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Using Speed Cameras To Send Tickets To Your Enemies 898

High school students in Maryland are using speed cameras to get back at their perceived enemies, and even teachers. The students duplicate the victim's license plate on glossy paper using a laser printer, tape it over their own plate, then speed past a newly installed speed camera. The victim gets a $40 ticket in the mail days later, without any humans ever having been involved in the ticketing process. A blog dedicated to driving and politics adds that a similar, if darker, practice has taken hold in England, where bad guys cruise the streets looking for a car similar to their own. They then duplicate its plates in a more durable form, and thereafter drive around with little fear of trouble from the police.
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Using Speed Cameras To Send Tickets To Your Enemies

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  • Predictable. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spazdor ( 902907 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:35PM (#26192977)

    This is the inevitable result of the 'panopticon' model of legal harmony. A car does not positively identify a person, nor does a license plate or a blurry photo.

    The authorities can cast a wider net by being lazy, but this is the real reason we shouldn't tolerate it: it's almost laughably exploitable.

  • by Mononoke ( 88668 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:36PM (#26192987) Homepage Journal

    Andrews also said that this could hurt the integrity of the Speed Camera Program. "It will cause potential problems for the Speed Camera Program in terms of the confidence in it," he said.

    If we're lucky.

  • yeah great idea. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CaptainPatent ( 1087643 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:38PM (#26193003) Journal
    Wow, so you personally commit fraud and forgery to get your "enemy" a $40 speeding ticket?

    sounds like a great idea until the first time a cop is on scene to pull you over.

    I hope those kids like jail time!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:39PM (#26193017)

    you have no rights. Are you not up to speed on the current state of democracy? If you don't like it .. tough. No one cares. You are a slave to be taxed with your hard work and money to go to wallstreet bankers that work daily to ruin the lives of the world and destroy democracy. Welcome to the New World Order where there are 6 billion people to murder because we are all equally worthless. There is nothing precious about a human life .. we are everywhere so tax them, skin them, enslave them and then kill them. This is how the rich will get richer and the human species will survive the next century.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:41PM (#26193031)

    ...they could create a website listing the make, model and licenses of cars belonging to police and other public officials; with convenient license plate templates or maybe a PDF license plate generator. Don't host it the US or UK though.

    But that would be wrong.

  • Re:Predictable. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Original Replica ( 908688 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:41PM (#26193035) Journal
    And teh best way for us to not tolerate it, is to exploit it to laughable extremes. Have everyone copy the license plate of Governor Martin O'Malley and let him get multiple speeding tickets in different parts of his state at the same time, the law will change much faster that way as compared to waiting for the legislature to actually give a shit about bad law.
  • by perlhacker14 ( 1056902 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:45PM (#26193079)

    Is that not illegal? Oh well; I personally find it pathetic that students are engaging in such obscene debauchery! If you really need to get revenge on a fellow student or teacher, there are obviously much more legal and embarassing ways to do so IN SCHOOL.
    THough, if actual humans were used in this process, perhaps more jobs could be created? And the situation could be partially allievated? It should not be that hard to differentiate between glossy paper and painted metal if you can read the plate on camera.
    Incediantally, My first response, in keeping with the quote at the bottom of the page, was, 'No, that'd be silly.'

  • by abigsmurf ( 919188 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:48PM (#26193103)
    Clearly no one has ever faked ID, given someone else's address for something, used their bank details or even just put on a wig and pretended to be someone else!

    This entirely new type of crime can only come about because of speed cameras! If we didn't try to punish people breaking the law this kind of thing would never happen!

  • Re:Predictable. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kaboom13 ( 235759 ) <> on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:57PM (#26193167)

    No, it will just be used as an excuse to make the governor and other politicians exempt from the law.

  • by otter42 ( 190544 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:01PM (#26193207) Homepage Journal

    This just shows again the problems with applying a digital measure to our analog world. Speeding is by no means a crime. A crime implies harm, and having an instantaneous velocity over a certain point on a road hardly qualifies as a crime. Here we have a case of the computer being judge, jury, and executioner. This means that gone are the *very* valid justification that "that's the speed limit because driving any slower was dangerous."

    Before, real-life situations could trump an engineer's arbitrary classification of a road. Which is good, because in real life, the situation *is* more important than the simulation. Now, instead of a judge who makes an informed decision that can be understood and formally disagreed with, we have a contractor, who is completely removed from the job. No one to get mad at, and, most importantly, no one to feel guilty. Every person in the chain has no responsibility and no reason to feel bad.

