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Friday, March 6, 2009

The Miracle of Parking Tickets

Recently, several of my relatives got parking tickets that they didn't deserve. As an attempt to raise more money, the State is issuing parking tickets more aggressively. It's a stealth way of raising taxes.

There's no better opportunity to spread the philosophy of anarchy than when someone is angry over a parking ticket!

A $100 parking ticket was disproportionately upsetting to my relatives, because they believe "The authority of the police is legitimate." They're upset over the punishment aspect, and not the $100 loss.

However, I still can't get my parents to understand "Taxation is theft!" They sort of understand "Giving out lots of parking tickets is a stealthy way of raising taxes." When I say "If you don't like it, start you own government!", they totally don't get it.

My parents are showing more and more anti-State beliefs (with frequent hints from me), but they can't go all the way and realize "Taxation is theft! Who needs a government anyway?"

My father got a red light camera parking ticket recently. That again caused the usual "The State sucks!" sentiment.

Some people have pointed out "State enforcers change the yellow light timing at red light camera intersections." Accustomed to longer yellows, the State tricks people into violating by shortening the yellow.

This time, there was a trick that I hadn't heard mentioned before. I have no idea if it was deliberately done to cause violations, or if it was merely poor traffic light timing.

Normally, on an avenue, the red/green lights are timed to facilitate peak-direction travel. During morning rush hour, you'll get greens at 62nd street, 61st, 60th, 59th, 58th, in that order. During evening rush hour, you'll get greens at 58th, 59th, 60th, 61s, 62nd, in that order. The sequential greens allows the driver to anticipate green.

Waiting at 60th street the light at 59th street turned green, while the light at 60th street and 58th street was still red. My father was looking at the 59th street light and started driving. Luckily, he did not cause an accident, but he did get a red light camera ticket.

Did some State enforcer cleverly set up the traffic light timing to goad people into traffic violations? Or, was it merely bad programming in the traffic light timing software?

I found this page with a list of Red Light Cameras in NYC. It appears to be pretty comprehensive, because it includes all the cameras that I already know about or observed. That website appears to have sections for other cities, so check there for a list of traffic cameras where you live.

Aggressive enforcement of traffic laws is a stealth way of raising taxes. State bureaucrats treat traffic enforcement as a revenue tool, rather than encouraging driver safety.

I saw an interesting comment in a newspaper article discussing the immorality of traffic fines as a revenue generator. The article said "If everyone who receives a parking ticket contests it in court, then parking tickets would not be a revenue tool for the State. The State relies on the fact that most people pay without resisting." This applies to *ALL* taxes and not just parking tickets.

However, the economics of resisting parking tickets doesn't make sense. Suppose my time is worth $30/hr and the ticket is for $120. If it's going to take more than 4 hours to contest the ticket (very likely), then I'm not ahead if I contest the ticket and win. The State has no obligation to reimburse me for time wasted.

In a true free market, traffic enforcement would come from insurance associations. When you purchase car insurance, you agree to obey traffic laws. Traffic laws can be enforced contractually, rather than monopolistically determined by the State. In a true free market, you would pay more for insurance if you were an unsafe driver.

Outside the USA, people tend to vandalize traffic cameras. I liked this webpage, detailing vandalized Gatso's in the UK. These appear to be "traffic speed" cameras rather than red light cameras.

I'm surprised that there isn't a problem with people vandalizing the traffic cameras. Either people are more complacent than I thought, or someone came up with a *REALLY* sturdy camera design. Perhaps extra cameras are placed to catch vandals.

It should be easy to vandalize a traffic camera if you had a paintball gun. I expected that some disgruntled person in NYC would go around vandalizing the cameras.

The issue of traffic cameras is also an "invasion of privacy" problem. The State isn't just using them for traffic enforcement. They also can be used to record everyone who travels through an intersection, whether they're speeding or not. I don't know if such a database is actually being compiled, but the cameras could be used for that purpose.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately state traffic light timing fraud has been uncovered in many places. Examples:

A traffic light "scam has been uncovered in Italy that has led to one arrest and 108 investigations over traffic systems being rigged to stop sooner for the sole purpose of ticketing more motorists."

"6 Cities That Were Caught Shortening Yellow Light Times For Profit"

Anonymous said...


Mississippi currently has a law that just past the State Senate and will ban all traffic light cameras in this state. The bill went back to the house, with a few changes from Senate, where it's expected to pass and move to the governor's desk. Our governor used to be a tobacco lobbyist and the RNC Chairman so I don't whether or not he'll pick up the veto pen. I suspect he will.

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