Monday, May 21, 2007

Surveillance Weekend

I bought a pair of shoes from Mountain High Sales & Marketing at the Venture Outdoors Festival. They were display models that just happened to be my size so I was able to get a $110 pair of shoes for $20. When I was getting ready to pay, the clerk asked me for my name to write in the receipt book. I refused, confusing the clerk.

"Why do you need my name to process a cash transaction?"

She didn't know. Her supervisor didn't know. They seemed intent on getting at least some name for their records and were so bound up in the rules that had been set out for them that they would probably not allow me to buy the shoes without providing some sort of name so I eventually compromised and gave them only a first name. And a false name at that.

My primary resistance came from their having the word "marketing" so prominently in their name. I didn't want to give them my name so that they could then use it as an invitation to send me junk mail. It's the same way when any retailer asks me for my phone number. (Radio Shack was notorious for this.)

On Friday at the Bike-Pgh 5th anniversary party, they showed a film called "Contested Streets", mostly about New York traffic issues and presenting some models for reform. The examples were bike lanes in Copenhagen, Paris and London. The success of London's transportation reform is through "congestion fees". If you want to drive your car in specific congested zones, you have to have paid an additional fee for the privilege. This is enforced by thousands of cameras monitoring the streets and automatically comparing license plates against a list. Sunday's Post-Gazette had an article advocating the "congestion zone" model as a solution for congestion on the South Side.

The reservations I have with those solutions are the same as I have in giving my name and phone number out to retailers: what will be done with that information? If I had any confidence at all that the Government would only use that information for managing traffic congestion then I could be comfortable with it. But, of course, I don't trust my government. Not local police. Not the State and certainly not the Feds. Too many examples of abuse across the board for me to sacrifice more of my privacy.

1 comment:

Little Blue PD said...

Urban congestion pricing and its effectiveness and ramifications have to be considered before rushing in to it.
For instance, London's results have been mixed.

Now NYC Mayor Mike 'The Nanny' Bloomberg is all excited about it, while he wasn't just a couple of years ago.

We all have to wonder what Bloomberg is really thinking of with this congestion pricing tax scheme. Maybe he mostly just wants a new tax. Just wrap it up in ‘concern for the environment’, and then people can just demonize those who oppose it.

If he cares so much about traffic jams, congestion and air pollution, why does he let Park Avenue be blocked off? Why doesn’t he do anything about that?

It's true, Pershing Square Restaurant blocks Park Avenue going South at 42nd St. for about 12 hours a day/5 months of the year! This Causes Massive Congestion and Air Pollution!

But apparently it does not bother NYC’s Nanny-in-Chief Mike “Congestion Pricing Tax” Bloomberg?

It certainly supports his claim that the city is highly congested.

Check out the map!

Check it out!


Little Blue PD