Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Running Democracy’s Red Light

In the traffic snarl of political ideas, the liberating concept behind America seems as straightforward as the freeway: The people are the boss, with rights above government, and “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

The people have a green light to pursue happiness, provided that in their liberty they don’t diminish someone else’s equal right. Conversely, government is limited, facing red lights, and flashing yellows, from the people.

In theory.

Too often our judges and our “elected” representatives don’t get it. They shine red lights at the people. Just happened in Washington State on the issue of . . . well . . . red light cameras.

In dozens and dozens of public votes held across the country on the issue of red-light cameras, voters have a 100 percent track record of saying “No,” to those Orwellian contraptions. That’s what happened in Mukilteo, Washington, thanks to a referendum pushed by Tim Eyman. It’s happened in numerous other Washington cities and localities.

So American Traffic Solutions, the company providing this cash-creating “service,” formed a front group and sued to block local citizens from petitioning the issue to the ballot box.

In a narrow 5-4 decision, Justice Barbara Madsen wrote for the majority: “The legislature granted to local legislative bodies the exclusive power to legislate on the subject of the use and operation of automated traffic safety cameras. The legislature’s grant of authority does not extend to the electorate.”

Say, what? The very power granted by the legislature, and now denied the people in court, came from the people. The voters are the ultimate “legislative authority.”

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. Drik says:

    They peasants are revolting.
    And they smell bad too.

  2. Drik says:

    Re: Today in Freedom excerpt from George Washngton.

    “place a full confidence in the purity of the intentions of Congress.”

    Man, has THAT changed!

  3. Richard Rider says:

    For Small Government Trivial Pursuit players:

    CA tickets are incredibly high. Red-light camera ticket $480. Next highest state is $250. Most are around $100.

  4. Brian Wright says:

    These sorts of technologies make the advent of an all-powerful TSA that much more frightening. Freedom of travel is an unspecified one, but that’s why the Founding Papas wrote the 9th Amendment. In my community of Novi, Michigan, the whole point of traffic law enforcement is, clearly and almost comically, revenue. Mainly via underposting of speed limits. Cops as welfare cheaters!

  5. drik says:

    Orlando is looking to opt out of having the TSA at all.

  6. JohnnyK says:

    It’s true that the cities are in need of cash and the red light fines are helping them.

    I don’t run red lights because I don’t want to pay a fine and also because I try to be a safe driver.

  7. Drik says:

    Red light cameras generate cash for the municipality and local body shoppers. It seems that red light cameras INCREASE the number of rear end collisions at intersections as driv

  8. Drik says:

    Red light cameras increase the money going from drivers pockets into the pockets of the red light camera companies, the municipalities and also into the pockets of the local auto-body shops. Because drivers tend to become more indecisive with camera-ed intersections and slam on their brakes at the last minute more. So rear end collisions tend to increase substantially. So it’s a win/win. Except for the citizens.

  9. Duke of Gloucestor says:

    Hate to disagree with all of you, but I live in a jurisdiction with red light cameras and they do, in fact, make me more careful about running red lights.

    It’s simple to avoid the fines – don’t run red lights.

    I don’t see these as onerous in the least.

    Why the focus on these when our governments so much that is clearly bad?

  10. […] best known for his tax cut initiatives, but I-517 is close to his heart because of his experiences petitioning against red-light cameras. In each of his campaigns they were sued by “out-of-state red-light camera corporations with […]

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