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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/4475/from-the-land-of-fabianism/

From the land of Fabianism

December 23, 2005 by

News item: “Britain is to become the first country in the world where the movements of all vehicles on the roads are recorded. A new national surveillance system will hold the records for at least two years.”

{ 12 comments }

Ohhh Henry December 23, 2005 at 11:28 am

The (ahem) intellectual heirs of Adam Smith over at AdamSmith.org were tickled pink with this idea when it came up this year. I think they said it will allow government to tax people “more efficiently”, or “more fairly”, or something like that. Or, maybe they were angling to get grants from Westminster to do more think-tank studies justifying the growth of government and the erosion of freedom. Whatever.

billwald December 23, 2005 at 12:24 pm

Should also eliminate most auto theft and many other crimes.

Stefan Karlsson December 23, 2005 at 12:55 pm

Also the land of George Orwell, whose most famous book perhaps should have been named “2006″ rather than “1984″.

Francisco Torres December 23, 2005 at 1:13 pm

“Should also eliminate most auto theft and many other crimes.”

Oh, Bill, you are such the humorist!

It will do no such thing, since the people in charge of surveillance assume thiefs are mechanistic robots instead of ingenious humans. What will happen is that thiefs will find ways around it especially after people are instilled with a false sense of security due to thye existence of this system:

– Wadya mean, “Get out and look f’r me car?” I just ‘ave t’sit down ‘ere and look at this m’nitor and it will appear! What’s t’use of ‘aving this if yer not gonna use it??? -

Sione Vatu December 23, 2005 at 3:21 pm

They’ll soon be able to issue tickets for traffic infringements as well. How about that shocking crime of “speeding” or failure to give way etc? Every journey can be monitored, the average speed between cameras evaluated, trajectories calculated and compared. A bill arrives in the mail or, better, the fine gets downloaded from your bank account in real time, leaving you to discover your “crime” a month or so later when you get the bank statement!

If anyone thinks this stuff won’t be used against them they’re wrong. The imagination of the suppliers (pushers) is unbounded!

BTW, there is image recognition technology that can be used to identify individual people on the street. The next thing to do is to track individual people… How good is that?

MLS December 23, 2005 at 3:47 pm

Another reason why roads should be desocialized.

Now granted, free market road entrepreneurs might want to do some monitoring as well, perhaps in order to reduce vandals and to measure driver’s risk for auto insurance purposes. The market will find the right balance in safety/security/crime prevention.

Camera’s and voyeurs are expensive. It would be cheaper to install passive tracking devices. Private law can ensure when a car’s path CAN be handed over to a third party in case of crime prevention.

Speed limits can actually be guided by technical means, not political ones. An example would be different limits for different lanes, different limits for different times of day, posting number of highway deaths for personal risk assessment.

Another great thing about private roads is that more rampant advertising will bring the costs to drivers further down.

Tickets will not be deducted from your bank account – as it assumes that you have one. It will be sent to your home or whatever address you submitted to the third party (not DMV) when they issued your “license”.

I think my main point is that technology should conform to the people’s will, not the government’s. And as others have pointed out, it will not reduce crime, it will just create smarter criminals. In the short term, black market rates will go up, inducing more people to enter it. Not a damn thing will this asinine policy solve.

P.M.Lawrence December 24, 2005 at 4:49 am

The principle was conceded very early on, when licence plates on cars became compulsory. The British government of the day had to enter into negotiations with the RAC (Royal Automobile Club) to gain acceptance of this, since a large number of existing cars were owned by influential upper class people who were often RAC members and had to be got on side to make the system work.

Dennis Sperduto December 24, 2005 at 8:36 am

What legitimate reason does any government have to monitor the driving or for that matter other actions and habits of otherwise law abiding citizens? It seems Britons are assumed guilty before being accused of, or committing, any crime. This surveillance scheme has the totalitarianism of the Nazis, Communists, and other assorted Fascists, Marxists, and statists written all over it. From several perspectives, as Stephan pointed out, this scheme is very Orwellian. And this is from the land of John Locke, John Trenchard, Thomas Gordon, Herbert Spencer, and Lord Acton.

Shall we venture guesses as to when a similar policy will be instituted in the U.S.? Americans should not fall behind in adopting such progressive measures.

Roger M December 24, 2005 at 11:25 am

Very interesting technology. But what if criminals decide to make their own license (or index) plates? If the technology just records plate numbers, smart criminals will make their own with fake numbers. They will change them at regular intervals to mask their movements. This isn’t much different from the intended purpose of passports, which criminals skirted by making fake ones. Once again, government assumes that all criminals are law abiding and stupid. This isn’t too far from the gun debate. All stricter guns laws do is prevent good people from having guns. It hasn’t slowed gun use among criminals at all. In fact, it has increased the price of illegal guns and made smuggling much more lucrative.

Xellos December 24, 2005 at 3:33 pm

And once again we see that Terry Gilliam’s Brazil is closer to an accurate prediction of the future than any other movie…

Steven Kane December 26, 2005 at 10:46 pm

From Stefan:

“Also the land of George Orwell, whose most famous book perhaps should have been named “2006″ rather than “1984″.”

Actually, Orwell was a democratic socialist. He may have very well gone for such a scheme if they had the technology during his time.

Joe Piervincenti March 30, 2006 at 3:45 pm

I think people need more hobbies. I think government should spend on societies real needs and not create new industries. None of this makes any real sense to me nor creates any real value. It’s just another machine. Being that it isn’t making a real contribution, it’s nature as a part of the infrastructure means it will eventually deteoriate and wither and become useless, much like old roads and bridges.

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