    No matter the efficiency advantages of doing otherwise, every penalty applied to a human should be applied by a human.

  • by similar_name ( 1164087 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:03PM (#26193221)
    Who says it worse. But generally CCTV footage is used as evidence to support a charge. The CCTV like in a convenience store doesn't generally initiate the charge, it only provides evidence. So if speeding/red light cameras were used to support a charge made by another person or the police it might be a little better.
  • by justinlee37 ( 993373 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:07PM (#26193255)
    Do you look at your license plate every morning? Would you notice if the letters and numbers suddenly changed?
  • by otter42 ( 190544 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:08PM (#26193257) Homepage Journal

    Wow, so you personally commit fraud and forgery to get your "enemy" a $40 speeding ticket?

    sounds like a great idea until the first time a cop is on scene to pull you over.

    I hope those kids like jail time!

    You're serious??? You would give kids jail time for an administrative prank? For $40? That's sick. Just plain sick. With these kinds of opinions, no wonder we have these kinds of laws.

    America would be a better place if we stopped trying to 0wn people in real life, instead of just video games and movies. There is such a thing as partial victories and conditional surrenders.

  • by Lehk228 ( 705449 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:08PM (#26193265) Journal
    if you fill your own paintballs and fill them with glue instead of paint so the entire front glass has to be replaced it will work faster.
  • Re:Predictable. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:12PM (#26193299) Homepage

    The legal system needs to employ a few game hackers, the guys that exploit all the loopholes that the designers "didn't have time" to design out, apparently because it's cheaper to save 5 minutes at the start of the project no matter how many hundreds or thousands of hours of work it costs you long term, not to mention the cost in lost business due to your game getty a crappy rep for being exploitable to help them avoid such obvious griefing opportunities.

    There, fixed that for you. You employ the guy that wrote WOWGlider, not the doofus who designed trust into the client in the first place.

  • by dangitman ( 862676 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:14PM (#26193313)

    It's a perversion of justice for the profit of the state

    Why is it a perversion of justice? And isn't the accuser the state? Don't they have an officer to represent the automatic speed camera division show up in court?

  • by sykes1024 ( 1159247 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:17PM (#26193337)
    Not that I'm trying to argue with your last bit about:

    No matter the efficiency advantages of doing otherwise, every penalty applied to a human should be applied by a human.

    But, speeding is a crime in that by speeding you are needlessly endangering other people's lives. Laws are not necessarily what is moral and in some cases for need of practicality, laws must be preventative instead of reactionary. Not that I'm advocating the extent to which they go, but by your logic we should remove ALL airport security.

  • by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:19PM (#26193351)
    You're serious??? You would give kids jail time for an administrative prank?

    When does it stop being a prank? 2nd time? 10th time?
  • by daigu ( 111684 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:19PM (#26193357) Journal

    Putting the fakes on, driving through a light that just turned red, pulling off on a side road and removing the plates should take no more than 5 or 10 minutes. The chances of a cop pulling you over in that amount of time is close to nil.

    I agree it would be monumentally stupid to drive around with the fake covering on, but then again, anyone smart enough to want to do this in the first place isn't going to do that for exactly that reason.

  • by rta ( 559125 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:20PM (#26193363)

    The real problem, imho, is that speed limits are artificially low. In the US anyway, the only reason to follow the speed limit is to avoid fines. The numbers are unnecessarily conservative for most driving.

    In fact, i can drive past a cop at the speed limit in the rain and not get a ticket though clearly I have a much lower margin of safety going 65 in the rain than I do going 65 on dry pavement.

    Similarly, one is allowed to go the same speed at night as during the day even though visibility is definitely impaired.

    (Yes, I know the limit is set as an upper limit and that cops can ticket you for going an unsafe speed for the conditions, etc, etc. but in practice it doesn't happen for up to moderate levels of inclement levels. And in fog or a downpour or blizzard, well most people slow down well below the speed limit anyway.)

    I do like the "advised speed" that's attached to signs signaling curves ahead. That actually provides useful information about the road rather than info about the revenue generation and/or paranoia of the local residents.

  • by otter42 ( 190544 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:24PM (#26193399) Homepage Journal

    Never. It's always a prank. If you want to argue that after getting caught ten times and clearly refusing to mend your ways that you should face some stiffer penalties, I couldn't agree more. That doesn't change that putting someone in jail for an administrative prank is wrong. And the knee jerk reaction to *want* that is perverted.

