There are red-light cameras at 14 intersections in Albuquerque. On October 4th residents get to vote on whether to keep them or abolish them.
Oh, there’s a catch. The “vote” is non-binding. If the residents vote the wrong way, i.e., against keeping the cameras…well the politicians and bureaucrats won’t stand for that. Heads we win, tails you lose, you uppity, troublesome, miscreant people! Who do you think you are? You think we are going to let you decide? Screw you, take your silly little vote, we’re still going to do as we damn well please and you people can go pound sand if you don’t like it!
Freedom? Democracy? Don’t be silly. We know what is best for you.
Back to sanity and liberty: Red light cameras are a menace and don’t deliver the promised benefits, except to politicians and the sellers of the cameras. Instead of increasing safety they present a safety hazard through the moral hazard of giving officials an incentive to reduce the yellow cycle* to enhance ticket revenue (which also creates more intersection accidents). The sound of crunching metal and cries of agony from torn flesh and bones breaking are completely drowned out by the ca-ching, ca-ching of the cash registers at City Hall and in the corporate offices of the camera manufacturers.
Read all the arguments and objections against red-light cameras here.
UPDATE: Perhaps the Albuquerque city council will take the voters preference seriously so the vote won’t be merely symbolic. But when officials are willing to cause life threatening accidents to reap profits, why would they care about a non-binding vote?
*I don’t have specific evidence that this has been done in Albuquerque, but it has been done so many times in so many places because a powerful incentive exists, so I believe suspicion and cynicism are always warranted.