Become a criminal - lineupIf your city is like most others in this great country, it is no doubt struggling to pay its bills and balance its budget – unless your town is Beverly Hills, in which case you can stop reading now.

No one knows how our cities have fallen into such financial distress. Could it be that for decades tax rates have steadily declined while we citizens have relentlessly demanded safer bridges, better schools, and daycare centers for our pets?

As we all prepare to march on our state legislature with our latest referendum to demand lower taxes, how can our cities build the libraries, community centers and skate board parks with oxygen bars that are guaranteed for free by the Bill of Rights?

I’ve given this issue a great deal of thought because, as a humor writer, I have a lot of time on my hands. The solution to this perplexing fiscal crisis is clear: If you love your town, start committing crimes.

Because municipalities make big money on tickets for infractions, all you have to do as a patriotic resident is pick the violation you fancy most and go for it. Do you like running stop signs? Back up and run it again. That will bring in $300+ to the city coffers. Prefer public acts of indecency? Try streaking down Main Street. That’s probably good for $500 easy. Your city council will thank you (and probably offer you a free bath towel).

For the truly devoted – as well as the truly poor – don’t pay your fine on time. That’s when the late fees and penalties kick in. Rack up over $1,000 in fines and you just might receive a lovely gift basket from your local police department. Personally, if I were you, I’d ask for the spring cookie bouquet. Scrumptious. It’s the least your town council can do for your philanthropic criminal activities.

Did you know the average speeding ticket generates $150 for a city? Drive 100 mph in Virginia and your fine will be $2,400. Just think about how many homeless people your community could feed if a few caring Virginians drove that recklessly every day.

Want to help but not sure where your criminal strengths lie?  Here are a few suggestions: Drop your Starbucks cup on the sidewalk, park in a loading area, speed through a construction zone, or if you really care about your community’s finances, pass a stopped school bus. These are all guaranteed to generate between $50 and $200 for your local police officers’ donuts kitty.

If you really want to show your support, how about stepping up your game a bit? Consider one of these civic-minded gestures:

  • Become a criminal - parked carMake a somewhat confusing political statement by spray-painting the words Stop Youth in Asia on the wall of a middle school. 
  • Insert the word DON’T” on a stop sign and take a photo of yourself standing next to it. Flag down a policeman and ask him to autograph your picture.
  • Ride a Segway through the halls of the local high school in a superhero costume, shouting into a megaphone, “I’m Batman.” Attempt to arrest the chemistry teacher on the grounds his class is criminally boring.
  • Order a 256-ounce decaf vanilla latte from a local coffee shop and hand the barista a pail, insisting she fill it to the rim. Call 911 and report that you’re holding the barista hostage until she agrees to fill your order and sprinkle cinnamon on top.
  • Park your car in front of the McDonald’s drive thru. Wear dark sunglasses and point a hair blower at anyone entering the drive-thru, shouting at them to slow down or you’ll give them a ticket.
  • Do anything that Justin Bieber would think of doing after he’d imbibed two beers.

The possibilities are endless. And the exciting thing is that in many cases, if you commit the same violation over and over, the fees imposed start to grow exponentially. So, if you really care about your town’s fiscal health, become a public nuisance – as often as possible.

Get up off your couch and demonstrate your support for your hometown. Start by attending next week’s town hall meeting, in which they’ll discuss plans for a new community center for senior citizens. Step up to the microphone and express your support of the elderly in your town – buck naked.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook. 

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2015

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