Speed Cameras Are Detestable
The Post-Dispatch reports today that the city of Charlack is installing speed cameras along I-170 in near-north St. Louis County. The city is installing the camera on a state-owned bridge to give tickets for speeding on a federal/state highway. The mayor of the town of 1,431 people must think the rest of us are morons if he actually expects anyone to believe this:
Despite criticism that cameras are aimed at generating revenue, [the city’s mayor] said Charlack passed a budget that did not count on camera fines. He said the ultimate goal is to phase out the photo program once motorists regularly drive more slowly through town.
The idea that the city will phase out the cameras once people drive more slowly is perhaps the most unbelieveable statement I’ve heard a politician say in a long time. And who cares if they passed a budget that did not count on camera fines? All that means is that they can spend the money however they want once it starts flowing in.
Missourians have chosen to have a large quantity of smaller government units. They have also chosen to have a large number of elected officials, representing smaller areas than the national average, so that the citizens may be in closer contact with those officials and monitor them more effectively. Economies of scale can be exploited in larger governments, as shown in the graph of per-capita spending for class three counties, but the efficiencies and benefits of larger government are less common and less significant than often supposed. The assumption that larger, less fragmented government is a more capable and efficient provider of services does not stand up to initial analysis and is not supported by the research.
But behavior like installing speed cameras, which is nothing more than a technologically advanced version of St. George–style speed traps, makes me question that once again. I would certainly favor legislation at the state or county level to forbid these types of cameras on the road — at the very least, on state or county roads.
I believe that speed cameras, just like red light cameras, are nothing more than a giant scam. I also believe they violate our rights — most importantly, the right not to be tracked by cameras every moment of your life. I am confident that would have been the Eleventh Amendment included in the Bill of Rights, if cameras had been invented yet.