    Here's a solution: why not take away their driver's license? That would have the same effect on stopping the abuse, while ratcheting up the pressure (getting caught driving with a suspended license is far more serious) all without the slightest risk of permanently scars.

  • Re:Predictable. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chandon Seldon ( 43083 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:26PM (#26193417) Homepage

    No, it will just be used as an excuse to make the governor and other politicians exempt from the law.

    Then target their golfing buddies and their largest campaign donors.

  • by jdcope ( 932508 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:27PM (#26193421)

    What should we think of a government that tries to find new ways to make our highways safe.

    However, red light cameras do not make it safer. In most places, red light cameras INCREASE the occurrence of rear-end accidents because people are afraid they might get a ticket and stop short. And in my area, those tickets are nearly $200. On top of that, the camera companies get a cut in the profits from the tickets. So there is an incentive to ticket people. And it has been proven in certain cities that the governments are shortening the yellow-light times to catch people off guard. So even people who are not trying to "run" the light get caught in it. And speed cameras on on-ramps are just friggin stupid. There are enough people out there who dont know how to merge into freeway traffic. THEY are the ones who cause congestion.

  • by otter42 ( 190544 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:31PM (#26193457) Homepage Journal

    But, speeding is a crime in that by speeding you are needlessly endangering other people's lives. Laws are not necessarily what is moral and in some cases for need of practicality, laws must be preventative instead of reactionary. Not that I'm advocating the extent to which they go, but by your logic we should remove ALL airport security.

    Driving needlessly endangers other people's lives. Heck, so does existence. There's a certain amount of gray area in this. And while laws are not necessarily moral, the people who apply them are by definition.

    In any case, not to get distracted from the subject at hand, I refute that speeding, as defined by going faster than a posted limit, is needlessly endangering lives. Those limits are decided by engineers who have NOT decided on the best speed. They've applied some rules of thumb, some rules of law, and some rules of common sense to arrive at a nice round number that is more correct than not. However, with cameras you're no longer talking more or less. You're talking exactly, atomically, right or wrong.

    P.S. I'm missing the link between airport security and machines making legal choices.
    P.S.S. And being a pilot, I can assure you that most of airport security is a farce. But I think just about everybody already knows that.

  • by AcidPenguin9873 ( 911493 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:31PM (#26193459)
    Get ready for mandatory RFID license plates, and all the privacy and security problems that come with them.
  • by Mouldy ( 1322581 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:35PM (#26193505)

    While it's easy to say that speed limits are set low to trap motorists and get £$â in many court cases do you think there will be if they say "You can drive 60mph on this road, but only 55mph at night...or if it's raining . But if it's just drizzle it's still 60. But if there's surface water, 55mph. For snow, lets say 45mph. For unusually clear, dry conditions, 100mph. If you have a new car with 5 star safety rating, you can do 80 on a regular day, but if you have a 20 year old fiesta, you can do a max of 40 in any conditions."

    Laws need to be clear cut because people are idiots. People will not understand laws if they're over complicated, and the powers that be will "catch-out" more people who misunderstand the speed limits than they "catch-out" at the moment with the low speed limits.

  • by otter42 ( 190544 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:40PM (#26193547) Homepage Journal

    Heh. That's a funny way of expressing things. I'll have to remember that later. Especially as now living in Europe for the past years I can definitely relate to what you're saying, since at the time when I got my license in my state you only had to have your permit for 30 days after you turned 16.

    (As an aside, I'll say I'm against drawing to stiff a line on what's a kid and what's not. My concern is that sometime in the future, the Supreme Court is going to hear a case against some category of blatenly wrong juvenille law-- such as curfew-- where they will have no choice but to rule that it's unconstitutional to discriminate against people of any age, not just people over a certain age. And that's going to open up a can of worms we don't want opened. How's a parent supposed to be responsible for their child when the law clearly dictates that "child" does not exist? Ick.)

    Getting back to the point, I don't think adults should go to jail for an adminstrative prank, either. An earlier poster made a reference to "MAN SEX" as a pranked plate on his tow truck. I wouldn't have done that myself, but I think it's pretty funny that he and his friends liked it. To go from that to harassing someone is actually a pretty important step, but not one that should land them in jail. Would it be fair to put someone in jail if they called the IRS and anonymously informed them you were cheating on your taxes? Fines, community service, and a restraining order would be the correct reaction, not putting them in jail.

