In 2008, the state of Arizona, under the leadership of Janet Napolitano decided to set up cameras on state highways and automatically photograph speeders. What could go wrong? Remember that Janet Napolitano is the bumbling politician that Barack Obama has named secretary of Homeland Security. So what could go wrong?
Answer: Ulterior motives and unintended consequences.
On superficial reflection, the average person would think that the motive for installing cameras and photographing speeders would be to prevent accidents and enhance public safety. Alas, with a liberal Democrat such as Napolitano, ulterior motives are often given priority over other motives. In Napolitano's case the motive was money. Surprise, surprise.
“...the speed camera scheme was initiated by then-Gov. Janet Napolitano, now U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. She had planned to raise $120 million a year with those 100 cameras.
Tickets generated by the cameras bought significantly lower fines than tickets issued by an officer on the scene -- $181.50 vs. $320. And the camera-generated tickets put no points on a driver's license. Clearly, this wasn't about getting dangerous drivers off the road. It was about money. Napolitano, facing a budget deficit, thought this would help close it.”
– Reference (1) at bottom.
The normal way for government to increase revenue is by confiscating more money from taxpayers through increased taxation. Of course liberal Democrats always prefer increasing governmental revenue in lieu of taking the hideous and socially unfair action (according to their principles) of cutting governmental expenditures. Unfortunately, every time some government flack, such as Napolitano has a brainstorm about increasing revenue that doesn't involve taxation, it most often involves some impractical scheme that becomes a laughable flop. This time was no exception. How so?
“In September of 2008, Arizona contracted with a company called Redflex to set up cameras on state highways and photograph vehicles that hit a speed at least 11 miles per hour faster than the posted limit. It was the first state in the nation to use cameras to ticket speeders on state highways. The move was, of course, a revenue-raising measure. Each vehicle's registered owner would receive in the mail a ticket for $181.50.
But it didn't work as planned [the ever-lurking unintended consequence]. The New York Times reported this past January that revenues were far short of expectations, in part because people simply refused to pay the tickets. In their first year, the cameras generated 700,000 tickets, which made the scheme a victim of its own success. In Arizona, if a person ignores a ticket received in the mail, process servers have 120 days to serve the ticket in person. If they don't, it is invalidated.
With 700,000 tickets to keep up with, the state couldn't possibly serve each recipient. When people found out they could ignore the tickets with no consequences, what would have been $127 million in revenue for the state shrank to only $36.8 million, according to the Times.”
– Reference (1) at bottom.
Liberals have a perennial blind spot relative to the consequences of their actions. There is a reason for this. It has to do with their fundamental thought processes. Three important pillars of modern progressive/liberal thought are the following:
1) Tolerance of any action is the supreme value, except tolerance of conservative action,
2) Political decisions are evaluated primarily by the social intent of the decider, not by the consequences of the decision,
3) Humanity is infinitely perfectible if only humans will submit to elite (governmental) control.
These three pillars are easily visible in the speed-camera fiasco triggered by Napolitano.
First, the appropriate conservative action for Governor Napolitano, when facing a budget deficit, would have been to cut the budget, which would have cut spending. However, as is painfully evident with the current Obama administration, this is simply not palatable to liberal Democrats for the vested reason that their voting-base depends primarily upon those who receive governmental entitlements and handouts, coupled with those who favor giving them for political reasons.
Second, the progressive/liberal desire to “spread the wealth” and to continue to support, and never cut, governmental spending is viewed through the lens of liberalism as a just and honorable intention, never to be challenged, and should always be a major part of any political decision. This undoubtedly results in a lack of internal criticism concerning proposed courses of action, and would contribute to yes-man, silence-is-consent thinking.
Third, constituent flaws in human nature are never given due consideration in the liberal decision-making process. Liberal lawmakers continue to pass laws that completely ignore the fact that in any population there will be a sizable portion of people who are dishonest, lazy, and even predatory. Perhaps worse, people who do not fit one of these categories are often castigated for possessing the very normal trait of self-interest. As soon as traffic violators realized they couldn't be forced to pay camera-generated traffic fines, most people simply ignored them.
I end the story with good news and bad news.
The voters of Arizona are going to undue this bit of liberal nonsense. The program was so unpopular that voters were able to get a ballot initiative to repeal the measure this November, and “Thanks to public resistance, the cameras will be removed on July 16, the day after the two-year contract with the operator expires.”
Liberals are completely blind to the endemic flaws of liberalism, and never learn from the laughable mistakes of other liberals:
“It says something about the Obama administration that the president would elevate the creator of this outrageous law enforcement scheme to head the Department of Homeland Security, but would denounce Arizona's effort to have its officers enforce long-standing federal immigration laws. The president sees nothing wrong with using the criminal justice system as a vice to squeeze money from citizens, but thinks it's terrible for citizens to demand that the system be used [to] catch, process and return illegal immigrants.”
– Reference (1) at bottom.
(1) Another Good Idea From Arizona