Looking Forward by Ted Bellamy

RED-LIGHT CAMERAS — A MODEST PROPOSAL (with apologies to the master, Jonathan Swift)

We read with interest that a local political group has joined forces with the zany wing of the Libertarian Party to oppose red-light cameras. The language of the joint resolution is interesting, so we reproduce it here. We follow with a few notes to that text, and then propose some further action that might be undertaken by this unusual alliance.

Whereas red light camera tickets can cost a driver up to $500, and they disproportionately hurt poor working class stiffs,

Whereas studies show that red light cameras cause the increase of crashes and injuries as drivers attempt to abruptly stop at camera intersections,

Whereas red light cameras enrich the camera company and not the city,

Therefore be it resolved that we urge the city to circumvent the state vehicle code and enact ordinances where red light tickets will be issued and processed at much lower rates. In addition, we urge the city to replace the red light cameras with alternative safety equipment that works!

The first notion, that fines and penalties for breaking the law should be assessed on a sliding scale depending on wealth, is an intriguing one. Clearly, a shiny new Smart car left parked in a residential permit zone near downtown deserves a much larger fine than a primer-gray Chevy Impala parked behind it. We urge the Culver City Police Department to implement this plan forthwith.

Second, we like the idea that those of us who work for a living (because we are “stiffs” and inflexible,) should be exempt from the vehicle code. After all, if we’re not on time, the Man will come down hard. So when we leave late for our working class jobs, we sometimes have to drive through school zones at 60 mph and run stop signs. It’s only fair that the police look the other way. We’re just talking about the half hour between 7:30 and 8:00 (when the factories open), so the school kids and the fat cats know when they have to be careful.

We’ve researched those “studies that show” that red light cameras cause accidents and find this one (http://www.iihs.org/research/qanda/rlr.html#cite12). But that’s clearly biased because it’s all statistics and stuff, and propaganda from the insurance industry anyway. When we asked our local zany libertarian where he had found HIS “studies that show,” he indicated that he hadn’t actually READ any, but he’d “heard about them on the Internet.” We’ve heard about stuff on the Internet, too, so we believe him.

The idea about “circumventing the state vehicle code” is our favorite. We’ve always wanted to do this, since we first climbed into a car as a teen-ager. That whole darned code is aimed at limiting our natural freedoms and keeping us from having fun at high speeds.

So, we have a further (modest) proposal –

Another type of law results in heavy fines, and thus disproportionately hurts us poor working class stiffs. That law also increases certain types of accidents as violators attempt to avoid enforcement, and it messes with our freedom – all in the name of saving a few lives.

We refer, of course, to the statute that prohibits us from having a few drinks and driving. “Studies have shown” that people are more relaxed when they are a little tipsy, and we all know that a relaxed driver is a lot safer than a tense, caffeinated, type-A personality in an expensive sports car. So we urge our local activists to help us circumvent THAT part of the state vehicle code, too. It’s only fair.

Ted Bellamy is the nom-de-plume of Scott Wyant, who’s lived in Culver City for more than 20 years, and was actually awake a good part of that time. He’s interested in the human side of technology, and can be reached at [email protected]. Please do not text him while you are driving.

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