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Archive for May 7th, 2010

Here’s a bit of good news to begin the weekend. Arizona politicians have been forced to suspend a statewide speed camera program. I’m especially pleased to see that civil disobedience played a role in forcing politicians to pull the plug on the Orwellian system. Here’s an excerpt from the news:

Arizona is ending a groundbreaking and contentious program that put speed cameras along Phoenix-area freeways and in vans deployed across the state. Opponents have argued the cameras open the door for wider “Big Brother” surveillance and are more about making money than safety. The program has been the target of an initiative measure proposed for the November ballot. Even Gov. Jan Brewer has said she doesn’t like the cameras, and her intention to end the program was first disclosed in her January budget proposal. That was followed by a non-renewal letter sent by the Arizona Department of Public Safety this week to the private company that runs the program. Scottsdale-based Redflex said Thursday that the 36 fixed cameras will be turned off and the 40 vans taken off highways on July 16, the day after its state contract expires. …The camera program was instituted by Brewer’s predecessor, Janet Napolitano, now the Homeland Security secretary. Cameras were introduced in September 2008 and were added until all 76 were up and running by January 2009. …Napolitano estimated that the program would bring in $90 million revenue in its first year, but actual revenue fell far short as many motorists ignored notices received in the mail. …The end of the state program does not affect local governments’ use of cameras for speed enforcement, but the proposed ballot measure would prohibit state and local governments from using cameras for both speed violations and red-light running.

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The leader of the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom, David Cameron, may wind up being Prime Minister of a minority government, but it almost surely does not matter. Cameron is a Bush/Nixon-style Tory, quite comfortable with a bloated government and high tax rates. He has refused to say he will repeal Labor’s recent 10-percentage-point increase in the top tax rate, and as far as I know he has not identified any spending cuts – even though the budget exploded in recent years. Iain Murray of the Competitive Enterprise Institute is from the other side of the Atlantic, and his analysis has been quite persuasive from the beginning. Here’s what he wrote for National Review this morning (I especially like what he recommends on Scotland):

The final question is whether this Cameron minority government can survive for long. I think it can if it governs from the center. That, of course, would be an utter disaster for small-c conservatism and the nation, which needs a dose of fiscal conservatism now more than anything else. However, that is the core conservative policy least embraced by Cameron’s Conservative party. If the party grows a backbone, we might see a tough budget rejected, a vote of confidence and a new election.  More likely, I fear we’ll see a “nice” budget that will gain majority support and weak government from the center. One final point. If I had my druthers, I’d offer a deal to the Scottish Nationalists for a referendum on Scottish independence. The Scots have clearly and decisively rejected unionism, so it is time for them to taste the consequences of that rejection. The public finances of the United Kingdom of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland would improve markedly and the Conservatives would have a solid majority. I can’t see why this option isn’t on the table.

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Sacramento (May 7) — This financial crisis is forcing California State and local agencies to make some tough decisions. If things continue for much longer, there’s a real risk that we may have to lay off Jose.

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