38 thoughts on “A Hair There”

  1. Hi Ben!!! I love reading your posts (but I don’t see them often 😦
    I hit the link, noted it is politics and skipped it ~ maybe later.
    I love reading about your farm and seeing your photos.

      1. I did and thank you. I live in NH (grew up in VT) and you made me wonder: where can we find vehicles that don’t have all these bells and whistles? I would like a car that doesn’t have all these lights flashing every time something like my spare tire needs a little re-Inflation!

  2. What is a vehicle inspection? So sorry! I would be driving a 1960 beater if I lived in Vermont. California has another way to keep ’em barefoot. Ridiculously high housing prices! And if the hubster wasn’t stubbornly rooted here I would be gone in a heartbeat! Where is there a government with sense?

  3. I’m from good ole WV, surprisingly over regulated for a “Mountain State”. I changed my own rotors and brakes on a vehicle to pass inspection, in the process the incredibly brittle plastic ABS wire snapped. I priced the 16″ wire harness at $118 and dismissed it and put it back together. Of course the ABS light came on and I had no idea at the time but it failed inspection because of it! Another thing is tire size, they have to have the exact tire size listed on the door or it requires a Modified Inspection at triple the cost. I feel ya brother, I’m ready to saddle a mule.

    1. Love your comment, Mike. I’m ready to ride that mule right along with you if I didn’t think I’d get run over. I live in an area with many horses and people take their lives in their hands when they ride along the road. Didn’t used to be that way but things changed almost overnight when cell phones became ubiquitous.

  4. Know that I clicked the link and read in full. And also that I’m pushing your way with both hands and my still strong back. The unrelenting creep of technological complexity everywhere is plague-like, like bodies coming in over the wall.

    1. Imagining zombies that look like distractingly cool gadgets holding out their arms for us muttering repeatedly “Time!”

      1. Peter, that is my thinking exactly. Especially “distracting.” Also: are you a poet? Maybe even, pray, a mad poet?

  5. Ben my friend, I completely agree with you on both the over-complexity of modern vehicles and the overly draconian nature of the new inspection rules. I do, however, take issue with the phrase “implemented via DMV rule-making with no opportunity for public discourse.” Agency rules go through a fairly lengthy process that involves review by an inter-agency committee, filing with the Secretary of State’s office, at least one public hearing, a comment period, and final review by the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules. All rules are published and available for review on the agency’s, Sec. of State’s, and General Assembly’s websites. All public hearings and committee meetings are publicly warned and open to the public. Public outcry against proposed administrative rules can lead to their modification or withdrawal; just witness the recent flap over DEC’s proposed Great Hosmer Pond use rules:


    That being said, the new rules still suck. And don’t even get me started on TPMS. If you can’t walk around your car and kick the tires once in a while to see if they have air in them, you probably shouldn’t have a license.

    1. Thanks for the clarification, my friend. I must admit to a degree of ignorance pertaining to how all this stuff happens. Which I suspect puts me in pretty good company among my fellow Vermonters.

      That said, it sure seems like this one slipped under the radar of an awful lot of people. Is it our fault for not paying careful enough attention, and/or are there occasions when the outcome is essentially pre-determined, and no amount of discourse or outcry is going to be worth a tin whistle? Not a rhetorical question.


      1. No, not a rhetorical question at all. The truth is, most working folk don’t realistically have the time to scan rule filings to see if any one of the two dozen or so administrative rules that may be working their way through the system at any given time will have a direct effect on their daily lives. For the most part, affected populations rely on advocates, lobbyists and the press to track this stuff and sound the alarm when they think some rule is coming down the pike that will hurt their clients or constituents. For instance, when the Board of Education tried to impose more restrictions and oversight on private schools last year, there was a shit-storm of lobbying activity, and the rules were eventually withdrawn.

        Naturally, certain special interests have louder advocates than others. Whenever Fish and Wildlife tries to tweak a hunting or trapping regulation, PETA is all over it. Try and create an exemption to the Public Records Act, and the ACLU jumps in. Same applies to renewable energy, health care, social assistance programs, etc. Why, I bet Rural Vermont has someone watching everything the Agency of Ag is doing on a weekly basis.

        I’m guessing that the population hardest hit by the new inspection rules (low and moderate income rural car and truck owners) simply don’t constitute a cohesive enough interest group to have a voice in Montpelier. Those who benefit from or endorsed these rules (auto dealerships, law enforcement) do.

        VPR did cover the new rules pretty thoroughly when they went into effect, but by then the horse was already out of the barn….


    2. The way it “works” around here is they publish the notice so buried that it takes a very concerted effort to find the information. Government doesn’t want public comment because the public is so misinformed that they speak emotionally and mostly in anger.

  6. GREAT article, Ben – and MUCH needed! It used to be inspections were meant to make sure systems were safe so that drivers were protected. Now, it’s become so unreasonable and unnecessarily burdensome. In fact, it’s become downright predatory in some regards.

