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This is not Big Brother

January 10, 2011

In light of the recent announcement about a crackdown on bicyclists that commit traffic violations, I found this article in the Post on the DOT’s proposal–and a local community board’s request–to install speed cameras in the city very enlightening.  Once again, the media presents the afflicted, persecuted motorist and gives him the last word on this important story.  Actually, they present two of them.

“The mayor is squeezing all of the drivers by the throat. There are too many regulations and obstacles already,” said Henry Nina, 50, of Jackson Heights, a driver for a car service.

Colon Cantos, 25, a cabdriver from Queens, said, “This is just another way for them to nickel-and-dime the working people to death and take money out of their pockets.”

How is enforcing the law an example of overzealous “regulations and obstacles” or “nickle-and-dime” budget balancing?  Rich or poor, it’s my understanding of the law that unless you break it you are not subject to its consequences.  Fines should not be excessively punitive, but this is not an example of an oppressive regime stripping citizens of their civil rights and telling them, “As long as you follow our rules, you have nothing to fear.”

When the cycling crackdown was announced, many reporters, editorial writers, and others said, “Good, make bikers follow the law like everyone else.”  But when drivers are told that there may be an effort underfoot to make them follow the law they bemoan high prices and play the “working people” card.  Working people who stop at red lights have nothing to worry about.

I’d be open to a discussion on civil rights and fears of a Big Brother government, but that’s not what typically rankles drivers. (They typically don’t complain that the government makes them get their picture taken and placed on an ID card before getting permission to drive.)  It’s being caught doing something that they know is illegal and paying the financial price for it that’s their real objection.

One Comment
  1. eveostay permalink
    January 10, 2011 11:09 am

    Nice post. Someday, we, as a society, will decide what the actual speed limits are and use existing technology to enforce them. It really doesn’t make sense to do otherwise.

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