Humour Politics

Welcome To The Year 12A

Français : Un jouet d'enfant figurant une auto...
The First Car

Irish car number (license) plates work by a nice simple system. First there’s a two-digit year, then code letter(s) that represent the county of registration, then a unique number. Nothing could be plainer or more logical.

So naturally there’s a politician who wants to mess with it. I’ve mentioned Michael Healy-Rae once or twice before, not without using the phrases “living caricature” and “precisely the country’s real problem”. Indeed by Healy-Rae standards, today’s scheme is not all that embarrassing. He merely wants to introduce naked superstition into the number plate scheme. The worry is that the “unlucky number” next year will hurt an already depressed market for new cars.

Before 1991 they used code letters; in order to know how old a vehicle was you had to actually care. So this new system has probably been great for sellers. In the boom time, ostentatiously driving this year’s car was a game some were all too happy to play. Now though things are tougher for car dealerships. Could an unlucky number really put them over the edge?

Actually you could also make the opposite argument. The superstitious will probably spend what they were going to spend in the long run. But while some might put the purchase off until 2014, others might use it as an excuse to bring it forward – and presumably sales are wanted even more badly now. So fear of 13 might be a boon to dealers.

Nonetheless I think we should go for the idea of a “12A” plate. But only – and this is vital – as an option. That way you can spot people who can still afford new cars, but who owe their good fortune (or at least believe they owe it) to sheer dumb luck. And we can run them straight off the road.

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