Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Turning crime into a profit center

Jerry Stratton, November 11, 2014

Coley Davis Road red lights

Asset forfeiture is in the news again, showing that it is dangerous for the government to make money from crimes; when the government makes money from crimes, it will take steps to ensure that there are more crimes. In the case of asset forfeiture, only a small percentage of asset forfeiture cases are prosecuted. Why would would the government want to prosecute a source of money? The criminal in prison won’t generate assets to seize. The criminal on the street will.

Lights of Washington, DC

It’s traffic lights all the way down.

If the state benefits from crimes, it will ensure more crimes. The same dynamic applies throughout our traffic laws, but nowhere is it more obvious than with red light cameras.

As the profits build around enforcement, so does the corruption. Red-light camera companies bribe public officials to install their camera systems. Then they bribe them to shorten yellow times below safe levels.

Successful red-light camera programs invariably end up with too-short yellow times, because this increases the number of violations. No consideration is given to shorter yellow times increasing accident rates. If governments are forced to use safe yellow times, the cameras are shut down due to low profits—belying the original claim that they were put up for safety reasons.

That’s ultimately the result of laws that turn crime into a profit center for government: more crimes, less safety. Dangerous criminals go back on the street to generate more revenue, the government turns law-abiding citizens into criminals, because there is money in numbers, and safety is subordinated to budget concerns.

In response to Red light cameras increase accident rates: Yet another study showing that red light cameras increase, rather than decrease the danger at intersections.