I shall start with a story that will have a familiar ring to it for everyone who has ever driven a car in Moscow. Last Monday my longtime student and friend Sergey, a successful professional, family man, and altogether wonderful human being, was driving to his job in the city from his dacha in the countryside. Of course, with no probable cause or provocation at all, the police stopped him.
"Were you drinking yesterday?" barked Mr. Patrolman. (YESTERDAY!)
"No, only two bottles of beer on Saturday," replied Sergey. (DAY BEFORE YESTERDAY)
"You must take a test," demanded Comrade Lawman.
So Sergey took the breathalyzer. Off went Boris, Keeper of the Peace, to check the results. Soon he returned.
Sergey, however, is not only a nice guy, but also a clever guy.
"No, I am NOT drunk. And we will now go to the hospital to take another test."
Deputy Dawg mulled this over.
"I will give you a different test," he finally decided.
Second test taken. results checked.
"You are sober. Be on your way."
Thank you very much, Inspector Boris.
What a guy.
So this is how the police operate here -- as well you know. If it is any comfort, the 'men in blue' in America have their own little tricks. No, they will not accept bribes (money exchanging hands to avoid the stiffer penalty of loss-of-license) directly from their 'victims'. And they are not supposed to detain you without "probable cause" (which means you must be seen to be driving erratically, missing a tail-light, too much exhaust coming out of the tail-pipe, etc) But of course the police can always find a reason to stop you if they want to.
No, what they do is set up 'speed traps'. This means that they will find some long, straight segment of highway which usually follows a winding, difficult portion of road where everyone must proceed with great care. It is human nature for motorists to speed up once they finally reach the 'straight-away'. So the cops (in collaboration with local government) deliberately affix a ridiculously low speed limit (30 miles per hour or such) to this area where the road suddenly becomes almost like an airport runway. They hide in the bushes in their cars or on motorbikes with their little speedometer radar boxes (whatever they are called), and if you are 5 mph over the official limit, they pounce. And they give you a ticket. And you must pay a fine.
But not to them personally. So, dear Russian friends, if a cop ever stops you while you are driving a car in the USA, PLEASE do not offer him to pay on the spot. It will be considered an attempt to 'bribe' him, and you will be hauled off to jail immediately.
The USA, just like Russia, is full of ticky-tack little "laws" that are mainly designed to cheat and rob the people. One of them involves getting your car towed away for parking illegally. Of course the State does not provide adequate parking for the citizens, but they are only too happy load your vehicle up onto a tow-truck and carry it away if some emergency requires you to be creative in choosing a parking spot -- in other words to find a way of doing yourself what the government and atrocious city-planning will not provide you. The cost and inconvenience can be enormous for the 'crime' of having part of your car poking out six inches beyond what the law stipulates.
Just to demonstrate that this Assholery is not confined to Russia, I will tell you a story. When I was working on my Ph.D. at Florida State University, there was a big parking problem. The university was located in the state capitol of Tallahassee and was basically land-locked in the center of the city (no geographical space to expand). If you were a student, you were automatically issued a parking decal to put on the dashboard (front window) of your car. That meant you could park legally on campus. The trouble was, there were about 60,000 students and about 30,000 parking spaces. You had to get there really early in the morning to find somewhere to park, and often even then it was almost impossible. So imagine that you are a fully paid-up student desperately needing to park and go to your crucial exam. But there is no place to put your car, even though you have already pre-paid for A PLACE TO PARK ! What do you do?
You will do anything. You will park in someome's yard. You will park in the usually empty lot of some off-campus housing building (which of course supplies its own special decals, putting you in violation if you don't have one). Anything. I mean, why come to the university in the first place if you are going to miss your final exam because there is no f*cking parking place although you are entitled to have one as part of your contract ??
So what was the response of city authorities to this ongoing problem?. Well, when I was there (last in 1997) there were seven (7 !!!) towing companies operating in a city the size of one-third of Tula, and these pricks cruised the streets day and night looking for cars that were 'improperly' parked. They did it because they COULD do it. They had you by the nuts, and they would laugh at you when you complained.
This is police mentality.
Russian examples of this kind of 'law enforcement' abound. At Finance University (top ten in Russia) there are approximately 17,000 students and 3000 parking places. I guess there must be a lot of law-breakers in such an environment as that. In Moscow the green and orange evacuation trucks have it down to a fine art: it takes them 25 seconds !!! -- to 'evacuate' a vehicle. In St. Petersburg they just grab the thing by the front wheels and jerk it onto the truck, sometimes breaking the gears in automatic cars.
Imagine that: destroying another person's car because of what is often no more than a technicality. It just leaves you brimming with respect for the authorities, now doesn't it?
In Russia, there are a million laws, and the buffoons in the Duma are forever churning out new ones. Isn't it curious, isn't it funny, that these new edicts, laws, restrictions and regulations NEVER make life easier for ordinary people, but ALWAYS make life more difficult?
That is the parasitic nature of the State.
It should be perfectly obvious to an honest police officer (does such a creature exist in Russia?) when a guy is drunk and when he is not drunk. I, for one, could never drive a car in present-day Russia without being in violation of the law. (Thankfully, I don't need to drive a car here.) I like to drink a few beers before I go to bed. Some people pray, some people have sex, some people play video games, etc. i drink enough to relax, complete my tasks and get sleepy. First thing in the morning, according to Russian law, I am ALWAYS over the limit. Am I drunk? Kiss my ass. OF COURSE I am not drunk. But I would be considered 'drunk' according to a law that was put in force NOT to ensure public safety but to fill the pockets of the police.
And in the end, it is all down to the bad rule -- the ultimate parasite. If police personnel were paid an adequate wage, maybe they would not feel the necessity to find ways of robbing and fleecing the public. So the government robs the police, and the police rob the people.
This has absolutely NOTHING to do what both government and police are 'elected' or assigned by their job descriptions to accompllsh: SERVE AND PROTECT THE PUBLIC. My quarrel is not with rules and regs. We need them. (I mean, imagine a city without traffic lights!) But, ideally, rules, regulations, and laws should be put in place to SERVE the people, not EXPLOIT them. That is the very basic principle that anyone should be able to grasp: The Law should be in place to Help us, not Punish us -- UNLESS we present a truly criminal menace to the freedom and safety of other citizens. How many f*ucking schools do you need to attend before being able to grasp this SIMPLE point???
Russians readers of this blog, you tell me: do you feel SERVED or EXPLOITED by authorities and police?.
Don't worry, I already know the answer.
They are parasites. Except, they are not little fleas on a big dog. They are BIG fleas on a dog which, while not small, is utterly servile, always willing to be kicked and accept crumbs. How does it feel to have your blood sucked out of you by a government, which, when it had money a few years ago -- before the crisis and sanctions hit, chose NOT to prepare for the future but to ride the Gazprom Gravy Train as if it would go on forever? Well, now that 'forever' has ended, we see that there was a Plan B all along (I used to wonder about that.) Plan B was this: rob the people.
My Russian wife, who worked all her life in this country until I moved her to Bulgaria to protect her health, receives a pension of 8,000 roubles per month. The Mayor of Moscow has spent 42,000,000,000 roubles on 'city reconstruction' (laying down blocks from his officially ex-wife's block-making firm) for the purpose of elevating Moscow cosmetically to standards more attractive to the Western Press when World Cup time arrives next summer. And the job is only half-finished.
My Russian wife. Who cares about her? She is just a statistic.
I care. That's why she is in Bulgaria.
===Eric Richard Le Roy===
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