    I'll reiterate my original point. We need to stop being an 0wnership culture. Diplomatic victories are the best kind, as everyone progresses. Punishment should be about prevention not revenge.

  • by TooMuchToDo ( 882796 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:42PM (#26193561)

    Good point. A lot easier just to copy another plate as described in TFA.

  • by wickerprints ( 1094741 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:44PM (#26193577)

    Tell that to the US citizens who were served National Security Letters under the auspices of the PATRIOT Act. Oh wait, you can't, because those people are legally prohibited from disclosure, so there's no way to identify who they are.

    The problem, of course, is not the validity of your statement. It's absolutely correct. But as we can clearly see, there really isn't such a thing as a truly free society, only those that call themselves "free."

  • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:47PM (#26193603)

    You're serious??? You would give kids jail time for an administrative prank? For $40? That's sick. Just plain sick. With these kinds of opinions, no wonder we have these kinds of laws.

    Costing someone a $40 ticket goes way beyond a "prank". A prank is a practical joke you pull on your friends, and you all laugh about it afterward. This is economic vandalism.

    Jail time would be unlikely (hell, you can steal a car and not get jail time if you're a first offender), but I'd certainly advocate some sort of required community service. Maybe 16 hours of picking up trash alongside a road will encourage someone to think a bit more about the consequences of bad choices. We can get creative in the sentencing too. []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21, 2008 @05:07PM (#26193807)

    ignorance is such bliss

  • by The Wooden Badger ( 540258 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @05:07PM (#26193811) Homepage Journal

    Be excellent to each other.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21, 2008 @05:07PM (#26193815)
    Those are called HOA and they suck. []
  • by Genda ( 560240 ) <mariet@got . n et> on Sunday December 21, 2008 @05:26PM (#26193995) Journal

    If you live in that much fear of government officials, then you have bigger problems than speed cameras. In a free society, the fear, if any, goes the other way.

    Hell, It's not like some sick government Fsck could have you kidnapped right of the street and have you taken to a middle-eastern country to be tortured, in spite of the fact you were perfectly innocent...

    I'm sorry, excuse me for just a moment... Oh, really?... Hmmmm...

    Never mind.

  • Tell me if you spot one of these "free societies."

    America hasn't been one for about 150 years, and the decay has been getting worse for the last 60 or so.

  • by Bigbutt ( 65939 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @05:38PM (#26194113) Homepage Journal

    Yea but you still have to take a day off of work. So it's still an inconvenience even if you win.


  • by mabhatter654 ( 561290 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @06:12PM (#26194441)

    whoa there! You mean there's something wrong with the citizens "cheating" if automated cameras aren't recording enough violations... heaven forbid most people obey the law!!! What a concept..

    That's why this kind of "infractions for profit" are such a bad idea because somebody in the chain needs to keep their margin.. not improve safety or obey the laws.

  • by Curtman ( 556920 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @06:21PM (#26194515)

    You have to base it on the exchange rate of when you received the fine

    Well then it would be much more because at the time our dollar was worth more than yours. I don't think it really matters though, because they don't change the fines based on our dollar's worth that day. I just provided a point of reference as to what I would pay if I received that same ticket today.

    It was a failed attempt at not confusing American readers. I'm starting to think this is an impossible thing to do.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21, 2008 @06:23PM (#26194529)

    The best way is to make the intersection designs controlled by insurance companies. It is in their best interest not to ever pay out, so the interesections that they can reduce accidents in will be made as safe as possible.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21, 2008 @06:28PM (#26194583)

    The real problem, imho, is that speed limits are artificially low. In the US anyway, the only reason to follow the speed limit is to avoid fines. The numbers are unnecessarily conservative for most driving.

    Well congratulations, you're the next Michael Shumacher, and the speed limits are ridiculously low for someone of your amazing skills. But remember that the guy sitting on your tail is a retard who only got his license because his instructor felt sorry for him, and the woman driving next to you is far too busy checking her make-up in the rear view mirror to notice you're changing lanes, and that guy on his phone up ahead is about slow right down because his broker is telling him bad news about his investiments. Fortunately for you, the speed limits apply to them too.

    That's what everyone misses, the speed limits aren't being set for the top 10% of drivers, they're being set for the bottom 10% too. Do you really want that guy who shouldn't even be allowed to ride a bicycle on the road to be allowed to drive twice as fast?

