The news from Carson City these days has included these two gems from the Department of Motor Vehicles:
1) Coming Soon, DMV In A Box.
2) The DMV Live program to automatically verify insurance coverage may have been first but it doesn’t really work because nobody bothered to gain the co-operation of the insurance companies.
Here’s a very legitimate question which has been heard many times by my rural radio station listeners in Winnemucca, Elko and Ely:
Why can’t we privatize the DMV?
Does the DMV do anything which cannot be done by private enterprise? Wouldn’t setting a profit incentive shorten the lines and improve the service? Why do we need state employees with pensions granted by the taxpayers to do what is the most simple of clerical functions, things which companies like EDS and Perot Systems have been doing for years?
Right now, if you need to take a driving test, in some places you can wait three to six months.
They blame it on the budget. Not enough money to hire examiners.
If you are a pilot and need to take a check ride from the Federal Aviation Administration, you pay a private individual who has been certified by the FAA to give you a check ride.
Would you like to compare safety records of pilots whose licenses are signed off by non-government employees to new drivers who have taken the test from Nevada state employees?
Or, more to the point, how about the number of people in Nevada caught driving without a license because they could not wait six months to take the test to the number of people caught flying without a pilot’s license for the same reason.
Sure, the check ride pilot charges a fee. So would a private driving examiner. What would you rather have? A six month wait or a few less dollars?
The truth is that there are very few if any functions provided by the DMV could not be handled by contract to a company which has an incentive to provide both good service and make a profit. A side benefit might just be a savings to the taxpayers.
Instead of increasing budgets so that they could hire more government employees to give the taxpayers more marginal service, why not bid the whole thing out to private enterprise?
While we are on the subject of private enterprise, let’s talk about state licensing.
Most of the business licenses issued by the state and municipal governments are subject to challenge because there is no compelling state interest in issuing such a license.
For a state, county or city government to require a business license, there must first be a reason—other than generating revenue. There’s a difference between a regulatory scheme in which you can only charge what it costs to deliver the regulation as a matter of case law, and a tax.
The most common compelling interest a state has are life, health and safety concerns. Another compelling interest would be distribution of a scarce public resource.
And, finally, there are privilege licenses—in short, something which would be illegal except for an indulgence granted by the state for the state’s benefit. Gaming and liquor licenses fall into this category.
As a rule, the state really doesn’t have a compelling interest in regulating barbers. But it does because barbers like it that way.
Nor does it have a compelling interest in regulating, say, newspapers. Yet many cities and counties in Nevada try to issue licenses for newspapers. When you point out to these bureaucrats that as a matter of constitutional law you cannot license or regulate a newspaper, they all say that they can but they never want to take it to court. Because they know they’d get spanked by a Federal judge.
The latest scheme out there is in a bill sponsored in the 2011 Nevada legislature by of all people Republican (RINO?) Joe Hardy which would require a license for people who write requests for grants. Really.
We don’t know what or if he was thinking, but it is high time we went on a jihad against such unnecessary and unconstitutional licenses.
Bureaucrats are just like mules.
Sometimes you have to whack them upside of their heads with two by fours in order to get their attention.
The difference is that mules learn and are often smarter than bureaucrats.