Your Money (and Liberty), There for the Taking

With the headline, “Big Brother is watching in Rhode Island, and raking in what you earn,” DrudgeReportRI reminds us that local governments are quietly going about the business of finding ways to take more money from the residents they ostensibly represent.  As Ethan Shorey reports in the Valley Breeze:

A violation captured by the Pawtucket’s red-light camera program comes with an $85 fine, compared to $50 for speeding in school zones.

The 1,601 total violations, if all paid in full, would add up to $136,000 in revenue, some of which goes to the private contractor that operates the camera program, Sensys Gatso.

Perhaps more-unnerving than the new revenue from (essentially a new tax on) residents is the specificity of reports on the number of violations at each intersection.  We can see how this goes:

  1. Government creates a rule in the name of safety.
  2. That rule begins to generate revenue for government.
  3. Technology amps up the efficiency with which the rule can generate revenue.

The subsequent steps are easy to predict:

  1. Government looks for other rules that could begin generating revenue.
  2. The availability of the technology creates unanticipated opportunities to edge more deeply into people’s lives, like using sewage to conduct medical tests on residents.

At each step, the imposition seems minor and maybe justified, but eventually, the people find themselves tangled in a network of regulation and taxation.

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