    And remember, as long as driving is a right, not a privilege, and public transport is a welfare system, these people will always be on the road.

  • by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @06:48PM (#26194715) Journal
    Stupid people is how we got into this mess in the first place.
  • by FLEB ( 312391 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @06:59PM (#26194785) Homepage Journal

    Don't set aside the abuse-- that's the whole issue.

    The city's stated goal is supposedly to increase safety, by using cameras to deter running reds. Properly timing lights, though, with adequate yellows and four-way reds, is more effective, but doesn't give drivers money to the gov't with tickets. Shaving time off yellows and adding traffic cameras, on the other hand, makes the intersection less safe, while snagging more drivers and making more money for the government. If the government wants to take your money, they need to ask for it through the proper channels, not just by setting up trip-wires than fining people for stumbling.

  • by FLEB ( 312391 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @07:01PM (#26194805) Homepage Journal

    I hate to break it to you ... but police get paid for writing tickets. And Ford sells police cars, so they are also getting paid for writing tickets. The better their cars so the cops can catch more criminals, the more they get paid.

    So... if we stop paying the cops, and they stop writing tickets...

    I could get behind this plan. You should run for office.

  • by FLEB ( 312391 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @07:10PM (#26194859) Homepage Journal

    Could the (U.S.) legal department weigh in on this...

    Where did this whole idea of "you have rights, except in civil cases" come from? Am I missing the part that says "These rights are only valid when defending against police or government accusation, dealing with over $5000 penalty or personal imprisonment."

    While it may not be much to some people, my traffic fine is enough of a slice of my personal property to warrant playing by the rules writ in big letters.

  • by unassimilatible ( 225662 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @07:15PM (#26194895) Journal
    At least if you look at how things were actually done during the Cultural Revolution, or even today in Cuba and North Korea. Local party members inform on those whose political purity is questioned.

    And what does the government do a little girl opens a lemonade stand and tries to keep the profits? Little handcuffs and off to the gulag!

    There's a very scary scene depicting what these local committees were like in the movie The Red Violin. Go rent that and see how local government worked under Mao.

    Of course, these elections never actually happened anyway, or any elections for that matter, local or national, under any Marxist regimes. Or a single, fixed election, like in Venezuela.

    Sorry brother, but when I hear "Marx," I don't think "democracy."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21, 2008 @08:11PM (#26195343)

    Find someone you don't like, but who you know drives recklessly. Surreptitiously replace their tags as described in the article. Most people don't bother to go through a pre-drive checklist before deparking, and of those that do, I'll bet "check that i've got the correct tags" isn't on many of those lists.

    Then.. just wait.

  • by number11 ( 129686 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @09:11PM (#26195711)

    Well, I wouldn't be too trusting of those reviews. I was told Illinois also reviews tickets on their toll roads and they made the following errors when trying to ticket me:

    Well, sure, in Illinois . We've been reading about Illinois recently. You probably failed to offer a suitable gratuity.

  • by budgenator ( 254554 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @09:36PM (#26195925) Journal

    You say that like the replacement will be better than the replaced; most likely the only change will be the methods of malfeasance.

  • by Cederic ( 9623 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @09:47PM (#26195993) Journal

    I get up at 5am in the morning to drive to work. You want me to get up at 4.30 just to drive at an arbitrary limit that applies to cars made 50 years ago that couldn't take a banked curve at 20?

    I could, but I resent the amount of my life I'd lose if I did so. I drive 25000 miles a year, if I drove at 10mph slower then I'd have over 80 hours extra driving to do each year. Three days of my life, each year.

    I'm willing to risk my own life, and that of others, for three days a year. It's not that big a risk - millions do exactly the same and very few of them die.

  • by magarity ( 164372 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @10:06PM (#26196105)

    Admittedly rear ending is up a bit, but you have to draw a line somewhere
    This usually happends because the yellow is too short for the speed limit there. Here's one guide [] (there are others more official but this one is simple and to the point.) Some people blame malice on the part of the local government in wanting camera revenue but they're more likely just ignorant. Time some lights in your area and bring this up at the next public town coucil meeting.
    Notice that the too-short yellow is probably why the light was being run too often in the first place. Now that the camera is there, the too-short yellow requires slamming on the brakes to stop in time rather than a normal stop. That in turn causes rear-endings.

  • I don't care what the traffic is like, if you're traveling behind me, you'd better be able to stop at least as fast as I can - and I DO stop at yellow lights. The yellow means "Stop if it's safe to do so", not "go hell for leather if you think you can get away with it".

