Menachem's Writings

Government and Insurance Company Collusion
Little buttons and fat fingers

In this country, the government doesn't care too much about cars being stolen -- they actually make money on the deal, so why waste police time -- the fuzz have more important work, like chasing tractor drivers. You see, when taxes on cars are tens of thousands of dollars, and each stolen car generates the sale of a new car, the government gets a second bite at the tax cherry.

There is no direct expense to the citizen -- just a lot of running around and hassle -- and since he gets a new car out of the deal, he probably is happy too. Of course I say no direct expense, because of course the insurance premiums here are sky high, and in essence the additional cost of these policies is born by the people, not their government, but it is spread amongst all car owners.

The insurance companies "try" to protect themselves by forcing you to install all kinds of inconvenient devices between you and your own car, and theoretically between you and the car thieves. First there were burglar alarms; the thieves just picked the cars up onto the back of a truck. So they added motion detectors, and now the robbers towed your car and it sang as it went along -- didn't bother too many people. Then they introduced immobilisers. These were a right royal pain -- push the little thingemebob on to the little disk inconveniently located under the steering wheel -- no, the strap is too short; lean over further and it will reach. Then the car manufacturers thought of a neat convenience -- put the immobiliser into the ignition system; it's embedded into the key. But our insurance companies decided that it would now be too easy to burgle your house to steal your car key (and your computer -- they're already inside), so they added this number pad thingy. These ingenious devices, into which you enter a secret code, cuts the fuel supply to your engine, so the engine can't be started. If you have fat fingers like me, and you mis-key three times, you can wait five minutes before you next attempt.

I've already told you in the past that insurance companies don't care about you as a a fellow human being -- you're just a statistic to them, and your money is of interest. So their latest smart trick is to put a GPS system into your car (at your expense, installation and then a monthly payment for the life of the automobile). Now "they" know where you are all the time, but you are unable to benefit directly (where is my wife and her boyfriend?). We've written before how your credit card serves as a big brother device, but GPS is the ultimate in tracking. Though almost useless! Why? Because they have to locate your car on their screen within a few minutes of it being stolen. Our country, you see, is long and thin from north to south. It is only a few minutes drive to the line diving us from the Arabwelt. Once the car crosses that boundary line (I won't call it a border, yet), that's it. While your insurance company may know exactly where you Cadillac is located (it takes only minutes to strip the car to its basic components in a chop shop -- spare parts are more valuable than a whole vehicle, and harder to trace -- win-win) no-one is going in there to retrieve it; in fact the law desn't allow our citizens to enter. There are even local towns of minorities into which our law enforcement officers fear to tread. Crossed the line -- forget it. Within minutes, no more recognisable vehicle.

My nephew's utility was once stolen. He knew in which town it was located because the thieves rang him to ransom the thing. He didn't care as much for the ute as for the tools locked (what a lock will keep the minorities at bay) in the back. Our insurance friends don't cover your valuables (take them with you sonny when you leave your car -- yes sir, the pneumatic drill into the mall -- security will lay out a red carpet). Nephew rang the cops, the army, the prime minister, the secretary general (of the party and of the United Nations) -- but nobody was prepared to go in after it.

Here is another interesting variation the insurance companies like to play. They are prepared to "make a deal" with the thieves. The thieves steal a $180,000 Mercedes. They ring up and say, you wanna buy a Merc just like the old one (very much like the old one -- I can even arrange the same plates :-) for $20,000. And the greedy insurance man says, sure, 'cause he figures he saves $160,000. He doesn't care that he is encouraging further theft. The government turns a blind eye -- they know that the same Merc will be stolen again in a few weeks time. Governments always have time to wait for their cut -- and it always does come to them.

Once George was the commander of Checkpoint Charlie up the road. Two gentlemen (they must have been gentlemen because they were wearing suits and ties in the middle of the Middle East summer) drive up from the western sector and approach him. "My name is Albert Einstein, and this is my insurance agent, Abraham Lincoln." George says, "That's nice, what can I do for you?" Albert tells him that within two minutes a silver colored Mercedes-Benz will arrive at the roadblock from the eastern sector. This Merc was stolen from him last week in the West, and Abraham here is going to pay for its return. George looks Albert up and down, trying hard to take him in. He has problems understanding this dandy, but he also knows that Albert has problems. George calmly tells the two gentlemen, "Do you mean to tell me a "terrorist" is going to drive a car, which has been in the eastern sector for seven days, through my checkpoint? He may either try and blow me up or if he has delayed fuse, he may be blowing you up." And he picks up his walkie-talkie and asks for an army sapper.

In the interim, the Merc arrives. George asks the driver to pull into a field a distance away on the eastern side of his installation and to remain in the car until he receives further notice. In the meantime, Albert and Abraham are each given a glass of cold water each and asked to wait on the west side. The sapper arrives, examines the car . . . and blows it up. You should have seen Albert's face -- priceless.

Why am I telling you this today? Because I am angry! Because my insurance company made me install code pads on each of our cars. Mine died a couple of months back. Because of the smallness of the buttons, my fingers would hit two at once. I eventually had to use my car key to push them. Eventually the buttons lost their springiness. Eventually using the key pushed the circuit board back; now the buttons no longer had any contra, so the device didn't work. I would try half a dozen times or more until the little thing allowed me to leave in my own car. Then I had to pull the whole thing off dashboard and stick my fingers into the back of it to give a contra and press the little buttons with my car key held in my other hand. I was short a hand to be efficient. Eventually I got a new number pad -- with big buttons. Cost me a hundred bucks -- the insurance company should have paid, and also for my wasted time and aggravation. And guess what the idiot technician said when we took it in? "Whoever installed this was negligent". Well, it was you mate! I would never have done this. This is dangerous! OK then, it was your accomplice. And it was a whole two years ago.

Now Jill's car has the disease -- and hers already has big buttons. [We had to replace the small button model a couple of years ago -- seems the lifetime of these devices is a maximum of two years.] One of wires on the current job has come out, but I suspect it came out as we were trying to fiddle it and giggle it. The problem is somewhere else. We've wasted time trying everyone's advice just to get the damn car started. Now we have to pay to tow the car, and waste two hours driving to and from Jerusalem to have it fixed (replaced), part with another hundred bucks, and put off the problem for another two years.

Please feel free to and don't forget to stop by my site to look at my latest (and classic) photographs.


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