Re: Weasels vs. transparancy / traffic cameras

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Mon May 22 2000 - 08:33:44 MDT

"Ross A. Finlayson" wrote:

> There's a wasp's nest out on the patio. It was started a couple of months ago
> by an idiot wasp that figured it would make a nest right above the path of
> traffic. Since then it is still there, and it grows incrementally, it is about
> an inch or two across. Every day or so I see the wasp flyng from place to
> place, and a few times it has buzzed me, or a plant.
> I was loathe to destroy this wasp nest when it was first undertaken, and
> somewhat enjoy it being around, not having been stung. Yet, if anyone is stung
> by the wasp, then I will destroy it.
> The issue resolves to be how long the wasp is allowed. It is relatively
> innocuous, and attractive in its way, but carries the capability to sting. The
> actuaries will tell us that the longer the wasp is around the more likely a
> sting. So then, the courses of action are to destroy the wasp's nest
> immediately upon finding one, randomly, or when it is deemed intolerable by
> some objective or subjective standard, or to let it remain indefinitely while
> the probability of a wasp sting approaches one or is past..
> In this case, then, I am the party with the requisite physical force to destroy
> the wasp, of course the only reason to do so being that it has a sting. As it
> is, I do it no harm and let it multiply.

In this case, the wasp nest is the government. I personally take great enjoyment in
torching any wasp nest I find. Family allergies preclude my allowing my aesthetic
appreciation of the construction to influence my decision...

> At issue is how to balance that with the citizenry's assumption of innocence.
> That is to say, every citizen is assumed innocent until proven guilty. Thus,
> some of these encroachments of automated monitoring are shadowy violations of
> the explicit right to be free from undue searches.
> So, when an agent of government is at work monitoring the citizenry, then he
> shall be monitored for the citizenry. Anything less is a slope towards the
> Orwellian nightmare dilemna. It is recognized that the agents are citizens
> themselves.
> As ever, it is not only who is watching, but who is paying the watchmen. In
> this case, it is the citizenry, indirectly, but the problem lies in that the
> budgets are assigned by bureaucrats with insufficent accountability for the
> preservation of rights, yet at least there are systemic means of seeking
> recourse of grievance. In the sense of this thread of privatized law
> enforcement and judicial undertakings, badges for hire are almost inherently
> bad for real justice.

I agree. Police are essentially, in computer lingo, trusted agents. They actually
have little more power than the average person, but they typically get paid to
enforce the law (note there are many communities with a large percentage of their
police departments are volunteers). As I've said before, legally the only extra
power they have that you and I don't have is the power to write traffic citations,
because traffic violations are not, by definition, crimes, which was because police
were assumed to be trusted on their word in a court of law. I think that given the
lowering in cost of camera, recording, radar/lidar, and other technologies that the
word of private individuals can be equally trusted when supported by corroborating
evidence from these technologies. Given this, law enforcement should devolve either
to a society of self-enforcement through self-monitoring and insurance based risk
compensation, and/or a society of mutual private enforcement. What goes on when
nobody is around or behind closed doors remains private and unenforceable, though
the idea of self-monitoring driving should, I think, include some sort of
breathalyzer technology that does not allow you to operate the vehicle when under
the influence. Your insurance company might even let you pick what level of
intoxication to have on your policy and let your premium reflect that risk.

Mike Lorrey

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