    My car is in great working order for the most part, given it’s nearly 12 years old. However, last year I went to Subaru for my inspection and to have something done, since our old mechanic (Shon) closed shop. They would not pass the inspection and told me it would need multiple items fixed in order to do it – to the tune of $1800 mind you. What they didn’t realize, however, was that I had my car looked over fairly recently by a trusted relative/mechanic and there was nothing on the list that was a requirement for inspection. AND it was NOT something that truly needed fixing given it’s normal wear and tear and was not due to wear out any time soon.

    So, in taking such a predatory stand, they lost my trust and any business I would have given them. The great part, though, is they led me to a great HONEST mechanic who now has my business, and who I now send friends to.

    The new inspection system, unfortunately, is one reason I will also be shifting residency this year to my other home state. They do not require inspections AT ALL. They are also more tax friendly to seniors on SSA, which I am quickly heading towards. Maybe that’s another bone you might like to chew on, given Vermont’s aging population?

    As always, Wendy

    On Tue, Jan 23, 2018 at 9:55 AM, Lazy Mill Hill Farm wrote:

    > Ben Hewitt posted: ” Apple. She’s out standing in her field. I’ve no > doubt mellowed in recent years, but every once in a while I still get a > hair across my ass. And this is one of those times. Thanks for reading.” >

  7. I’ve experienced this frustration and thank you for sharing. It seems late adopters, DIY’ers, poor people are always having their abilities de-valued.
    My experience has been when an area has notable economic disparity, service providers across all sectors can afford to become more discriminatory and a hidden cost is paid by the usual suspects. I had to laugh when I saw you got worked up about this. You are awesome

    1. To be clear, I think it gutsy of you to address classism head on and call it such. I wonder what your readership thinks? I also wonder if you would agree that a lot of racism and sexism is merely a convenient way to implement classism.

      1. I hadn’t thought of it as brave… I guess it just seems to me like the truth. But then, there are things I’ve once thought to be the truth that have later been revealed as something different.

        Racism, sexism, classism… often hard to determine where one ends and the other begins, no? If even there ever is such delineation.


  8. One more thing, Ben. One of your state senators, Jane Kitchell, sits on the Senate Transportation Committee. It might be worth it to share your VTDigger piece with her. Ask her to try and get some space on her committee’s calendar for working Vermonters to testify about how these rules have impacted their ability to get to work, get kids to school, operate a small business, etc. You’d be surprised how much of an impact that kind of testimony can make.

  9. I like when you get riled up, Ben! I have to admit, I have not thought of inspections in terms of classism but I see your point clearly. I have, for a long time, been irritated by technological gadgets of all types that promise to make life better in some way but are really elaborate sales schemes to change the level of acceptability and to make former models of those things unacceptable or even obsolete. I think planned obsolescense has been talked about here many times before. Those of us that like and want t fix the things we own are on the verge of finding nothing left to fix because everything is designed to be unfixable (unless you have very specific tools, certifications, licenses, etc to do so and maybe not even then because it’s just cheaper to buy a new one and that’s all that matters anyway, right?) Whew! Good for you for shedding the light on an important topic. I hope others see it as such. Peace!

  10. I obviously missed a post that was deleted. I’m sorry I did because it sounds like something I’d be wanting to participate in blog-wise Ben. Is this the case?? Thanks.

    1. Hi Robyn,

      I think maybe you’re missed the linked text. Click on “And this is one of those times.” It will take you to the commentary I’m referencing.


  11. Don’t post often but this one struck a chord. Our car just retired in Sept had 336,000 on it. A 2000 Subaru Outback. My husband was the only mechanic and kept it running, until it couldn’t. It passed inspection for well over 10 years here in Mass with the check engine light on almost all the time. It was some VERY expensive non-essential part. On a single disability income, it wasn’t going to be replaced. He just cleared the computer 50 – 100 miles before taking it in, and it passed fine. This car was replaced with a newer one, 2003 Outback because all the lifetime warrantee parts on the old one would fit this one. So that car is behind the barn, slowly being denuded of parts. And the check engine light on the new one is on… 🙂 And it passed inspection…

    1. My understanding is that clearing the codes doesn’t work anymore, because the newer computers store all that info, and now with the linked database, the powers-that-be can see that the code was there, and not fixed, but merely cleared.


      1. I know new systems are being forced on the inspecting stations here in Mass. But it worked in Sept, the clearing of codes….

  12. Thanks Ben- these old eyes just ain’t what they use to be. It’s hard to distinguish the colour difference in links!
    Class differences are in fact, as you said Ben, the issue here. Racism, gender identity, sexism are often used as foils to subvert the issue. It seems that class privilege has become the elephant in the room that many( particularly white but not always) folks do not want to acknowledge. It’s easier to carry on with business as usual and pretend that we have strong liberal beliefs, when actually, many of us don’t really, deep down,want to change the lifestyles we’ve become accustomed to. Just Sayin-

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