Jumping the turnstiles of the Paris metro, like red wine and croques de monsieur, is a part of the city's culture. Unlike Cabernet and croques, it's an offense punishable by a $60 fine. So a band of savvy freeloaders have created an insurance fund for fellow fare dodgers.
Fraudsters with foresight can pay about $8 a month into an underground, city-wide scofflaw pool. If they get busted, Henry Chu reports, they collect the $60 and go back to jumping turnstiles. It's a way to buy extralegal insurance against the likelihood that your petty crime will be snuffed out by Paris police.
Officially, the Atlantic supports upstanding citizens and the rule of law. But in the interests of cheekiness, let's brainstorm some ways we could import this small-time misdemeanor insurance idea:
1. Speeding. You could imagine a group of rubber-burning acquaintances to create an similar pool to pay for the occasional speeding ticket. A few bucks a month to protect against the probability that you get pulled over might be a reasonable bargain. Although there's no insurance against the points off your license... (hat tip: Dan Indiviglio)
2. Illegal Parking. Car owners, especially in large east coast cities, are only too familiar with finding papers under their wipers after they park in illegal zones or get dinged by the meter maid. Why not band together through Craigslist to create an insurance fund that pays off the occasional ticket?
3. Smoking. Smoking is illegal in New York City bars, but NYC bartenders and patrons sometimes can't resist the urge to coat their liquored mouths with smoke. Apparently it's customary at some joints to pass around a hat collecting money from folks who want to light up to protect the bar against the fine it'll incur if police see wisps of smoke through the windows (hat tip Chris Good)
As an upstanding citizen who supports the rule of law (!) I couldn't possibly think of any other ways that ad hoc insurance could protect small time misdemeanors. That's where you anonymous commenters come in! Leave a note. Liberte, fraternite, illégalité!