From the March 2001 Idaho Observer:
Grand Theft Auto
by Hari Heath
In the last century probably nothing has changed American culture more than the car. Our lives and nearly every major infrastructure in our society revolve around it. Many homes have an additional house just for the auto. The roadways we have built for our cultural icon, the car, dissect the urban and rural topography. Many people, consciously or otherwise, manifest their identity and self esteem through owning the car of their dreams. In short, the automobile has become one of the pseudo-gods in our techno-industrial culture.
With such worshipful attention placed upon our national idol, no wonder car theft is such a big business. Chop shops steal and dismember choice autos for great profit. Small time hoods can remove car stereos or bypass ignition locks in seconds. Armed car-jacking has been elevated to the status of a federal crime. But, what is the most insidious grand theft auto scheme of all time? The theft of all the cars in America, before they are sold, through a hideous administrative scheme. Your car is not your car and here's why.
In an honest world, when you buy something it's yours. The Idaho Constitution, written before there were cars and administrative agencies of government, recognized this property ownership as an inalienable right. That most ignored part of our state Constitution declares in its primal first paragraph the inalienable rights of man:
"All men are by nature free and equal, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing and protecting property; pursuing happiness and securing safety."
Given a sufficient personal economy, can we acquire and possess a new car?
We should be living under a system of government where such things are possible but, unfortunately, constitutional government has been relegated to either history or theater. History, because it is no longer adhered to; theater because of the parliamentary, executive and judicial theatrics that are used to maintain an illusion of legitimate, constitutional government.
What has been replacing our original constitutional form of government is the administrative regime. For every regulatable area of life an agency has been commissioned to regulate it. Agencies are those collections of people who have assumed the authority to be all and do all in the name of government. Without the constitutional restraints of the separate branches of government, these unelected bureaucrats can make and enforce their own regulations. Promulgating rules by proposing them, publishing them and then declaring them as law, the kleptocrats of the administrative realms have left few stones unturned (see "Kleptocracy, our government of thieves," The Idaho Observer, July 2000). By these rules, your car is stolen before you can buy it.
How It Works
The Idaho Transportation Department begins to own your car by promulgating administrative rules (IDAPA) which license its maker: "The Department shall issue a manufacturer or distributor license to firms that own the finished vehicle... " (IDAPA 39.02.01.100.01). Then the agency requires the licensing of car dealers: "A dealer license is required in the following situations: Selling or exchanging, or soliciting the sale of five (5) or more vehicles or vessels in any one (1) calendar year even though titled in seller's name; or displaying for sale or exchange, five (5) or more vehicles or vessels at any one (1) time even though titled in the displayer's name; or displaying vehicles or vessels for sale, exchange or consign on property not legally controlled by the owner of the vehicle or vessel" (IDAPA 39.02.02.100).
Not content with licensing the maker and dealer of the new car, the administrators have added another layer of control: "Dealers shall not allow a person to act as a salesperson in their behalf unless such person holds a valid salesperson license containing a current photograph of the salesperson, and the date of expiration of the salesperson's license" (IDAPA 39.02.02.101).
Then, without any act of the legislature, the administrators command that: "Any person who violates this rule is subject to a license suspension or the non-issuance of a license for a period of not less than thirty (30) days and no more than six (6) months" (IDAPA 39.02.02.400.01) and, "Any unlicensed person who violates this rule is subject to penalty under Chapter 16, Title 49, Idaho Code" (IDAPA 39.02.02.400.03).
Now that the kleptocrats in the transportation agency have managed to control the maker, distributor, dealer and the man on the lot with a license, they can now move in for the completion of their grand theft auto scheme: "New vehicles sold in Idaho being titled for the first time must have the title application endorsed by an Idaho-licensed, franchised new vehicle dealer" (IDAPA 39.02.09.100.01) and, "Title applications must be accompanied by a manufacturer's certificate of origin" (IDAPA 39.02.09.100.02).
Cars are made not born. As a thing of commercial value they are given a "title" to evidence the chain of ownership after they are manufactured. Idaho's administrative rules (IDAPA) require every new car sold in the state to have a Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin or Manufacturer's Statement of Origin (MCO/MSO): "Licensed Manufacturers may franchise any Idaho dealer; shall display the make, name and chassis identification number approved by the Society of Automotive Engineers on each vehicle; and shall furnish an MCO/MSO for each completed vehicle to dealers" (IDAPA 39.02.01.100.02).
