Great Moments In The Regulatory State

Could one of our readers — perhaps someone from the great state of Florida, from whence this regulatory situation hails — point me to some context or explanation that makes this less ridiculous than it seems?

Because it looks ppretty freaking ridiculous.

(Click to embiggen)

Remember: the regulatory state is its own justification and its own constituent.

Hat tip to reader Dustin.

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. Stephen says

    Actually, I think it does have to do with the tax. Food and Beverage vending machines have a different (lower) tax rate than those used for "Other Tangible Items". So if they want to do an audit, any vending machine with that sticker gets the low rate and if they see one with the sticker selling "Other Tangible Items", then there will be trouble.

  2. Scott Jacobs says

    There's probably also a fee of some kind for placing a Vending Machine, and the sticker is like the proof that fee has been paid.

  3. says

    I'm not sure if the notice serves any tax purpose or not…Granted, it is an improvement over the old requirements, but I checked the Florida Dept. of Revenue website and could find no good reason for the sticker apart from "We say you need this notice, so you need this notice or we'll fine you." You don't even have to pay for the stickers or anything, you could make them yourself. It just has to be on there.

  4. says

    I can see the idea of needing a sticker to reflect tax paid or a lower tax rate. That still doesn't make this sticker — aimed at observers and not saying anything about taxes — make any sense.

  5. says

    Maybe it is some sort of ploy to keep self-appointed vigilante types occupied. I mean, who else is going to see that stick on a machine, note down the phone number to report machines without said sticker, and then actually report such stickerless machines?

    All those retirees down there, maybe this keeps the wannabe Miss Marples from actually investigating what their government is actually doing.

  6. Artemis says

    " I mean, who else is going to see that stick on a machine, note down the phone number to report machines without said sticker, and then actually report such stickerless machines?" — Competitors who are large enough to spend time on it. Also it's a regulatory burden, hard on smaller competitors. Why? Because you have to make sure the sticker stays. If someone comes by and removes the sticker, you're at fault. So you have to take time to police the machines and make sure the sticker is still there.

    Which also makes me ask another question. What is to stop a competitor (or anyone) from just removing the sticker and then calling in for the reward?

  7. says

    This reminds me of a big, yellow, sheet metal warning sign that I saw once that read, AND I QUOTE:

    "WARNING: This sign has SHARP EDGES. DO NOT touch the edges of this sign!"

    Define Infinite Loop: See "Loop, Infinite"

  8. Hasdrubal says

    If it were signifying a tax paid or license granted, you would think it would reference dates or years that it was good for.

  9. Benjamin Moore says

    The notice is given out by the state to licensed operators that are paying taxes. With food and beverage vending machines, it would be way too easy to put out a machine, collect the revenues, and then never report the money. This notice is how they identify machines that are being operated legitimately. Therefore, if one sees a machine without the sign, and then they report it, they can collect a fee if the state can collect the back taxes.

  10. says

    So it requires the public to notice them on one machine, look for them on other machines, and without knowing that their purpose is, report their absence.

    Maybe. But only because the "rational basis" hurdle is so low.

  11. LTMG says

    Intelligent people, like legislators, when in a group can be led down some particularly silly paths.

    Reminds me when as a young professional I was in a meeting room with a couple of VP's, and an assortment of senior directors and directors. About eleven in all. After discussion, they directed me, an individual contributor, to write and promulgate a procedure. I objected saying it made no sense and was not the right thing to do. They overruled me. Two weeks later, one of the VP's who was in the meeting room called me into his office and asked me why the #@*! I wrote such a procedure. I reminded him that I made a strong objection in the meeting and that he was one of those who directed me to do as I was told. His excuse was that he was new to the company and really didn't know what was going on. I volunteered to delete the procedure that very afternoon, he signed the requsite form, and soon all was well.

    To the VP's credit, he did prove to be a highly effective leader and manager. Also to his credit, though I called him on his participation in the decision, he and I did get along just fine.

  12. says

    This is the bureaucratic event horizon, from which not even the most energetic particle of common sense can escape. From here we just spiral toward the inevitable singularity of the Department of Department Inspector Inspectors.

  13. jaxkayaker says

    Forget it, Jake, I mean, Ken. It's Florida.

    Oh, and just let me point out that we have (or had, too lazy to look it up) a state representative named "Dick Locke". Just think about that.

  14. mikee says

    What else other than food and beverages do y'all sell in vending machines down there in Florida? I have seen condom vending machines at truck stops, liquor vending machines in Japan and the very occasional vending machine of convenience items at a motel, but this strikes me as gilding a lily.

    And vending machines were made to be used without properly reporting the cash taken out of them. Otherwise, very few folks would bother running them.

  15. Paul says

    This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Even IF it is a means to prove that the vending machine operator has paid a tax or fee or got a particular license or jumped through the appropriate hoops, there is no barcode, tax stamp or watermark on it.

    A pirate vending machine operator can just print out his own version of the sticker, stick it on and carry on.

  16. Divemedic says

    My brother and his wife own a large vending machine company. The stickers are not proof of taxes paid, or anything like that. You can buy them from private vendors. The reason for the stickers was that they used to have information on them as to who owned or operated the machine. The problem is that they had the FEIN of the business on it, and this was frequently used to fraudulently steal the identity of the operator.

    To fix this, the vending companies were lobbying to have the law changed so that the decals were no longer required. This effort was unsuccessful, but in 2010 the vending lobbyist was able to accomplish the next best thing: They had the requirements of the sticker changed so that it no longer has to contain information that can be used by identity thieves. That is how it happened.

  17. Smock Puppet, 10 Dan Snark Master says

    Being a firm believer in "Bend, Fold, Spindle, and Mutilate", I believe everyone reading this piece should call that number and complain about lost money and/or product.

    If you're feeling timid, just tell them you did not read the notice someone just told you the number… :^D

    If you're not feeling timid, be insistent instead:

    "Well, WHY can't I report this to you????", and then demand to know the number you SHOULD call about it.

  18. Smock Puppet, 10 Dan Snark Master says

    Divemedic: So they're basically like Wool and Mohair Price Supports — a Law That Wouldn't Die — a Zombie Law — only, unlike W&MPS, they don't benefit anyone at all…


  19. says

    I think that if I live long enough to want to move to Florida, I will immediately start running for office as a legislator. Not to fix anything, but to see what I can get away with before I die.

  20. dsp says

    The only logical response is to create a smaller sticker to cover the bottom that says, in underlined, capital letters:



  21. JTheClivaz says

    Magnificent: A self justifying, self perpetuating, pointless piece of sticky back plastic.

    I am finally proud to be British. Thanks America!

  22. Zloduska says

    Perhaps I watch too many horror films, because my first thought was, "Wait, that does make sense. What if the stickers validate that it is a legitimate, registered vending machine? Otherwise any old' psychopath could fill an empty machine with loads of treats and candy laced with poison and stuffed with razors, broken glass, rusty nails, etc, then dump it near a playground."


  1. […] Sooner or later, every government instituted by man will cross the bureaucratic event horizon and be reduced to placing recursive signs on vending machines that consist of naught but a positively Escher-esque message in bureaucratese which, translated into English, reads: "This sign must be displayed on the machine. If this sign is not displayed on the machine, please cal…" […]