Many have said that red-light and speed cameras at intersections are not a problem. If you're not breaking the law, you shouldn't have anything to worry about. And if you are running a red light or speeding, you ARE breaking the law and the government should use any means to penalize you when you do.
While both these positions may be true, it masks the underlying question of whether or not the government should use cameras - instead of police officers - to enforce criminal violation via a civil penalty strictly as a means of revenue enhancement. (Background on the Toledo red-light/speed cameras is available here in several pod casts starting January 8th.)
Further, the concept of 'slippery slope' becomes a point of discussion as communities begin to explore the use of cameras in parks. A simple Google search for 'cameras in parks' will generate enough stories to fill your day with reading. And again, the logic is that if you're not doing anything wrong, you shouldn't mind that cameras are watching you.
We can certainly debate the laws, 'Big Brother' and the numerous indications this has for privacy and even more intrusive coverage of the behavior and actions of citizens. But the logic that we should allow such laws if we aren't planning to break them completely escapes me.
Now, that same logic is being applied to a new license requirement in Toledo - and not to the idea of the camera. I've written several times about the new convenience store licensing law and, most recently, about the lawsuit to overturn it. Today's Blade has an article about the lawsuit (four days after the fact) in which Council President Mark Sobczak uses this faulty logic as an excuse for the law.
"Council President Mark Sobczak yesterday declined to comment specifically on the complaint. He said the ordinance was modeled heavily after a similar law in Minneapolis.
"They had problems with carryout owners not running very good businesses. They were selling stuff that led to crimes, and they weren't responsible," Mr. Sobczak said.
"I think most of the reputable operators have no problems with the [new] restrictions since the vast majority were already doing all that we're asking."
See? If you're not doing anything wrong - or if you've already got cameras in store - you shouldn't object to the creation of a new and costly regulation. Never mind that they can close you down if you don't comply with these new rules, if you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about. Yeah...right!
I'm not a convenience store owner and the ones in my neighborhood are good for our community. But it's not MY neighborhood stores they're targeting...even though they are still subject to the laws, fees and fines.
And I do object to these efforts to create new ways of generating revenue for the government, new rules and regulations which drive up the cost of business and subsequently the cost of the products they produce or sell, and a more intrusive government. And so should you. Numerous examples exist where a supposedly simply, common sense rule has become a method for government control of the behavior of citizens (no smoking in planes led to no smoking within the jurisdiction of a city, red light cameras led to speed cameras and now cameras in parks and other places in cities).
If Toledo can impose a license requirement for convenience stores in order to control the behavior of people shopping there, what area or industry is next? Malls? Grocery stores? Because you can rest assured that if they get away with this one, they will look to duplicate it somewhere else, using a lack of objection - and faulty logic - to assume that since no one objected, the citizens must approve.