Stop Lights at Har-Meggido
by SuperCameron, Sun Jul 19, 2009 at 01:42:08 PM EDT
Soon it will be month-end in Arizona, where the State's budget shortfall stands in the neighborhood of $1.6 billion. Part of the plan to meet that shortfall is to bump the annual $200 million of revenue generated from traffic tickets by 60%. And that's for the State budget alone. Every city, county, university--pretty much all the incorporated areas intend to boost revenue the same way.
Maybe I'm just paranoid, but has anyone else noticed that the "no right turn on red" signs seem to be shifting from one highway exit to the next? Who would have guessed that in four weeks a right turn at Guadalupe and the 101 would go from dangerous to safe? And that two miles south just the opposite would happen?
Two-lane roads where 65 was the posted speed limit last year have dropped to 55. 55s have dropped to 45. 45s to 35. Not consistently, mind you. Just for 2-4 mile stretches. Lonely, temporary traffic signs dot the major corridors. Speed-up, slow down, speed up, slow down....sooner or later everyone will miss the mark.
In Arizona the highway patrol is called DPS--the Department of Public Schystering. I, frankly, do not feel safer knowing that they're sitting on the bridges, rigidly staring at the display of a RADAR gun. I've considered taking bong rips as I lurch past, just to see if anyone would notice. Definitely not in Arizona. The bills must be paid, the paychecks must be written, and priorities must be set.
The cops-as-cashiers idea is so tantalizing to the lazy opportunists occupying the Legislature that they refuse to see how mind-numbingly moronic it is. Real Public Safety across the state has suffered. Thanks to their Governing Philosophy (a misnomer if there ever was--Philosophy means the love of wisdom, not the avoidance of it), Officer Friendly left AZ a long, long time ago. His aspiring replacement, Buzz-cut Bruiser (crammed full of steroids,crossed arms, and princess complex), inspires no confidence. Friendly didn't have to act a Tough Guy because he already was one. Bruiser is just an idiot. No offense.
I don't blame Friendly or Bruiser. They signed up to investigate crimes, to catch bad guys, to help good people work out their disagreements. They've been reduced to entrapping responsible motorists and carding Hispanics, praying all the while for early retirement or disability. I'd be pissy, too.
It won't be enough money, of course. Our low speed limits will have to get even lower. Traffic control changes will become more fool-headed and draconian. Soon speed limits on the highways will be enforced at 25 miles per hour. On major city streets stop signs will go up every ten feet. Construction zones will be established wherever an orange-vested maintenance guy picks up a candy wrapper. Naturally, fines will be tripled to protect worker safety.
This will lead to gridlock across the Valley, and in Flagstaff and Tucson as well. 30 minute drives to work will stretch to 3 hours or more. Trucks will not be able to deliver food to the stores, nor fuel to the gas stations. $65,000 Lexi, now useless, will be left on the road, keys still in the ignition. Grinning Mojados (y Mojadas) will skip about the crammed streets, gas cans in hand. Abandonned cars will find new lives and new VIN numbers South of the Border. Insurance companies will have to pay off the notes. Everybody wins.
Here in the beautiful, hot-ass Valley of the Sun, the division of labor will collapse. Luxuries will become scarce, followed by necessities. The authority-fearing populace will submit. But then the power will become spotty right before it goes out. The people will become grouchy, then tense, then furious. Who knows where that anger will be directed first? Governor Janet will get on the phone to Ex-Governor Janet, begging for Federal troops to quell the riots.
And so it shall come to pass. The armies of the East (Washington, DC) will do battle against the armies of the Devil, right here in the Valley of the Sun. At the apex of the melee, when thousands are dying by the second, and the red button is finally pressed....Well, we know how it will end. The Son of God (or 2000-year-old Flying Zombie, depending on your perspective) shall land with both feet upon Mount Camelback, rending it in twain. The Novus Ordo Seculorum will be ushered-in, and Judgment Day to boot. I won't be bothered as long as long as they don't interrupt the new episode of 16 and Pregnant.
Don't be worried. All that stuff's at least a couple weeks away.
In the meantime, watch your back. Month-end's comin' and the budget's busted. The Sheriff has bills and he gotsta make that GTA. Drive slow, and when you see those ridiculous lighted cones at the constuction site from nowhere, take a moment to ask....
"What's wrong with the street?"