    On the flip side, no matter how close you get or how fast you go, it's not tailgating if you can stop safely.

  • by DeltaStorm ( 118517 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @11:01PM (#26196425) Homepage

    Actually, if people aren't running the lights they make it more likely to run the light by shortening the yellow light. Several cities [] have been caught doing so already.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 22, 2008 @01:36AM (#26197243)
    Why paintball? Why not .30-06 ball? Someone should start a web site where people can have a betting pool for just exactly when one of these things will be shot to pieces. Everyone who hates them can put some money in, and make a guess, sure. But when the pool gets big enough, hmmm, well some enterprising soul might "guess" something like "1:43 am tonight" and then, ahem, facilitate the fulfillment of that guess. Crowd sourcing FTW!
  • The "150 years ago" part was a generalization. Yes, the Civil War was the beginning of broadening the power of the federal government, but more importantly it was the era where corruption began to be visible in American politics. This is the era when first began to lose sight of the "of the people, by the people, for the people" ideals that we were founded upon.

    60 years ago was the beginnings of the Cold War. This is where the American people began to see large-scale prosperity, and lost sight entirely of the individualist spirit of our Founders. Once the beast of government got a taste of the power it could obtain by maintaining a state of constant war (or plausible threat of war), we have been in one ever since. First was the Cold War. Then the intensification of the "War on Drugs". In the 90s, it was on "militias" and "extremists". Now its "terrorism" and "fundamentalism".

    America today is little related to the country we once were. Of course there were injustices, and we have grown much as a people since then - but we have lost the basis that made us great in the process. In our rush to see everyone equal, we've created classes and division based on gender, race, and who we prefer to sleep with. Alongside the heady excitement of prosperity in the 80s and 90s was the greatest degradation of civil right we have seen as a country.

    As an example, in 1986 the NFA registry was closed, by unfunding a program. This created a de facto ban on an entire class of firearms. This may not mean much to you, or you may be entirely opposed to civilian ownership of weapons - but by God, it means something to me. It means that the government founded over 200 years ago by my ancestors, based on the idea that government rules at the behest of the citizens, no longer trust its citizens. That is a scary thought, at it will lead to conflict, eventually, whether violent, economic, or ideologic.

    Regardless of whether or not the name lives on, or if this country remains a world power - make no mistake, we are living through the death throes of this once great nation. How much will survive is yet to be seen, but the idea of Liberty is already lost on my fellow citizens.

  • by wickerprints ( 1094741 ) on Monday December 22, 2008 @02:28AM (#26197515)

    Only very recently. That doesn't mean (1) there wasn't years of unconstitutional harassment and curtailment of basic civil rights, and (2) suddenly, *presto*, everyone who ever received one of the notices can now speak up, no harm, no foul, no ruined lives. There will be years of appeals.

    Anyway, the point is not that this particular provision was overturned. The point is that Americans for the most part live under the illusion of a free state. They do so because we are taught from childhood how great America is, and of the incredibly prescient wisdom of our founding fathers who wrote this beloved Constitution. Americans believe in their system of government so much that they will go to great lengths to force their political, economic, and cultural values upon other nations they see as being less developed.

    But the sad truth is that it is a farce. We are not a free society. The government can make your life pure hell, destroy you financially, and with absolutely no cause. You may eventually be vindicated, but it could take most of your remaining lifetime, not to mention your livelihood.

    This is, of course, true of most countries, not just the US. But again, that was never the point of my prior post. The point is that the citizens of those countries have no illusions about the grandeur of their political system. They know the state may capriciously destroy lives. Americans believe they are "free" only because they are sold the concept, hook, line, and sinker, by the very few, rich, powerful elite that truly run things behind the scenes. Is it really any wonder why the rest of the world hates us so much? They are all collectively waiting for us to wake the fuck up and realize just how deluded we've all been.

  • by speedtux ( 1307149 ) on Monday December 22, 2008 @07:55AM (#26198763)

    Informants are a sign of totalitarianism. Left and right wing regimes, secular and religious regimes have all produced totalitarianism (and informants). Marxism has been strongly associated with informants, but so has Christianity, and for far longer. Even the US had informants during the McCarthy era.

  • by Capt James McCarthy ( 860294 ) on Monday December 22, 2008 @09:01AM (#26199059) Journal

    Consider someone you know who has social problems variously including anger management issues, alcoholism, drug abuse and/or severe financial mismanagement: in short, someone who repeatedly makes very poor life-choices.

