mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I thought dems were supposed to be against surveillance

So Baltimore wants to put up speeding cameras around the city. They need to get permission from the state, which they had tried to get previously but it was blocked by then-gov Ehrlich. But now a Democrat is in office, and he thinks it's a great idea.

Which is kind of funny, when you think about it. I thought the Democrats were against surveillance, but here you have a Democrat who wants to keep tabs on citizens and a Republican who is against it. I guess spying on terrorists is a no-no, but on ordinary drivers is OK.

I don't generally have a problem with cameras in public places - you have no right of privacy in public - but I don't like speeding or red light cameras. With red light cameras, there is some evidence that cities have shortened amber lights to catch more people and make more money. If reducing accidents was really the goal, they would make the amber light longer, which gives a bigger cushion for people who can't stop or don't see the light in time - but instead, it's a revenue source. And red-light cameras seem to be less at dangerous intersections and more at intersections where it's harder to stop - at the bottom of a hill, around a corner, ect.

The speeding camera study recommends placing cameras near schools, recreation centers, parks and churches. Which is pretty much everywhere, but it's for the children. Think of the children!

Now, I'll admit that part of my opposition to this is self-interest. I sometimes drive faster than the speed limit, and I don't want a ticket. But there are plenty of places in Baltimore where the speed limit is unrealistically low, and I know these will be the places that get cameras.

But I think people who drive like assholes are a bigger problem than just speeding. People who swerve, tailgate, drive at night without headlights, drive cars that are falling apart, drive drunk, ect are way more dangerous than speeding in a straight line on a 4 or 6 lane road with limited pedestrian access. Traffic enforcement by real police officers can also find other criminal activity - drugs, guns, unregistered cars, people with warrants - that a camera can't. Even though I don't like speed traps, I'd rather have a real cop - who can make decisions on a case by case basis, and can find other types of illegal activities in a traffic stop - to a camera.


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