudiate your citizenship, the Constitution still says "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property…" Is that some kind of legalese slight of hand, equating "person" only with "citizen?" Or are you mistaken and the Constitution says that it shall not deprive any person – even people who repudiate their citizenship – of life, property, etc.?

    By the way, I'm a voluntaryist, not a Constitutionalist. I'm just wondering.

  14. You could spend time researching legal definitions of words like "person". But it doesn't matter, because they can interpret their "rules" however they want.

  15. I agree that in practice that is the case. But, in practice you are also definitely going to end up "paying" for that ticket. Whether through later penalties, moneys, or legal defense, you will exchange greater than $5 for that ticket. In practice is the key phrase here. In practice you will lose, but theoretically you can make a stand. You can make a statement that you will not be pushed around by arbitrary laws that you never agreed to. Theory is the only arena in which you can win.

    And I am trying to point out that even in the theoretical arena, though you put up a valiant effort, you still cannot win. If you refuse the laws, then you refuse the protections that come with them. Essentially, you're damned if you do (accept the laws) and you're damned if you don't.

  16. I choose freedom. You can too. Or you can beg.

  17. To Ian: I agree with you. I think we should stick it to the government wherever we can. I believe the 1st Amendment proscribes any law against speech or press, including laws against slander and libel. I believe strongly in libertarianism and the defense of our Constitutional rights, however, I just want to point out that this is not the best avenue of fighting. There is what appears to be (to me at least) a small yet vital hole in this argument. It is a good effort, but not a theoretically valid one.

    To Mike: I wouldn't call it legalese sleight of hand necessarily. I would guess it's just the way that amendment happened to work out.

    However, by its very nature, the Constitution only applies to citizens of the United States. This is due to a number of factors, most importantly being the manner in which it was ratified. As it was ratified by actual citizens of each state, not state legislatures, it is tied directly to those people. The Constitution was personally accepted by a majority of people/citizens of the time. As such, in this majoritarian system we live in, it was accepted by the people as a whole.

    This manner of ratification leads to a direct connection between the Constitution and the individual citizen as acceptor and acceptee. That relationship has continued on to this day.

  18. <blockquote cite="">As such, in this majoritarian system we live in, it was accepted by the people as a whole.

    This is nonsense. I do not consent, and others cannot consent for me.

  19. I agree that majoritarianism is often a bitter pill to swallow, but it's an inherent aspect of the American democracy. I also do not especially like it, but that's the way it is.

    Past that, majoritarianism is what is set forth in the Constitution itself, so once again it is directly tied to the protections that your argument requires.

    In all, my argument is based on a Constitutional viewpoint. As Mike pointed out in passing, there are a number of viewpoints you can take. You seem to be speaking from a voluntaryist or anarcho-capitalist position wherein contract and property law is the only thing protected.

  20. I am not arguing. Just pointing out the violence and encouraging noncooperation with the violent people.

    You can argue til your face is blue, but I still won't care about "democracy" and all that other nonsense.

  21. As Ian has decided to become an actor outside of The State or it's constitution, the rights it guarantees, the way it was enacted, and the laws it allows it's legislators to enact are as applicable to him as the by-laws of the local Elks Lodge.

    The question now has become how one independent party interacts with another. In this case, I'm pretty certain the reply to Ian's letter will be some form of aggression, sooner or later.

    If you haven't read it already, I'd recommend Lysander Spooner's "No Treason"

  22. Spooner's "Vices are not Crimes" is good too.. he also makes an oddly convincing case for fiat currency, the last thing you'd expect from him, but he's full of surprises. given the abuses we see are inevitable, i'm still leery of it, but his logic seems pretty sound.

  23. To Tim: Aggression, as I'm sure you know, is an arbitrary subject. One could see Ian's initial letter as aggression, just as one may consider subsequent actions similarly.

    However, if Ian chooses to live outside of the laws and Constitution of the state and nation in which he resides, he will naturally revert back to a (for lack of a better word) "Hobbesian" state of nature wherein might makes right. Without law and a Constitution to protect the property rights vital to your and any similar form of reasoning the government will simply use its vastly superior might to do as it chooses. The only way this or any similar plan may work is by acting within the rules of the current system.

  24. change doesn't *always* have to come from within the system (ie: American Revolution, French Revolution, Bolshevik Revolution, etc..) but you gotta have people that have your back, and for that they have to even be *able* to give a damn about ethics.. we seem to have lost that instinct, and empowered tyranny in the process.

    anarchy is a hearts-and-minds battle, but any ideological movement needs its heros/icon/mythos, and Ian's being utterly beautiful at that aspect of it, even if and perhaps even moreso if/when he goes down in flames. i'll happily throw a champange glass into that fire when i toast him. he's a better warrior than i, but at least i'm duly ashamed of that fact, and that's a start.. cheers baby! -/

    ::raising my glass, downing the stuff, hurling the glass into the fireplace where Ian's passion burns:: LIBERTAS!!

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