Written by Gregory Monte.
Don’t you just love how the government uses the term revenue to refer to money that it takes from people without their consent? Two classic examples:
- Traffic Fines
Whereas a real business earns revenue/profit by producing a product that consumers voluntarily purchase, government uses force when it conducts its affairs. This is why I often put the word “revenue” in quotes in this context.
After reading an article recently published at The Newspaper.com, I now realize that I have to put the word “profit” in quotes for a similar reason: DC Gives Meter Maids Power To Issue Lane Violation Photo Tickets:
“[Washington] DC employs 272 meter maids who were responsible for generating $67,800,305 in profit from the 1.4 million parking tickets issued last year.”
A meter maid generates profit??????
“DC’s meter maids are highly efficient at their job, each generating an average of $249,265 in profit for the city — not counting additional towing and fee revenue.”
Using the word “profit” – a term associated with business – to describe the activities of a meter maid is absurd – almost Orwellian.
Consider some typical definitions:
Investopedia – “Profit describes the financial benefit realized when revenue generated from a business activity exceeds the expenses, costs, and taxes involved in sustaining the activity in question.”
Cambridge Dictionary: “Money that a business earns above what it costs to produce and sell goods and services.”
Merriam Webster: “The compensation accruing to entrepreneurs for the assumption of risk in business enterprise as distinguished from wages or rent.
“Revenue” or Public Safety?
But I guess I shouldn’t be all too surprised. Washington DC doesn’t really produce anything of much value. Where else is its “revenue” going to come from except by fleecing the citizenry …
“Motorists are among the District’s primary sources of revenue. Last year, the city pocketed $324,531,271 from the 2.7 million speed camera tickets issued by the private firm Verra Mobility …”
Are the streets safer as a result?
Possibly, because DC does have one of the lowest figures for deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. At 0.87, the only states that are safer are: Massachusetts (0.58), Minnesota (0.62), New Hampshire (0.76), New Jersey (0.82), New York (0.77) and Utah (0.86).
So, safety at any price?
It’s not that simple – there is always a trade-off when it comes to safety and cost. After all, the federal government has imposed Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for cars and light trucks. While these standards have saved fuel/money, it has been at the expense of safety:
“The EPA argues that strict CAFE standards further hurt safety by encouraging manufacturers to make lighter vehicles, even though, it claims, heavier vehicles are safer.”