    Obama will replace him in a few weeks.

    Personally, I find in amusing how the newly elected officials are loved at the start and folks can't wait for them to leave when their time is up.

  • by plague3106 ( 71849 ) on Monday December 22, 2008 @11:29AM (#26200699)

    Good. Can't wait. I'm more concerned about pedestrian safety having dodged many potentially fatal encounters. Know not one but two girls whose fathers were killed walking at a light or stop sign, in fact, so I'm quite militant about anything that FORCES people to be morally responsible when they drive.

    Huh. If you were so concerned, you think you'd, you know, look before crossing the street and not assuming the cars will stop. I suppose thats too much to ask you to do though.

    I have a feeling most ped accidents are because peds are breaking the rules. Of course, that may just be because here it seems like they feel they can do whatever they want, including crossing against signals and jay walking. The best was this morning; the streets are a slick mess because of days of snow storms. Two peds decided it was safer to walk along the gutter of a four lane road where there is literally no shoulder on a good day... even though the side walk they were on had also been plowed by the city.

  • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Monday December 22, 2008 @01:54PM (#26202941) Journal

    Socialism simply doesn't work. Here is why. The people who want it are the people who expect to get something in return. Those that don't want it expect to be loosing something in return. Because politics is relatively expensive, those who will lose control the policies on it. When you take them out of the mix, they get defiant which means you will have to enforce the socialist views and policies on them. This enforcement grows and pretty soon you will have the fascism and communism the world has seen.

    It's an inevitable ending because people have desire and greed. You essentially need to beat that out of them or put in a position where they are too afraid to act on it. Otherwise, I can take my ball and go home, keeping it all to myself. If I can't make more then I am now, I have no reason to work harder. If I don't want to work harder, then why am I working in the first place, after all, socialism will take care of me. Well, they you go back to getting more for working and someone will need to keep those people in their place. Despite the incompetent asshole management syndrome that many people with the slightest but of authority over someone else gets, the entire system will have to depend on voluntary participation.

  • by ElectricRook ( 264648 ) on Monday December 22, 2008 @05:06PM (#26205059)

    I'm not interested in electing someone clever.
    I'm interested in electing someone who really believes in laissez-faire.
    In the US, the federal government is supposed to maintain the roads & borders.
    I'm very unhappy that my tax dollars are going to support an industry strangled by union thugs.

  • by TrekkieGod ( 627867 ) on Monday December 22, 2008 @05:19PM (#26205181) Homepage Journal

    Wait 'till your neighbor paints his house purple. Or has 100 cats.

    My neighbor has the right to paint his house any color he wishes, including purple. I welcome his creativity, and no I don't care if it devalues my home. My right to make a profit in my investment ends at his property.

    As far as having 100 cats, as long as those cats are not coming into my property, not being mistreated, and as long as it's not violating any municipal/city/state/federal health codes, it's none of my business either.

  • by unassimilatible ( 225662 ) on Monday December 22, 2008 @09:03PM (#26207263) Journal
    that Marxists always say about failed, despotic Marxist-Leninist regimes: "They just didn't do it right."

    I'm sorry, but when every single example of a Marxist-Leninist-based regime leads to vast human suffering, corruption, and human rights atrocities, maybe it's time to just admit that Marxist-Leninist governments do not work, as they ignore human nature and the nature of capital.

    But leftists always let their dogma run over their karma, and want to try it again and again. If only you had so much patience with capitalism!

    Capitalism, regardless of what you think of its fairness, just works. You don't need dictatorships, mind control through force, secret police, informants, or re-education camps. Just let people do their thing, and it goes. Now which system is consistent with human nature? Which one is free and which one requires compulsion?

    Marxism must be instituted and kept pure by force. Because no matter what, sooner or later, that little girl is going to want to open a lemonade stand. And what are you going to do then?
  • by TrekkieGod ( 627867 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:10AM (#26220253) Homepage Journal

    Not trying to be a smart-arse (for a change), but doesn't your neighbour's painting his house purple and thereby devaluing your house therefore extend onto your property?

    Things people do affect me all the time, but I don't have a right to tell them not to do it unless they actually physically do it with my stuff (or to me). For example, day traders dumping a stock I own is devaluing my property, but they're doing it by exercising a right to their property (their stock).

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it is too dark to read.