There seems to be a strange whiff of honesty swirling around the robot policemen known as red light cameras.
In different parts of the world, authorities are wondering whether there is any real benefit in having them at all. Yes, even financial benefit.
In the home of the automobile--no, not Detroit, Los Angeles--the Police Commission is, according to MSNBC, requesting that red light cameras should be removed before the Lakers and Clippers begin their new season.
You might wonder whether these objections are based on curiously moral grounds. Well, some objectors do, indeed, believe that red light cameras are merely insidious machines that generate revenue for strapped (or merely spendthrift) local councils.
However, in LA it seems that these things might not even make money. The city reportedly only receives a mere one-third of the revenue that the cameras generate. Which might suggest that the city could use the money saved by removing the cameras to hire better contract negotiators.
Amusingly (for some), MSNBC reported that the costs of operating the cameras exceeds the revenue generated by between $1 million and $1.5 million--and that's when tickets are $446. Which suggests that the money saved by removing the cameras might be used to hire better financial estimators.
Angelenos are, oddly, not keen on actually paying for these tickets, and judges, even more oddly, seem reluctant to enforce them. More oddly still, there was reportedly no great increase in safety numbers either.
While even Arizona last year announced that its cameras would be removed, news today reaches me of a rather innovative approach to the social philosophy of the machine.
For the Telegraph reports that U.K. authorities, in a fit of bizarre openness, have decided to tell drivers precisely which cameras are mere cash-cows and which might save a life or two.
It seems that local councils will now only be given mere weeks before they must publish figures that compare particular intersections before and after the cameras were installed. The police will also have to inform the public of exactly how many tickets were issued and what the results were.
Naturally, as soon as these numbers are published, there will be mathematical geniuses who will begin to lobby furiously--especially if it happens that most of the cameras merely generate cash without offering any civic safety qualities at all.
How strange it might be if this particular piece of technology was decided to be, well, useless. Useless save for being a cash machine, that is.