Keep Sensationalism Out of the Tire Registration Debate

Bob Ulrich
Posted on November 16, 2015

In the November 1976 issue of Trial magazine, two attorneys charged that all passenger tires in use in the United States were defective!

Trial magazine was the legal news-magazine of the the Association for Trial Lawyers. At the time, our then publisher, the late Bernie Kovach, said the article "does little more than provide false encouragement to those attorneys who are primarily dollar oriented."

How someone could make a claim like that is beyond me. But I see it all the time. Sensationalism in the media only helps, well, the media.

That brings me to mandatory tire registration, an important issue that needs to be debated on its facts and merits. Respecting each other's point of view is an important part of that.

The Tire Industry Association is against mandatory tire registration. The Rubber Manufacturers Association is for it. They both have good reasons for their views, none of which should be summarily dismissed. That includes addressing everything from vehicle passenger safety to consumer responsibility.

In the Nov. 5 edition of the Leader, a free newspaper available to the residents of Jefferson County Mo., a story on tire registration piqued my curiosity. The headline read:

"Tire registration ploy another intrusion by a government that’s gunning for us."

Sensationalistic, perhaps? But it didn't take me long while reading the article, which seemed to be against tire registration, to realize it was a tongue-in-cheek parody of some kind. It was humorous and entertaining -- I thought the reference to "Fawlty Towers" was brilliant -- but I had to find out more.

So I called Pat Martin, who is the editorial page editor of Leader Publications, and asked him. He said it was "a parody of some of the reasons the NRA opposes gun registration."

"It was written mostly in fun but also to underline the overwrought reasons stated by the NRA and how they could be applied to any group that opposes any type of registration."

He added that Leader Publications does not have an official position on tire registration.

I enjoyed the article -- which, by the way, is not a subtle or hidden rant against the National Rifle Association. For example, I am not against unions, but don't like it when some union leaders use sensationalistic language to force their points of view on the public. Remember what I said about respecting each other's point of view?

A parody is not sensationalistic. Using it to defend or condemn mandatory tire registration might be, which is why I had to find out the true meaning of the article.

Here it the article in its entirety, colored blue so you don't mix it up with anything else I have written. Let me know what you think of it by leaving a comment at the end of this blog!

Tire registration ploy another intrusion by a government that’s gunning for us

From the Nov. 5, 2015 edition of Leader. Cartoon by Judy Dixon.
From the Nov. 5, 2015 edition of Leader. Cartoon by Judy Dixon.

Last week, I saw a television report about the huge number of tire recalls and accidents allegedly caused by flawed tires.

In classic TV style, it showed the aftermath of gory accidents. It also showed closeups of tires that had peeled apart like celery stalks. Statistics were cited. Panic predicted.

What came next made me check my ears, which admittedly aren’t as good as they once were. It was so outrageous that I thought they were talking about Fawlty Towers, the Monty Python-inspired television show from the 1970s.

But no, it was faulty tires.

These people were saying that to fix the problem, it would take a mandatory national tire registry into which every tire sold in America would have to be entered, along with the buyer’s name and address.

To which I say, “When they pry the jack handle from my cold, greasy fingers.”

Don’t these people realize what a slippery slope (with or without snow tires) they are traveling? A national registry with the names of all the law-abiding tire owners in America would be an infringement on our liberties and privacy.

First it’s a registry. Then the Rotation Police will start making spot checks. Next the Tread Patrol will set up roadblocks. What if you don’t pass? Off to the gulag?

Everybody has an unalienable right to own tires. Not inalienable, but unalienable. We may not be much on talking good, but we know our rights. It says so right in our Missouri Constitution, which is the second most blessed document in our fair land.

I’ll admit that radial tires hadn’t been invented when our beloved Framers and Founding Fathers wrote the No. 1 blessed document, the U.S. Constitution, but I also will point out that there is no mention, let alone authority, for a wagon wheel registry in that sacred writing. The other main mode of transportation in that era – the horse – also was omitted.

If a man owned a horse back then, or a slave or two, that was his business. Of course, women didn’t own anything because the Framers, in their wisdom, set it up it so that, essentially, their husbands owned them.

Remember, these are the divinely inspired Framers that we revere. And all Constitution experts – at least the ones who rant about it on the Internet – can speak to how all-knowing and infallible the Constitution is!

We also know that tires don’t kill people – cars kill people. No, wait, they don’t. People kill people. Yep, that’s it. When tires are outlawed, only outlaws will be tired.

We’re not going to solve anything by gathering all the names of righteous and law-abiding tire owners of this great land and entering them in a government registry to be used for God-knows-what purpose.

How would you like to hear an unexpected midnight knock on your door and find some trench-coated bureaucrat standing on your porch? He flashes some kind of papers as his pals in the driveway remove your P215/65 R15s faster than an Indy pit crew.

Then, poof, they’re gone – and so are your wheels.

Sure, the crybabies who have lost loved ones or been maimed themselves want to bring the American tire industry to its knees with this Big Brothery overreach, like we live in Russia or something.

I say, let the market decide. If the tire companies kill enough people with lousy products, then the survivors will quit buying those products. It’s a matter of personal choice. Government should butt out.

But, say the crybabies, what about tires that are resold on used vehicles, or at Tire Shows and swap meets where any crazy with or without a driver’s license can buy them? What about them, out there endangering themselves and the rest of us on our highways? And what about the sane people who buy bad tires, unaware of a recall?

Tough toenails, I say. Life is a crapshoot. You fire up your iron, you take your chances. Is there an outcry about spark plugs or rear-view mirrors? I don’t think so. Why single out tires? It’s nothing but excessive government regulation and interference.

As for trying to control the criminally reckless driver who drives on bald tires, you know what the solution is to a bad guy with a bad tire? It’s a good guy with a new set of steel-belted radials.

If you don’t want to venture out on the highway, don’t. Just don’t infringe my right to go out there with the tire of my choice. I don’t need some nanny state government pinhead telling me what I can and can’t put on my wheels. It’s un-American.

The Founding Fathers had it right, possibly a century or more ahead of their time. Maybe they were talking tires when they said, “Don’t tread on me.”

Related Topics: Leader, NRA, RMA, TIA, tire registration

Bob Ulrich Editor
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