In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 12, 2007 / 24 Shevat 5767

Setting the driving public free

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It was a week before Valentine's Day, and on the third floor of the CambridgeSide Galleria, the walls of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles' branch office were festooned with sweet nothings. "Hugs," said one heart-shaped note. "Kisses," read another. "Be Mine." "Valentine." "Love."

But if romance was in the air, it was wasted on those of us waiting for service in a line that scarcely budged. The dozen or so people already at the Registry when I showed up at about 5:10 p.m. weren't looking for hugs and kisses. All they wanted was what I wanted: to renew a driver's license or auto registration and leave.

The Registry calls the Cambridge office a "License Express," and claims that two-thirds of people who use it complete their business in less than 10 minutes. Nearly everyone — 98.5 percent, says Ann Collins, the state's Registrar of Motor Vehicles — gets out within 40 minutes. Apparently last Tuesday was reserved for the remaining 1.5 percent. My driver's license wasn't renewed until 6:25 — an hour and 15 minutes after I arrived. That gave me plenty of time to cool my heels and read the Valentine's Day notes on the wall: "Angel." "Kiss Me." "Sweetheart."

It gave me time to notice other things, too. Like the fact that there were three service counters, but only one clerk. The fact that motorists were required to take a number from an electronic ticket dispenser, but nowhere was there a sign saying so or identifying the dispenser. And the fact that anyone planning to pay in cash was out of luck; US currency may be legal tender for all debts, public and private, but a notice at License Express announces: "No cash accepted." Of the more than 120 establishments in the Galleria, how many others do you suppose refuse to accept paper money? My guess would be zero. How many others ever keep customers waiting more than an hour to be served? I'd guess zero again.

In recent years, the Registry has offered motorists the option of renewing licenses and registrations online. When I tried that, the system rejected my application and told me I would have to renew in person. Collins later told me that online renewals are automatically rejected whenever a motorist's information has been entered into the system with some discrepancy — for example, if a police officer misspells a name or address when writing a ticket. Whatever the reason, I have plenty of company: Fewer than 25 percent of license renewals are completed online. For more than three-quarters of Massachusetts drivers, it seems, there is no avoiding a trip to the Registry.

It's a funny thing: No commercial website has ever refused to take my money and ordered me to visit a brick-and-mortar facility instead. I have never had to stand in line for an hour to renew a credit card — the new one arrives by mail even before the old one expires. From airline boarding passes to mutual funds, from utility bills to movie rentals, vendors and service providers of every stripe make it easy for consumers to get what they need without Soviet-style queues. Why can't the Registry of Motor Vehicles?

Here's why: Because customers who are fed up with Continental can go to JetBlue, and Blockbuster is an option if you're not happy with Netflix, but the RMV is a government monopoly — if you want your license renewed, you've got nowhere else to turn. As a result, the Registry has no real incentive to improve its services.

Only private-sector competition will make the licensing and renewal process as fast and convenient as it could be. Happily, that wheel needn't be invented from scratch.

In a handful of enlightened states, motor vehicle bureaus already authorize private organizations to license drivers and vehicles; some places even boast self-service kiosks. "AAA can help you with your license, title, and registration needs for almost anyone or anything that operates on Minnesota streets, highways, waterways, sidewalks, and off-road trails," the Minneapolis AAA announces on its website. In Rhode Island, AAA has handled 155,000 license transactions and 100,000 automobile registrations since 2004. "That means we've taken a quarter-million people out of lines at the registry," says spokesman Bob Murray. "And with us, it's usually a couple-, three-, four-minute transaction; at the registry, it used to be a couple hours sometimes."

Massachusetts already permits automobile dealerships and insurance agencies to handle new-car registrations. If it expanded the law to allow private "franchises" to offer all Registry services, motorists would be undyingly grateful. Licensing of drivers and registration of cars may be unavoidable, but why entrust those functions to unmotivated bureaucrats? If the Registry really wants hugs and kisses, it should privatize its operations, and set the driving public free.

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Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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