Ask the Best and Brightest: Are Performance-Related Red Light Camera Contracts Bogus?
September 26th, 2008 10:58 AM Share
“Are contracts between local governments and a private, for-profit entity inherently void as against public policy, where the contracts require the private entity to be principally responsible for vital law enforcement-related tasks, including generating, processing and defending in court the sole evidence of an alleged violator’s guilt, and the entity’s compensation is based on the number of criminal convictions obtained?” Is it true that “Such contingency agreements are condemned, particularly in the criminal law context, because even if they never result in actual harm, by their very nature they tend to invite corruption, and thus undermine the public’s faith in the fair and impartial administration of justice?”
Published September 26th, 2008 10:56 AM
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no_slushbox has this one dead on. You guys have accused me of being a Laissez Faire capitalist, but I am not. In this case, I agree totally that many of these privatization schemes don't work. Of course, I believe it because as slushy has hinted, the result is not a free market driven company.
Yes. The answer to the question, is Yes.
The act of privatizing law enforcement functions is much worse than the creation of a conflict of interest or perverse incentive. What it has done is incentivized a "bad". Imprisonment, running red lights, and speeding are all bads (as in the opposite of goods, if you missed micro-econ). They are all things that individuals and society do not want. Privatizing those government functions provides an entity with a sanction for wanting those bads to occur. Look at the deals that privatized toll roads. In many cases part of the deal was that the locality change speed limits and light timings on alternative routes, thereby increasing the bad that we on this board love to hate: traffic.
Good governance should not be about reward. If that is the only reason to exist, governance should disappear as there will be a free market answer to partake of the spoils. If governments want to make a fair and just society, which seems to be the ideal, not that any are anywhere close to it, grasping at the money is unethical and, I would posit, criminal. If the money is not there, a la taxes or fees, then government must shrink. Any type of action to incentivize spending should be criminal.