This "MCO" is not just a note from your mom explaining how you got here. The MCO content requirements must include: "Date; Invoice number and document serial numbers; Name of distributor or dealer; Issuing location - city and state; Manufacturer's name and signature of authorized manufacturer's representative; Manufacturer statement - 'I, the undersigned authorized representative of the company, firm or corporation named below, hereby certify that the new vehicle described above is the property of the said company, firm or corporation and is transferred on the above date and under the Invoice Number indicated to the following distributor or dealer'; Year, make, body type, series or model; Vehicle identification number, approved by the American Society of Automotive Engineers; Shipping weight, horsepower (SAE), number of cylinders, Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR); and Certification attesting to the first transfer in ordinary trade or commerce: 'It is further certified that this is the first transfer of such new vehicle in ordinary trade and commerce'" (IDAPA 39.02.09.200.01.a-j).
In order to ensure that the title to the vehicles they are about to own is bona fide, the Idaho Transportation Department rulemakers also require security features on the title document: "All "Certificates of Origin" should contain the following nine (9) security features: Paper: Sensitized Security Paper - paper that is reactive to chemicals commonly used to alter documents; Non-Optical Brightener Paper - paper without added optical brighteners which will not fluoresce under ultraviolet light; Engraved Border - a border produced from engraved art work which shall appear on the front of the document; Prismatic - rainbow printing which is used as a deterrent to color copying; and/or Copy Void Pantograph - the word "void" appears when the document is copied; Complex Colors - colors which are developed by using a mixture of two (2) or more of the primary colors (red, yellow or blue) and black if required; Erasable Fluorescent Background Inks - fluoresces under ultraviolet light and reacts to any attempt to erase in such a manner as to be immediately detectable; Background Security Design - a repetitious design consisting of a pattern which hinders counterfeiting efforts; Microline - a line of small alpha characters in capitol letters which requires a magnifying glass to read; Consecutively Numbered - documents that contain a number which is consecutively numbered for control purposes; Security Thread - with or without watermark; and/or Intaglio Print - with or without latent image" (IDAPA 39.02.09.201.01).
Hopefully you have made it through all that administrative mumbo jumbo and are ready for the next two important questions: What is really going on here and why would this agency require such a complex document if it is only going to be transferred from the manufacturer to the dealer to them? First, the Transportation Department kleptocrats do not issue any "title," they steal it.
"The Department shall issue a Certificate of Title on any motor vehicle if the applicant can show proper documentation of ownership..." (IDAPA 39.02.12.100) and, "Title applications must be accompanied by a manufacturer's certificate of origin" (IDAPA 39.02.09.100.02).
That complex document with all the content requirements and security features, the MCO, is THE title. These administrative rules require the licensed dealer to send in THE title with the "title application." The real title, The MCO, is then "held" by the kleptocrats, never to be seen again.
The kleptocrats then issue a "Certificate of Title"-key word: "Certificate." The Certificate of Title merely certifies that there was a title. Most people mistakenly think that the Certificate of Title issued by the state is the title.
Using a scheme that is common across our nation, the licensed, enfranchised car dealers are compelled to surrender the real title or MCO to the state. Why? In the language of commercial code, the MCO is an "instrument" of title "issued" by the "maker" (the car manufacturer) and "negotiated" (through the licensed, enfranchised dealer) to the "holder" (the one who ends up with the "instrument" which conveys "possessory rights" to the car and its "proceeds"-in this case, the state). Under commercial code, before the "instrument" issued by the "maker," can convey rights to the Transportation Department as a "holder in due course," the instrument must "not bear such apparent evidence of forgery or alteration" or "an unauthorized signature..." (Idaho Code 28-3-302(1).
That is why the kleptocrats want the MCO to be such a detailed security instrument-it conveys the legal and commercial "rights" to "your" car-before you can "own" it.
(For a really confusing read that exemplifies why lawyers should never be allowed anywhere near the legislature, see all of Idaho Code, Title 28).
"Certificate of Title?"
A Certificate of Title conveys the equitable use of the car. You may even transfer that use to another person by signing over the Certificate of Title to them, but only relative to your equity interest.
You could think of it as a conditional use permit, which compels your compliance with license, registration, insurance and all other laws governing the use of the now state owned property. That's why state employed officers can pull you over for any "infraction," seemingly in violation of your constitutional rights. The license plates evidence the state as "holder in due course" of the car-the owner-and the officer is the owner's agent regulating the use of the owner's property. No one in this country is allowed to own a vehicle and travel freely anymore. We must first obtain permission to use state-owned property.
That is how administrative government uses commercial process to steal the rights to "your" car and control your use of it through compelled registration and licensure schemes. It's a crime, also known as Grand Theft Auto.
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