Curbside Extortion

Jul. 10 - The first parking meter was installed in England forty-five years ago today, on July 10, 1958. (The 2nd through 625th were also installed on that day.)

It had taken nearly two dozen years for the parking meter to travel across the Atlantic: the first American parking meter had been installed in Oklahoma City on July 16, 1935.

It was invented by Oklahoma City's Carl C. Magee, the head of that city's chamber of commerce, as part of an effort to free more parking spaces for daytime shoppers. Downtown parking spaces had typically been taken by office workers who left their cars parked on the street all day, making it difficult for shoppers to find open spaces and thereby causing incalculable pain and suffering. (Double-parking was not invented until 1963.)

The parking meter is one of the great instruments of totalitarian control, and I don't understand how conspiracy theorists who lose sleep over Roswell, the Masons, and black helicopters can walk blithely past dozens of parking meters every day. Maybe they haven't seen Cool Hand Luke.

Current estimates ("wild guesses") suggest there are now more than five million of these coercive devil machines deployed across the United States. They absorb millions of dollars in small change every day, and generate still more ill-gotten revenue by means of fines levied against persons who refuse to kneel before them.

I urge my readers to recall the words of Alexander Hamilton, who observed in The Federalist #19 that "no people are free who must pay for municipal parking."

The first concrete-paved street was built 111 years ago today in Bellefountaine, Ohio. Paved streets are good. I've got no problem with paved streets.

Unless they're lined with parking meters.

Today is the birthday of Arlo Guthrie (1947), Arthur Ashe (1943), Fred Gwynne (1926), Jake LaMotta (1921), David Brinkley (1920), Saul Bellow (1915), and Marcel Proust (1871).

It's Independence Day in the Bahamas.

Happy Thursday!

2003, The Moron's Almanac™

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