Speed cameras are like kudzu – they have to be beaten back every so often.
If, that is, the public has any idea they are about to get mulcted by them.
With almost no notice and even less media coverage, Virginia is on the verge of erecting these automated revenue collectors on its highways. Two companion bills (509 and 917) have already passed the General Assembly and now await the signature of Governor “Coonman” Northam.
Virtually no one seems to be aware of it.
The main instigator behind the pending legislation is a former in-person revenue collector by the name of Bill Carrico, who is a state senator now but was formerly an armed government worker.
That is to say, a guy who spent his days hiding in roadside cutouts pointing a radar gun at passing cars, then chasing them down to issue extortion notes at gunpoint called “tickets” – ostensibly as punishment for the victimless crime of driving faster than an arbitrarily decreed maximum velocity.
The fact that nearly every car on every road is “speeding” at any given time – including cars driven by armed government workers current and former, such as Carrico – is pretty persuasive evidence that these arbitrary velocity limits are absurd – except insofar as the pretext they provide for . . . revenue collection.
Well, to collect revenue from us.
Armed government workers such as Carrico are exempted as a practical matter, in the same manner that a group of crocodiles lurking around a watering hole awaiting a thirsty – and unwary – antelope – generally refrain from snapping at one another.
At any rate, Carrico and co. have pushed through legislation to authorize the automation of revenue collecting.
As well as its privatizing.
That profit to be split between the state and a cretinous contractor which styles itself Verra Mobility – formerly American Traffic Solutions. Both names conjuring everything except what they are all about – i.e., the fleecing of the public for private gain, under color of law.
This latter italicized to make the point about laws being used to generate income for private, for-profit companies.
This should raise questions. It ought to enrage.
It incentivizes punishment, after all. It also discourages the solving of the alleged problem – i.e., people driving “too fast” – because if that were to happen, the cash spigot would dry up.
It is in the financial interests, in other words of both ATS/Verra Mobility and the state of Virginia, that people continue to “speed” – as many of them as possible.
Certainly, ATS/Verra Mobility would not have invested all that money in the camera equipment – and politicians like Carrico, who received campaign cash from ATS/Verra Mobility – if the plan was to reduce the incidence of “speeding” and thus the revenue stream.
Do you suppose the “donation” to Carrico was merely a friendly gesture? What was it Hannibal Lector said to Agent Starling?
Quid pro quo, Clarice.
No one gives something for nothing – at least not when it comes to campaign cash. And we can put a number on just exactly what ATS/Verra and the state of Virginia expect to reap (to filch) in return for their “donation” to Carrico :
Virginia’s cut amounts to a projected $37 million “each budget cycle” – that sum to be glad-handed directly to Carrico’s AGW colleagues in the Virginia State Police. The better to Hut! Hut! Hut! us, you see.
Body armor, agonizers (Tasers) and MRAPs don’t come cheap.
ATS/Verra Mobility will pocket the unspecified rest. Virginia’s mulcted will likely never be allowed to know the full extent of it. The mountain of mulcted money will pile up $125 at a time – the cost of each individual piece of payin’ paper.
It gives you an idea of the magnitude of the outrage – as well as the outrageousness of Virginia’s speed laws.
Especially those posted in so-called “work” zones – which the legislation specifically addresses.
Those not familiar with this con – which is applied in many other states, among them California – will initially consider it reasonable. Like the “Patriot” Act, for instance. Who could oppose that?
After all, we don’t want those poor road workers mowed down by hard-charging “speeders,” do we?
The reality is that it’s often the case there is no work actually occurring in these zones – which can stretch for miles. And no workers, either.
What happens is the normal speed limit – already in most cases well below 85th percentile speeds and thus almost every car is technically “speeding” as things are – suddenly, arbitrarily goes down by another 10 MPH for the length of the “work” zone, and for no obvious reason.
Now everyone is “speeding” – and ripe for revenue collecting. And they’ll never know what hit them until the bill shows up in the mail. Pay up, chump.
The good news is, it’s not yet the law. “Coonman” has to sign the bill and possibly may not – if the public gets wind enough in time enough.
Everyone not fully Cloverized realizes this is about money – not saaaaaaaafety. And that if the law is signed and imposed, the danger is not merely those $125 per pieces of automated payin’ paper.
If the precedent is set, then Virginia – and the hyena pack of private cash-grabby contractors who use the government to mulct the public – will surely expand the use of cameras to encompass other “revenue opportunities.” Jaywalking, red lights – stop signs – you name it.
Every click of the shutter another ka-ching! of the cash register.
Ergo this column. Now you know what’s afoot. There is still time. Let “Coonman” know how you feel about policing for profit.
Before that piece of payin’ paper shows up in your mailbox.
And if that doesn’t do it, it may be time for us sans culottes to put on Yellow Vests.